February 1st, 2006


Puerto Rico in review

So, my time in Puerto Rico was, for the most part, good. The conference went well, all in all, and when it was done, I was very glad to get out of the "resort" hotel.

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The food was great, the piraguas (snow cones) were fantastic, and it turns out I actually like rum, if it's dark and interesting enough. I've never had such good piña coladas, and, of course, the mojitos were nothing to sniff at.

What I found most difficult about being in San Juan was the language barrier. No, not the Spanish thing, which was actually fine, but the fact that I didn't know what language to use. If someone else started the conversation, we'd just run with the language they started with (usually English), which was fine. But if I was starting the conversation, my inclination was to start in Spanish, even though it's my weaker language. But based on some of the reactions I got, plus a comment in my guidebook, I was afraid that starting in Spanish was offensive, implying that they didn't know English (which most people did). Of course, starting in English seemed presumptuous that they DID know English, and if they didn't, was I being rude assuming they did? And if they knew both, and I started in Spanish, did I then look stupid if I fumbled around for a word?

Obviously, I overthink things. Nevertheless, this was a big hangup for me and probably stopped me from being as chatty as I might otherwise have been, in either language.

On the bright side, I actually did understand Puerto Rican Spanish at least some of the time, which was a personal coup.

Next time I go, I'll have to get out of San Juan -- I don't really think I can say I've been to Puerto Rico so much as that I've been to San Juan. Which is a fine start, but no more than that.

No doubt my minimal tan will be gone by the time any of you see me, but for now, I'm enjoying it :)