19 July 2010

Have you heard my theory on time-travel? The past ten days on the island.

More data. More photographs. More videos. More interviews. The last ten days have been action-packed. Here is a quick list of happenings in the the last ten days, including Arthur's visit to the island. Now, the countdown begins. 13 more days. Today, Jorell and Magaly told me they aren't at good at goodbyes...well that makes three of us. It shall be painful. Perhaps I should start planning that return trip now...and ensuring I see everyone in New York for Thanksgiving and rock n' roll.

1. Exploring Santurce with Jason Mena, particularly the part where we drank a Medalla on the curb outside of the gas station and ate an almond from the almond tree we were sitting beneath.

2. The misinterpretation of the status update: "Not funny, Mario. Not funny, at all."

3. Watching the final World Cup game with Magaly and Jorell.

4. Enjoying the campus of the UPR, while sitting in the library, outside the theatre, and conducting interviews.

5. Having the opportunity to be broody on the island.

6. Going to Old San Juan with Carlos, discussing plans for his next film project, getting stuck (yet again, by the rain under an awning), experiencing The Office (including the special whiskey and delightful food), and getting a little lost.

7. Meeting new friends, like Ezequiel, Miguel, Joel, and Bryan.

8. Arthur's arrival.

9. Sitting in the apartment during a storm with the power out with only candles to light the place and listening to the upstairs neighbor play his piano.

10. Taking Art to the Cafe (103) with Jorell and Egie. Becoming U.M.B (aka ultra.mega.brooders) and also remembering to take home the umbrella (only to leave it out at the bar a couple of nights later). Dancing and c-c-c-combobreaking.

11. Taking Art to Old San Juan.

12. The three rock shows: Un Final Fatal, Campio Formio, and Anti-Sociales.

13. "Hey Sexy Wassup"

14. The attempted beach trip to Guilligan's Island with Magaly, Jorell, Art, Noelia and Carlos. After many failed starts, we finally arrived (after driving through the weather coming from the water tornado in Mayaguez) to discover the ferry was sold out. While drinking beer at the nearby and odd Rasta painted bar, the sun returned...so we instead spent the afternoon at the nearby beach, Playa Cana Gorda. Spending hours in the ocean, while drinking Medalla simultaneously was delightful. Aww, the memories and laughter.

15. Listening to Edward Sharpe with Art in my room, after a few too many drinks.

16. The UPR piquete at the tower and the general march on July 18th. (See photo above from the general march).

17. Planning numerous pranks...whether involving religion, steaks, police, or pillows.

18. Drinking frozen margaritas and swimming in the rain with Arthur before he left today.

I now embark on my final two weeks on the island. Fieldwork will occupy most of this week, but you can bet your ass I'm going to Manic Monday next week. I'm hoping for dance party. I'm also hoping to see Culebra or Vieques.

And an anecdote, Art and I met a woman on the beach today when it was raining. For some unknown reason, she explained to us that she arrived here 13 months ago for a short trip. And she never left. She called a friend to have her two dogs put on a plane for here. Hmmm.

Now, Arthur...would you do me a favor? Prepare Sabine and Igor for a plane ride?

(Pictures and video to follow in the next couple of days...)

09 July 2010

Wait, they have light switches and paper towel dispensers in Puerto Rico? Que, queeeeee?

As I make my way through Week 3 of my field research here in Puerto Rico, I find myself nervous that time is starting to slip away. Week 4 begins on Monday. In terms of my "work" here, I've attended three protests, documented and acquired data on the police brutality at El Capitolio, assemblies, and the movements at both UPR and Escuela de Artes Plastica. I've gone to several art museums. I've made contacts within both the art and academic worlds here. I've interviewed five people, with five more scheduled over the weekend and the beginning of next week. And more exciting than that, I've started to hone in on more specific research questions and areas of interest. I've found myself using the terms "manifestation" and "investigation" to describe the work I'm doing. I've been able to hold my own in terms of discussing the issues present within the movements and struggles here on the island (though unfortunately, not in Spanish). Ultimately, I've made real progress here with my intended purposes. As each day passes, I realize how important it is to study these issues here. Only here can I have access to the information and networks necessary to begin to understand the complexity of these struggles and the lives implicated in the struggles.

And it hasn't been all work and no play, I've had a blast too. So, let's count down some of the wonderful happenings from the last week and a half...and then you can enjoy some of the pictures...

1. Exploring Old San Juan, Escuela de Artes Plastica, Nacional Galeria, and record shopping with Calin.

2. Attending the protest at the police headquarters in reaction to the violence at El Capitolio.

3. Watching two, not one, World Cup games with Carlos and Noelia and their lovely friends.

4. Turning a Sunday night into Manic Sunday at Cafe 103 with Magaly, Jorell, and Egie.

5. Watching Sunday night turn into Monday morning with Egie and Ralph at Cafe 103, while drinking a few too many combobreakers and still talking shit about drinking Egie under the table.

6. NOT being inundated with nationalism, narratives of independence, and fireworks on the 4th of July.

7. Deciding that Arthur simply must come visit and making the proper arrangements for it to happen.

8. Snowball Sampling from UPR professors and other activists in the movement.

9. More lovely and entertaining dinners with my family here. Thanks to Magaly's incredible skills in the kitchen. Thanks to Mario's ability to flip pancakes. Thanks to Jorell's kitchen assisting skills.

10. Conquering the war against mosquitoes...and sleeping soundly without their feasting upon my flesh.

11. Conquering bus transportation, at least to Old San Juan...but not back, yet.

12. Discussions with my family here and their lovely friends about any number of interesting topics: Reptile people, Time Travel, Gentrification, Linguistics, Authority. And then comparing them always to LOST and Battlestar Galactica.

13. Exploring the campus of UPR with Carlos, meeting his colleagues, having a delightful lunch from "the vegetarian people", learning that they have light switches here on the island,and conducting two fantastic interviews.

14. Taking the day off, every so often, to enjoy the beach.

15. Experiencing the ups and downs of internet access, including the moment when all of us were able to access wireless and Mario's hilarious chat suggestions.

16. Feeling like something between a tourist and a resident.

As I said early on, I fear that time is starting to slip away. I start my 4th week on Monday. I'm already nostalgic. I'm already missing the people. I'm already missing the food. I'm already missing the language and the dirty words I've learned. I'm already missing the streets I walk daily. I'm already missing my family here. While I undoubtedly know I'll be back soon, I hadn't expected to feel quite so "at home" here. I hadn't expected to not feel homesick.

When I talked with Jennie Ann on the phone earlier, she recounted the details of when I made the decision to study here. We were sitting in an overpriced hot tub at the Caribe Hilton. We were scheduled to leave the island that day, on my first trip here. And I said, "There just has to be a way for me to stay." While I said these words enjoying the privileges of being a tourist, I had no idea the wonderful experiences that I would gain from spending my summer here.

And onwards, I travel into the second half of my field work and time here, while I scratch a mosquito bite and raise a toast of Medalla to the wonderful friends and family I've made here.

Puerto Rico July 1 to July 9

"Now the ocean speaks and spits and I can hear it from the interstate. And I'm screaming at my brother on a cellphone, he is far away. And I'm saying nothing in the past or the future will ever feel like today." -Bright Eyes