Chapter 1

September 5, 2009

Greetings to all!!

I start here a travel diary, which I guess will have several chapters and from which I intend to get you a bit closer to my daily reality here in Puerto Rico. I am doing this primarily to make you participants in any way possible of this experience I am enjoying, secondly to make myself write, and thirdly and of course most important to maintain contact with you because I know many of you were interested in the details of my stay here. 

Of course the options are multiple and free: read it, print it, erase it, bind it, and even answering it!!

The first thing is thanking Lucas, who with his magnificent travel diaries from deep in Chile, from the coast in Chile or from the vicissitudes of a bus headed to Brazil, made me feel at times very close to him while contemplating what his beautiful pictures showed me. I take this idea from him. 

Copyright Sebastián Galafate

The trip, more than two weeks ago, not because of the lenght, full of layovers, changes in airlines, etc.. I found it less boring. I went from Malaga to Dublin, there I spent the night (fairly good for spending the night in that airport, with bars and sits everywhere to lay down...). From Dublin I went to New York, and once there and considering it was the airport terminal, the concept of fast food restaurants took another meaning.  Later I went to San Juan.

Once in the airplane I noticed how the environment was different, the warmth of the travelers was not the same as that of the Irish, not even alike... and a tranquil and parsimonious old man perfectly placed his luggage in the overhead compartment without a hint of the rush behind him, until the stewardess (of blonde hair and pale skin) urged him to take "pick up a bit of speed", while he returned him a look of sweetness comparable to the tension that accumulated in the woman's face.

After I finished in customs, almost with the same nerves from when I was headed to selection, settled in the spacious seats at the Emergency Exit of the last flight I had to take and already aware of the sympathy and the closeness of the People with whom I was encountering, I took off to San Juan.

The first day went by quickly, Karen (Puerto Rican girl who I had already met because she was in Seville and also because she was linked to the exchange between the schools of architecture Puerto Rico - Seville in which I am in) has to present her thesis (an contemporary architecture project in Old San Juan) and understood she was in a bit of a hurry, so I went on to help her together with other of her peers while I waited for the courses to start and the job at the Archive AACUPR. 

Here I present Karen's thesis, which obtained an outstanding pass and thereby in such academic manner I started my stay in the University of Puerto Rico. 

During the first days, I was specially surprised by the yankee "way" of many things here: a great quantity of fast foods, roads, cars, 24-hour supermarkets... but after that first shock of finding such forms distant from the caribbean culture in an island like this one I discovered and started submerging into the bottom of some of their manners, local culture, and folklore...  

Copyright Sebastián Galafate

In a few words, the belonging of this island to the United States for more than a century has left quite a mark on this People, but it is impossible to live with imported "ways" from other latitudes, climates and cultures in an environment such as this. 

I don't want to lenghten much today, so I conclude now. In this time of airports, waits and despairs... I have had a lot of time to read, besides Rayuela I have been with some poems from Benedetti amongst others and I leave you with piece of it:

Credo (Creed)

vos sabés (you know)

en esta excursión a la muerte (in this excursion to death)

que es la vida (that is life)

me siento bien acompañado (I feel in good company)

me siento casi con respuestas (I almost feel I have the answers)

cuando puedo imaginar que allá lejos (when I can imagine that far away)

quizá creas en mi credo antes de dormirte (maybe you believe in my creed before you fall asleep)

o te cruces conmigo en los pasillos del sueño (or you cross paths with me in the passages of sleep)

An enormous embrace and you shall know that I have you very present and therefore... are very close.