Thursday, July 23, 2009

Tourist for the day: El Morro


Oasis feature: A Series of Local Views #2

Oasis meets El Morro as we continue being a tourist for the day in our own back yard...

Good morning and welcome to sunny El Morro. Did you know that Puerto Rico was under the Spanish flag for about 500 years until the United States came 100 years ago? Knowing that bit of information goes a long way in explaining the culture and attitudes of this beautiful island. El Morro was constructed on the protruding parts of the land surrounding the city to protect the island from invaders approaching by the sea, which explains why there is a wall going around much of the Old City (El Viejo San Juan).

There is an El Morro in nearby Cuba, too, and it is made in the same style and material.
El Morro in San Juan is actually called Fort San Felipe del Morro but not by anyone on the street. I have a little confession to make; this photo was taken a bit down the road from El Morro at another fort, Fort San Cristobal, though most tourist call all of these structures El Morro. I like this one because you can walk right into one of the garrettes and take a look at the framed sea.








Come inside with me and let's take a look
.


There is a mysterious story about one of these sentry boxes in San Cristobal, La Garita del Diablo (the Devil's Garrette). I must caution you: a legend circulates that says those who dare visit this most extremely situated and the first constructed lookout (1634) might mysteriously disappear. Though word on the street is that the only real disappearance was of a couple who escaped disapproval by way of the sea and left unimpeded to elope. (Oh, how dangerous and romantic!)



I'm feeling a bit hungry for lunch. Why don't we walk down the road and look for something to eat?

Or maybe, first, we could cool off with a piragua? These traditional iced syrups are quite refreshing. Look at the selection on the glass- Spanish and English are respectfully placed side by side. Agua Fria/Cold Water! I think I will have an anise flavored icy piragua.



Do you see the large solid block of ice inside the glass cart? The man is shaving it with a special tool, which he then scoops up the ice into a cone and pours flavored syrup all over the top.


I caution you to avoid the ajonjoli (sesame seed) except in your locally made candy.







If you're like me, you might find the grainy texture disturbing in your syrup. Of course, there are a lot of healthy and calming B vitamins in sesame seeds so it's your decision, entirely. The coco (coconut) flavored syrup is quite popular with the local residents.

For lunch, I would like to have a traditional pastelles with rice and beans. Pastelles are made from plantain and sometimes yucca root ground into a paste and filled with a spicy (but not hot) meat mixture. They are wrapped in banana leaf, tied with string and boiled for about an hour. It's a tasty meal all by itself but presents a problem for a real vegetarian. (Don't say it!) However, I have found several people who are willing to sell me a dozen garbanzo filled (chick peas), vegetable filled or sometimes soy filled pastilles. However, to be honest, I usually have to provide the textured vegetable protein meat substitute. (Okay, I will say it for you, I'm just a little bit weird.)

Making pastilles is a grassroots (and underground) business that thrives during the holiday season, yet those in the know can obtain them anytime of the year. Getting the best possible pastilles is all about maintaining your local connections.

What meal would be complete without a side of crunchy salty tostones? Tostones are large unripe plantain bananas, sliced thickly and fried of both sides until golden. They are served with salt, ketchup, and/or a bit of garlic.

Yum! Warning: these must be eaten fresh or not at all because they can get quite hard and dry. Tourist who eat dried out tostones are often perplexed and disappointed-what is all the fuss about?

[ Make your own! If you make these at home, cut thick slices diagonally, fry in oil for 2-3 minutes on each side. Remove from pan, flatten -I use the bottom of a plate- on a board, and firmly press down. Return the plantain disks to the hot oil. Lightly cook on each side again, remove and place on an absorbent towel. Cook just one large green plantain banana at a time, and serve immediately.

Note: If your plantain's are turning yellow, they do not make tasty tostones. Let them ripen, slice, and gently fry them - once on each side- in hot oil. These are called amarillos. Also, when looking for plantains in the States, go to Chinese grocery stores and/or look for "macho bananas" -a most curious name!]

For lunch or dinner, I can recommend an atmospheric restaurant in the Old City, Raices (Roots), which is know for its mofongo -mashed plantain filled with garlic spiced meat. The waitresses wear white traditional costumes with headdress, and serve on authentically folk dressed tables, complete with a wood and tin service. Two recommendations here: arrive before you are hungry and bring your credit card because service can be slow and the food pricey. That's okay-afterall, you are getting a taste of Puerto Rico from the past. Just drink a Pina Colada and enjoy the atmosphere. If you don't want to sit in an air conditioned space, you can eat outside, listen to old time Puerto Rican music and watch street life, which is always entertaining, if somewhat overwhelming.


