San Juan, Puerto Rico

Last night when we entered our cabin, Alwan, our steward left us a towel-bat.img_2728.JPG

 Each night there is something. We’ve had a dog, a bird with sunglasses, and a sting ray. It’s fun to try and predict what will greet us next. Tonight I’m putting my money on an amoeba.



As I took off my shirt, which was bought especially for this cruise from Nordstrom’s, I felt a lump… the shirt. Can you believe the sales man had not taken that plastic thing off that screws up the garment if you try to remove it yourself? This is the second time Nordstrom has failed to remove one of those shielding devices. This cruise is cursed.


We entered the port of San Juan, the sky was blue, few clouds, and the temperature was heading to 82 degrees.dsc00247.JPG


When we were here about 4 years ago, the ship docked right in town. We could walk up a small incline and shop, eat, whatever. Now a new pier sits adjacent to the airport; a $5 per person ten minute cab ride to town. At least it was for us. We heard tales of $10 per person from some less savvy people. Rule #43; always ask for the cost in advance.


I searched for Hooters. As I mentioned, it was about to open when we were last here. I asked two cab drivers but they had never heard the word before. The last one sent me to a hotel called the Convent. (That’s what it was at one time). I knew it wasn’t anymore, but still I asked the bell captain in a very quiet voice about Hooters. No se senor.


The girl at the desk went to her “everything is in here” booklet, but came up empty. I even tried spelling it with a “J”.


So Puerto Rico is changing, but traffic on the narrow streets is the same as ever.


Michal wanted to go into the Coach Outlet store, so I wandered a bit and told her I’d meet her at the store. I saw a café that advertised their specialty dish; jalapeno cheese and conch in a fried fritter. I had to have that. I went in to see when they would start serving. We start at noon a woman sitting next to a cash register told me.


“But not today,” she said, “We’re having a water problem.”


Back to Coach to search for Michael. She was nowhere to be found. I went outside and stood on the narrow sidewalk. The sidewalks are only wide enough for two people to pass each other. Everyone deals with this in good spirit. (If this were NY there would be bodies littering the way.)


Soon Michael appeared across the street, came over, and I said, “Where were you?”


In Coach she said, “I looked all over the store for you, even upstairs.


There was no upstairs, but there was a lower level two steps down, which didn’t compute so I had one more question.


“Why were you across the street?”


“I was in Coach, but they had no deals.” she complained.


It was at that moment I made a stupid error. I pointed out that the Coach she was in was full retail. I was standing in front of the Coach Factory Outlet. Michael disappeared inside for another 30 minutes.


While waiting, I joined some people eating at outdoor tables. I ordered an Italian Beer, and the worst Nachos I have ever had. Think of Nachos and cheese in a can, warned up and spread out.img_2733.JPG

As I was eating, an older woman and her daughter drove up, and carried some covered pots inside. Lunch, I assume was homemade.


 A passing thought:

You know I try to eat anything I don’t recognize just for the experience. I found my stopping point. This was on the menu last night; Cock-a Leekie soup with one of the main ingredients, prunes. I couldn’t shake the image of what might be to come.


Another passing thought:


Remember I complained about no smiles from the Portuguese?

When I was in the Canary Islands, I thought they were owned by Portugal. Not so, while fairly independent, they are Spanish and that is what they speak.


So each time I said “obrigado” which is “thank you” in Portuguese, it sounded to them like I was saying “abogado”, which is “lawyer” in Spanish. So when I handed over a tip for good service, I smiled and said “lawyer”. This cruise is cursed.


Before dinner, I went to the second production show, Music In Motion. I sat in the front row. It was again, a parade of song and dance with spectacular scenery changes. The presence and great sound of the live band added to it all.


At the end of show, the cast did their bows and received a huge standing ovation. As the performers were beaming, the hands were clapping, and a few “bravos” were shouted, Cruise Director Karen, British you know, came on stage and said, and I am quoting, “Please give it up for the Royal Caribbean Singers and Dancers.” What is it about Cruise Directors?


Ah well, tomorrow night we can give it up for Yasha Konviser, from Russia with love violin virtuoso.


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