Thursday, September 3, 2009

our Puerto Rican friends

This morning, I put on the purple and lime bracelet that I got a year and a half ago.

We were vacationing near San Juan, and decided to be adventurous and head into the city for the evening.  We grabbed a taxi and after passing on a few clubs that weren't open on a Tuesday, we decided to try a dance club that appeared pretty busy.  Mixed in with the many people standing outside, talking and smoking, were some interesting characters:  We met El Mago, the magician, who worked the crowd with a trick involving his lit cigarette and a piece of my tee shirt that I was sure would catch me on fire.  We met some other tourists like us, and had the typical discussions about where we're all from and what we all do when we're not on vacation.  In this mix of personalities, we met Tito and Oui Oui, a couple who lived up the road.  They were charming and fun, and we talked for an hour or two before they invited us to visit their apartment down the road.  I still don't know what we were thinking, being that spontaneous, but we walked our little mojito-filled selves about two miles down the cobblestone streets to their place.  Every so often, we'd check in with each other using secret eye signals, to make sure that the other person was still having fun.  Their apartment was probably the smallest one I've ever actually been in, with a teeny kitchen, with a step up into the bathroom, and a loft that they'd made into a bedroom just above the kitchen.  They made us feel at home, with seats on the step and a drink, and we began to talk for a few more hours.  They were both very creative, and as the girls talked, Tito was working on a drawing off to the side.  We discussed music and art, science and movies, and somehow veered into a discussion on how brain chemistry works.  Oui Oui had a pretty thick accent to begin with, and by this time we were all a little tipsy.  As she tried to think of the word for connections in the brain, Karen tries different pronunciations of the word synapses. 

No, no, says Oui Oui.
This went back and forth for four or five tries, before Oui Oui finally came up with the word on her own.  "Sin-opsizzz," she said. 

Blink.  Blink, blink. 

The night rolled on, and the discussion continued.  We tried to stay focused enough to translate some of Oui Oui's half-French, half-Spanish so that we could keep the discussion going.  Mid sentence, she stopped talking for a moment, and I looked down to find her painting my toenail with a Sharpie.  She explained as she calmly colored, that there was a spot where the polish had worn off, and she was fixing it.  She was very nonchalant about the whole matter, so we tried to roll with it, although I wish I had a picture of the surprise on Karen's face when she realized what Oui Oui was doing. 
After all our discussions and play, it was getting very late and we were more than a little lost in this foreign city, so we decided it was time to make our way back to the hotel.  By this point, they seemed less like strangers we'd just met, and more like friends we'd known for years.  They began handing us gifts to take with us: two bracelets and two coiled wooden reeds that Tito had found a few days before, and painted for us as we gathered our things.  They called a taxi for us, and walked us to him.  Tito spoke with the driver and arranged a discounted rate for the drive home, and we were on our way.  We got back to the hotel, and reviewed the pictures and videos that we'd taken all night, and marveled at how we were fortunate enough to meet such kind and welcoming people so randomly.  We laughed for another hour or so, but found ourselves too tired to continue recapping.  That was, without a doubt, the strangest, most fun night I have ever spent on vacation.

Every time I wear this bracelet, I remember flashes of our Old San Juan night and smile.


  1. What a great story. I absolutely loved reading this post. I want to visit San Jaun so badly. I'm afraid to fly and haven't in many years so when my friends hear that my first choice destination is Puerto Rico they all think I'm crazy. I don't know what it is but I'm obsessed with going there!!

  2. Fantastic story~

    I absolutely love San Juan. Well, I love Puerto Rico as a whole, I've seen almost the whole island. Puerto Rico will always be my favorite place to visit.


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