We have now been in Puerto Rico for almost two days and these are my first impressions:
- Gloria Estefan!! In the Avis shuttle bus driving us to the rental car, we heard Gloria Estefan on the radio.
- Everybody speaks Spanish! I always expected the island to be very Spanish-speaking and I am really happy to see that it is the case – it will facilitate for me to learn the language. Of course a lot of people speak English, but I will definitely make an effort to speak Spanish.
- The first impression of San Juan is the big motorways (sorry, highways as we are in the American part of the world) and fast food chains, however there is still a distinct Spanish/Caribbean feel if you drive a little further. Today we had lunch at La Plaza del Mercado (correct my Spanish if it’s wrong!), it is a covered market building painted deep purple (opps, that’s a band!). The local restaurant El Publico served deep fried plantains called tostones (green bananas) and amarillos (I guess yellow bananas) with our empanada de pollo (actually deep fried chicken).
- Construction sites are everywhere, our hotel is just by the beach and next to it a huge condominium complex is being built – you probably don’t want to know how much the apartments will cost…
- The wide highways are in quite a bad state of repair, but a lot of traffic everywhere and like almost everywhere in the world the SUVs and big jeeps are in fashion.
- People are very friendly.
- The ocean is beautiful, the colour is amazing!
- The supermarkets are US-style, and I think that we will be able to find almost everything we like to eat.
- American chain stores everywhere from Wal-Mart (I will boycott these shops as they do not respect labour rights) to JC Penney, Sears etc. I am looking forward to visiting Borders (the bookshop) tonight in the biggest mall of the Caribbean – Plaza Las Americas.
- Too much airconditioning in the hotels and shops – you need to bring a jumper!
- I have seen two dead cockroaches in the apartments we have visited – euck.
We haven’t visited Old San Juan yet, but apparently that is a very charming part of the city with old colourful buildings.
We visited an apartment today in a art-deco building called Miami (it was PINK!), which was extremely charming but we decided that our priorities are 1) beach 2) pool – living close to a nice beach is an opportunity we don’t want to miss when we are going to live in the Caribbean… and the Miami didn’t have either, too bad.
It is more difficult than we expected to choose where to live – we have visited over 15 apartments in two days with our real estate agent and we liked quite a few. Only one had a real wow-factor but it is probably out of our budget, but I will still describe it to you: a small two-floor building with four apartments, the one we saw was on the ground floor. Amazing modern kitchen with every gadget you can imagine – one huge stainless steel fridge, one wine fridge and one soda fridge (ok, maybe one or two fridges too many!) etc. A built-in TV in the guest bathroom (just in front of the toilet…) and a enormous master bathroom with jacuzzi and double shower! A small private patio, a shared pool and direct, private access to the beach… Day-dreaming…