|Day 2: Acclimatization
Mad Scientess Jane Expat
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.