Tuesday, December 29, 2009

La Isla del Encanto

"Bienvenidos a la isla del encanto" and everyone on the plane cheered. I guess we all knew that despite the fact that flying these days is a bit like (as my mother says) "like traveling by covered wagon" it felt good to be in San Juan. Not that delta airlines is terrible, but flying these days is different than it used to be. After the taxes and surcharges, online charge and long lines at the airport, paying $20.00 to check a bag makes me feel like they are bending me over.

Anyway, my friend Juan was there to great me, he is one of the members of the main plena band that got me into this adventure, Viento de Agua. I step outside and the heat and humidity hits, and shortly following my hair springs into curls a la Shirley Temple. Oh well, so much for brushing.

After we dropped off my stuff at my tiny efficiency where I'm staying, (which, btw is like a cave but has air conditioning and a clean bathroom) he takes me to Viejo San Juan. As much as we try in the U.S. to recreate and restore old buildings and sites, we have nothing on this neighboorhood. It is UNESCO world heritage site because of how well it still feels like you just stepped back 300 years.

So I sit at a bar, with an old spanish style balcony, with my friend Juan and do what is best when you can slow down. We talk, shoot the breeze, chit-chat. Looking down onto the street in Old San Juan, it is what you expect of a Monday night; some stragglers here and there, some tourists but mostly pretty empty. Apparently, when the fiestas de al calle hit, those streets are packed, frantic, music everywhere, and people loving life. So I'm pretty excited.

Today I basically woke up, got oriented, and shot some pictures to remember certain spots and also document things I might want to video later. I also managed to whip up a release form and err, um, do some fieldwork...on the beach. With my eyes closed.

One thing I saw that was pretty interesting was at a park in the neighboorhood of Condado. Condado and Ocean Park (where I'm staying) are sleepier but touristy neighboorhoods. From the reading and conversations that I've had with locals, statehood vs independence vs staying the same status are still pretty heated topics of conversation, but I can't imagine that seeing a sign like this would feel very good. I've never seen anything like this in a city park in the continental U.S. The park was a small city park in Condado, with a few benches and a playground.

Tomorrow I am meeting with Juan to hopefully come up with a loose schedule for doing interviews, and also figure out a time to go to Mayaguez which is a city on the West Coast that has a huge plenero scene. I might still do some uh, fieldwork on the beach, as things are a bit slow until after New Years, but there is still so much to see and do and film. It would be good to use this next week to experiment with shooting and see what works and what doesn't.

I will have two partners in crime with me during my time here to help me shoot and carry equipment-one till the 11th, and another special fellow until the 18th. Thank goodness! Thank you to both of you-I lugged my equipment bag and my messenger bag with camera accesories all over the Atlanta airport and it was exhausting! My shoulders are sore today. Then again, I'm also out of shape. But regardless, it will be nice to be doing this with a co-hort.

Anyway, hanging out at a nice little restaurant two blocks from my place with free wi-fi and tasty margaritas. Later taters!

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