Friday, April 29, 2005

Fountain of youth, lechoneras, copper lamb balls
2nd day of coastal drive in Puerto Rico

Holy hell but if I promised myself I wouldn't talk about GamesGrid Poker but I just popped in and saw like so many more tables running today than just a week ago (last time I actually looked). For someone who feeds on this stuff (information, movement and trends)-- to see a difference of just a week is fascinating to me.

Like, not just the number of people on gamesgrid poker (real money games: i have my lobby sorted to "real money games only" on the left hand side toolbar to filter out the play money games... i found out today that when worlds largest says 70k ppl are playing there, it includes the play money players as well, that it is closer to 10k of real money players daily. i'd ass(u)me-d the 70k figure was real money player stats, never looked at the nuances of the stat before) -- but more people are talking about it, which is also like, so cool. I can see how it originates and is flowing, which is totally getting my rocksoff being my favorite thing to do: to follow.

Technorati search on gamesgrid poker isn't just a rehash of my old blog entries but so many new ones now...

(faints. just checked my referrer for a link but found trackback to felicia pimping me today, wow. thanks...)

::gets back up off the floor::

here are the links i was going to yak on, and get back to the pics since i resized sooo many this morning, weird jetlag still in me, slept three hours between four and seven only so far...

The Test of Human Tendency blog post re: GamesGrid Poker and *please use 'teembtallent' when signing up to GamesGrid Poker as your referrer, thanx* (really cool site, i love compilations of news and got a little lost reading when i should have been resizing more pr pics)

Lazy Man Pokering
blog post... a few actually. "amazing" is an adjective i always delight in passing up the food chain :)

Double As reference to gg poker, Chris Halverson's ref, and more but I'm getting impatient to fill the void with pr stuff... :)

Leaving Ponce after a night's stay in an icebox cold room (there is much to be said, and i am not the one to eloquently put it, but puerto ricans love their air conditioning) we headed to the baños de coamo-- natural hot springs that the tainos used to use, Roosevelt soaked in, and now is a draw for (what it seemed) many locals and no tourists except me.

Touted by many as the *fountains of youth* Ponce de Leon was searching for (especially the owners of the hotel next to the hotsprings), the springs are encased in artless concrete but are pleasing to the skin and soul.

The area is walled off, lending to some shade in the heat here (compounded of course by the springs themselves).

There are some trees and larger plants inside the concrete table, with handpainted signs nestled in between impatiens (that's what mom called them when planting her garden, i don't know the pr name for the flower) and mounted on treetrunks or on stakes in the ground.

"Nunca des explicaciones tus amigos y tus enmigos, *no* las creerán."

A soak and then back into the dry heat of Coamo, a long walk back to the car but not long enough to hold the conversation about the fountain of youth we had after soaking in silence for so long. From Coamo we drove north-east towards the Guavate region, which has no city name but is famous for their lechoneras (pork).

The way to Guavate was much more arid than the north coast, and held rolling houses on manicured lawns, facing the highway from long setbacks akin to dotted homes in California. After this stretch, we took the "panoramic route" which is a two lane highway cutting thru the forest mountain region of pr's center-- I kept trying to convince myself not to puke as we wound mountainside and moutainside. It was more disconcerting and woozy than PCH, maybe because it had the added bonus of inspiring clausterphobia as the forests bent down and around the highway. (i've never done well with that kind of ride at the county fair-- i distinctly remember puking orange soda on every passenger in the *teacup* ride and not drinking the same since, well ever now).

The panoramic route exploded into a line of restaurants/lechoneras/bars spread over a few windy miles. I can't say how many pictures of lechoneras' signs I took, but they all incorporated a pig (smiling, on a spit, in trousers, just 2D pig, etx)... A few:

And of course when in rome...

Guavate was host to acres of motorcycles and attendant masses... something about pork I suppose. I've had boar cooked on a spit before (batt had a friend who went hunting with bows wild boar somewhere here in norcal and i can say i've had the experience of picking boar bristles from my teeth after being served from the spit), and I've also had Hawaiian pork (japanese and hawaiians were closeknit and the grandparents hosted "ethnic food days" where a giant pit would be dug and lined with smoldering coals for a whole pig to be buried in, some strange juxtaposition between burial and cremation but tender and guiltladen)... but not this.

It was good.

Finally full from pork, amarillos, tripe, arroz blanco y maizeña with chickpeas, boiled roots and bananas, shredded fried plantain pancakes, and too many carbonated beverages, we jumped from the panoramic route to the main north back to San Juan... parking the car in Old San Juan next to the Museo de Americas/in front of El Morro and walking thru the hot nite taking blurry dark pics of statues and buildings and fortifications.

We imagined we were in the square below, listening to colonial dictators and damning/loving them if we were pr/spanish.

