Published: June 29th 2006June 29th 2006
I just realized that I forgot to tell you in the last blog that the Chinese guy that did not want to use his headphones took off his pants and I had the privilege to watch him sleep in his red underwear for several hours... I don't know how I forgot to tell you that, that was the funniest part of the story!!
Ok, back to this blog.
On June 24th, many cities celebrate "La Noche de San Juan" it is really a celebration of the birth of Saint John The Baptist and of course, it involves activities near or in the sea. I remember when I was living in Gran Canaria, Spain, I loved it! We would go to the beach and watch a show of fireworks, laser lights, drink some beers or "ron miel" and then go for a quick swim. Lots of people would light bonfires.
Even though many cities share this celebration, I was very excited to celebrate it here in Puerto Rico because the capital of the island is called San Juan in honor of this saint.
This celebration attracts hordes of people to the water, whether the beach, or swimming pool
(which is not that fun)
According to tradition (and my research), at midnight on St. John's Day, the waters are blessed and possess special powers, including curing sickness, giving beauty, improving fortune, aiding fertility, increasing agricultural production, and warding off evil. The rituals associated with water date back to ancient civilizations, including old Egypt. Fire is also a purifying element. Bonfires are lit on the eve of Saint John's Day and some people leap over them believing it will purify them... I did not see any bonfires in Puerto Rico.
In Puerto Rico, tradition says that walking backward toward the beach and doing back flips in the water at exactly midnight brings good luck and keeps evil away throughout the year. Just how many flips one must do is uncertain, with some sources indicating 12 flips, which coincides with midnight and the months of the year, while other sources say seven; it's up to you how many you do. We did 3, one for Omar, one for me and one for the baby. I wanted then to do more since It was really FUN! so I figured maybe one for my mother, two for my brothers, then 2
for Omar's parents and 2 more for Omar's brothers but Omar wouldn't let me do more than three, he thought it was kind of dangerous since the waters here are quite shallow and honestly, once I started I realized then I would wanted to do a flip for each one of my friends and that would have taken long time!!
So what we did is we first went to a pool party in the same compound where we are living. THAT WAS BORING we did not know anybody and really didn't feel like getting to know anybody of the well dressed and full-of-make-up guests that night... They all seemed TOO correct and we were in the mood for adventure!
We got into a golf cart and drove to the public beach. To get there, we had to pass by a nature trail that was closed at that hour (around 11:30 pm) and was totally dark. Omar turned off the lights a couple of times and it was spooky... All the sounds of frogs, etc and REALLY DARK. We got to see the largest crab I have ever seen in my life, many frogs, coquis (tiny frogs that sing
ko-kee) check this link! http://welcome.topuertorico.org/audio/cc01.wav
Then, we left the golf cart with 2 security guards at one of the check points and we walked on the sand to the public beach. It was GREAT! there were hundreds of people playing domino, singing, dancing, eating and drinking (of course, so they can dance and sing) and already in the water. There were families with babies and grand parents and teenagers wearing their best bikinis and pregnant women (like me) showing their big bellies.
I have to say that due to self-conciousness, you will not see a picture of me wearing a bikini. you will have to settle for a full-dressed picture ;)
Everybody was waiting for midnight and then, from some little beach houses, people started counting the minutes left for midnight. When it was 11:57, 80% of the people ran toward the water, asking us to go with them. We said: "It's too early! We have to wait till midnight" but they said that if we waited we would not find enough water to do the back flips... Ok, we go now, and we walked slowly towards the beach, we got in the water and started doing
our 3 flips. IT WAS GREAT!! LOTS OF FUN! People were holding hands and doing their back flips, laughing, kids were playing, and some couples were dancing IN THE WATER. We stayed for a few minutes, the water was warm and there was such a good vibe that I am sure we all went home full of energy and joy.
All the people we encountered at the beach were so nice to us, they ask questions about the baby, gave us blessings and advise, made us laugh and told us their stories about their daughters and sons. I felt so welcomed and cared for...
We walked back to the golf cart and got home, happy, laughing and thinking what a great night we had... When we were a few feet away from the house, we saw some people returning from the pool party... I wondered what made these people stayed at a boring party completely dressed when they could be sharing with the rest of the town such a wonderful / magical night in swimming suits, with a beer and good music on the beach...