More travel notes

Submitted by eagle on Wed, 05/29/2019 - 17:22

What are some unusual ways to travel?

 

Animal. Horse, mule, donkey, camel, elephant, etc.

Alternative fuels. Biodiesel, etc.

Hot air balloon.

Etc.! :)

 

I am getting better at travel! :)

 

Kilometers, kilowords. They add up!

 

10 benefits of human-powered transportation

Submitted by eagle on Wed, 05/29/2019 - 17:21

Advantages of traveling by human power, such as by foot or by bicycle, include the following:

 

  1. Good exercise. Get stronger and healthier while traveling!
  2. Better for the environment. Less pollution, cleaner air.
  3. More beautiful. See, hear, feel the scenery.
  4. More authentic. Move by your own strength.
  5. More social. Meet the locals.
  6. More fun. Get that serotonin flowing!
  7. Less expensive. Save money for things you care about.
  8. Appetite building. Food tastes so much better after a long journey!
  9. Life training. Improve your psychology.
  10. And beyond!

Rainy Days

Submitted by eagle on Wed, 05/29/2019 - 17:02

Raining most of the day. Weather calls for more rain for the upcoming week. I want to go to the islands of Culebra and Vieques this week. Probably go even if it's rainy, as Ceiba is a small conservative town.

 

These islands and the area from here to San Juan seem like the interesting touring corridor of Puerto Rico. After that, I plan to continue walking around the main island. Maybe pick up a bike. Maybe there are more interesting places ahead, which I do not yet know.

 

Often one has to adapt to the conditions. After planning to go one way, maybe it rains or you find a different, unexpected destination. It makes sense to alter previous ideas, to take advantage of the conditions, instead of obstinately pursuing a goal based on naïve presumptions which proved less effective.

Go with experiences!

 

Travel is a kind of work. It's not professional work, unless one travels for a job. However, it takes effort, whether the physiological effort of walking or riding a bike or whatever, or the professional effort to afford gas or a plane ticket or whatever. Travel pays not in dollars, but in experiences, memories, life lessons.

 

Travel can show one different ways of living.

 

Travel can show one different environments. Travel can even show one different sides of oneself.

 

We have untapped reserves of potential. Travel often forces one to call upon those reserves, revealing better alternatives.

 

Writing is another kind of work. Even if it is not professional writing. Writing about one's experiences, thoughts, feelings, can be as simple as describing specific actions or events from memories. However, writing can also call upon untapped reserves, hidden strengths, to understand, to convey, to find patterns or meanings. Also, writing produces a more objective record. It is convenient, beautiful, rewarding to have a written document that communicates what one felt or thought under certain conditions.

 

I am writing this story, about my travels through the Caribbean and more of Latin America, for a number of reasons. In part I insist on recording my travels anyways, for my own sake. I want to remember later on what I am now doing. In part I want to share with anyone interested, whether an old friend or an internet stranger. Also, as a professional writer I do want to compile these writings into my next book.

 

Writing isn't much of a business. Unless you are already famous, it is difficult to sell enough writing even to cover expenses, let alone to make a significant income. In part writing is an artistic calling, a desire to express oneself.

 

Writing also enables one to better understand and appreciate events. After seeing something new, or trying an activity for the first time, writing can act as a kind of prompt, which elicits one's responses. Some of the responses may be recalled from during the event itself, while other responses may come from reflection, or from attempting to describe the event in a more objective, understandable way, for example.

 

I am happy to write this story regardless of sales.

 

Writing can also feel fun. It's relaxing, soothing, like the rain falling on a roof or tent. The tippity tappity of keys clicking. It's nice to write with a pen or pencil or typewriter, but a keyboard has a pleasant tactile sense.

 

Writing can also be hypnotizing, like the rain. And some people think it's therapeutic to externalize one's thoughts.

 

Travel is life.

 

Travel means going from one place to another. That is the same, physically, as any other process in the universe. Movement.