I should clarify a point here, people still eat these traditional foods. Why just this morning, I had freshly made hot tostones with a sprinkle of sea salt crystals and a tiny bit of ketchup. I don't usually have tostones for breakfast, it's just that plantains are in season now. Yes, they are usually available all year, but locally grown freshly cut plantains are of the highest quality and flavor. So I can eat them for all three meals. (Soon avocados will be available, too! Puerto Rican sliced butter! Yum! ) Back on the subject-I'm just pointing out that those atmospheric costumes and, natural, but rough plate-ware are not commonly used anymore except as festive decoration at cultural activities.

Today, there is a blend of the old and new in food as with all things related to culture. For example, take the traditional El Noche San Juan festival, which is both formally and informally celebrated during the summer solstice, specifically on John the Baptists' birthday. (San Juan/St. John) This night is all things pagan and Catholic combined into a modern synergistic mix. If you can handle crowds and would love to throw yourself backward into the cleansing surf a few times-seven to be exact- come to San Juan on this night of its patron saint, and be blessed by Yemayá, the Ocean Mother or St. John (as you wish) with good fortune. The festivities continue for a week and I have participated three times over the years. Recently, the crowds, drinking and commercialization put me off but if you're up for too much excitement then I can only say, it's your party.

Another blend is in reggaetón music, touted as the real Puerto Rican music of today, I remain reserved. However, this group Calle 13, which means street 13, has an interesting sound when combined with the Puerto Rican favorite, the Panamanian (Harvard educated), Ruben Blades. You can see the barrio (community-er-'hood), La Perla (The Pearl) just below El Morro. As a matter of fact, it's right over the wall and next to the sea. I have been down as far as that atmospheric old graveyard (seen in the video), but probably tourists would not be welcomed inside the barrio.

Warning: these lyrics are not tourists friendly. Yes, it's true, we are said to be in the way. Listen carefully to these Spanish lyrics, which say tourists are blocking the view while they take pictures of the view. If like me, you don't particularly like reggaetón music, you should still take a look at this exceptional video. Ruben, you're worth it!




Just look at that sign: Oasis El Morro
Friends and bloggers, though we are finished with our Oasis at El Morro tour, I hesitate to overload your royal patience with more today. Next stop in our Tourist for the Day Oasis Feature-A Series of Local Views, absolutely must include some spectacular views of Puerto Rican nature. Don't you agree?

48 comments:

  1. Oh thank you Cynthia for such a wonderful post. This is the best mini-vacation I've been on in a long time. I didn't even have to update my passport! You're a wonderful storyteller and a lovely lady.

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  2. Move over, Rick Steves!! I basically know nothing about Puerto Rico, so I'm loving these little tourist posts, Cynthia. I'll take some of those Pastelles and a Pina Colota, please. Mmm-mmm.

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  3. Cynthia .. .
    That was just delightful!
    I didn't know about tostones - they
    sound delicious. I'll look forward to your next tourist excursion -

    judith

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  4. Puerto Rico is under the radar. Thank you for highlighting some of its wonderful sights, food and cultural icons.

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  5. Surprise! It didn't kick me off!
    Wonderful post! So informational!
    I sure wish I could visit and hang out there with you! Xoxo

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  6. I'm going to have to come back and read this all again ...SO interesting.

    Next time take me!

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  7. Hey Cynthia...been catching up a bit on your site, wondering how I got so far behind...then I remembered (a rare thing!) Last time I tried to get on your site, it would not let me!

    Wow, what a wonderful tour..the beautiful sites, luv, luv, luv the photos! The food, wow! All the way back to your photos from the wedding...what a stunner you are ma'am!!! I see you were kind enough to pass it on to your children, awfully kind of you! My daughter would probably notice that cute son for sure!!! So glad I was able to catch up a bit...take great care, I'm going upstairs to paint!!! :)

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  8. thank you cynthia, for this lovely and entertaining, not to mention FILLING, little tour of your neck of the world....it was fascinating and now I can't remember anything but the food ;)! those icy, slush type things-delish! I loved the old fort, those always grab me, just the history of what they were, who was there, who might have been there, HOW MANY might have walked those walkways...I didn't listen to the music [bandwidth issues] but wish I could have...I do like a little reggae [noticed you spell it a little differently but assume we are talking about the same thing?] but decided not tonight...

    anyway, thank you, it sounds and looks very lovely [as are you, my dear] there and I could eat fried plantains with sea salt any day done by you...do you fry avocadoes too? I eat them almost everyday here in CA, land of fickle sunshine!
    xox

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  9. I love these looks at life in the beautiful place you call home. I've never had plantain but I do love things with sesame seeds in them - I'd have to indulge I'm afraid.

