After the requisite visit to the beach, we ventured out into the world on an adventure... to the mall. Now, part of me felt reluctant to go to the mall. Come on! I'm in San Juan and I'm going to the mall? On the other hand, as I recall from my Xela days, the mall is an entirely non-touristy place where locals can be found, and also some stuff. Plus, it fully means going to a different part of town, and taking a bus and venturing out of the tourist strip. Okay, sold.
We got off the bus early out of fear that we'd missed the stop. We needn't have worried; the mall, once we found it, was huge. It was vastly bigger than any of the malls in or around Boston, certainly, and it had all the familiar stores, but with clothes that I thought were cute. I think that even if this conference isn't here next year, I'm going to have to figure a trip to San Juan into my annual or biannual planning for clothes shopping. I didn't actually buy anything today, but that's mainly because I didn't feel like dealing with trying things on.
The big disappointment at the mall was the fact that the enormous Borders carried mostly English language books, and about half of the Spanish language books in the literature section were translated from English. That was a big let-down. There was not a single Spanish language book in the science fiction section at all.
On the other hand, in making a very small purchase in order to get change for the bus ride back to our guest house, I discovered a super tasty candy -- turrón -- that I think I can recreate.
The great thing about malls in foreign lands, though, is that they really are where people go. Oh, sure, there are the mes of San Juan who only go to the mall when things get desperate, but, in general, it's a much more quotidian experience of a place than, say, the beach. Similarly, I love going to grocery stores in other places, even in the US, but especially in other countries, because it's just so interesting to see how things are laid out, what products are popular, etc. So being at the mall was strangely satisfying from that point of view. Plus, it was empowering to navigate the bus system and converse in Spanish (mostly successfully) and generally to be in the city part of the city.
Tonight, M stayed in the room while I went off for my evening swim. It's been a long, long time since I had a nighttime swim by myself, and as much as I love company for it (and I do), there's also something magical about being in the water in the dark alone.
There were a lot of small, fluffy clouds in the sky, glowing with the light of the city, and the water reflected the light, too, smoothly, looking slick and dark in its rolling waves. It feels cheesy to try to recreate with words the feeling of being in the water in the dark, laying back and listening first to my breath and then to the crashing waves and then to the secret chittering whispers of the underwater world, sand rolling on sand.
Still, though, it's a feeling I like, and it's good to remember it.