Louder Than Coquis

Friday, 8am. Why am I awake? My alarm doesn’t go off until 8:30am and
every minute counts. Disoriented. Hooting, yelling outside my bedroom
window, I can’t make out words yet.

Coming from somewhere on my side of the street, “Why you so loud?!”  Good question.

From across the street, “I’m Puerto Rican!”

when I was in San Juan last weekend I saw plenty of teenage girls with
four-inch stilettos and near-butt-cheek-baring skirts, but no one was
screaming. I’m still of the children should be seen (and I saw a lot of
underage flesh) and not heard school.

It’s time for the annual
April-May warm enough for open windows, not warm enough for air
conditioners to block the sound shriek fest. I get crotchety about it
every year and hopefully this will be my last. If things go as planned,
I will not be living here by next spring. (Though I’m starting to have
my doubts—it’s kind of unbelievable how desiring 1,500+ square feet of
living space, plus a little outdoors in parts of Brooklyn with a sub-40
minute commute to Manhattan is incompatible with possessing $1 million
in cash. That’s a lot of money in my world, and well, it’s not mine
personally anyway.)

Later that Friday, after I was good and awake I heard, “I’m going to fucking make you cry, I’m telling you.” Got to love April-May. 

So, Puerto Rico was a fun break, though I
won’t talk about it much here since the long weekend really only
involved eating. I didn’t even go to the beach or use the pool even
though our hotel was overlooking both. They are so obsessed with the
coqui, the national symbol, a tiny tree frog I never actually saw, that
they pipe fake frog sounds on the grounds of the Intercontinental Hotel
and when we'd come back to our room at night, our clock radio had been
tuned to a station that played jungle noises and ribbits. I know what a
coqui is because there are around 800,000 Puerto Ricans in NYC and that
frog is on all sorts of memorabilia. But I'm wondering if the average
American would have any idea why there were croaking sounds when they
walked into their  hotel room. I would think it was weird.

Juan had a large concentration of chain restaurants, high and low:
Fudruckers’s, Pizzeria Uno, Macaroni Grill, Outback Steakhouse,
Chili’s, Sizzler (with huge lines just like in Thailand—the restaurant
seems way more successful overseas) Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse, BLT Steak
and Strip House (apparently, tourists love steak) and weirdest of all,
a 5-7-9 store at the mall.
I didn’t think that juniors shop had survived the ‘80s. I guess there’s
one in Manhattan and one in the Bronx, so clearly I am out of touch. On
their website they tout carrying sizes 00, 0, 1, 3, 5, 7 and 9, and
it’s really bothering me because zeroes are not odd (I guess they’re
not even either).

Related to nothing, many men over 30 had a distinct bald look, sometiems with a goatee. I don't know where this comes from. Chef Wilo Benet is an example.

capital city, while modern in many ways, was also bizarrely analog.
Doors were all push, pull (I certainly don’t require it—I have arms—but
I’m used to hotels with doormen; it’s standard in Asia even at the
lower-priced spots) our rental car had roll up windows and manual door
locks, the mall was full of staircases (they also have one at Menlo
Park Mall and I’m always hell no, I don’t go to the mall to use my leg
muscles). The pace was incredibly slow, which is often true in hot,
humid climates, Hong Kong and Singapore being exceptions. Leisurely to
the point of cars weaving and pulling into traffic without looking and
expecting others to yield (they do) and stopping for pedestrians to
cross the road…or is that normal in the rest of the US? Or just a
policy in tourist districts? I was shocked by the same thing in Las
Vegas, that people would just walk into the street and cars would stop
for them. You would be mowed down here, no mercy. Gothamist’s hitandrun tag has been used 17 times so far in 2010.

Take a look at my small collection of mostly people-free photos from Puerto Rico. A lot of pork and plantains, though.

7 thoughts on “Louder Than Coquis

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