Still running on Houston time this morning, so we finally stirred around 10am, threw our bathing suits on and hit Condado beach. The shoreline is about a 15 minute walk from our hostel…through a decently aged city scape, sort of. Since we have yet to visit Old San Juan, I honestly do not know if the districts of Miramar and Condado are really worth babbling about but…
Similar to many of the old haggard buildings of downtown Houston that have potential for reviving, these two districts of San Juan leave a great deal to be desired from a tourist’s eye. I hear they have made great strides to improve appeal; I guess if posting more hotels along the Condado beachfront is what they mean, then yes. Absolutely they have sold out, er, I mean catered to the high dollar conglomerates of the tourism industry.
Ashford Street in Condado, a block from the beach, does however offer some wonderfully eclectic eating establishments. (I still hear that OSJ has more, authentic options) The wait staff was remarkably more hospitable in that area. Our server Eduardo at Di Zucckero took a genuine interest in the authentic quality of our vacation by bringing us maps, guides and even offering his own residential knowledge of the island.
The food overall has not been unlike anything you would find in the contiguous United States…nor is it any cheaper. (in fact, Starbucks was nearly 50% more expensive on several items) Perhaps the pairings of entrees and side dishes are a bit obscure, but for the most part we have not found anywhere that has expanded our palate. And it is not for a lack of trying! At least nothing we have tried so far has been completely inedible.
Now, we have had the displeasure of witnessing real prostitution, elderly men in legit banana hammocks “jogging” down the beach and men who find it absolutely appropriate to whistle, holler unintelligibly and literally hang their torso out of car windows to catch a reaction from two white chicks walking their streets. I guess “subtle” does not translate in Spanish.
Despite those unfortunate circumstances, the general atmosphere and locale is ideal for a relatively inexpensive get-away. The water is bluer than the skies and the air is crisp, fresh. Humidity is, at times, comparable to Houston, but the temperature overall is, well, it is perfect. Even at night as I sit here and write, I am on the outside patio. In shorts… sipping wine thinking life is completely divine.
Our hostel is growing on me, despite its nearly nonexistent water pressure (at least it is warm water), the “close as brothers” bunking quarters and threat of mosquito insurgents. The guy who talks to himself is gone it seems and a chick who carries her own bug netting is nestled, protected from the only dangerous critters on the island, next to me. I actually made an effort to strike up conversation with the oldest folks crashing here before dinner- or during their dinner. We talked about public education, politics, sports and weather…pretty sure I have never enjoyed small talk with strangers until this evening. I think I had an out-of-body experience, or perhaps the spontaneity of this trip struck a chord in me and I am branching out in other facets as well. *shrug*
I have plenty to say; in fact, I have an opinion on just about everything. But I have never been a sociable person. I will engage in conversation when spoken to, but it is usually minimal and disinteresting (to me). Tonight was more than pleasant- it was fun!