It isn’t where we are, it’s who we are


Hugh Ryan reflects on what a map can't show us @ The Morning News.

PresentLenni and I take turns changing in the shelter of the bus stop outside the Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport, in San Juan. It’s August, we’ve been friends for two decades, but this is the first time Lenni and I have traveled together.After only an hour in Puerto Rico, my jeans are stuck to me. I peel them away like the moist layer of skin over a cut, and replace them with terrycloth shorts. A woman in the tourism office gave us a map and a bus schedule.

To get to the publicos, the gypsy cabs, we must take the B40 bus to Rio Piedras, the river of stones. From there, a publico will take us to Fajardo, where there is a ferry to Vieques, a small island east of Puerto Rico.Three B40 buses go by as we change clothes. Lenni doesn’t know any Spanish, so I scoot out to each bus and say “Ree-o Pee-ay-draz?” No, the drivers shake their heads. One makes a gesture that implies he is turning around, and that on the way back he’ll pick us up. He never returns.My phone rings while we wait—Simon. I turn it off and put it back in my bag.Other people come to the bus stop. Their buses arrive. They leave. After 30 minutes, yet another B40 bus pulls up. I go out to meet it, but someone beats me to it. “¿Vas al Rio Piedras?”

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