I’m writing from the tiny island of Culebra, just off the Eastern coast of Puerto Rico. I’m listening to the roosters finally settle down a bit as the sun comes over the hills, and feeling the air pause and shift from cool nighttime breezes into warm daytime winds.
Four of us have rented a tiny house for a week. We staged in by way of San Juan, allowing Marriott to say thank you for all the time I’ve spent in their hotels in Manhattan this year with a rather opulent suite overlooking the beach. Among the other amenities, I found time to indulge in a drink at the swim-up bar, which was not nearly so glorious as I had been led to believe. For all the completely unnecessary extravagance of it, it turns out to merely be a hotel bar with fairly wet seats. There’s a reason you’ll nearly never see me at the hotel bar. A few reasons, actually. The social scene is just crushingly transient and depressing.
After a couple nights of pre-decompression, we boarded a little 8 seater airplane and took the half hour flight to the smaller island. I enjoy these tiny plane rides very much. Somehow, it’s more personal when you can feel the tiny motors working to drag you through the thick sea level air. My favorite detail was the adjustable plastic cutout in the window of the plane that you could turn to get some fresh air and a lot of noise.
The dominant mode of transportation for tourists on the island appears to be the golf cart. We rented one of those, and my whoops of wild joy have echoed off the hills as I’ve driven it around. Seriously. If you’re allowed to drive a golf cart on safe little streets with a few friends, you really should try it. There’s a particular wave that the drivers of the golf carts give to each other as we pass on the street. Sort of a “hey, you look like a dork, I look like a dork, but we both know we’re enjoying this,” shared enthusiasm.
Yesterday we decided to attempt to scale Mt. Resaca, the highest point on the island. Apparently “resaca,” translates as “undertow,” or “riptide,” but might also be taken as slang for “hangover.” There are no maps to be had that show a trailhead, so four of us loaded into the tiny golf cart and set off laboring its tiny motor up a series of hills in the right general direction. We found a near-deserted parking circle containing a chained off road and a sign next to a trail that was dubiously maintained, at best. We went up the road, first, figuring that the chain and locked gate were intended to keep other people out, but not us. This led to a demolished radio antenna and a really nice view of the peak, which was still at least half a mile away. Rather than bushwhack, we backtracked to the trail and went merrily stomping off into the underbrush.
The trail led to a stunning and completely deserted beach. The waves totally merited the “riptide” name, so we stayed on the beach, exploring the permanent tide pools. On a whim, we knocked a couple of coconuts off the trees and carried them back up the hill. After a stomping around for a bit, we returned up the trail and golf-carted it back down the hill.
So, in summary, life is pretty good.