    Pink really suits you by the way

    x

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  10. Sheila,

    thank you for the passport free visit and it's so nice to have your company. (Thanks for noticing that I love to tell stories.) <3

    Willow,

    it's been fun to share. I wish I could get PBS so I could check out Rick Steves. I looked for him on the internet though...a bit of hyperbole going on in this cute comment? But doesn't RS have a great job! I'd love it. Shall we toast? <3

    Judith,

    welcome aboard! It's such a treat to have another artist read my blog. I hope you get to try tontones someday. You can make them yourself. <3

    Lakeviewer,

    hi! I hope being under the radar is a good thing? It's always a political statement to mention PR in the context of the US. Here in PR, I mean. You know that being a "Free Associated State" with US citizenship- is an issue 'on the table'...What will happen to PR? Thanks for the visit. <3

    Carol,

    yes, it would be fun to go around the city together! You have such a perceptive eye. You would even like to go to bookstores with me! <3

    Sarah,

    a big smile to you! I do the same thing...I go over blog post looking for more detail...just like reading a book. <3

    Artist Unplugged,

    too bad about throwing you off...but Explorer 8 and Blogger need to reach an agreement here! They have compatibility problems. I hope that some who have been unable to get on realize that they can use another browser- Mozilla Firefox-for example...sigh...maybe the problem is corrected? Thanks for you openhearted appreciation of my family--of course a mother loves it when her children are praised. Love to you friend and I'm glad you are back. <3

    Linda,

    I did put a lot of food on the plate of this post, didn't I! Well, as for the tostones and icy slush...it would be fun to share that with you.

    ABOUT the music, it is a combination of Rap from NY and Reggae from the islands-Jamaica. At least that's what research tells us...but I think that the hint of a Reggae beat is almost gone...(except one drummer has dreadlocks) but with this song, you can hear the Rap...and also a bit of the Salsa "talk" that used to accompany 70's Salsa music.

    I have never intentionally fried avocados-does reheating a sandwich count? I love the "land of fickle sunshine" and it gets more than Michigan. About the fort...doesn't that word make it feel western? I mean like the old west. These places are much more like castles...I mean real castles- no wood or dusty cowboys! Still we're missing the palace- the fort protects the city...there is even a walk there that is called "peseo de la princessa"- the princess' walkway or path of the princess...it's pretty...with plenty of waterside views and a big Felini-ish fountain to play in.

    Thank you for your enthusiasm, Ms Linda. Love to you friend. <3

    French Fancy,

    of course, indulge away! I love the flavor, too, just not the texture though I've tried to overcome that one on the grounds that it's healthy! And thank you for saying I was pretty in pink...these photos are all from the same day...btw...(laugh) I do occasionally change my shirt! :-) Thanks for the company! <3

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  11. I wonder if you all would like to see a flame tree. I think they are so beautiful...they mean Puerto Rican summer to me. It's time for breakfast! Should I make tostones again? That is the next question. <3

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  12. Hi Cynthia ... I jumped in here from a friend of a friend's of a friend's blog ... your hair's lovely ... I misread the top and thought you were in Morocco for a minute. Puerto Rico ~ wonderful!

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  13. Welcome Gledwood. Thank you for your visit. You have a lot of blogs! 6 busy writer!

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  14. Yes!tostones! yum and more yum. and i would like to try that drink but i'll take your word and have what your having! and a flame tree? okay!

    you look so pretty and happy out there in the sunshine, thank you so much for this wonderful tour, i hope to get to puerto rico someday!

    but till then i'll just go through this post again and again (last one too!) ♥

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  15. I enjoyed this tour and learned so much!! Great photos too!

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  16. What a delicious adventure. Beautiful photos. You are so lucky to be living a perpetual vacation. Thanks for the tour, I may have to visit in person some day.

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  17. Lovely walk down the street, Cynthia. Thoroughly enjoyed it. The sentry post with its share of legend is romantic to say the least.

