Now, I will be the last person to say anything bad about San Juan or Puerto Rico. Well, no, make that the first person. I hated San Juan, Puerto Rico. San Juan is like the Bronx. Of course, in the Bronx, there's more fucking Puerto Ricans. And in San Juan, it just seems like there's even more.
If you're like me, you shove off all this political correctness and judge people, things and places as they should be judged. By a cynical white man with cash.
And let me tell you about San Juan. Not only is it another filthy Hispanic shit-hole but it feigns to be a city rich in culture, history, cuisine and entertainment. This, apparently, is true if you find the one toothless, 78-year-old hooker on the island with an interesting backstory who cooks good paella while singing "Fly Me To The Moon".
It did not take us more than a two block walk from the hotel ("resort area") to run into a series of street urchins, passed out whores, three card monte hucksters and well, more Puerto Ricans.
Be sure, while walking, to step over the piles of garbage on the streets of scenic "Old San Juan", lest you offend the pimps, police and grifters from their take on the sanitation angle.
And, like all things "Latino" in nature - the culture, architecture, clothing, marketing, lifestyles and general demeanor of the people can best be described as a drunk fat woman in high heels, wearing a tight orange polka-dot dress and screaming nonsense at the top of her lungs for two weeks straight.
By the way, while I'm at it, I will grind my heel into the crotch and cut off the head of the next cocksucker who dares make me listen to a techno-salsa beat. IT IS PERVASIVE ON THIS ISLAND. It's as if there was never another style of music originated anywhere, by anyone on the planet at any time in history. It's in the hotels, it's in the taxis, it's on the streets, it's on the radio, it's on every boom box, it's in the elevators, it's in the stores, it's in the restaurants, it's in the bars, it's played by the garbage men, it emanates from houses and windows and cars and I think, though this could be a theory, from the asshole of every doomed bastard forced to live on this turd of geography.
Guess what Carlos? It's not as cool as jazz. It's not as fun as pop. It's not as emotional as the blues and it's nowhere near rock and roll. Let's not even discuss classical music. It's existence eats the shit between the toes of Americana and Euro-trash.
This town is Miami without the Jews.
We did manage to find a restaurant featuring nouveau cuisine. Which amounted to three grilled shrimp in a mole sauce garnished by a hut of cilantro and scallion stems for $19.95.
The one hip thing at this establishment was they provided Marlboros in rock glasses at the bar for anyone to smoke. In the States, for this beautiful gesture, they would never stop being sued.
Quite a depressing start.
I decided to stock up on cheap rum and VERY EXPENSIVE vodka for the sail. A man needs his vodka, no matter the port of call.
The debarkation from Puerto Rico was much like everything else on this godforsaken island. Hot, sweaty and angst-ridden - full of chaos, graft-grabbing cops and tourist personnel - with cars, taxis and buses merging into each other on ill planned roads. There were more Puerto Ricans yelling about something here than I saw at the crooked cock fight the evening prior. Yelling seems to be either a trait, past time or affected sit-com behavior amongst these people. Only, this sort of yelling seems to do little but cause more yelling. Particularly amongst the locals. We showed relative calm, as those who are about to be macheted, skinned and eaten often do in these circumstances. I did notice this yelling abated when someone from the States yelled and held out a twenty. Then things seemed to run smoothly for awhile. About five minutes. Then the yelling started again.
The horrific sun began to fall beneath the perspiring horizon.
Then, a dung fire was lit and children began to play around it. A low, dull hum could be heard.
I walked to the front of this madness and claimed, "Tomorrow, I will bring back the light".
The children stopped playing. The cops ceased yelling. The din ended. The crowd was finally silenced. The taxis and buses turned off their engines. I stood as a God amongst these people. I held out a twenty. My bags were taken and put onboard the ship. My party was escorted to the gate without issue. The calamity resumed behind us.
And to this day, on the island of Puerto Rico, I am known as, "Gringo del muerto". Which I think means, "Handsome man with twenty dollars".
