It has snowed for the past 12 hours here in Struggledelphia, and this weekend I was literally stuck in my home, unable to leave, unwilling to put on real pants. As I indulged in my 3rd (5th) cup of coffee of the day, and contemplated my frost-imposed fortress of solitude, in one of the snowiest winters this town has seen in a long time, I couldn't help but reflect on the weekend before this past one, and how very different that was indeed.
You see, my cousin Elyse, (hi Elyse!), is moving from Buenos Aires to Bogota, because, apparently, a life lived free of the shadow of the Colombian drug cartel is just a life wasted. No, but seriously, after three years in the land of Tango and cheap beef she's making a life change at moving on to the land of Salsa and cheap cocaine, which I personally would consider an upgrade, but then, I'm sort of sick that way. Also, there is a serious tostone factor to consider. Anyway, because Elyse lives a hemisphere away from me, she can be, shall we say, a bit hard to get a hold of, at times, and when she told me she had a stop in Puerto Rico for a few days, well, I jumped at the chance to see her. Puerto Rico and Philadelphia may not be exactly neighbors, but, hey, I'll take what I can get, and besides, when it comes down to it, I tend to avoid going to places where I have a 75% chance of being shot (sorry, Bogota).
Now, those playing along at home will recall that I have a place down in San Juan (and no you cannot crash there. Stop asking.)So while it was below freezing here I hopped on a plane full of Puerto Ricans and headed down to Viejo San Juan, to the land of palm trees, coquis, and luchitas every where you turn. Because I had a couple of days without Elyse, between netflix viewings and cocktails, I found myself wandering around the tiny city, chasing stray cats, yelling at pigeons and generally being amused.
The truth is, while it's known as a vacation destination and a navel bombing site, in MY mind, a strange and twisted place, to be sure, Puerto Rico is known for being a crazy land of crazy-filled crazy, and one that I always adore. There are a lot of hilarious things just about San Juan, and while we no longer dance fight on fire escapes (so 1961), we DO do a series of other bizarre things, the top five of which I will now relate to you.
1. Everyone flies kites. It's weird, it's strangely wholesome, and I always think that giant birds are flying down to attack me for at least a minute before I figure out what's going on. I don't know anyone other then Charlie Brown who flies kites, so it's Charlie Brown, and the citizens of San Juan, Puerto Rico. That's quite a club.
2.There is a Polo Ralph Lauren outlet. And a Guess outlet. And a Burberry outlet. And a Marshals. And only one supermarket.
3. There is a small section of the city called "La Perla" which is literally on the sea and outside of the jurisdiction of San Juan. That's right, it's a LAWLESS neighborhood. And it's funded by a potato chip company.
4. There is a Bacardi factory. I've never actually been there, but it's a life goal of mine to go. It's right up there with making it through an evening in high heels and watching every episode of Stargate SG-1. I'm dreaming big.
5. There is a Taco Bell. Now, that's just, that's offensive, is what that is.
As I hugged Elyse goodbye at 4 in the morning so she could catch her flight to Bogota and begin her new life as a drug baroness, I was glad to have been able to share this special little strugglesome world with her. And besides, compared to Puerto Rico, Columbia's going to be a piece of plantain, right? Right?
More snow is predicted for this Tuesday. It was 80 degrees and sunny when I left San Juan. I think I deserve some days without real pants.
Leah Franqui is a fairly interesting person/director/writer/reader/eater/drinker. She likes ugly dogs and dislikes her hair in the morning. She's a sucker for environmental causes and plays hardball with deals on chewing gum. She is a struggle.