    The Tostone brought back familiar memories of similar looking, and probably similar tasting, banana chips from the state of Kerala. It's become a tradition to ask of those returning from a trip to Kerala to bring back some with them.

    The Pastilles ah, could they be the Kadubu that cooks from the South of India prepare, but filled with preparations made in jaggery and garnished with sweet coconut before steaming in banana leaves.

    Are the similarities because of the tropics? I can only wonder.

    Just curious, why would making Pastilles quilify for an 'underground' business?

    I would prefer to sit outside, listen to some Puerto Rican music while looking out on the street.

    Thank you for a streetside journey.

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  18. Lori,

    so glad to have your enthusiastic visit! I'd love to show you the sights and sounds of Puerto Rico. It gives me permission to happily focus on someone else. SO then, I get to have guilt-free pleasure, too. (I often feel I should be working.)

    I'm sure you can make tostones in your part of the world. When I lived over that way, we frequently had tostones. They used to sell them at the regular grocery store-remember Alpha Beta?-as "macho bananas". Funny! I hope your health is returning. I know that an adventurous person (such as yourself) needs health to feel fully alive. (You could go sit on the beach for an hour- I used to do that even when I was weak.)

    Take care and love to you! <3

    Shelmo,

    thank you for leaving a comment and for your friendly presence. Visit again! <3

    Butternut,

    you are welcome to visit, and I hope someday you do come to the island. I must warn you though, I'm not living a 'perpetual vacation' - I was just spending a day as a tourist. Oh appearances can be so delightfully deceiving. <3

    Anil,
    I think that there are similarities because of the tropics and the types of food that grow here. Also, the migration of people from India and other parts of the world influence the cooking. I find the food contrast between Mexico and Puerto Rico interesting too. Indian and Mexican food can be spicy hot; but most Puerto Ricans do not like heat in their food. Much of Mexican street food is simply made with few ingredients where as Indian and Puerto Rican food is time consuming and made in many combinations with many ingredients.

    To my knowledge-er-experience, Indian food is often sweet/hot, Mexican usually a bit hot, and Puerto Rican is not hot. The majority of foods use a type of base seasoning which includes a broad leaf herb much like cilantro. The smell says "Puerto Rican" when you enter a local kitchen. (Every region has its 'kitchen smell', don't you think?)

    The reason I mentioned 'underground' about the pastelle business is that it's not sold on the street in dozens by locals. It's done in households by pre-order usually, and no one pays tax. It is not a criticism, though, I think those who make pastelles are talented.

    I think the Indian version would be wonderful. Sometimes, people put raisins in pastelles but many don't like the addition of the sweet combined with savory. I find it interesting though, and am up for the unique.

    I would love to taste the chips from Kerala-are they sweet or salty? We have plantain chips in a bag here...they are like thicker, crunchy, garlic-y (and salty) potato chips. I have to look for the kind not cooked in lard- but PR is getting to be health conscious. (Maybe that's an influence from the US?) I find more and more vegetarian friendly foods daily.

    Thanks for the long reflective comment and the lovely visit. <3

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  19. Fantastic tour! Wow, what beautiful puffy clouds. And I'm glad you weren't lost inside the medieval tower because it would have been a shame to miss lunch!

    I'm loving all these self-portraits you're publishing. You're so beautiful, Cynthia.

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  20. What a lovely tour! And now I'm hungry for new and exotic foods :)

    My first visit, nice to meet you and see your adventures!

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  21. Hi there Cynthia. Thankyou for stopping by my blog and leaving a comment :)
    I love your island photos, i wish i could be somewhere like that right now! Looks so relaxing.
    The food looks really intetesting. I have never heard of pastelles before, but have always wanted to try something cooked in banana leaves.

    Rose

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  22. Well, you know what? If you had not made clear at the beginning that you were in San Juan I would have believed that you were in Havana. That El Morro is almost identical. Many thanks for a fantastic tour and recipe. And to cap it all you had Rubencito. Marvellous.

    Greetings from London.

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  23. You do an amazing job of writing about the place you live in... I am inspired :)

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  24. For a girl like me, who loves to travel but hasn't lately been able to go anywhere that I have not seen before, this is GREAT stuff. Thank you so much.

    And I'm glad the book arrived!!

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  25. C
    u mentioned abt vegetarian and i just remembered something..in Hamburg i stayed at Mariott..i was the only veggie in the group..i used to quietly meet the chef and request him..some how ended up with lots of potatoes..lol..btw, hey thanks a tonne 4 yr kind words dear friend..i wonder how god has created such wonderful human beings like u and yet the world faces turmoil many a times..maybe a way of nature..keep up yr cheers dear friend..and best wishes always..