 

Whether one travels by foot, bicycle, car, boat, airplane, animal, or other mode of transportation, one physically moves from one location to another. One displaces parts of the environment, shifting such that one has a different perspective. The different perspective affords new thoughts, feelings.

 

Travel in the common sense of visiting other countries, cities, etc., often involves chaining together multiple steps. For example, one may walk to the car, drive to the airport, fly to the destination, Uber to the hotel, walk to the beach, etc.

 

Each of these steps is in a basic sense comparable to the steps one would go through without "traveling" to a novel destination. For example, one may walk to the car, drive to the office, etc. (Flying is less common for work than for travel, but it does happen.)

 

As such, travel is fundamentally not different than "ordinary" life.

 

When I started long-term traveling, I had already done endurance athletics. I thought of travel (and still do) as doing the same exercises, but instead of returning "home" at the end of the day, continuing on.

 

Home is where the heart is. Home is the opposite of travel, I guess. Opposite usually have quite a lot in common. In traveling, I feel that one makes one's home wherever one is at the time.

 

For me, personally, I feel more at home while traveling than while living in one place.

 

I feel like my "home" IS travel.

 

After a while in one spot -- it could be a few years in an appealing metropolis, or a few hours in a small town -- I start to get bored. Then, I feel immense relief when I leave, when I travel to new destinations.

 

I'm not sure whether one day I'll want to "settle down" somewhere, or if I'll continue to feel like that's "settling" "down" (i.e. taking something not as desirable). Thankfully, for the next few years at least, and next few decades if my body and mind hold out, I prefer to travel.

 

There are so many countries I want to visit. I am extremely grateful that I get so bored so quickly, because that means I have the motivation to keep on traveling to new destinations. Otherwise, I am confident that my laziness would probably keep me in one place.

 

In a way, it's the negatives or problems that often drive the positives or benefits. Because of fears, anxieties, boredom, stress, etc., I and other people can get driven to travel. I probably would not travel nearly as much if I felt comfortable in one place for long. Because I get uncomfortable seeing the same sights, hearing the same sounds, etc., I feel forced in some sense to travel, to leave. I think that my basic personality type, the neurotic part of it, genetically, drives me to travel. Also, to write. This personality issue definitely has major drawbacks -- I often feel negative emotions, which can be quite difficult to manage. However, at least it has the advantage of propelling higher, farther -- maybe not faster.

 

Speed does matter, but it's not the only thing. Also, I often prefer to travel slowly. A casual pace gives one more time to think, to feel, to process the experiences.

 

On foot, it sometimes seems to take too long to get places, but overall I very much appreciate the opportunity to make decisions carefully. While walking, the brain "walks" along too, exploring possibilities, contemplating. It's a comfortable pace to consider things like routes, cultures, geographies.

 

Sometimes people offer me a ride, for example just on the way here. I often accept, but if I am enjoying the walk, then I may decline.

 

In a car, you have more comfort, you have protection from the elements, you have speed. Very effective way to get places, but it's so fast that you can easily miss large parts of a country.

 

The main island of Puerto Rico is approximately 150 km x 50 km. Driving at 130 km/hr, you could cross the long way in just over an hour, and the short way in well under an hour! It's so fast that you can whizz by most of the attractions without having a chance even to see them, let alone to take them in.

 

I guess I've had a bunch of saved up thoughts. Like having a bunch of saved up energy in a battery (which I unfortunately often don't have -- just recently I've run out of phone battery a few times before getting pictures of some of the most beautiful sights -- I want to buy a battery backup).

 

While traveling you're often thrown out of any routine. Sometimes you're far away from electricity for a few days, so you have to remember what you want to write down. Other times you're stranded in the rain, so you get a chance to recall your memories and write them down.

 

As in life generally, during travel it makes sense to adapt to conditions.

 

I often wish it rained less. I want to spend more time in deserts, although where I am now and where I plan to travel for much of the near future contains tropical areas more than deserts. Humans have historically depended on rainfall, so most of the popular or interesting destinations are rainy, often by rivers. Nowadays, with water pipes and other modern amenities, it's about as easy to live in the desert, but few societies have arisen in the desert, and those that have are often car-centric and somewhat boring to me.

