"Being recognised in the strangest of places"
Spent the better part of a long weekend in San Juan, mostly at La Factoria and El Farolito, managed to get stopped on the street by a gang of people who shouted "You were sitting in 58A?"... It took me a full minute to understand what they were talking about, but surely enough it was the cabin crew from my flight from Norway and they commended me on how polite I was and invited me to come drink with them. Of course I accepted.
Beaches, walks, breakfast at Pinky's, burgers at El Hamberguito, rum and conversations at El Batey, the morning of my departure approached and I headed to the tiny airport to take me (hopefully) safely to Culebra.
It was unlike any airport experience, where we just went through minimal security and walked out onto the tarmac to our waiting plane. I say plane. It was a 6 seater, barely bigger than a volvo. Nerves began to get the better of me until I remembered that I had packed some rum in my bag for emergencies. Needless to say, the flight was uneventful, up until the landing. If you are scared of flying, DO NOT CLICK ON THE LINK BELOW!!
Rather shaken up after that landing, the only other 2 passengers in the plane (an elderly American couple) offered to give me a ride to my hotel. I accepted and headed into town in the back of their pick-up. They dropped me off and I walked the remaining 100 meters to Villa Fulladoza. My room was perfect, overlooking the ocean, massive bed, the friendliest of owners, I knew I was going to love Culebra from the first second.
I spent 5 days eating at Zaco's Tacos every day (Goddamn epic), hanging out at The Dinghy Dock when Zaco's closed, or heading to dark corners with the staff to share a spliff, managed to get a golf cart one day which was problematic because I was recovering from a broken humerus so driving with one arm was a little dangerous. I managed, and on the plus side I drove all the way to Zoni Beach which I would have otherwise missed: PARADISE
Spent the rest of the day reading on Flamenco Beach and avoiding alcohol since I still had to drive my golfcart back in one piece.
Back at Zaco's I was propped up at the bar after having handed the keys for the cart back safely. A random American sat beside me and started talking, what do I do, where i'm from etc. I mentioned that I was from Norway and had been tour managing bands for the better part of a decade. She asked which bands, I replied Serena-Maneesh most recently. The bartender (Louise) turned around abruptly... "Did you say Serena-Maneesh?"... I did indeed... "Holy shit, I saw them in Brooklyn like 8 years ago". The conversation then turned to WHAT HOW WHO and ended up that we had been at the same venue the same night but just not met. After a while she asked what my name was and I said Ben Sand, to which the reply came "Ghostkamera?". This was getting all too weird to be having this conversation at a taco place on a tiny island off Puerto Rico. Turned out she was chatting with her friend in NYC simultaneously and he was the biggest fan of my photographs.. Bizarre! I told her to say hi to him and sat there stunned at how small this planet really is.
The days slipped by like dreams. I wanted to stay longer, but Culebra is not a place for those shy of wallet. I thanked all the new friends I had made at Zaco's, Heathers Pizza and Dinghy Dock and headed back to the tiny piece of shrapnel that would fly me back to San Juan for one night before heading to Panama to start my overland excursion ending in Mexico City. Life is a gift. Moments like these make you realise that.
The Bitter Man
A backpacker by default since birth, have scanned almost 100 countries in the search for perfection and imperfection in equal measure.