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  26. Thanks for the trip to El Morro! Wow, you live in an interesting and beautiful country ... I really liked the music video too, more for the surroundings than the music, actually - although it's got a good beat going, I like that! I am however very classical in my musical tastes, with a bit of jazz and tango thrown in the mix. But I really enjoyed the images in the video - the first bit very much reminded me of the movie City of God (and the later City of Men) ... Interesting food too, I would love to try plantain, but we don't have it here (although it is a staple in some other African countries, I believe). (PS As for time travelling, no, I have no wish to go to the past, that is all over and done with; but I would love to point my TTM to the future, about 10,000 years ahead, for example! Just think how amazing it would be to see what new inventions humans will have come up with, OR maybe the earth will be grey and charred with not a human in sight OR maybe a cyborg will meet me and offer me a drink ...

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  27. Reya,

    it takes you to notice the sky! Thanks for the praise- you're simply adorable. We wouldn't want to miss lunch! <3

    Cat,

    welcome to Oasis, how nice of you to come over. I hope you try to make tostones and join us on another adventure. <3

    Rose,

    so pleasant to have you visit. I also wanted to eat something in banana leaves...I had read about Indian food cooked that way. I also have had a corn paste wrapped and boiled in banana leaves. I might try to make it. Come back again. <3

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  28. Cuban,

    I'm so glad that you came back over because I was thinking of you during this post. I found so much information about Cuba and it's own El Morro, which I believe is the first one. I'm glad you appreciate Ruben...he is so talented and able to understand contemporary musical movements. Do you cook Cuban food over there in London? I hope you visit again.

    Phoenix,

    oh thanks so much. I hope you also write more about New
    Delhi. I enjoyed your images...especially of the wedding entryway...those two men guarding the door...what strength of color. I would love to read about your impressions. Welcome and I hope you come back.

    Beth, thanks for the virtual visit to Puerto Rico. I'm determined to finish your book soon...today or tomorrow. It's so appealing, "Nothing but Ghosts"!

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  29. R. thanks for the kind words. I didn't know that you were vegetarian. It's kind of a predicament here in PR because 'meat' is highly valued and considered necessary.

    Many people worried about my children being raised without meat...but it doesn't really cause any deficiencies. Most vegetarians are healthier than the average person.

    About your comment concerning the world; you know, we can only be responsible for what we do and how we participate. It's also important to celebrate the beauty and love that surrounds us. <3

    Anairam,

    thanks for the extensive comment. Yes, I see what you mean about the film, "The City of God" ...I think that the structures are different though...even in La Perla most of the homes are cement. It's important protection from the hurricanes. Poverty is 'friendlier' in Puerto Rico than Brazil, I think. Here every child has access to school (public school) where free lunch is served to all students, plus there are many social programs. Please don't judge all PR music by this sample...it's a particular contemporary style that is not representative of the rich musical tradition here.

    About time travel...I think I would like to visit the past...but really I'd rather go to some places described in literature but don't actually exist! I mean if you are going to dream, why not go beyond all limits? I hope you visit again. <3

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  30. Hola guapa!
    i'm salivating a bit on the pastelles which i have never tasted and must say they sound and look delicious!
    Cynthia, i also wanted to give you a big hug and thank you for your lovely comments and support..
    xoxo
    Lala

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  31. Wow, what a terrific place to live! I want to try those Pastelles. I have had Tostones. I definitely could do with a Pina Colada and a blue sky. It is foggy and rainy here in Maine and has been most of the summer. I am looking forward to the spectacular views. Thanks for the tour!

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  32. Well that was fun! I enjoyed everybit of it. Thank you for sharing your beautiful home. ☻☺ Natalie.xx♥

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  33. WOW! I am moving in with you and your family tomorrow. I am booking the next flight out! Puerto Rico should be paying YOU because your blog is going to attract so many tourists. You have such a wonderful way of telling the story of the cities and the culture. You are a wonderful, humorous, fun tour guide and your pictures are so vivid and bright. I am sooo jealous--it's like you are on a perpetual adventure. I want to sip a icy piragua--but what flavor do I choose!!!!!!! The food looks to DIE for. If I travelled there I'd gain 10 stone. Really, whata fun, cheery blog you have. Keep it coming---can't wait for the next installment

    X

    -oneof3655

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  34. C, thanks for those good words..cheers..will stay connected..

