Saturday, February 5, 2011

¿Donde esta el autopista? Remembering, and longing for, Puerto Rico

I first visited the beautiful island of Puerto Rico in 2008 with my BFF Emily. It was her second trip there, and I quickly understood why she'd wanted to get back. The people are so friendly and laid-back, the food is outrageously divine, and the scenery is breathtaking. Puerto Rico has a real spirit to it, where you can be driving to the store and pass horses trotting free on sidewalks in residential neighborhoods, or stumble upon a remarkable overlook completely by accident (see photo below from our drive across the Panduras Ridge). Another favorite thing about this place is the roadside stands selling coco frios, or "cold coconuts", that they hack into and create a shapely little to go cup out of the nut with a machete! I assure you, life would be better on I-85 if someone set up some of these delightful coconut stations.

Emily had taken some Spanish courses as an adult and I was armed with a mediocre knowledge of French ("They're cognates! How hard could it be?!"), the locals were gracious and forgiving of our linguistic bumbling and answered us in English (except at McDonald's, where we floundered so badly that we ordered a cheeseburger and a Coke and received an order of fries aka "McPapas" and some sort of frozen orange slushy). One of the best stories was when she and I were relaxing on Jobos Beach and there was a Puerto Rican couple with a small child sharing something that looked delicious on a blanket behind us. Emily and I were really hungry and kept quietly debating whether or not we should ask them whether it was chicken or fish and where they acquired it. Emily spent a long time amping up her courage to trundle up to them and inquire, en Espanol, about their edibles. I was extremely handy in this situation, what with my vast knowledge of French vocab, as we pieced together the proper sentence necessary to pose. I swear this took 15 minutes. When she sidled up to their blanket and rolled out "Es que el pollo o el pescado?", the woman says as casually as you can imagine, "It's fish. We got them over there." and points to a boardwalk-type row of food stands! They were grinning from ear to ear, so we knew they'd overheard our quarter-hour Spanish planning session before we mustered up the courage to ask what they were eating. We laughed about her response, "It's fish", for days. I could spend an hour alone talking about the food, but I don't want to make anyone hungry for things you can't readily get here on the mainland. Suffice it to say, it is what dreams are made of. Puerto Rican food would be my #1 favorite if I could access it here, but it's pretty hard to find.

All this is to say how much I want to return to this wonderful island and take Jason with me so he can experience the magic for himself! I think the thing that is going to be the most jarring for him is the peculiar but legendary Puerto Rican driving. These folks gun it from every stop light and driveway and change lanes with the zippy zeal of Cameron Diaz's character in "My Best Friend's Wedding". They would be classified simply as speed demons, but they are too unique for that. In order for them to make a turn, they bring their motor vehicles to an almost complete stop and then guide their cars into the turn with all the haste of a drowsy Loggerhead tortoise. It is truly something to behold! I hope Jason and I will be enjoying the views live very soon!


  1. Wait, what does that mean... can't meant what I think it means... oooohhhh I wish... Maybe a getaway or more of a HOney look at the MOON tonight? You get me?


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