Day 31: A whop bop-a-lula a whop bam-boo
I woke up in Caguas with sand in my ears. Sand was everywhere. It was all over the bed and it wasn’t my bed. I was in the guest room at Federica’s mother’s house.
Federica lived with her mother.
This proved to be a problem when we arrived at 4 am. As soon as we pulled up Federica’s mother, Angela, ran into the front yard screaming about how she was about to call the cops. She unloaded on Federica and ignored me so I stayed quiet.
They argued from the lawn to the kitchen. It was uncomfortable, to say the least. Not knowing what else to do, I asked for a towel and took a long shower. *Escape* When I got out, Angela had gone to bed and Federica showed me to the guestroom.
Now it was the morning of my last full day in Puerto Rico and I wasn’t supposed to be in Caguas. I was supposed to meet the next housesitter, Stefan, in Vieques at noon and show him around the house. This was a real problem considering I didn’t have Stefan’s phone number.
I got out of bed and found Federica in the kitchen. She was making eggs for breakfast. Salsa music was playing softly on the radio. She gave me a big smile and kissed my cheek. We ate, I got a tour of the house and I then told her my predicament. Soon enough, we were on the road to Fajardo.
My phone rang right as we pulled up to the ferry dock. It was Stefan. He was about to buy a flight ticket to Vieques. We talked about a complicated mess involving cars, round trips and cargo boats, but in the end, we decided it would be better to postpone everything and meet the next day. He was pissy (and rightfully so), but the problem was solved.
I hung up and told Federica I didn’t have to leave until the night. She was happy. I was happy. Life was good.
We drove away from the town and found an abandoned church. I walked in and started taking pictures. There were many vacant, forgotten rooms of worship. Crosses, symbols and podiums. If properly combined, the images could’ve had some kind of cultural significance or grand meaning, but I wasn’t focused. Federica was standing behind me, rubbing my back as I took photos.
What was I thinking dragging her into a decaying church? Our time together was ticking away and it’d be better spent in a place with fewer hypodermic needles on the ground.
We got back in the car and drove towards Luquillo. We parked near a popular surfer’s beach called La Pared. The cool wind blew the waves high. We spent the rest of the afternoon rolling around in sand and watching surfers glide across water.
After that, we ate at a Puerto Rican restaurant overlooking the town square. Federica had mofongo. I had chicken and rice. We talked, drank Medallas and laughed. There was something very comfortable between us.
No pressure, just relax.
Federica was young, well, not so young, she was in college, but she seemed more grounded than a lot of women my age. Also, she had not grown bitter towards love, men and relationships like most women my age. It was a nice change of pace.
We made each other happy.
My flight would be leaving San Juan in 24 hours.
We got back in the car and drove towards the ferry dock in Fajardo. I had to take the 8 o’clock ferry to have enough time to straighten out the house and meet Stefan in the morning. We parked near the ticket gate and I tried to convince Federica to come with me to Vieques. She hesitated. I bought a ticket and walked towards the boat as it blew its horn.
The crew had already boarded and a lonely janitor mopping the floor looked up at me.
“You just missed the boat,” he said.
I was glad.
I would be staying on the mainland another night.
“Well, where are you going to sleep?” Federica asked.
“I don’t know, maybe the beach, maybe someone’s backyard, maybe the waiting room at the dock, anywhere.”
“If you’re staying, I’m staying with you,” she said.
We bought a six-pack and headed towards Siete Mares beach. Once again, we went through the hole in the fence and, once again, the sideways crescent moon was smiling down on us. We spread out a blanket. The stars were bright in the sky. I was watching Orion’s belt as Federica undid my own.
We slept there, in the sand, next to a lifeguard hut.
© Diego Cupolo 2011