April 13, 2006

Camera Hunting
Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico

The search for a replacement camera in Puerto Rico was a bust, and now I have to see if I can add it to the list of items my friend will be couriering down when he joins me for a long weekend at the end of this upcoming week. Until then, I will be without a working camera.

The day following the camera incident I took a bus to Plaza Las Américas, the largest mall in the Caribbean. After a few months of travel on islands where McDonald's hasn't even set foot yet, walking into this mall was incredible. I jumped into dozens of stores, ogling everything, tickled by memories of my prior life, all the while being hit sharply with intense feelings desire. My God, even the Banana Republic smelled the sameā€¦ mmmm, the aroma and sensation of clothes that have never been washed in a sink—delicious.

As stimulating and enjoyable as Plaza Las Américas was, it was severely lacking in the digital camera department, leaving me to walk away empty-handed. Finding a replacement was proving harder than anticipated, especially without access to a car (I mentioned some months ago that you really need a vehicle to get around on this island). Without stores like Best Buy or Circuit City, people seem to rely solely on Sears, Wal-Mart, and CompUSA for their digital camera needs. I kept thinking about (and wishing I had access to) this great electronics store in the Dutch capital city of St. Maarten—this one store had absolutely everything.

I paused the search on birthday-Wednesday, but heard a rumor that Best Buy had recently opened a location at Plaza Del Sol in Bayamón, a city that's a bus ride and train transfer away. Although the Best Buy Web site listed no locations in PR, I did find a vague reference to one in my searches. With no access to a Wal-Mart or CompUSA (without taking a taxi), I decided it was worth a shot.

Riding the train (Tren Urbano) was a delight. The relatively short, 16-station line runs both above and below ground, and has to be one of the best pieces of public transportation infrastructure I've ever used. If New York's subways looked like the Puerto Rico equivalent, I think people would try and rent them as mobile apartments. Zooming by the different parts of town, I almost forgot that Puerto Rico is one of the most densely populated places on the planet—filled with over 100 people per square mile—right up there with Taiwan and South Korea.

Unfortunately the murmurings of a new Best Buy turned out to be false, and the nearby Wal-Mart carried the camera, but was out of stock. That was it—with the day nearly over I had no other avenues available to explore. Tomorrow's shot because it's Good Friday (absolutely nothing's open), and Saturday morning I depart. Maybe I can pick one up on the Mexican Black Market… (grin)

Birthday Bust

Regrettably, there was nothing particularly wonderful about this birthday. A highlight was picking up an enjoyably lengthy game of volleyball and tackle football with seven locals I met after lounging on the beach, enjoying some warm sun and cold beer. A lowlight came a few hours later when I couldn't solidify plans with Marcos (whom I had visited in Old San Juan a few days prior) because his cell had run out of power—while simultaneously, Jess asked me to find another place to stay for the remainder of my time in town. I ended up spending the latter part of my birthday packing my bag and heading out to celebrate solo at a popular bar in Isla Verde (a part of San Juan a few miles east of where I was staying).

The day after I was running around with my backpack, hunting for that Best Buy, and coordinating with Marcos (who was gracious enough to extend me an offer to stay at his place for my final two nights in PR).

Much love and thanks to those who wished me well on my b-day this year! :)

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