 

I sometimes daydream of a bicycle-based modern society in the desert. Solar panels. Technology and tourism for industry. Unique architecture.

 

After Puerto Rico, I plan to go to Republica Dominicana. From there, Haiti, which shares the same island. Then, maybe the US Virgin Islands and British Virgin Islands. Afterwards, I want to see some of the Dutch Caribbean.

 

I do want to see Trinidad and Tobago, but I'm not sure whether it makes more sense to do that now or from South America. I'm deliberating whether to try seeing Venezuela and the Guyanas as part of the Caribbean, or T&T as part of northeastern South America.

 

After the Caribbean, I plan to go to Cancun, then see the rest of Mexico, then C. America, then S. America.

 

I like the people one often meets while traveling. They seem like a different breed than stay-at-homes.

 

Loud noises bother me. I think it's part of my neurotic personality. I'm sure that loud noises bother most people, but I've noticed that they seem to bother me far more than average. Also, I think that they may bother me more now than when I was younger?

 

One thing I especially like about travel is the opportunity to choose when and where to go. Not just in the larger sense of which countries to see in which days, but also in the smaller sense of just choosing to get out of the city and go for a long walk in the country whenever you feel like it. You can easily enough incorporate a route change into your itinerary, since there are likely to be places in that direction that you want to see anyways. I find it much easier while traveling than while in one place to plan or act spontaneously, to go where one pleases when one pleases.

 

Freedom. The freedom of travel enables one to do more, see more, be more. It's the same fundamental concept as how freedom of motion enables any object or system to become more.

 

By the way, culturally freedom can have different senses, or meanings. In Cuba the politics often speaks of freedom. Yet, in practice, people often lack basic freedoms -- to choose their work, their place of residence, and so forth.

 

In Puerto Rico, I see little mention of freedom. More likely to see the word "gratis" (free of cost) than "libre" (free of restrictions). However, Puerto Ricans are in many senses more free -- to buy cars or boats, to travel, etc.

 

Puerto Rico seems like a "nice" society. The people are nice and friendly, the food is nice and soft, and weather is nice and warm, etc. Things here generally seem nice, comfy, decent. They lack the edge of being too extreme in one direction or another. The food isn't too spicy, the weather isn't too cold, the people aren't too mean. Things just sort of function, roll along.

 

It's comfortable here. I think it would make an exceptional place for liberal Americans from the northern US to move or retire. Real estate costs much less, the weather is better, there are beaches, the people are friendlier, etc.

 

Personally, I want to continue traveling, as mentioned above. Also, I have somewhat unusual tastes, and would prefer to live in a society with more colorful food, music, etc.

 

In the tropics, many trees have brightly colored flowers -- pinks, purples, yellows, oranges, reds, often intermingling. There are so many varieties of plants and animals, one can't even recognize them all. The mixture of rain and sunshine provide the conditions for a great variety of growing life forms.

 

The humidity of the tropics makes my sinuses swell up, I feel fatigue, nasal congestion, pressure behind my eyes and teeth, and other symptoms. However, the same weather conditions also produce some of the most gorgeous flora and fauna on the planet.

 

It's a tradeoff. Like in many areas of life, there are tradeoffs. The desert has conditions that I find easier in some ways to manage (although I know that for many people the desert is harder to handle), but the desert produces far fewer varieties of plants and animals.

 

Each zone -- whether a microclimate, a large geographical area, a neighborhood -- has its own distinctive life forms.

 

I appreciate visiting many different areas, whether passing through briefly on the way elsewhere, or to stay for a few days, or even to reside for a few months or years.

 

It gives one a chance to learn new organisms, to feel different, to wonder what one would do if one resided there longer.

 

Maybe that's one of my favorite parts of travel -- the chance to imagine oneself in different environments.

“One's destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.”

