3 kings is like a second Christmas in PR. It is known as the day that the three wise men arrived to see the baby Jesus. In Arecibo, people dress up like Kings and drive around in jeeps with fire truck horns tossing candy to children. You can hear them for miles, so don't worry you'll be able to get to the road in time to see them!
**I was in Arecibo when I saw this, I am not sure if all the towns do this.**
New Year's Eve is like 10yrs of 4th of July in the US all at once! Everyone fires off fireworks at midnight. It is a really cool experience. The fireworks are big. loud, and beautiful. Everyone around the cities are outside and having a great time.
***Please look for my video of all of the several firework displays!**
The Carnaval is in Ponce, a city in Puerto Rico. The Carnaval is like the Rio de Janeiro carnaval. I have not attended one in Puerto Rico because I was there last June. The carnaval is held during the lent season, the carnaval being with religious beliefs (Catholicism). This Carnaval has Catholicism history and the people dress up in costumes. They whack and target the "innocents" or kids to get rid of bad spirits. Also, they target beautiful women...
Every house I went, I noticed that they have a collection of the Three Kings. So, I also bought one for myself and brought it back home. This has a religious meaning but what I know is the Three Kings brought gifts to the newborn Jesus Christ when he was born in the manger. The celebration of the Three Kings is celebrated in the Catholic Calendar every January 6.
I think every adult Puerto Rican knows how to play the domino. Everywhere I go, I see a lot of people playing the domino. Even in the beach, I see those domino tables. Some bring those collapsible ones and just lay them on the sand and play the domino.
When we visited the home of one of the hacienderos in Puerto Rico, he has three domino tables on the deck of his house. My daughter and our friends starting learning how to play the domino and our host was very kind to teach them!
One thing about Puerto Rico I thought was kind of cool is that you will catch members of the opposite sex looking at you fairly frequently, and often with a smile. Although this can happen anywhere, what I found charming and fresh about it was that there wasn't the furtive looking away like someone has been caught doing something wrong, or fear that it could be misinterpreted as an invitation. Puerto Rico's more open and relaxed atmosphere makes it more acceptable to enjoy a moment of genuine admiration and curiosity. They don't leer, and they don't stare, nothing in the slightest rude about it, more like generally soaking up the scenery, and it can happen anywhere, not just at the beach. While you wait at red lights, while you shop for milk, while you eat your dinner... I never adopted the custom, but if I lived on the island I think I would!
Puerto Rico is a Commonwealth of the US, so English is its official language, but Spanish has also been declared an official language in recent years due to the rise of progressive nationalism, and it happens to be widely spoken. I have traveled all over the island of PR, and have observed that in most parts people speak English, but as you travel farther away from the cities (e.g., San Juan, Ponce, etc.), Spanish is mostly preferred and used in everyday communication.
As Puerto Ricans are quite gracious, they'll try to be patient with you, but will not guarantee that they'll cater to your English-speaking ways all of the time. It has to be a two-way street. Show that you're trying to learn Spanish as much as you can because that sure will guarantee more respect and acceptance.
Good Luck & Enjoy Beautiful Puerto Rico!
Many folks, both local and tourist, do not obey "standard" traffic laws, sometimes going through red lights, no use of turn signals and generally driving erratically due to road conditions or general traffic. A noticeable cultural difference coming from driving in Minnesota, is that cars making turns often do not yield to on-coming traffic. What would be considered "cutting some one off" or "pulling out in front of a vehicle" is a standard way of merging into traffic in PR. You get used to it quickly as everyone drives that way, but it can be a bit of a shock when first pulling off the car rental lot.
The local fruits and vegatables in Puerto Rico are varied. Going to the local market you will probably find what we call "vianda" this is a group of vegatables like "malanga" "yuca" "guineos", "yautia" "yame" "pana". These vegatables can be used in a soup called "Sancocho" or are boiled and eaten with "bacalao".
Some of the fruits will include "cenepas", "chinas" "tamarindo" "guayabas" "mango" and of course "coco".
The market will probably have fresh "gandules" and "oja de guineos" for making "pasteles".
I usually pick up some fresh gandules and the vianda and guayabas if they are in season...they are my favorite fruit!!
You will find stands as large as this one or small carts all over Puerto Rico, whether on the roadside or in town selling the delicious "piragua" (shaved ice). There is a variety of local flavors including "tamarindo" "guava" "coco" "lechosa" "limon" and of course the usual flavors, of orange, cherry, strawberry, watermelon, etc.
Every municipality of Puerto Rico has a "Fiesta Patronal" This is the feast of the Patron Saint of this town. The feast is usually located around the "plaza" where the main church and city hall are located and its is a great way to go out and enjoy the live music and dancing, eating and drinking and just having a good time.
Depending on how large the town is, there will be rides for the children, games, and many diversions.
The feast usually starts on a Saturday and will continue until the following Sunday.
Condado is a fairly safe neighborhood nestled between the ocean and highway 26. I lived on the fourth or fifth floor of an apartment building on Ashford (see map on main page). There are many hotels in this area.
Puerto Rico has some fantastic coffee. I have tried 4 different kinds and loved them all. We had the Cafe Coqui, the Cafe Yaucono, Cafe Rico (of course) and Offecay (sounds like piglatin no?) I got so addicted to their coffee I hunted down a site that exports coffees to the US, now it's part of my every morning routine.
The sport of pitting game-cocks to fight and the breeding and training of them for that purpose has been a long and establish Puerto Rican sport/pasttime.
Cockfighting pits are circular with a matted stage about 20 feet (6 meters) in diameter and surrounded by a barrier to keep the birds from falling off. The main matches usually consist of fights between an agreed number of birds. Cocks usually are put to the main when between one and two years of age. Before a fight, spurs of metal or bone are slipped over the natural spurs of the game-cocks. The modern short sput is 1 1/2 inches (4 cm) or less in length; the longer spur scales from 2 to 2 1/2 inches (5 to 6 cm). In ancient times, cocks were permitted to fight until one or the other was killed. Later, although some fights still are to an absolute finish, rules have sometimes permitted the withdrawal at any time of a badly damaged cock. Other rules fix a time limit for each fight. At all mains, the judges word is absolute law, even as to gambling. There is no appeal from his decisions.
If you are accustomed to speedy service, don't let yourself get upset with the difference in Puerto Rico. It's not as if the people don't care; it's that the environment is just a little more laid back. They are not ignoring you.
Take your time, relax, order your food, and enjoy yourself.