I'm not religious but have quite a bit of awe for the depth of the love of Christ runs in pr.

Being from Berkeley, having la raza-activist friends campaigning against Columbus Day (for indigenous peoples day), and maybe a little too off the cuff left of center dyed in the wool liberal hippie, I think the celebration of CC's landing in PR by pr'ians is ... well, enough to take a picture of and think about later. (Also took one of his statue in SJ but too dark, didn't take).

And of course I can't forget piña coladas (did you know they made these without alcohol??!)...

...y empanadas...

...while walking by the twin lamb statues (pr's symbol, the entire name of the island is isla de san juan bautista de puerto rico, the lamb is it's symbol in Christ, emblazoned on its arms and without any reference to estados unidos.)


3:28:09 PM  
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San Juan to Ponce,
Crashboat y la migra

First part of two...

This is the first day of the two day coast trip, San Juan to Ponce leg-- oeste to south along the 2 and other major multilane highways. Accordingly, paid tolls every x amount of miles (smaller, marginal highways have no tolls but are slower, running thru towns stopstart and single lane at times)... signs everywhere about being careful driving, wearing seatbelts, etc.

Puerto Rican drivers are the most aggressive I've driven against (and it really is "against")... just not used to it I guess. But the big hefty 2oeste keeps nice yellows between my fellow autoistas and myself, and a beautiful view of the water at my right hand, so the tarifa is fair at seventy cents a pop (sometimes fifty or twentyfive, but usually seventy).

Of course I had to suffer the bloodhorror humiliation of the public beach, so we stopped at crashboat where my highlight was a medalla chased by softserve and fudge topping while hanging my feet out of the car door-- cracking sand dripping off of my heels on its own accord and mine.

Leaving the beach, I'm reminded this is a US territory despite seeing no ingles, no "americans" except myself for about three hours by now (la migra)...

Here the scapegoat are dominicans... Race in pr is something I have a hard time wrapping my mind around. They don't have the hangups about black/brown/white as they are all prs first, and skin color doesnt disavow that bond. It's strange-wonderful to me (the idea of a central national identity not fractured by racial difficulty), though friends in pr still refer to me as "china" and think I'm actually from japan, too. *Comidas chinas* signs still crack me up, for another reason that is yet again too hard to wrap around.

After crashboat beach, more winding and roads south and now east to ponce (passing up the Tibes National Park where the ceremonial batey courts were the hosts of ritual games and rites-- a big favorite place of mine:

Batey court in Utuado

And as they have said "ponce is ponce," here are some pics without need of introduction.

3:29:01 AM  
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Miss me, kiss me, tea or me
Or, my first day in Puerto Rico, revisited

Yes, it has been a long time! But, I *really* don't want to talkwriteshill about why I was so busy two weeks ago (RD vers.: GamesGrid Poker 1,000% deposit bonus, GamesGrid Poker VFP Program, GamesGrid Poker affiliates, GamesGrid Poker rakeback... one of these things is just like the other...) but I want to talk about why I was so busy these past ten days (boriken...)

Si señ0rs y esp. you señoritas, just returned from a wonderful time in Puerto Rico :) My favorite place, really... and this trip I got to do so many things I hadn't on previous time there... I'm just home from days and days with no computer (addict) or better than 14.4 dialup (I gave up after the first minute-- microwave culture addict, ruling class of the despised mediocre masses, i know i know...) so feeding my feed needs I'm rattling thru more than five hundred pics-- decided to upload and tell a few stories from the trip :)

Warning, I think I may have to send Radio another $40 or get some real hosting somewhere to fill my picture junkie fix (i know about picasa/hello, but they're not condusive afaik to the way I use radio) and it's going to edge closer to being near my max with these pics. So, if you're on 14.4 maybe wanna skip the next few days-- fair warnings :)

First stop for cocinas criollas is always La Casita Blanca in Santurce, my favorite place for pr food in pr. The menu changes daily, garlic bread served in brown paper lunchsaks folded down and lined with paper towels sits on picnic dropcloths thick with plastic dipcoverings. White paper napkins like the kind you buy in accordion packs stacked not neatly on the tablecloth, held in place from the (openair building) wind with an onion, or a banana and an orange... After eating, they graciously present you with plastic SOLO thimbles of anis with coffee beans floated on their oily backs (para digestion, natch!).

I wrote to a friend about the first day's being about little differences... pr's sorta the spanglish version of the metric system.

Gasoline in litres, but speed limit is in mph. Coke in 333mL in the can, 20oz in bottles (all bottled locally on la isla). Colloquially, height is in feet/inches.

Not just little metricy things, but other cultural differences...

And just a fun pic too:

Off to start resizing more photos...

2:18:10 AM  
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