Surfing or bust!

"Your true traveler finds boredom rather agreeable than painful. it is the symbol of his liberty- his excessive freedom. He accepts his boredom, when it comes, not merely philosophically, but almost with pleasure"
-- Aldous Huxley

My tour of Parque de Las Cavernas del Rio Camuy lasted less time than expected due to the fact I only saw one cave.  Originally, I allocated two days of my vacation for Parque Toro Negro, El Observatorio de Arecibo & this park.  However, the miles – when straight – proved to fly by which left me with a day & a half to be a rover.  With two hours before the sun set, I had absolute freedom; an entire country at my disposal.

I studied la mapa & weighed my options: the salt flats in the southwestern corner of Puerto Rico, the lively southern city of Ponce, partying in San Juan, or backtracking to Luquillo beach.  However, I was not keen on backtracking nor extravagantly using fuel, so I opted to drive directly west to Aguadilla on the country’s east coast.

I was finally out of the mountains & swore it would be too soon when I saw a curvy road!  After days of staring at endless, green hillsides it felt like a homecoming to see the endless Caribbean Sea.  I was so starved for life, movement, the sky & everything else karst country lacked that I drove to the first – and a very popular – beach in Aguadilla: Crashboat Beach a.k.a. Playuelas.

With the sun drooping toward the horizon, I arrived to a tranquil scene at Crashboat Beach.  It was beginning to clear out, birds tweeted, the ocean lapped, fishing boats undulated in the waves, children jumped off the stone wall, and the silhouette of a lone pelican really set the mood.

That night I feasted on my usual, nomadic diet: tuna on crackers & an apple.  Near Playuelas, I cruised la carreterra 107 for a hospital (just like in Utuado).  However, I could not locate a place to sleep [in my car] where I felt near enough to civilization for safety but removed enough to feel unnoticed.  I pulled into a plaza with some fast food chains, barber shops & a supermercado a.k.a. supermarket.

I chose Wendy’s for my accommodations since it wasn’t in the back, wide-open estacionamiento & kitty-corner to a gas station.  I read about surfing in Rincon & Aguadilla and decided that’s what I wanted to do with my free time tomorrow.  The first business I called was no longer in business.  The second was already closed, so I left a message.  Lonely Planet included the company’s address so I planned to drop by bright & early to catch a surf lesson.

I fell asleep relatively early but awoke to the rowdy Wendy’s employees shutting down the building.  As I attempted to return to sleep I heard and noticed a man on a golf cart patrolling el estacionamiento – I assumed it was a security guard. Not wanting to a confrontation at midnight, I scanned carreterra 107 & thought it less risky to move across the street to the parking lot of Charlie’s Beauty Academy.

I settled into the driver’s seat again, but felt more vulnerable directly off the main road.  Plus, my shiny, bright blue Toyota just begged to be hijacked.  I drifted off to sleep for perhaps an hour until the dog in the house next door started barking.  Then, all the dogs started barking.  After ten minutes of incessant barking, I began to imagine what lurked outside my car door.  Eventually the ruckus ceased, but I was still unnerved & couldn’t help looking behind the car every five minutes.

Still without substantial rest, I willed my mind to relax.  That’s when the building alarm went off. It must have been the edifice next to Charlie’s because the sound blared through the city.  Now I panicked.  The dogs on alert had spooked me enough, but now someone must have truly been breaking in.  I sat up in the driver’s seat & waited to see the red & blue flashing lights race to the building.  With the alarm stuck on repeat, the police never arrived.  Ten minutes later, the sirens suddenly stopped.  What was happening?

Quiet again, I was wound too tight to relax.  After about ten minutes of silence, the dog started barking again.  When it finally stopped or was taken inside, I noticed people loitering outside the gas station’s store.  Their voices carried so I observed for awhile. An SUV on rims pulled in next to another vehicle. The driver got out & approached the already parked car, something was exchanged & the driver returned to the SUV.  I seriously thought I witnessed a drug deal. 

I tried to stay inconspicuous by reclining my driver’s seat & only popping my head up occasionally to sneak a peek. My antics continued for half an hour, and again I saw the same SUV pull up – this time by the car wash.  I convinced myself the supposed criminals had seen my waxed, new Toyota across the street.  I laid there, heart pounding, waiting for my demise.

At some point I passed out from sheer exhaustion.  I awoke with stinging eyes & a headache as the sun’s light skimmed the tops of the buildings along 107.  At least I survived the night.

With no specific schedule, I drove in search of Hang Loose Surf Shop on route 4466.  Located at kilometer 1.2, I struggled to read street addresses.  After a few go-rounds, I narrowed the area down to a few buildings that should have been the store… but there was only a fenced off field to my left and homes to my right. I probably spent the better half of an hour retracing the same two blocks on 4466.  Nothing in this part of Aguadilla even resembled a business district & I wasn’t holding my breath that the surf shop would even return my call from yesterday.  Therefore, I thought it better to pass on surfing & Aguadilla in general. 

Admittedly, I was disappointed, yet I’ve never experienced boredom so glorious! Now what?  Between Aguadilla & Arecibo was just sprawling coastline.  A few things remained unexplored around Arecibo so I regressed east, still unsure what  surprises the day held.