language for the gringos
While living in PR as a teacher, my friend got her Master's degree - her experience in school was that needing Spanish depends on your professor - some used English, some Spanish. She quickly formed study groups with bilingual students so she didn't miss any information.
Socially, you'll do fine...in one year of living in Guyama and traveling extensively, the only place I had a problem was at a mechanic shop -- and the Tom's Peanut vendor saved us!
You'll love it...don't forget to go to: www.biobay.com ! In the Old Town area, near the cruise ships, is a small shop where you can buy Don Q - the best rum on the island! Much smoother than Bicardi, but, to my chagrin, it isn't exported. Be sure and stop in and taste the Dulcinea! The story of the company is told there (the distillary is in Ponce) and it's very interesting!
After the Attack- Construction
El Moro is the predominant fort that most people notice as it is a big landmark in the harbor, especially if you approach or leave by cruise ship. It also has it's own site on Virtual Tourist. But there is another big San Juan fort and my guide convinced me that this fort was very worthy of a visit. It is not only a part of the a San Juan National Historic Site (which also includes El Moro) but it is a World Heritage Site.
After the Dutch successfully attacked by land in 1625, Fort Cristobal was built (began in 1634 and completed in 1771) to protect the city from the land side. The fortification was first tested in 1797 battle when Sir Ralph Abercromy's British troops were unsuccesful in a land attack. Built on San Cristobal Hill (hence the name), the fort is one of the largest Spanish fortifications in the New World. When it was finished, it covered about 27 acres of land, basically wrapping the city of San Juan. Entry to the city was sealed by San Cristóbal's double gates. We saw
* An extensive tunnel system connecting the various sections of the fort.
* A guardhouse, main plaza, and troops quarters.
* Real 200-pound mortar shells.
* Cavalier San Miguel, the highest part of the port which allowed an unobstructed view of the city.
* Five cisterns under the main plaza where troops drilled. They held 716,000 gallons of rainwater capable of supporting the garrison for a year.
* Exhibits of military clothing.
Unfortunately we were not there for the re-enactment.
The Capital Building or EL CAPITOLIO was built in the 1920's to house the offices of Senators in one wing and those of representatives in the other.
Inside you will find galleries, friezes, mosaics and an impressive rotunda in which Puerto Rico's constitution is exhibited.
Barrachina - Home of the “Piña colada”?
We drove by the Barrachina Restaurant, which had a plaque on it stating that in 1963 - Don R. Ramon created the “Piña colada,”. We didn't have time to go in and sample it though.
There are a lot of other stories though. One of them states:
Ricardo Garcia, who started mixing drinks at age 4 when he slipped behind his Grandfather’s bar, is accredited with this creation. This drink, like many others, was discovered entirely on accident, in 1954. Ricardo was working at the Caribe Hilton Hotel where the guests were served a complimentary drink called the “Coco-Loco,” which is a combination of coconut juice, rum, and cream of coconut served in a fresh coconut.
At this point in time the coconut cutters union went on strike, and as a result there were no coconuts for the drinks to be served in. Being the inventive man that he was, Ricardo noticed an abundance of pineapples, and decided to cut the tops off of the pineapples and serve the drink in the pineapple instead of a plain glass.
This new way of serving it provided a hint of pineapple that spruced up the drink. To add a little more flavor to it, he added crushed ice and strained pineapple, which in Spanish is “Piña colada,” and thus the drink got its name.
Source: Suzanne Kelly - Clubplanet
Other stories say that the cocktail dates back to the early 1900s and was not invented in Puerto Rico at all. In spite of the nay-sayers, in 1978, the cocktail was named Puerto Rico's official national drink.
The original recipe:
2 oz. rum
1 oz. coconut cream
1 oz. heavy cream
6 oz. fresh pineapple juice
1/2 cup crushed ice
Mix rum, cream of coconut, heavy cream and pineapple juice in a blender. Add ice and mix for 15 seconds. Serve in a 12-oz. glass and garnish with fresh pineapple and a cherry.
The virgin version of this is one of our favorites (photo 3 and 4)
Bioluminescent Bay Kayak Tour
Take a field trip to Fajardo to see Laguna Grande. The 2 hour guided tour takes you through magrove channels into a bioluminescent bay. The bay is filled with thousands of Pyrodinium bahmense organisms that glow when you touch the water. The tour was well worth the money, guides were knowledgeable and friendly. One note, the kayak portion through the mangrove channel is completed in near-darkness. If you are claustrophobic or afraid of the dark this tour is not for you.