So is driving off-the-interstate in rural Puerto Rico. At least for the driver. Passenger, not so much. Amma got carsick, which is not surprising considering the combination of the winding road and my driving. I’m not a very good driver.
I’ve wrecked two cars, one just recently. In addition, Carlos has ridden with me across Mexico. So we have evidence and witnesses to keep me from fronting on the Mario Andretti tip.
As a result, we detoured to the far straighter Route 10. Unfortunately, Route 10 isn’t quite done yet, so we had to get back on 123 for a while at a jury-rigged intersection near a strip mall. I missed the sign the first time around, but it was blindingly obvious on the second pass.
The cool thing was passing under the viaducts that will eventually turn Route 10 into an interstate-quality road. Sadly, we couldn’t get pictures, but I’ll give you Amma’s reaction: "A wonder that human beings can build such things!"
That was the beginning, but not the end, of our off-the-Interstate adventures around Puerto Rico. I won’t go into all the details. There are only a few highlights, anyway. Roadside diners in Puerto Rico—they’re not diners, really, much smaller and usually open air—are great places to meet people, all of whom seem to have spent time in Brooklyn; the cows in the central cordillera are very well fed and very hostile; Arecibo is something every American should see before they die; and I drive like a chilango when I’m on the island.
Puerto Ricans don’t like the way chilangos drive. Being polite and patient people themselves, at least on the road, they don’t appreciate illegal left turns or the way I barging ahead to change lanes in stop-and-go traffic, and they don’t understand using your blinker to pass.
Truth be told, I don’t like the way chilangos drive either. I wish I knew what’s triggering my Mexico City driving instincts, because Puerto Rico doesn’t look like Mexico; Puerto Ricans don’t sound, act, or drive like Mexicans; and we’re not, you know, in Mexico.
I’ve heard other Americans claim that Puerto Ricans are risk-taking, rude, and aggressive on the road. I live in Boston, so my reaction to those claims is an unprintable two-syllable word beginning with the letter "p." It's simply not true.
Maybe it's living in Boston what's the problem.
We ended our road tripping in Carolina, a very nice suburb of San Juan. To be fair, Carolina is a big place and it’s got some not-particularly-pleasant caseríos, but what’s not to like about hanging at the beach in Isla Verde?
An African-American couple was getting married on the sand right in front of the hotel when we arrived. It was a pleasant little ceremony; very few people, very good music.
Amma enjoyed watching it, too, but she turned to me as I munched on (bad) ceviche and sipped a girlie drink of some sort, and said, "The preacher is wearing a maroon shirt [under a cream-colored suit] and a big gold chain."
And I'd been thinking that I kinda liked the idea of having the preacher wear that same outfit at our wedding. Note to self: thank God at least one of you has taste.