June 07, 2007
Viejo San Juan, Puerto Rico
Hola de Puerto Rico! Arrived last Saturday but as you can see have had little time to blog… Actually don’t have the time now – I’m too busy relaxing y estudiando por mi clase de espanol. Oh yes, if you missed it I’m here in Puerto Rico relaxing, visiting w/ my friend Kathy and attending a Spanish Immersion program (one-on-one instruction for 3 hours / day). Yes I may in-fact be obsessed with schooling 🙂 So… here’s the wrap-up of events thus far. I’m going to “pub talk” 🙂 this one to save a bit of time.
What To Pack:
Nothing but skirts & dresses are necessary. If you’re a women don’t even try leaving your place in anything else. You won’t fit in.
Running Clothes & Shoes
Where to go / What to Do:
The Brickstone: Try the Category 4 Hurricanes but don’t be surprised if your memory fails you at somepoint during the night. Possibly after meeting a few dutch pilots.
Bomboneras: I’ve never entered a place that better represents a “greasy spoon.” Must be a local. Must add sugar. Must add lots and lots and lots of butter. Doesn’t matter what you order it’s all good (todo bien).
The Streets of San Juan: Picturesque cobblestone, bright colored buildings, lots of nooks and crannies, parks & plazas.
PH3 (Hash Hound Harriers): A “drinking group with a running problem.” 5-6 miles in Pinones through the streets, along the beach, on the boardwalk. Make sure to stop at the street side shack (i.e. beer check #2) 1/2 through the run. Watch out for the garbage, emaciated dogs & women screaming at you to stop running through her yard. Oh and the crooks that broke into everyones cars and stole about $6,000 worth of stuff from my group. Odd thieves to take my $5 and leave the $1 bill. That’s all they got from me. Thank god they didn’t touch my camera (yes, I apparently attract thieves while I travel – see previous blogs – and ironically it’s always my camera that they leave behind). The “hasher” group is AWESOME… consists of “three’s company”, “R Kelly,” “EMT” “One-Inch Punch” “Ankles for Earrings” “Chapless Ass” “Pies Negros” “shitty titty” No-fucking-name-Dave (just named “I’m the bitch”), “gringo fucker,” no-fucking-name-Ian, no-fucking-name Mia and then me and another newbie were virgins.
Sat. Night in San Juan: Bar hop – The brewery, twice at nueyoriquen for some salsa dancing a trip to The Brickstone for some karaoke (watch out for the Gringo who clears the bar w/ her singing…. what? apparently they don’t like “Jack & Diane” in Puerto Rico 🙂 Plan for a 4:00am call time.
French Cafe in Condado: Go there for some “Vitamin G” on Sunday morning w/ new found friends met at HHH.
Oceanpark Beach: Unbelievably picturesque. Stop at the beach side cafe for a late lunch. Order the Arabian Platter.
First Step World: Ummm…. my host person doesn’t know I’m coming and has no idea what I’m talking about with the “spanish immersion” program I’m enrolled. Where the hell am I going to stay for the next two weeks?
Sunday nights in Old San Juan: Seriously, the entire neighborhood fills the Plaza at night singing what can only be related to as “campfire” songs, enjoying the company, etc. There must have been 200+ people there.
Nesol Spanish School: Hope that Jose is your instructor… and maybe you’ll luck out with one-on-one instruction like me. Though he does pretends he doesn’t know English so you’ll really really be forced to speak spanish. This place is awesome but lessons get harder and harder every day.
El Morro: ANOTHER UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE SITE CHECKED OFF MY LIST!! This place is huge and unbelievable. Must stop!
The Bus: Slow but only $.50 and Ruta Una busses come around often.
Kathy’s Place: An open air casita that overlooks the Bay of Puerto Rico. SOOOO NICE! Also a good place for a “latenight but not necessary” drink after Fri / Sat night partying.
First Tuesday of the Month: Art Galleries stay open late and everyone is out and the streets are packed!
What to Eat / Drink:
Cafe con Leche: No matter where you go – from the coffee kiosks to the cafe on avenida de Ponce de Leon you can’t beat it! Typical Cafe con Leche costs between $.50 and $1.07… no Starbucks pricing here!
Plantain: Plaintain chips, plaintain tostones, plaintain fried ball thing, plaintain with goat cheese…. todos bien!
Fried Food: Never seen or eaten so much fried food in my life. But again… todos bien!
Agua Viva restaraunt: Great seafood – too bad I don’t eat it! Who knew that there was veggie paella available? Good company w/ Kathy & Jared.
La Tamarind restaurant: Try the white sangria and everything else on the menu. Cuban black beans, puerto rican rice & beans, plaintain, yuca – everything Puerto Rican.
Baccarina: place the Pina Colada was invented. Didn’t know this when I walked in randomly desiring a Pina Colada and a break from the heat.
Bodega Chic: DO NOT PASS THIS PLACE UP! Looks like a hole in the wall bar BUT the food is awesome awesome awesome. Chef / Owner owned a restaurant in New York before retiring for a more peaceful pace in San Juan. Order the Mojito (best you’ll ever have!) but don’t be surprised if the bartender requires you to show proof that you’re local before he’ll make you one. And I quote “who told you to come in and order a mojito?” Good thing we knew someone…
El Batey: Another dive that locals consider one of the best places to be in Old San Juan. ORDER 43 ON THE ROCKS WITH A SPLASH OF MILK. It’s my new dessert drink – you can only find it in Puerto Rico but damn is it good!
What to expect from the Boriques (locals):
Locals are locals. Quick to kick you out of a place that you don’t belong… unless of course you’re a women and have a good smile.
The women: As Kathy says “it doesn’t matter what size they are they own it” and oh my goodness is this ever true! My new favorite game is to walk down the street and watch all the men part like the sea. I’m telling you we could all learn a few lessons from the women here!!! And most American men could learn a few (lot) of lessons from the chivalry that still exists among the Puerto Rican men.
Don’t be surprised if you run into the same people over and over and over again. The locals are a small community and always out and about.
Don’t be surprised if the man at the coffee kiosk charges $1.07 for your coffee. You give him $2 and he takes $1 saying “bring the $.07 tomorrow. And then rememebers when you show up the following day w/ the change.
One kiss on the right cheek for everyone!
Well dressed people. Men and women alike. Don’t dress down but less is more here.
Other Shout Outs:
Running the streets of San Juan!
Yoga overlooking the bay in the mornings
El Meson’s fake roast beef
Kathy for putting me up, taking care, etc.!
Street Cafes, People Watching & Slow paces
Autobus Ruta Numero Uno
Lucy & Roxy the Danes I met while running the streets
But Two thumbs down to First Step World’s host family program, the killer mosquitos, the traffic coming into Old San Juan and the bus driver that left me at the bus stop today.
Flying to Culebra this weekend (island off PR)
SoFo Festival tonight – kinda like the Taste of San Juan
Hash Numero Dos esta fin de semana (this weekend)