Weekend Warriors Ep. 2. Old San Juan.

Took a “weekend” trip to San Juan, PR, specifically Old San Juan.  On the roof top patio of my hotel, Da House at sunset.  There’s a steel drum band playing somewhere below on the blue cobbled street, the beat ricocheting off the massive walls of Fuerte San Cristobal in front of me.  Drinking a couple Medallas and snapping some photos.  This is right.  This makes me happy.

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Day one was a sleepless blur.  My flight from St. Thomas left just after my shift, so I would have to power through until check in at 3PM.  I figured the area was walkable and might as well get the easy, touristy stuff out of the way.  I immediately checked out Fuerte San Cristobal and El Morro, the two biggest tourist attractions in Old San Juan.  UNESCO sites and both two of the most impressive forts I’ve seen.  The enormous walls protecting this valuable position since the 1500s.  Eventually, luckily around 3, I hit the awake-for-24-hours-wall and crashed out for a much need siesta.

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That night I was on the hunt for ceviche and quelled my craving on La Fortuleza at Aguaviva.  The sampler was delish and was served with tostones instead of tostadas which made it extra awesome.  I ended up talking with the bartender, Ivan, for a while.  He wasn’t too happy with this new job, and preferred to talk; ignoring the impatient server’s requests for drinks for their tables.  He almost ended my night with a barrage of Don Q rum shots.  Call it a “tasting” or a drinking contest, either way he insisted we shoot 5 or 6 high quality puerto rican rums in about 20 minutes.   I managed to stumble my way to El Batey for a night cap.  Love that place.  Shitty dive that apparently cracks late night.  Exactly what I wanted at the time though, chill spot with pool tables, cheap drinks and good tunes.

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The next morning (ok afternoon…) I did my favorite thing on earth.  I woke up.  I grabbed my camera.  I ate.  I walked the streets aimlessly taking photos.  I had my first mofongo (with grouper) and puerto rican coffee at El Jibarito, and then just meandered.  Old San Juan isn’t very big so it’s easy to circumnavigate on foot.  Eventually I stepped into some bar/spa across from Parque las Palomas where there was 2 beers for $5 going on.  A cruise couple came in at one point.  We shot the shit for a bit, and when I told them what I did they insisted on a picture with me.  Weird.

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That night I went back to Aguaviva for more ceviche and endured another onslaught of rum shots (Ivan- “We drink since we’re 13 here so we are used to it.”, Me- “Shit man.  I am NOT used to it”), and had to drag my ass out of bed to catch my flight back to St. Thomas for work tonight.  Before leaving I had a quick breakfast at La Bombonera.  This place is an “institution” from what I’ve read and didn’t disappoint.  Bare bones cafeteria/diner with hearty, cheap eats.  I ordered the arroz con calamaré and a Medalla.  Breakfast of champions.  What came was a mound of rice/squid the size of my head, bowl of beans, and half a loaf of buttered bread.  Carbs on carbs on carbs.  The rice was fucking delicious.  Buttery, garlicy, and smokey in some kind of way.  The squid was tender and also had that smokey flavor.  I basically licked the plate clean.  Now I descend into St. Thomas, bloated, reeking of garlic and light beer, but content.  My goal is to not let work piss me off so much, and relish in every second I have left in this crazy island world.

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