evie altman
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dispatch from puerto rico

warm weather, warm people, warm room. when i came here with scott, he booked a big hotel in condado, with a casino, bar, three restaurants, four elevators, lots of nice people, gorgeous beach. this time, with the kids, i got a small inn a couple blocks from the beach in a converted house that’s part of a regular (albeit very nice) neighborhood. it’s a granola-y type of place — yoga in the morning and evening, communal kitchen, hand-made sunscreen for sale in the reception area, tons of buddhas and frogs and plants and lizards and hummingbirds and fountains around. also vegetarian. on christmas eve, we had this amazing four-course vegan dinner. my sucky memory has a yummy soup with something chunky and a risotto with some seared pumpkin steak and a really sweet dessert that i couldn’t finish. and yeah, there was something else, but sucky memory and the kids are all still sleeping so i can’t ask them.

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it’s a homey, verdant comfy place with hammocks all over and some really cute dogs. lots has been rebuilt since the hurricane.

satch got me the michelle obama book for hanukah, and as i was reading the part about the horrible neglect of hurricane katrina in new orleans, it’s easy to compare the contempt with which puerto ricans were treated last year with maria. we still fly the american flag at the fort and the airport and government buildings, but really, did we and have we helped in any way we should have? you see the puerto rican flag much more often, which feels right. i don’t know if people living here would rather be their own country or become a state but it seems that the US shouldn’t have a hold on this island without promising the support we promise, say, maryland.

on monday, when we got here, marxe and i went to the beach and saw a double rainbow. lasted for a long time. we played in the water (so much warmer than the cape but not as warm as miami) and watched some dogs chasing balls. lots of the dogs here (and there are a lot of dogs) are of the short-legged variety, so seeing them run through sand and run generally is adorable.

yesterday, we went into old san juan, with all the other thousands of cars. found a garage to park and walked for a few miles. the fort is cool. walking over the hill, i was surprised by this bright white cemetery nestled in a space between 1600s walls and the dark blue ocean.

see, the puerto rican flag looks right there

see, the puerto rican flag looks right there

found a gelato place that swirled a shot of alky-hol into your mix (we opted for bailey’s irish cream). many places closed for christmas, but many open too. and people were everywhere, locals and tourists drinking and celebrating.

met a couple from new york during the sangria/panetonne cocktail hour in the common area. he’s french, she’s sicilian, and they have the coolest jobs in new york. guillaume is a museum interactive exhibit designer. and maria is a studio manager for nan goldin. loved her work since i lived in miami. i remember going to an exhibition of her stuff there at some museum and being floored. and of course since then, i’ve seen her work all over.

iconic nan goldin

iconic nan goldin

neato people. met another couple here: sisters from california that travel the world together. they’re younger and go places whenever they can get enough money together. pretty cool.

so yesterday was also my 24th anniversary. kids worried about me, but i was really ok. much better here than last year in disney world. this place is so beautiful and all that’s happened in the past three years, 24 years, 54 years brought me to here and now. i’m grateful and happy. truly.