Friday, July 13, 2012

I love you, Old San Juan.

This place is magical. I'm sure of it. I can't really describe what it's like, but I don't feel like I'm travelling at all, I don't feel like I'm visiting, I don't feel like anything is out of the ordinary. I feel like this is where I should be, it's so natural. Of course, this might be because I've been waiting so long to finally take this big trip. I know, I was only in Austria for a bit over 6 months, so it wasn't a long wait. But that's not what I mean. I'm talking about the time I've spent waiting for this moment to come, this moment of leaving Vienna and saying things like "Sure, I'll visit, don't worry" or "I'll be back at some point, I won't be gone forever". For the first time I left Austria without a date of return. For the first time I'm not counting days until I go back, nor is my family. Because they can't. For the first time I feel really, really, really free. Free! No having to go back because the new semester starts. No having to go back to finish the thesis and take the final exam. No having to go back.

But, still, I don't think that's it.

I think San Juan is magical, or at least Old San Juan is. I'll be honest, Puerto Rico is awesome and everybody tells me to not just stay in the city but also go around the island and visit other places. All the beautiful beaches, for example. But I don't want to. I'm not going to do what I should do, or more like what "one" should do. I feel like staying here, right where I am. I don't care if I "miss something". Who is anyone to tell me what's good for me? I'd go further into this, what I mean and what I think when I say it and what it's like to think like this and how everybody should see the world this way and all that blah, but this would be too much for this blog, I think. Too heavy, deep, wannabe-philosophical. Maybe some other time.

So I'm just going to tell you why I love this place.

The sun. And the rain. The cobbled streets as well as the paved ones. The little squares. The trees. The way people smile back when I smile at them. The little café I'm sitting in right now. The CouchSurfers I've met so far. The way people let me use their phones and even their internet without even knowing who I am, just out of kindness. The kindness! The architecture around Viejo San Juan. The wind. The sea. The sea! THE SEA!!! The way Caribbean and USA blend together in everyday life as far as I can see it: old-school salsa and Arizona iced tea are a beautiful combination... The mixture of palm trees and conifers. The hats people wear. The style, just in general. The way "relax" is written on everybody's faces as soon as their workday ends. It's contageous, and so is the art.

Old San Juan is a very artsy place, there's music and poetry and painting everywhere. It makes me want to write again. And draw and paint! So, for now I'm using this as an outlet. And my camera, as far as that's possible given its age.

I've been walking around the area with my CS host and it's incredible seeing the amount of people he knows and who know him. It makes it seem like everyone living around here belongs to a huge but tight circle of friends. It's crazy! I mean, it's a small place but not that small. Well, it's just something else that makes it special, I guess.

Something else about my CS host, apart from him being an artist, is that he works in the place I'm in right now. Which is the little café attached to The Poet's Passage in Calle Cruz, between San Francisco and Fortaleza. And he lets me stay here while he works here! OK, this sounds a little weird. It is a public place after all. What I mean is that he doesn't mind his surfer spending her mornings on a sofa right next to where he earns his money. I guess that usually visitors would spend all their time going to the fortresses and the museums and out of Old San Juan. I just like it here. And I'm not here to "turistear", but just to be. You know, the wannabe-philosophical stuff from before. There's paintings all over the place and there's also poetry on the walls and it's very bohemian. And it's tranquil, mellow, it makes you want to sit down and just stretch out your legs and stay a little. Or a little more. Like me. 

The view from where I'm sitting right now. Only there's people, this photo is from yesterday.

But now I'm also really looking forward to this afternoon, when a university professor I got in touch with via my professor Christian Cwik is going to do a guided tour around Viejo San Juan and explain about the history of the island and the city and the people. The truth is that all I know about San Juan is what I've seen so far and about Puerto Rico nothing more than what you'd hear in a random "Caribbean History 101". I'm very curious. And if I remember any of what he's going to tell us, I'll share it here. 

Oh and yesterday my CS host went to the beach with Christiane and another surfer she knows, Yunus from Saudi Arabia but who lives in Kentucky. It was incredibly beautiful! The prettiest and above all cleanest city beach I've seen so far, apart from the ones in the Bahamas, maybe. I don't have any pictures of my own, because I didn't bring my camera (facepalm...). But Yunus let me take a few pictures with his semi-pro Canon and I hope to be able to get in touch with him today or tomorrow and get those pictures, then I'll upload them. 

I'm going to get a coffee now. Not yet sure if I want a metaphor, a rhyme or maybe a monologue. I love it here. 

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