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A friend of ours had visited the island off Puerto Rico, extolling emerald seas and rustic cabins. I researched and found the place, the owner mentioned exercising most mornings by swimming to a smaller island off shore from the beach. Our friend had flown in (too expensive, for us,) but there was a ferry, the place was rustic. Rustic cabins on the beach I was thinking, I can deal with that. So, after visiting relatives in Puerto Rico, we take a ferry from Fejardo to Vieques.
The sun is setting in emerald seas below as our taxi races up an endless narrow road into a thickening bush. We come to a sudden stop around a corner, facing a stallion acting as crossing guard for his entourage of mares, some obviously very pregnant. Driver explains they breed like rabbits here; fences on Vieques exist only to keep out horses, cars and doors stay unlocked. We keep on climbing, the paved road turns into an eroded dirt path up a steep hillside, we bounce around a lot. Roomie looks puzzled, this is no way to get to rustic cabins on the beach?
New Dawn "covered by flowers, was built for outdoor living by women participating in carpentry courses in '86-'87. The decor is pure tropics, bold Guatemalan textiles, woven palm lamp shades and numerous windows open to the trade winds." That of course requires the use of mosquito netting at night and, in general, I am not fond of sitting on a commode with a boldly-patterned curtain inches in front of me, reaching down just to my knees, though I don't mind the open-air showers behind similar curtains. There are a few cabins and tent platforms dotting five landscaped acres. The tour ends outside our very airy second-story room of the main house with a dramatic "... and this is our veranda."
It's a grand vista of tropical hillsides dropping to the ocean way below, inlets shimmer under sunset salmon skies, hammocks sway in the breeze. We settle down during dinner on a wide open first floor, watching two tattooed women from Maine doing the cooking, but Roomie doesn't recover until the following morning when we go snorkeling through a reef busy with tropical fish, just 15 minutes or so by car to the beach. At night, in hammocks on the veranda, we argue about which star is which and add an extra day to our stay after discovering the flight to San Juan is only $45 and takes less than half an hour across the ocean blue.
... oh ... an ex-New Yorker who owns the Bali Llama Boutiques in both tiny towns on Vieques is setting up her home page with a local ISP, and New Dawn is for sale. I'll be on my way just as soon as I can raise the money.
Never was able to raise the money, but found some fading photos. New Hope and hammock, Greenbeach and Sunbeach below.
OMG. I visited NYC in December 2001. Ground zero was still smoking.
Did you see it happen?
I heard sirens and saw people downstairs gathering on the street, went down to see what was happening just when the second plane hit.
These pix are from my living room windows.
Oh, I can't imagine what that was like for you -- and everybody else of course.
I visited there (did I already tell you this?) on December 27, 2001. Ground zero was still smoking. Yes, I think I did tell you this.
I had written a poem about it. I laminated it and left it in front of the church where people were putting pictures and things. About 6 months later, a lady called me at work. She said she had been on her way to work in the towers and had to stop on her way to pick up something. When she came out of the store, the first plane hit.
She said she walked past the memorial every day and crossed the street because she refused to look at the things people left there because she hated seeing people standing there taking pictures and smiling.
I had my friend take a picture of me, but I had to turn my back to the camera cuz I couldn't smile.
The day she finally went over to see what was there, she saw my poem. She managed to track me down so she could call me and let me know that my poem changed her whole perspective. She realized that the whole country was there in spirit and were devastated by what happened.
This is the same trip where I had my picture taken overlooking the Hudson River Valley -- my profile picture.
Here are some early models for the new WTC.
I am unfamiliar with the territory there -- close to Wall Street, yes? But I don't even really know the spot where the reflecting pools and other memorials are.
I don't know where this is going to go. Duh!
I just don't know my way around New York. Have only been to the city 4 times and then took the train back to the suburbs at the end of the day.
Sorry, I can't help but post a picture here and there.
A long, long time ago...
