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Mad Scientess Jane Expat

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Day 2: Acclimatization [20051228|23:02]
Mad Scientess Jane Expat
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Morning in Condado

I wake early, feeling wonderful. I love the heat and the humidity. While I'm getting pineapple juice from the fridge, I see two little birds (reinitas) land on a pane of the slatted glass of the open window. I creep towards them slowly and they tip their heads at me, waiting until I'm practically next to them to flit away.

Everyone rises slowly and a couple of hours pass before everyone is showered and ready to go. We eat breakfast at a nearby bakery: café con leche with guava pastries. Thus fueled, we go to pick up the rental car and various sundries that had been forgotten. Marco forgets his license extension at the flat so I have to drive from the rental agency and back. I had been hoping to avoid driving in San Juan, where the definition of "lanes" is fluid and people lay on their horns at the slightest provocation. Also, I'm not the one who was born here, so I don't know my way around at all. I do all right over the short distance but am much relieved to return to the agency and add him as a driver.

We go to the Plaza de las Americas, a grandiosely named cookie-cutter shopping mall, to get Tevas and a cap for imyril's boyfriend. We eat cafeteria pasteles, which are a sort of meaty hot pocket, except that mashed plaintain rather than flaky pastry serves as the delivery mechanism. Pasteles are cooked inside a banana leaf and traditionally served over the winter holiday season. By the way, Christmas in Puerto Rico lasts for about a month. The gaudily decorated houses didn't stop turning on their lights at night until the last day of our visit (January 9th). Anyway, the fare at the cafeteria isn't exceptional, but with a little arroz con gandules (rice and pigeon peas), guava-pineapple juice, tostones (mashed fried green plaintains) and a dash of hunger, it's a feast.

We return to the flat, whereupon I goad everyone into going to the beach a block away. It's not the nicest beach on the island by any means, but sand, surf, sun and water as warm as a bath are good enough for me. We leave our cameras behind. I dig up shells, coral and kelp, splash in the waves, build sand castles while the others nap and read. I'm happy.

We head back to the flat and go to the supermarket to stock up so we don't have to eat every meal at a restaurant. imyril and I unthinkingly pack our own groceries. I've forgotten that in the States, people expect only to have to stand there and pay. We get a peculiar look and a wink from the previously surly cashier for this performance. We have fresh bread, deli meat, guineaitos (apple bananas) and beer for dinner. We play dominoes. I win the first game after a round when Marco has to draw every domino in the pile. He retaliates by winning the second game handily. We retire early, lulled into lethargy by fresh air, sunshine and alcohol.

[User Picture]From: taische
2006-01-20 14:19 (UTC)
café con leche with guava pastries

Mmmmm... soul food. In just a few minutes (after I make my sleepy way to the little bakery down the street, that is) breakfast will be un cortadito y un pastelito de guayaba.
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2006-01-21 18:00 (UTC)
Yummy. We know of no place to obtain these foods in London, so we gorged on them while there.
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[User Picture]From: omniana
2006-01-22 01:52 (UTC)
There's a nice place in Silverlake where I was introduced to heavenly guava cream cheese pies. Dunno if these are at all like what you had, but you'd be surprised how simple it is to make a satisfying approximation when you are too lazy to drive. Just thinking you don't have to go without in London, but sounds like you may have worked hard to satisfy the craving.
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2006-01-22 10:29 (UTC)
There's a huge family-style Cuban bakery, Porto's in Glendale that's absolutely wonderful. Not only do they serve all the lovely tropical pastries, they also make the sandwiches and the café con leche the typical way. I recommend checking it out next time you're back.
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