Tuesday, September 14, 2010

San Juan

As one of my All You Can Jet adventures, I jet to San Juan, Puerto Rico, and trek on two buses to the deserted and wild Piñones Beach.

When I reach the beach, a dog greets me and follows me. I expect it to stop soon and go back to its master.

After a while, I realize it has no leash. It has no collar. It has no master.

Like me, she's alone.

At first, I'm unsure whether I like her: I think she might bite me. I think she wants my food. Then I think she wants to chew my Hollister shoes. Finally, I think she just wants a friend.

We do have a few things in common.

She's a wild dog. I'm a wild boy.

She's a beach dog. I'm a beach dude.

She's got naturally multi-colored hair. I do too.

She leads and follows me. When I walk, she walks. When I stop, she stops. When I swim, she swims.

When I emerge from the surf, she dances and barks. When I lie in the sand, she jumps on me and freaks me out. When I throw her a stick or an object to fetch, she runs after it, grips it with her teeth and lets it be. Like I do.

She chases birds and urchins and beautiful things she can't catch. Like I do.

I name her Playa. If I were a dog, I'd live free on the beach like she does.

As we walk, we encounter a few other people and other dogs on the beach. Surely she can find a companion more interesting than I am. And one who loves dogs more than I do.

But she stays with me. Like me, she doesn't want to stay in one place: she wants to run around the beach and be free.

I feel safe without her. I feel safer with her. She watches out for me. For the first time in my life, I understand why dogs are man's best friend.

We walk together on the beach for five miles. The sun begins to set, and we reach the end of the beach. I look back, and I see only palm trees and her footsteps and mine in the sand.

Starving, she starts to forage for food. Even though I don't know when or if a bus will come for me, I give her my food. I feed her Terra Blues, the official snack of JetBlue, and a Chocolate Chipper.

She waits for the bus with me. I tell her what a good dog she is.

When the bus comes and I have to go home, she is Elliot, and I am E.T.

As I jet from San Juan to New York, I tear up thinking of my perfect dog and our perfect day on a perfect beach.

Adios Playa! Adios amiga!

You think she's a dog. I think she's God.

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