Well, we were 18, that seemed like a worthwhile destination for our hitchhiking trip. To be clear, we had no particular animus towards Asia, it was simply a way to mark the most distant point of our excursion. I had finished paperwork and had some time before reporting for my enlistment in New York. Walter was experienced, he hitchhiked solo to southern Spain last summer and wanted me to join him on a trip to southern Europe.
We planned it in detail. We would head down south through Germany, Austria, cross the Alps, through Yugoslavia, down to Turkey and Istanbul, take a ferry across the Bosperous to the Asian side and take a leak there. Then on to Greece and Athens before heading back north. Dad dropped us off early one morning at an entrance ramp to the Autobahn. It didn't take long for a big trailer truck to a come to a screeching halt for two lads with their thumbs out. We were off.
We had a ball. I recall getting dropped off late in the day at crossroads, tasting strange foods - first time I had stew consisting of a pile of snails to be slurped from their shell. We learned to always have a wine bottle with us, filling it with local wines along the way and avoiding the extra charge for a new bottle. Crossing into Yugoslavia our passports were annotated with the make of the cameras we carried to prevent black market sales. Those commie countries were very suspicious of that happening. One ride dropped us off at a roadside inn late at night, we filled our bottle and stumbled in the dark into trees across the road, camping out in our sleeping bags. In the morning we discover the Adriatic Sea, down a sheer cliff just a few feet from where we camped.
In Istanbul I snapped forbidden pictures in the Haga Sophia with a miniature spy camera I carried which made a very loud clang in echoing arches. No one noticed. Just as planned, a ferry took us across the Bosperous to the Asian side. As I recall there was nothing much there there, just dusty private homes, but we did find a deserted alley to do what we came to do. We pissed on Asia.
There was no room in the hostel in Athens but they let us spread our sleeping bags on the veranda where we woke to ripening grapes hanging over our heads. In the morning a room opened up, we stowed our bags and went exploring sans cameras, too touristie. The Acropolis. When we returned our belongings had been ransacked, our cameras were gone.
Back then before the Internet and email, when international calls cost a mint, there was such a thing as Poste Retante, General Delivery. Don't know if that still exists. You could send a letter to a post office anywhere in the world in care of So and So; they would hold it until the person came to pick it up, good for people on the road in foreign countries. The main post office in Athens had a letter from home letting me know to report in New York in a week. No time to hitchhike back, we took a train.
We slept through crossing back into Yugoslavia. Later, at the border crossing into Austria, the train stops. Yugoslavian border guards are doing a thorough check of passports, heading our way. Walter remembers the camera entries in our passports, gets very nervous, so much so that the agents notice something is off. They give my passport a cursory glance and are more interested in Walter's, start rummaging through his bag, pulling out every last bit of clothing, sleeping bag and camping paraphernalia, piling everything into his arms and on a seat. Nothing there. Walter looks very scared. They pat him down. Nothing. Finally they decide to move on, never noticing the missing cameras listed in our passports. Walter heads to the loo.
We make it back to Frankfurt in time for my flight to New York.
Sleep, Dearie, Sleep / Amazing Grace
Who cannot shed a tear when the bagpiper fades off into the distance.
I can't help but thinking of an old traditional German song that begins:
Ich weiß nicht, was soll es bedeuten,
Daß ich so traurig bin;
Ein Mährchen aus alten Zeiten,
Das kommt mir nicht aus dem Sinn..
I don't know the meaning of why I'm so sad, a fairy tale from ancient time has taken over my mind.
We're celebrating, yes, celebrating, with pomp, circumstances, pageantry, a fairy tale empire with a rite fit for the Queen. It was a grand production, every last step choreographed, every color matched, every song tuned - I was waiting for the lone horse - greater than any movie finale I've seen, more than Star Wars or Cleopatra could come up with.
I wish King Charles the best, and we're looking forward to his coronation production. At the same time I have the feeling it's the end of a fairy tale that, in the minds of many, never was. Her passing will be seen as an opportunity to shed the last vestiges of being a 'Possession.'