Skate Dreams in Borinquen
In my most recent experiences, the ones that have brought me to the closest state of consciousness between a dreaming and waking state or a “trance” so to speak is in inline skates. This world that I revisited after a long hiatus was a reconnection with a distant childhood memory. The act of rolling along a surface does something to recalibrate and connect the spiritual with the physical. Obviously any means of rolling can achieve these effects, but I am drawn to inline skates because of the ability to go far and feel the flow of the journey. The senses are open and receiving, the landscape passes by as seamless experience.
I first met Metha and Selena when I set out on a 200 KM journey from Cincinnati to Columbus, Ohio. We spent four days together skating and camping in community with an amazing group of like-minded people. That skate was for the benefit of NAMA and Mental Health Awareness and the transformation of undergoing a transformation was palpable for everyone. When we arrived at our destination and my had holes in them from friction and holes burnt through my liners, I received a heartfelt invitation. He told me about Camp Rueda taking place in Puerto Rico (Borinquen) in December. I was too tired to comprehend the meaning of the invitation but I remained intrigued.
Welcome to Camp Rueda!
After some deliberation and an amazing opportunity to travel at a ridiculously low price, I bought a ticket for Borinquen, ready to have an experience that was completely inline skate. We stayed at a Finca on the edge of El Yunque National Forest, which is a rainforest with inspiring waterfalls, lush vegetation and my favorite, plentiful fungus. I encountered there Reishi and Turkey Tail mushrooms, which were added to the next morning’s tea pot. Standing directly underneath the rainforest waterfalls was a two hour massage in thirty seconds. Intermittent rain fell everyday and the ambient air temperature was a steady comfortable level. It was clear that it was essential to use this week as a time for regeneration and healing. The skating helped.
The level of skill in skating was inspirational. The closeness of bond in community was heartwarming. The amount of people who are entirely consumed by the question, “when are we skating next?” gives a feeling of belonging and is entirely relatable that you are not the only individual that has become wheel-enamored in this manner. Each day was filled with a skate with a different character. The first community skate drew more than fifty people at the Totem in Old San Juan, the second community skate was in Aguadilla at a skate park after a day of driving, the third day we spent the day at the beach and then went for a skate around town in Luquillo and the fourth day we went for a long distance skate along a trail that led to the beach, where we opened coconuts and enjoyed their water and meat.
The last day of skate suited me best because of my preference for the long distance trail skate. Skating into a headwind with music in your ears and feeling the flow of the skate engage your whole body. I did grow a new found appreciation for the skate park though, and I am even inspired enough to try different forms of this diverse sport. No matter the discipline, I have found a spiritual kinship among members of this sacred rolling community. I have not met a closed-minded skater, especially directly following an epic or flow skate. I am now inspired to try out aggressive skates and quad skates and to explore what I am comfortable with in the skate park.
A word about the history of Puerto Rico. The indigenous peoples of Puerto Rico had a collective name of Tainos. They called the archipelago Borinquen and when Columbus landed in 1493 and then a Spanish colony was established by Ponce de Leon in 1508. The Spanish reported that the Taino peoples were annihilated, yet that is not true, they are still very much alive today. Borinquen remained a Spanish colony four hundred years until local independence movements fought bloody campaigns against their Spanish colonizers. This movement almost achieved independence even establishing a currency used on the island nation. Then in 1898, during the four month Hispano-American War, a deal was made among the two world powers. Spain would cede Puerto Rico, the Philippines and Guam, yet it had been established through years of previous conflict that Borinquen wasn’t firmly in Spanish power to be transferred. American warships appeared surrounding the Island and ever since, the Island nation has been a colony “commonwealth” of the United States of America. An example of the confusion caused by its nature as a nation seeking independence from its’ colony status were the road signs. There were federal road signs for all roads marking speed limit in miles per hour, yet the road distance markers were all in kilometers. American commerce fills the view almost as the coconut trees, however the language and culture that fills those sterile corporate spaces is unique to place and time. The independence movement is still alive and well yet the colony mindset is as well. AirBNB has dominated with US investment following. Yet the hope of independence remains in the artists, intellectuals and most crucially the indigenous populations that have called Borinquen home and themselves Boricua as their identity and heritage.
I also have some personal theories about Jewish history and Puerto Rico that I will not elaborate here yet I invite you to contact me if you would like to learn more.
My most sincere gratitude to Metha4, Paul, Selena, Phillip Gripper, Carlos and Jackie for being my skate family for the week. It was amazing. Can’t wait to skate with you again soon.