Henry Miller

 

I also like meeting people, who are very different in each environment. I've met people while traveling who much more closely resemble my ideals of the people with whom I want to spend time, compared to people whom I had met while residing in one place.

 

There's so much to like about travel, that to me it's easily worth the additional costs in terms of money, time, effort, risk, opportunity, and so forth.

 

The costs of travel are quite real. However, there's a tradeoff, and for me now, I am very happy to travel!

 

There are trillions of uninhabited planets. Can't we have just one to screw up (however we want)?

 

Puerto Rican Spanish seems kind of funny to me. I still find it somewhat hard to understand. Not sure if that's the accent, or just me. The people seem to mumble fast, but maybe I'm just feeling sluggish? They also have a number of different words than in other varieties of Spanish that I've heard.

 

In Puerto Rico, there seem to be numerous words for bananas/plantains. Not sure yet if I have these right, but "guineo" seems to be sweet banana, "amarillo" sweet yellow plantain, "maduros" and "tostones" and a few other words are other types of plantains, etc.

 

"Habichuelas", which is for certain peas I think in other Spanish-speaking areas, seems to refer to beans such as pintos, here in Puerto Rico. There are a few other word variations. The accent seems kind of sing-song.

 

 

Continuing in Puerto Rico!

Submitted by eagle on Tue, 05/28/2019 - 13:43

Mangos. Pros: delicious, thirst-quenching. Cons: make you go to the bathroom, get stuck among your teeth.

 

Continuing my walk through Puerto Rico. Now in Ceiba!

 

Ate at a Burger King, of which there are many. The BK's here have some local foods which I tried, like a tripleta (a sandwich on soft sobao bread).

 

 

Outdoors Adventures in Puerto Rico!

Submitted by eagle on Mon, 05/27/2019 - 16:51

Puerto Rico is growing on me. Like Cuba, I came not knowing too much about the country.

 

Puerto Ricans seem quite kind.

 

In Cuba, the sweet foods turned out winners: fruits huge, delicious, having flavors I didn't even know fruits could have.

 

In Puerto Rico, the grains are proving winners. Breads include pan sobao, a sweet bread with a soft, chewy texture that pulls apart in even chunks. Pan de agua is a European-style bread, which I prefer to many actual European breads. The pastries are quite delicious.

 

While walking out of San Juan, a mountain loomed on the horizon. I kept on walking, curious, but planning to go around. As I got near, people told me more about it: El Yonque. Now that I'm here, it looks more appealing - tropical rainforests. Also, I'm ahead of when I want to arrive at the islands of Vieques and Culebra. So, today I plan to spend walking El Yonque.

 

I think there are more chain stores in Puerto Rico than on the continental US. Even walking, I pass by a second of the same franchise before I've even finished thinking about the first!

 

I like the Swiss cheese here. They also have tons of queso papa (cheddar cheese), and American cheese.

 

Climbing el Yonque, beautiful rainforest. So far my favorite part of Puerto Rico!

 

It's rained on and off throughout the day so far. Not too surprising, rain in a rainforest!

 

Tons of fruit trees, some vines, some organisms I don't think I've ever seen before!

 

Hiked up el Yonque!

 

Gorgeous views. Close encounters with beautiful animals, including hummingbird and mongoose. Variety of colorful trees and other plants.

 

It rained most of the way up. I guess that's what you expect from a rainforest. Favorite part of a rainforest: forest. Least favorite part of a rainforest: rain.

I got somewhat lost near the peak, and it was getting dark, so I camped out. Cool night. The next day, it was sunnier.

 

If a Portuguese person and a Costa Rican person reproduce, is the offspring Puerto Rican?

 

Beautiful birdsongs.

 

Fruits growing here include mangos, bananas, and what I think are passion fruits ("parchas" here) and soursops ("guanabanas").

 

Puerto Ricans call oranges "chinas".

 

Taking back roads down the mountain. Heading towards a town, Luqillo. Aiming for the beach!

 

A quieter period. Went to the beach. In Luquillo, a charming small town. Now in eastern Puerto Rico.

