PUERTO RICO: Saturday, July 30, 2005

On Saturday morning, Drew & Wendy got up at 8:30am, had a continental breakfast of rolls & coffee at the pool bar, and headed over to the Hyatt to meet Kent & Julie Anne to drive into Old San Juan. They decided not to go, preferring instead to spend the day with Doug. We met up with Rob in the lobby and he checked with Melody (who was swimming) and they agreed to join us. We left the Hyatt around 11:30am and headed toward Old San Juan.

With the exception of the event that will forever be called “Drew’s Toll Booth Crime” (our directions said that we should stay in the LEFT lane, so we did… Directly into the ePass toll booth lane — which offered no option for throwing in the $0.70 to pay the toll, so we broke the law), the trip into Old San Juan was uneventful. Since it was Saturday, the traffic was light (well, by Puerto Rico standards, which means it was insane by USA standards).

Once we found our way to Old San Juan, we parked in a municipal parking structure. Rather than trying to remember the name of it, we snapped a picture:




We parked, got out, and got our first view of Old San Juan. Below is a poor-man’s-panorama of the view of the waterfront.




We entered through Puerta de San Juan — where old ships came in — then walked up to Catedral de Juan Bautista to thank God for our safe journey.







Along the way, we stopped at a vendor’s booth to get some plantain chips — both garlic and sweet flavors, and a snow cone (shaved by hand from a big block of ice!). We were getting both hot and hungry, so we started looking for a restaurant to stop in and get the local flavor. We found Italian and Mexican places and lots of shops (who comes to Old San Juan to go to POLO?!), but nothing offering Puerto Rican food. While the girls went to pee, Rob & Drew were approached by a homeless man with a forearm that was open and infected from wrist to elbow. He begged for money and said over and over, “My arm! My arm! I wish I would die”.

Once he left us alone and the girls returned, we found our way to AMBROSIA, a restaurant serving Puerto Rican food. Here’s what we had: Yucca with chicken & bacon, Mofongo with steak, Arroz con pollo, and plantain lasagna. Everything was uniformly good and Drew realized that he likes Mofongo quite a lot! Mofongo is made from green plantains mashed with garlic and pork fat rendered from salted pork or bacon. It is fried and formed into little balls, or in the case of Drew’s dish, a cup into which the steak filling is placed. Jose, our server, suggested a “flan-like” dessert made with milk, sugar, coconut, and cornstarch. It was very subtly flavored and was good & cooling on the hot day. After lunch, we trekked up to El Morro, the cemetary, and La Perla.






See the little dog in the shade of 500 year old walls?



The cemetary was beautiful, but then we noticed a homeless man wandering around the graves, and that many of the graves had been vandalized (some were covered just by plywood.)




We didn’t have time to go into El Morro, though we would like to have seen it. We wandered around the market that had been set up under large white tents and listened to live music being played by a band. We finally found our car and headed back to Dorado to get ready for the wedding.

The wedding is covered in its own article, here!

To view all the pictures from this trip, click here. 

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