Friday – December 11, 2009
Danny & I did not have much planned for Friday. We had purchased so much stuff over the last several days, carrying it home would have been impossible. So, we headed to the local post office, only to find that it didn’t open until 10am. With some time to kill, we went to the local K-mart – another example of American corporatism encroaching upon Puerto Rico. Finally, as 10am approached, we headed back to the post office. Puerto Rico is served by the USPS, if served is the right word – as the service is every bit as bad as on the mainland. Long lines, not enough clerks, it’s the same all over. We shipped much of what we bought in Puerto Rico, and even some of our laundry. This left us with plenty of room in our bags for the items, mainly alcoholic, we were planning to buy in the duty free shop at the airport.
After getting back to the B&B, we changed clothes and took a short walk to Seven Seas beach. There was a loud gathering of young servicemen near the entrance, so Danny and I headed down the beach to a deserted section for some peace & quiet. Smarting a bit from Wednesday’s sunburn, I set our beach towels under a tree and relaxed while watching the waves and contemplating my return to cold weather. That evening, on Gladys’ advice, we headed to Ely’s Place, a small gay bar in the kiosks of Luquillo. The kiosks are an early version of a strip mall, sandwiched between the highway and the beach: Mostly restaurants, fast food joints, and stores selling convenience items. Ely’s, like the other kiosks, is mostly open to the air.
Much has been brought up about homophobia in Puerto Rico lately, particularly in light of the brutal murder of a gay teen in November. Yet, here was a place that was obviously gay oriented, playing gay associated music (like The Village People), and with rainbow items everywhere in sight - and there were no gangs of youths driving by, shouting obscenities from their vehicle (as I once witnessed in Boston), there were no strange looks from pedestrians - only the usual Puerto Rican scene of people chatting with each other in Spanglish, drinking beer and enjoying themselves. While I don’t want to downplay that homophobia exists in Puerto Rico, it’s really no worse there than in a good many places on the American mainland. Another aspect of gay life in Puerto Rico is how gay men and lesbians commingle with each other. This is in contrast to the schism that exists between gay men and lesbians on the mainland. All too often, it seems as if same-sex loving men and women only come together for political purposes.
Danny and I sat at a table near the jukebox and enjoyed our drinks and food (Ely’s has a kitchen). To my horror, Danny ordered a Coors beer. I pretended to ignore his selection while chatting with the locals and petting the stray dogs that frequent the kiosks.
On the whole, this was a fun, active trip. Danny and I have already decided to return next December, and hopefully we’ll bring along some friends as well.