Monday, December 1, 2008

Home Sweet Home

A little less than a month ago I visited Puerto Rico. As some of you might know, I'm from there, and even though I haven't lived there for almost 8 years now, I still call the place home. I've had the great fortune that, in two of my last three visits, I've traveled with my good friend Hiro and my girlfriend Anannya.

Puerto Rico is a very fun place, I now know. Unfortunately, growing up, I had no clue that this was the case, as I didn't know how to have fun, and by the time I got around to learning and making friends, I was in DC and had no friends left back home. Going back with others lets me see all the things I took for granted.

This most recent trip with Anannya was particularly meaningful to me. Having never taken a girl to meet my parents, it was a big "first" for me. It was also a ton of fun! What did we do? Well, let's see...

Arriving Saturday evening, we enjoyed dinner at home and not much else. It was also a lazy Sunday, sleeping in and visiting my grandmother. My grandmother is ninety years old, and her English was learned seventy years ago in a business setting. Communication between Anannya and her was...strained...but I think she was happy to see me with someone.

Anannya and I then went and enjoyed a lunch at El Mariachi, which is not much of a Mexican restaurant. It is the best place to get a tortilla with a layer of mashed potatoes and pork wrapped up like a burrito, though. God only knows why they're so delicious. We visited the beach afterwards, which was gorgeous that day, and then lounged about until we went to Casa Dante, which has the finest mofongo and churrasco on the island.

Monday and Wednesday were passed the same way, more or less. We went to Old San Juan, which is generally considered the part of the city bounded by the old walls. We spent the day exploring one of the big castles, El Morro, and meandering around town. Old San Juan is full of stores and sites, including the world's filthiest pigeon park and the world's narrowest house. It also had one of my best friends from high school that we ran into. It also has cats--lots and lots of cats.

Tuesday was our sailing day. I like sailing immensely, and the whole family went out. Anannya had been sailing once before this, out on the Chesapeake, and suffice to say the tropical waters and clear blue skies beat that. We sailed from Fajardo, a small town on the east coast of the island, and set anchor in Icacos, a very tiny little island that my family frequented while we owned our boat, Tobosa.

Thursday was the day we went and ate pork. I'm talking about the town of Guavate, up in the hills, and it's a small place that has several vendors selling pig roasted on a spit. Along with their sides, it makes for one of the funnest and most indulgent eating experiences I've ever experienced. The pork is great, but they also have very rich and tasty blood sausage, as well as a few other local side dishes. I've yet to have anything like it anywhere else I've been.

Friday was the day spent up in the mountains. Not the rural areas similar to Guavate, but the national forest of El Yunque. Anannya and I took the hike down, dealing with a few showers (rainforest, go figure), and got to admire the waterfall at the bottom. We hiked up, then made our way Luquillo, where we ate at the "cuchifritos"-- small little fried good vendors.

As I mentioned, this all meant a lot to me. Why? As I said, I consider Puerto Rico my home, and I've spent the majority of my life there. That said, my adult life has been spent in DC, now, and the events and people from one part to the other are almost mutually exclusive. Just as I experienced a disconnect between my values and my country (see post below), I had been experiencing a disconnect from my life as it is and as it was.

Visiting with Anannya fixed all that. It's an understatement to say she's been great for me. Seeing her enjoy herself in Puerto Rico, though, was different. Seeing the best part of my life here in DC in all the best parts of my life in Puerto Rico made me extraordinarily happy. It's like reading a convoluted novel and having your two favorite storylines resolve themselves simultaneously in a surprising and satisfying way.

I might be a bit over-eager to read into things. That being said, I think it's useful to think of one's own life as a story. The problem I've always had with mine is that I've had trouble taking all it's disparate parts and joining them together. This trip to Puerto Rico did that, though. I'm looking forward to the next chapter!

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