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  35. Hello Dear Cynthia,

    What a treat to play tourist with you there. I loved the adventure without getting all hot and sweaty (I am kind of a winter girl). Now, why did you say you were weird? Because you prefer not to eat other animal's flesh? Please...vegetarians are not weird (I know :-) ). Most likely what is the most weird about you is the best part...the curosity you have about life and culture. Now isn't that a true artist?

    Also, thank you Cynthia for your lovely comment on my blog today. I am well aware these changes are going to drive some people away...I am so glad you are not one of them.

    Have a Beautiful Day...it appears they are all quite beautiful!

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  36. Wow Cynthia,

    How very beautiful... Thanks for the virtual tour, I wish I could hop on a plane and meet you in person....

    Much love,

    Maithri

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  37. cynthia,
    i do believe this is the most fun place to be in blogland. i had to come back and meet more of your friends and read all the delightful comments (yours too dear!)
    oh my gosh, i haven't heard alpha beta since i was a little girl! my nana used to be a checker there!! i wonder if there are any more left?now im going to go google that banana recipe.
    i wish i could take a detour when i fly to N.Y. and come to P.R.!!

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  38. Thank you all for your affection and appreciation!

    Natalie,

    I so glad to see you around the blogland again...what a tough time you have been having...wishing you health and an extra dose of joy. <3

    Sarah,

    Well, you just need a bit of sun...and a few sips of a refreshing drink to brighten you day. I'm taking pictures to get the next post ready. Wishing you sunshine in Maine. <3

    yrautca,
    Welcome to (OWL) blog I hope you come by again. <3

    Lala aka guapa, thank you for your adorable charming presence...and for the hug...you and your Castle in Spain are celebrated in my heart. <3
    Welcome Oneof365!

    Oh, It's not all play-I work here too...you are so upbeat...what a treat to have you visit and leave such gushing comments. I'm working to keep the weight down...oh dear! I'm cooking rice and gandules right now...very tasty...it's so hard to not get seconds! :-) <3

    R.,

    Wishing you a feeling of warmth and support. Take care, friend.<3

    Kim,

    you are charmingly delightful as always! I know that vegetarians are not weird-to me-but some think I'm a bit unusual because of my life style. That's okay, too, my father used to think I was a bit 'out there' and it felt like praise.

    About your work...it's all about expression-right? You will be evolving as all creative people do. I hope I can support you in your new projects. <3

    Maithri, thank you for your visit! I suspect that you need to take time to rest since your return from Swaziland. It would be great to meet. I hope that all the love you generate with your work and blog is returned to you times ten. <3

    Oh Miss Lori, you sound like you are feeling better! And you're planning another trip...you are amazing. I think Alpha Beta went out of business? It used to be the main grocery store in Coronado where I lived for over 20 years. It's a ways from NY...but how lovely it would be to see you. <3

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  39. Very nice post .. and I'm not even a little bit jealous ;0))

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  40. wow is all I can say. what a wonderful tour. that is some place where you live!

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  41. Those pastilles and tostones look so delicious Cynthia just like something I would like to try...Happy weekend, xv.

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  42. wonderful post as always, Cynthia! Now I am soooo craving plantains! ;)

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  43. Cynthia, when you have a moment slip over to my blog to see the surprise I have to share.

    I hope you are planning a stunning weekend!

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  44. Hi Cynthia!
    It's great to see all these photos of Puerto Rico, and of you and your family too, of course. You look lovely. I know I would love the food there. Those piraguas sound great. Thanks for stopping by while I was on my hiatus. Would you believe that after a month away from daily use of my computer my neck and back are agonizingly stiff from posting a long post yesterday? I need to get back in 'blog shape'.

    Happy travels,
    Catherine xx

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  45. ED, I know that you would find plenty to distract you here...and that's no reason to be jealous! Thanks for the visit! <3

    Suki, thanks for finding your way over...I've missed you! <3

    Vicki, I think you would like the pastelles...you are accustomed to French food...and you're adventurous. <3

    Rapunzel, make some tostones and take care of that craving!! <3

    Kim, congratulations on your new blog space! It's so organized! <3

    Catherine (ATCH), welcome back to blogland. I hope you had a wonderful break! Thank you for your sweet comments. <3

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  46. Wow ! Fascinating Cynthia. Thanks ! I especially enjoyed all the info on local food and drinks. I look forward to the spectacular views tour. Merci !!

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