journalist traveling the world, uncovering one hidden gem at a time

Remembering Puerto Rico with sandy book pages

Remembering Puerto Rico with sandy book pages

The pages still smelled of salty, humid air as I flipped the pages. I triple checked that all the page corners were straight and not dog-eared. I ran my fingers once more down the battered spine and traced the letters of the title, “The Savage Garden.”

The book was just OK. That wasn’t why I cradled it in my hands, not wanting to put it down. The book served as a reminder of the wonderful solo vacation I took this past February to Puerto Rico. 

I picked up the beaten 10-year-old novel at an impromptu book wall in San Juan, Puerto Rico. The wall was covered in red, blue and yellow plastic, milk crates. Each crate overflowing with the plethora of books. A small, tin roof sheltered the books from the downpouring rain.

I had driven and walked by this wall of unclaimed, lonely books for days when San Juan was my home base. But today, I compulsively picked up the tattered novel, just hours before I embarked for the airport and to my home state of Minnesota.

I was joined by a new friend, a Swedish girl who I had met at the hostel. We were going to lounge on the beach together. She was also leaving that day. Though I had ventured past this hoard of books a dozen times, today I was compelled to stop. I picked a random book off the shelves and turned to her saying, “This book is going to travel the world.” 

Inquisitively she looked at me as I explained to her my plan for this book. I planned on taking the book home, reading it, then packing it on my next adventure. Once in my newest destination, I’d deposit the book there and let another traveler get lost in the adventurous and mysterious tale.

Returning to Minnesota 

Finally, the day has come where I’ve finished the 300-plus-paged novel. I sat carefully thinking of what I was going to scrawl on the inside of the cover, determined to make it meaningful. 

I settled on, “Found in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Journeyed to Saint Cloud, Minnesota, USA. Now coming home with you.” Not as meaningful and inspiration as I hoped, but it served the purpose. 

I dislodged my boarding passes, which served as my bookmarks for the past several weeks, out of its binding. I closed the cover. “The Savage Garden” is ready for another vacation, just like me, I thought. 

Update: I donated the book to a Goodwill in Colorado on a road trip. I wasn’t able to find any book walls there, but I can just imagine the number of miles “The Savage Garden” will see someday. 

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