 

I like the countryside and small towns, in Puerto Rico as elsewhere. The people are more relaxed, the scenery is nicer, and I feel that it retains some of the unique traditions of the place.

 

Puerto Rico pix!

 

Walking from San Juan to the rest of Puerto Rico!

Walking Puerto Rico

Submitted by eagle on Thu, 05/23/2019 - 12:15

Woke up early today.

I'm walking eastward in Puerto Rico. The country looks like a postage stamp.

I plan to get to the northeastern corner of the country in a few days, take the ferries to the islands, then resume my clockwise walk around the main island.

I'll probably skip the center of the country. It has a mountain, I'm not that interested in seeing it.

Many of the plants are familiar to me, from Florida, Cuba, etc. The Puerto Ricans here strike me as similar to the Puerto Ricans in Miami. There are numerous chain stores here, the same ones as in the continental US. So far, outside of a few cultural surprises, and some of old San Juan, I'm finding the country fairly expected.

I've tried a few Puerto Rican foods: mofongo (fried plantain), mondongo (a hearty dish one pours over rice or bread), and pernil (marinated roast pork). They generally taste filling, if ordinary. It's like Puerto Rico and Puerto Ricans: decent, yet ordinary.

I feel like I'm just sort of there, boring, normal, etc., which is a relief after the fun yet tiring extraordinary experiences of Miami and Cuba.

PR seems like a practical country to do work.

It reminds me of traveling through the US. It's tiring, yet there are tons of things to see. I like the chance to think while going places.

Walking is so slow. I'd like a bike, but probably won't get one here. It doesn't seem worth it for such a small island, and I may have to ditch it before leaving. Anyways, biking would maybe be too fast for PR, since it'd be like a few days around the country.

 

Leaving San Juan

Submitted by eagle on Wed, 05/22/2019 - 14:17

Another day in Puerto Rico. Now heading out of the main part of San Juan.

I think I'm often too picky. While traveling, or even not traveling, it makes daily activities more complicated.

I'm walking away from the core of San Juan. Aiming east...

Puerto Rico Ferries

Submitted by eagle on Tue, 05/21/2019 - 15:16

Puerto Rico seems to have a bunch of ferries. I want to take a ferry after seeing this island, to see Republica Dominicana, then Haiti. Maybe also other islands.

There's a ferry from Fajardo to the Puerto Rican island of Culebra, which people have recommended to me. Also one to Vieques. Looks like they now leave from Ceiba.

Maybe go to Vieques, it apparently has the brightest bioluminescent bay. New moon phase. Maybe end of May, or in June. Or maybe at the end of my counterclockwise tour around the main island? Or maybe go clockwise just for that?

The ferry from Puerto Rico to Republica Dominica looks expensive. Around $200 round trip, $100 one way. It's an overnighter. Cheaper to fly? Looks like around $150 one way to fly.

Looks like there are also ferries to St. Thomas, in the US Virgin Islands. From there it may be possible to get to the British Virgin Islands. Maybe I can then keep traveling on…

Around $100 Puerto Rico to US Virgin Islands?

This service leaves sporadically and unpredictably. You can try calling the phone number above to see if there is anything on the dates you require.

 

More San Juan, Puerto Rico

Submitted by eagle on Tue, 05/21/2019 - 14:48

I'm thinking of touring the island of Puerto Rico soon. Maybe I'll walk. Maybe ride a bike. Maybe bus.

It looks like there are a few Airbnbs in Aguadilla, on the west coast. Rincon also seems to have some surfer spots. Maybe I'll camp out a bunch along the way.

It's a small island. Looks like around 150 km by 50 km, roughly rectangular.

I don't think there's that much to see, it seems like a small country. I'm somewhat curious about the small towns, although I think that most Puerto Ricans reside in the city.

The weather in Puerto Rico seems more moderate than in Cuba. Not sure if that's generally the case. If so, it could explain in part why Puerto Ricans seem so much milder.

 

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