February 24, 1999

(some background:)

...when i was growing up, there used to be a grazing pasture under a

coconut grove where urbanización san demetrio- a suburban-type housing

development- now sits....

there was a small steep rise, hardly tall enough to merit being called a

hill, & behind it, hidden from th road & th shore, a small lagoon lay

nestled among marshes- one of th few natural bodies of fresh water in

puerto rico:

apart from a lagoon in guánica i only recently noticed in a road map &

about which i'd like

to find out more, to my knowledge, there's only laguna tortuguero in manatí

(th neighboring

town to th west of here) & laguna cartagena between lajas & cabo rojo in th

southwest corner

of th island. (guánica is just east of lajas, actually.) laguna cartagena

was completely drained

as 'insalubrious' in th late '40's, its rich silt bed plowed into farmland

w/ dramatic consequences: th lagoon was an important nesting ground for

migratory birds & as a consequence of massive habitat destruction, bird

populations have been decimated, their migratory patterns severely

disrupted. recently, i have heard there is a movement afoot to try to undo

th damage

by refilling th lagoon...

in vega baja, th marshes- known as 'pollales' (poyales?) here- survive

behind th housing project, but th little hill was flattened right into th

lagoon...

i'm just now beginning to realize that @ some time, th cibuco river estuary

& mangrove forest were most likely joined by these marshes (-& channels?

natural drainage ditches?) to laguna tortuguero in one big wetlands

system...low-lying wetlands alternate w/ dunes of very fine white sand

throughout th area: sand gets carted away by th truckload for construction,

wetlands

are drained...laguna tortuguero, for example, has a drainage ditch which

empties by th well-known surf break @ los tubos beach. (also th site for th

notorious 'mar & sol' rock music festival back in '72.) i grew up thinking

this was a natural feature, but sometime ago found

out it was dug out by th army corps of engineers: there used to be an army

base right next to

th lagoon, camp tortuguero, & i imagine they might have built mostly on

landfill ...

...i remember once walking from vega baja to th beach, deciding to go 'off

road'-

(christalía had just gotten on th plane back to nyc after a difficult week-

i was desperately holding on to a dying, if not already dead, relationship)

i imagine i'd borrowed somebody's car & had returned it, because i rode a

'público'

out from san juan & started to walk, mostly out of impatience w/ waiting

for a local

'pisicorre' plying th route from th town to th beach...maybe a relative or

two

zoomed by w/out seeing me, fueling my feelings of abandonment & self-pity.

on th straightway between th curve after th caribe china factory & barrio

los naranjos- on th edge of th main creek or channel i believe drains th

wetlands

towards th cibuco river- a fairly wide dirt road opened to my left. i

thought,

why not cut across? (a suivre...)