this beach is a doorway. it looks like an idyllic paradise, and most afternoons it probably is. i climbed down the cliff to the left of the frame. behind where we're viewing of course, so you can't see it, you just have to imagine it. but ruins always make for a good introduction; conjuring up visions of the old or the decrepit perhaps, the stones tell a story.
the cliffs weren't sheer, but they were practically impossible to scale for the few miles i decided to explore them. from the foot of a 15th century parapet and then down to the ocean, i intended to walk towards a public beach i could see on the horizon. it seemed a reasonable proposition. at first inspection this beach held the greatest of sea offerings. crabs, snails and small fish abounded in the cove where i climbed down, and multicolored glass smoothed in the surf was scattered about near discarded hermit shells and tiny pieces of bone-like coral. i was surprised that tourists hadn't yet plundered these trinkets
in the background you can make out the fort where i began, maybe a mile back. so far, i was the only person on this spit of land wedged between a palm cliffside and the ocean. it seemed a good place to snorkle, seeing as there were tide pools and a large reef just offshore. but right as i got to these ruins which now served as an out of the way fishing pier, it began to rain. i scrambled up a few feet of rock and hid under the giant green palm leaves until it let up enough for me to collect a few more images. the look of the clouds was still ominous at best, so i figured it best to continue
(after a prehistoric beast break)
|hail, Igor the iguana!|
this was at the end of the beach. a stairway to nowhere. i climbed up the stairs onto a broken-down basketball court surrounded by construction fence. further down, the public beach was visible a few hundred yards away. a strange guy on a motorcycle was waving to me from the other side of the fence. i kinda staggered over to my side and looked for a way out. he pointed to the lock and chain and said it was broke, he had been wrapping the chain up during the day to look like it was still good, and sleeping under one of the roofs on the property that hadnt yet collapsed at night.
As i crossed the rest of the lot to where he was sitting on a huge immaculate hog (for there was a motorcycle rally this weekend) i saw he had to be about 6 and half feet tall. i saw that his leg closest to me was a prosthetic. he was a chrome rod from the thigh down with a black leather boot stuck on the bottom, and a knife sticking out of that.
"I'm from texas. living the good life on the beach now."
I said i was from new york and he said he knew i wasn't from around here as soon as he saw me, and that was the reason he waved me over.
"We gotta look out for eachother," He said. "The cops'll bust you if ya try sleeping n that building. they check it at night." I told him thanks, and he told me to be careful and rode off, already missing a leg himself.
i had come to my destination. but, hold on. that was the end of the story. and i told you the begining. but i didn't mention the middle yet, because i didn't take any pictures then. i wanted to, but after the ruins, things got a little shady. i came upon some shacks perched against the bottom of the cliff under the palms. shacks might actually be a compliment to these hovels, but even they didn't seem as dirty and menacing as the bums sitting down here. one had a beard almost as thick as mine, which is large enough not to be conducive to an island lifestyle, but was much more scragglier and ragged. he was sitting in stained underwear staring out at the menacing clouds. i don't even think he blinked as i walked by, but i could feel his eyes upon me. with a small knife hidden in my fist, i walked on.
i passed a grove that was obviously used for fucking, by the mounds of used prophelactics in the sand. someone was partially hidden behind a tree trunk, but i just kept my head down and kept going. two other ragged creatures nodded towards me as i approached them. the beach was very narrow here with the two derelicts squatted in the only sand between the rocks and shore. i walked onto the rocks being pounded by the surf and then i noticed something floating in the water, lapping up against the shore. the bums were staring at it as well. it looked like a translucent bag, maybe some discarded trash. a little blue, a little purple, but pale as ghost, just enough body to it to give it form.
as i got right upon it practically, floating next to me bobbing gently against the rocky shore, i noticed it was a dead pitbull. a white one, now turned into a boney pillowcase soaked through with seawater. i was disgusted to say the least, but it soon turned more towards alarm when i saw the two sets of eyes that were just an arms length away from me staring intently at me, gesturing towards the dog. those last ten minutes were the quietist time in the whole month i was there i suppose, but i just kept on going.
they say theres light at the end of every tunnel, and indeed there was for me. the bums stayed guarding their canine corpse, and i finally made it to a staircase that led me off of the creepiest beach in Puerto Rico. by this time, the storm had moved out and the sun was out again. it was just like any other afternoon-