My recent trip to San Juan, Puerto Rico with my favorite cousin was magical, filled with sun, passionfruit, and stray cats. Here’s some unwarranted advice/observations/opinions for your reading pleasure:
1. PR should be renamed ‘La Isla de Gatos Callejeros’ because it has a crap-ton of stray cats. Also, there are pigeons everywhere and everyone seems to have a small dog as a pet (but only a few pet cats).
2. Buttery, mashed plantains or mofongo is a popular side order (unpleasant).
3. Apparently, cocaine is very cheap and accessible there, and the drug trade supports a large percentage of PR’s economy (knowledge NOT obtained by experience, but from an interesting and detailed conversation with a soap artisan.)
4. You can experience the flavor ‘passionate fruit’ in at least three desserts (fro-yo, ice cream, and shaved ice).
5. The department store Marshalls seems like it’s on every corner.
6. NEVER EVER go to Aguavida. They overprice the dishes, under-serve the portions, and forever ruin your pristine, savory memory of the taste of red snapper.
7. DO visit as many museums as you can for $3 each. You will leave feeling educated and uplifted (round of applause for kick-ass eco-friendly roof gardens).
8. DO visit the forts, El Morro and St. Cristobel. You will learn some interesting tidbits and have some awesome photo-ops (see kick ass profile pic).
9. DO brush up on your Spanish, so your taxi-driver doesn’t almost take you across the island to the wrong hotel. It will also help lessen the awkward “conversation” between you and practically all of the housekeeping staff.
10. Whatever you do, buy a craft from somewhere. The soaps are especially worth it, for their smells alone.
11. DO take a tour offered by your hotel, regardless of the bullshit “application fee.” You will be sore from horseback riding, but your instructors will be cute. You’ll have a cheeky horse with an awesome name (Canella - cinnamon), and you’ll be completely terrified when she insists upon whipping her head back and forth. You’ll see synchronized horse poop and a friendly iguana head peeking out from a pond.
12. DO pay two dollars to take a gnarly picture with an iguana in a t-shirt (who was possibly caught illegally).
13. DO NOT attempt to dance in reaction to some street music, because a drug-addled “gentleman” will attempt to “compliment” you.
14. DO go to the beach and invite your new friend: a cosmopolitan, pre-med Nigerian girl who has climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro.
15. DO NOT buy coconuts at the beach. They are not ripe, and they are sold by a skeezy man who tells you about a barely intelligible story involving jail and a Black man’s penis, comments on your cousin’s assets, and introduces his questionable-looking nephew to three girls in swimsuits (you, your cousin, and your new Nigerian friend).
16. Rejoice that there is a CVS, because the hotel will freeze your fragile body and vitamin C pills will save your life.
17. DO eat at the Blessed Cafe, it is the epitome of everything Jamaican and glorious. DO NOT, however, seem like you have to vomit after ingesting a large plate of curry-goat-goodness.
18. DO NOT leave for the airport an hour before your flight, because Delta’s 45 minutes prior policy is NO JOKE, and your cousin will have a nervous breakdown because OH MY DEAR LORD THIS HAS NEVER HAPPENED TO HER BECAUSE IN THE PAST SHE HAS ARRIVED TO THE AIRPORT LATER THAN THIS AND WAS ALWAYS ALLOWED ON THE FLIGHT.
19. DO take Delta Airlines flying back to the States. You will sit right next to a cute Latino dude who you don’t have the ladytesticles to talk to so you daydream (or evening-dream because your are on a ‘on-standby’ flight which left at 6) about a date with him instead. You will be grateful for your cholesterol-filled mini turkey sandwich, your gooey Milky-way, and your free headphones. You will pumped for the opportunity to watch an in-flight movie, because you love mushy shit like the Silver Linings Playbook; however, you will be UNABLE to except that anyone won an Oscar from it.
20. DO quell the impulse to skip your flight, begin an emergency job-hunt, and contemplate life as a homeless PR woman until further notice.