we wake w/ the whole day before us. wedding is at 4 and no obligations prior. we have coffee and read oceanside. we drive thru town, head for a restaurant for breakfast. restaurant is actually a bar over a small market, window slats are open, broken surfboards on the ceiling. we're the only people there. groundhog day plays on the widescreen. we eat and head down to sandy beach. we read and swim, m quick to point out that at our lodging is on the caribbean but our present location is the atlantic ocean. later we make our way up the hill to banana dang and declare it profoundly mind-altering and moving. we go back home, shower, change and head to the wedding.
the wedding takes place. shortly thereafter the sunset is glorious. shortly thereafter the full moon glides out from the clouds. The DJ attempts to freestyle but it sounds like a skipping record, which is to say he is somewhat artless. drinks get drunk, people get drunk. there's dancing, cake-cutting. michael and jen are going to honeymoon in vieques, leaving in the AM, by coincidence where we're heading for a couple of days in a couple of days.
next morning. we wake w/ the whole day before us. the plan is to head back up the 2, toward arecibo
to see 1) camuy caves 2) the
radiotelescope at arecibo and we are slightly hesitant here b/c going up the 2 again will re-introduce us to the long ribbon of red-lights and charmless testaments to commerce. but frankly when will we be in puerto rico again so we decide to do it. but first breakfast. we head up a steep, serpentine road to the english rose and, due to 2 parties of 9 ahead of us, there will be a 45 minute wait. we shrug and say fine, we're acclimated to breakfast wait times thanks to life in portland. this time expenditure will be important later.
we hit the road, en route for arecibo. we came to rincon on but still it looks like anywhere usa: burger king, wendy's, best buy etc. since the radio is still playing non-stop putricity we decide to stop to buy CDs and - sadly - we elect to stop at a place called wal-mart. it takes us about 35-40 minutes to park, enter, select, argue about selection, agree, pay, exit, return to freeway. this time expenditure will be important later.
back on the road, blasting the mellow jams of 'hall & oates greatest hits' CD at full volume for the rest of the journey to camuy, at long last we make our way to the caves. our guidebook trumpets the tight-ship quality of park management but this is at direct odds with our experience. we buy tickets. we wait. we wait. we wait. there are apparently two tours, one in spanish, one in english. when they finally announce a tour, it's in spanish so we sit back down and wait. and wait. at long last we are outfitted with hard hats and set on a tram, we are winding down serpentine switchbacks to the inner parts of a forest. certain members of our party confirm that loud, rude, self-centered tourists are not limited to the mainland american stripe. we enter the caves. and they are remarkable.
at long last we are out of the caves, back up top, heading for our rental car, en route to arecibo observatory. we check the time: moments to 4pm. we check the guidebook as an afterthought: arecibo observatory closes at 4pm. shit. we are suddenly tossed into split-second decision making. arecibo is a dot away on the map, but we are getting used to the twisty turns of the mountain roads and know that a dot is 30 minutes. we decide to roll the dice and head for arecibo anyway, thinking that maybe, even if the facility is closed, that we'll be able to at least look down upon the radio-dish and maybe that'll be enough. the roads twist and turn and go up and up, past generic squalor and rural squalor and homeless dogs and too-skinny cows, and we are marking time by the posts of the radio-telescope, huge and faraway, huge and getting closer, and then magically, finally we are at the main gates. It is 4:25pm and the guards are closing the gate. To our weary expressions they tap their watches, they say "closed at 4". What's more, the gate is a parking lot brick bunker and the dish is out of sight. there's nothing to see.
We start the long, twisty, oven-bake, red-light trip home, cursing, wishing we weren't hitting rush-hour traffic on the long slow roads, wishing we had not taken such a leisurely breakfast, had not violated our principles by entering a wal-mart at all much less lingering and purchasing, not chosen to see the caves first and most of all, not chosen future possible regret over what we want right now. we learn a valuable lesson: when in doubt on vacation, go for laying on the beach