We stayed at the Sheraton in San Juan, located conveniently by the convention center but nowhere near a beach. While the pool area was large and very comfortable with many lounge chairs, pleasant pop music, and ample access to tropical drinks, it wasn't a beach. So on our first day, after exploring Old San Juan, our priority was to get to a beach. Here's the one we found:
|Luquillo Beach, northeastern corner of the island|
The photos we took don't begin to capture the chaos in this one spot. There were 4 school buses parked on the road to the left. There are cars crawling along in both directions, trying to avoid pedestrians wandering on the road. There is a band playing and the music is blaring so loud, I can't hear myself think and we have to dodge people dancing on the side of the road. In the first picture below, that first tent that you see was some sort of gambling. It was a total zoo and it was only Saturday afternoon - apparently Sunday gets even crazier as the bigger day for family outings. But all that mattered to me was getting at the roast pig.
|El Rancho Original|
|A view in the opposite direction|
It was a good thing that my queasiness had gone because the other meat product on the tray was morcilla, or blood sausage. This is something that I'd never had before, despite my adventurous culinary upbringing. It's essentially rice stained black because of the blood, with coagulated blood in and around the rice for good measure and heavily seasoned with fragrant herbs that I couldn't identify. The husband thought it was ok but certainly wasn't as enthusiastic about it as I was. I really liked the taste, but again that could be because I was starving or possibly because I'm slightly iron-deficient.
The side that the husband chose was rice since it was identifiable, but this version was seasoned with spices that turned it slightly orange (turmeric? saffron? I have no idea) and flat green beans that resembled plump lentils. We washed it down with Medalla Light, a local beer, and finished our meal off with a tasty flan - not too sweet, but creamy and rich. It was so worth it to trek into the interior where it was overcast and cooler - though by cooler we're talking about 75 degrees and not 90 degrees! It's all relative when you're in a tropical climate...