Sunday, January 17, 2010
I almost died...
Rain forest. Rain. Lot's of rain. My grandmother had brought fantastic weather with her, and the weather for the past few weeks in general has been amazing. Now it was pissing and flooding like crazy for almost three days straight. We needed a break. We headed west and south after I asked Gram to make a last minute decision at the split in the highway and the rain seemed to get worse as we traversed the central mountain passes. Cars were pulled over everywhere, drivers unable to face the incessant pounding of the torrential down pour and limited views.
We pressed on to Coamo, where some dear old friends of mine live. By chance, Mami (grandma Ortiz Reyes) and Gladys were home when we stopped. Gladys was hesitant to answer the door because she didn't recognize me with my shaved head. Once she realized it was me, she quickly grabbed me for a warm embrace and lead us inside to see Mami. We were seated at the kitchen table and served the best coffee on the planet! This is no exaggeration. Everyone who has ever had Mami's coffee will tell you it is the best ever... so rich and smooth and milky sweet. I never tell her how much milk or sugar because it is just right every time. They were pleased with my increased knowledge of Spanish and happy that they could converse with me a bit. They reminded me of my first lesson right in the back yard with Carlos, Jose, Esteban and the rest of the guys teaching my friends and I all the curse words we could handle.
It felt great to see them and they loved having my grandmother over for coffee as well. At the insistence of Mami, we will be returning sometime this week for a full meal and party with the family. I can't wait!
We stopped at the Banos de Coamo, which are very famous here on the island and known as the "fountain of youth" that Ponce De Leon was mistakenly searching for in Florida. Had he known they were here all along, he might still be around to tell us what the past 4 1/2 centuries were like! All kidding aside, the baths are a natural sulfur hot spring most likely coming from a deep well volcano. They are delightfully temped between 105 and 115 degrees and I don't care if it is a wives tale or not, I always feel better when I get out. Gram dipped her injured heel in the water and we joked about it being younger than the other as a result.
Ponce was our next destination. We skipped the city plaza on account of me getting lost and drove down to the port area of "La Guancha" instead. This port is one of the busiest in the Caribbean according to an ex girlfriend who works in the shipping industry. There is a fairly large small boat marina with a great board walk and pier where you can hand feed pelicans, seagulls and huge Tarpon fish swimming in the shallows. We snapped some pictures and took in the sights.
We ended up in La Parguera for the night and Gram was adventurous enough to go for a boat trip to the bio luminescent bay even though she swore up and down that she always gets sick on boats! It was a perfect night, with some overcast keeping things very dark. The bio bay lit up for us quite nicely and she made the whole trip without a single problem. We stayed right in town at a beautiful hotel called La Villa Parguera. I put my bad Spanish and excellent flirting skills to work and got us $20 off and free breakfast in the morning by batting eyelashes with the cute girl working the counter.
I must admit that my grandmother's sleep schedule is quite different than mine. She gets up no later that 5am every day and sometimes she is up at 2 or 3 in the morning waiting for the sun to rise. By the time I get up at 7 or 8, she has already had a shower and coffee. I sometimes wonder who the old one is here.... ha ha.
We got packed up and blitzed around the south west corner of the island. Gram loved the heat and was able to do a little hiking with me. On our way up to the Cabo Rojo lighthouse I caught a pretty big hermit crab and let him crawl around in my hands for some photo ops. It was a perfect day for sight seeing on the big craggy cliffs of Cabo Rojo. The ocean seemed to stretch out for eternity in every direction and we were having some great conversation about our crazy family! It was such a treat to drive with her through the panoramic views of the west coast talking and stopping to take pictures. Gram even got her first taste of real wild coconut at one of the roadside stands in Playa Jobos.
We ended up at the El Torre Guest House in Jobos and the proprietor instantly recognized me from my previous stay with Sam and Alwin a few weeks back. This was almost my final resting place on this earth. After packing in, the rain began pouring down outside so we decided to just hang in the room for a while and relax before getting some dinner. I sat in the lounge chair in the corner and proceeded to plug in my laptop. I sat down and put said laptop into my lap. As my fingers slid over the keys I felt a strange buzzing sensation. I thought it was the hard drive booting up and continued to work on the computer without paying much heed. Then I started feeling funny and realized that my laptop was conducting electricity into my body. I immediately grabbed the back of the laptop to set it down and was treated to the shock of a lifetime. ZZZZZAAAAAPPPP!!!!! Holy Shit! My grandmother looked at me and said, "What's happened to you? I saw you sitting there and I could tell something wasn't right." Macbook Pro Aluminum almost had its first victim! It was an hour or so before I felt even partly normal and I could feel a tingling in my hands for the next few hours. I am now officially "Electro Man!!!" I believe it was due to faulty wiring in the guest house, but I'm still not sure. I'm still here, Thank God, and ready to rock n roll!
When we left the guest house this morning, we stopped in Isabela so Gram could attend church. I didn't have any attire that was church worthy so I opted to stay outside and read while she participated in the Mass. I could hear the beautiful music and the whole church singing as the sun slowly rose from behind the massive structure. It was a heavenly experience from outside, and she confirmed that inside the church was alive and well with the spirit of God. She kept saying, "I had no idea what they were saying, but I felt so good and the people were singing all around so beautifully! I wish our congregation would sing like that."
It has been a wonderful experience having my grandmother with me. I am learning a lot about her and her travels all around the planet. Who do you think I got this wanderlust from in the first place..... If you have a grandparent that is alive and well, give them a kiss tonight and sit down and listen to some of their stories! Sometimes you will find that they are more adventurous than you will ever be.
Much love and Peace. Jeremy