"Cruisin", as the hipsters and jet-setters call it, may seem like a travel cop-out to those who vacation with the intensity of nature involved. That is the hikers, campers, explorers and bikers of this world. And they may have a point. But if your idea of a vacation is physical exercise, insects, rogue bears in the trash, showering out of doors, eating tepid river caught fish and sleeping on the cold, hard ground then, Mister, you need to come up to my suite and eat some pate and suck up some freezing cold vodka on the bow of the U.S.S. FUN. Your ears will not be host to larvae, the water will be hot or cold to your preference, the reception on the TV will be clear and you won't run out of mixer days before your next stop in town.
I would trade the shame of Karaoke and Neil Diamond tributes, along with my eternal hatred of the mildly amused, not to deal with one simple thing that nature or the lying cocksuckers who pretend to love it endure. That is that the world outside is a sticky, itchy, dangerous, disease-filled hell-hole that we have striven for thousands of years to overcome and conquer. Why embrace it now? Especially under the guise of vacation, when there is cognac, escargot, fine cigars and clean prostitutes to enjoy.
Does anyone feel that fouled and unnatural by technological advancement? The American Indian lost for a reason. He heap backward. His spiritual, agrarian world knowledge not power air conditioner or blend drink.
"Cruisin", admittedly, is for the shallow and weak. It is designed for the fat, stupid and indulgent beasts in all of us. It is to travel what golf is to athletics. What bingo is to gambling. What religion is to truth.
The boat's brochure offered golf and bingo. God, apparently, has no place on a cruise ship.
I was just fine with that.
That guy can really kill a good time.
Thanks to a few Muslim shitbags, custom checks nowadays come with a glaring suspicion and a finger glove. Not to say I was probed, prodded or detained in my travails of boarding the cruise liner, but there was no way in hell I conceived of bringing my dope stash with me for the journey. And that would have been nice. Smoking weed on the patio of my room with the open sea air in my face would not only have been cathartic and fun, but a relief from the constrictive boundaries of my Tom Thumb cabin.
To forego that pleasure, due to increased searches and seizures amongst the port authorities, was to wonder about the world in a "Wouldn't it be a better place if..." scenario.
Say, how nice it would be if we could all trust each other. Or, how wonderful our potential without the assumption of guilt. Or, why is marijuana illegal when I will still have to deal with at least two thousand drunken ass holes on this boat screaming "woooo" at everything from their next beer to the misplaced thong on the ass of a fat housewife from Des Moines.
Or even better, to truly answer the question as posed, "Wouldn't it be a better place if... there were no fucking Islamic fundamentalists". Then, I would not only cease to worry about being discovered with illicit substances or being blown to bits by some jack-off seeking Allah, but the odds of Simone being stoned to death for the proud, semi-clothed, cock loving woman she is, would be almost nil.
And I wouldn't have to deal with the ever present, hirsute Ahmad, in the obligatory Speedo with back hair, hitting on each and every fucking blonde broad he sees.
Call me crazy, but Islam must go. And Christianity too. And Judaism while we're at it. Nothing puts the kibosh on fun quicker than some religious asshole espousing their ideals. Particularly if that asshole is strapped to three pounds of TNT and belongs to a sweaty, wild-eyed Arab.
Nevertheless, we got on the boat.
The gangway and reception area was as an airline tube that had been run through the "United Colors of Benneton" public relations department. Faces from around the globe greet you with such enthusiasm that even Jesse Jackson would have a hard time suing them. There were Thais, Chinese, Slavs, Poles, Germans, Swedes, Japanese, Russians, Spaniards, Brits, Americans, Australians, Brazilians and I cannot confirm this, but one women, who I swear, was from Atlantis. We were all loved and appreciated. Perhaps for the dollars we represented but maybe in a greater sense, after 9/11, for what we truly represented to that crew. Namely, big, fat, stupid Americans with the balls to travel again.
A comfort that could save an industry.