I wake up 4:30 in the morning,
open the kitchen door using Virgin Mary, who starts cheerfully beeping while letting me in. I set up my remote office in a company of a little black bird who really likes jumping on my graphic tablet. Then I log into Skype and start working, waiting for the sunrise. Yes, I am awake but the sun will join me in the next 90 minutes.
Welcome to my ordinary life in a little paper town of Puerto Rico – San Juan.
Where Zebra works.
The hostel I’ve chosen is located in the Old Town. Gypsum stucco by the entrance, walls covered with picturesque frescoes and a big turquoise fountain in a hallway create very quaint atmosphere. What about Virgin Mary? Well, this is what’s presented at the front of my keycard, so when you put her upside down to the lock, it starts beeping and you are ready to go. Hi5 to somebody with an unusual sense of humour. And my office? Well, my office is a piece of paradise, classy Digital Nomad in Puerto Rico.
Ghetto in a paper town.
“Don’t you dare going there after dark”
a young and handsome guy said, and I use to believe what young and handsome guys say. That was La Perla. Name that you would rather connect with a lace lingerie than a ghetto, but a fact is a fact.
Even though you could find San Juan as a very safe place, don’t be deceived by it’s mellow, friendly look. Right outside ramparts surrounding it, there’s a small spot with only one way in, one way out. The story of La Perla started in the late 19th century when the local law required all slaughterhouses, homes of former slaves, as well as cemeteries ? to be established away from the main community centre; in this case – outside the city walls.
What’s more, because the area wasn’t protected by the thick walls of San Juan it easily became an easy prey for pirates. This is why, and how the ghetto arose. And this is the reason, dear girl, why you shouldn’t go there. Even during the daytime. Just don’t.
Why paper town? While getting lost in the maze of colourful buildings you can easily notice that most of them are uninhabited. Just a cute elevations covering ruins, that nobody visited for years. Unfortunately, so far I didn’t find out how severe crime would it be to break in, so my urban exploration lust still needs to wait…how sad would it be to end up in prison, when even in the restaurants what they serve is far away from gourmet…at least for me.
So what do they eat?
Come into my tummy, you’re so very yummy.
Rice, beans, eventually tacos… everything rather expensive and not really tasty.
100g shitty sausages – US$2
a can of red beans – US$1
200g of pre-cooked rice – US$2
100g decent ham – US$5
small mozzarella cheese – US$4-6
guacamole – US$6
beer 6 pack US$9
First restaurant experience I had was featured by MOFONGO.
It’s a “pouch” formed from fried plantains mashed with salt and garlic stuffed with chicken, pork or shrimps. It wasn’t bad, but I wouldn’t order it again, rather once in a lifetime experience.
The motherland of Pina Colada.
Yes, it’s here! The story tells that it was devised by Ramón “Monchito” Marrero Pérez, who has first made it at the Caribe Hilton Hotel’s Beachcomber Bar in San Juan in 1954, using the then newly available coco lópez cream of coconut. Now we’re talking!
The Viking and his big black…jeep
I guess I simply wouldn’t be me if I managed to live my life without any rash decisions. Puerto Rico, day 3 or rather 2 and a half, a black jeep with a Viking inside arrives, without any second thought I jump in and we go. I have no idea where. “You’ll like it” he says and continues on driving. I don’t know how about you but how the hell a Viking would know what do I actually like?
After an hour or so we’re slowly leaving the city behind and heading to the forest. Yes. And this Viking who I see for the first time in my life start telling jokes about serial killers. I politely smile hoping once again that all people in the world are good.
It definitely paid off. Ragnhild took me to an absolutely off the beaten track location deep in the jungle. The moment we were crossing a river in his massive car I was squeeing like a 14yo Justin Bieber fan. Then we climbed up the rocky mountain (and by climbing I mean real climbing, grabbing the rocks with your fingers and hoping not to fall down) among geckos and chattering songbirds. Delighted the dangerous part was over I sat relieved on the cliff when my hero of the day said:
– Now jump.
Excuse me?!?! He didn’t even ask me if I can swim!
Wearing nothing but thongs and a bra, I froze.
With my extreme freight of speed and height and everything that makes me absolutely not cut out to be a great cliff jumper I just stood there wondering what was going to happen.
This is what happened. My companion was gone for a second just to emerge from the water a good few meters below me.
I took a sip of beer I was still holding in my shaking hand, thought YOLO (I guess that’s what you’re supposed to think as a 14yo Justin Bieber fan) and I was gone too.
Caves, lianas, waterfalls. It was absolutely worth it.
Story brought to you (of course) by Tinder 😉