Today was a day full of rich culture. My host of the day was a teacher that I met at a conference in Utah last Fall. We happened to be sitting at the same table for lunch and as we were talking about Puerto Rico, she volunteered to host me when I came to town. It turns out that she is an alum of the department that I am working with at UMET. This afternoon, she took me to a "rustic" place in Puerto Rico called Piñones. Piñones is a place where many of the descendants of African slaves reside. More information can be found here: http://www.drclas.harvard.edu/revista/articles/view/1076.
We ordered and at Bacalaoitos which is a form of fried fish. I also ordered an alcapurria which is a fried food that is made of a plantain mixture stuffed with a kind of meat ... mine had fish. It looks like a big corndog ... the plantain mixture itself looks like cornbread batter. The ladies who are cooking take a spoonful of the plantain mixture and put it onto a large leaf. Then they stuff it with the meat of choice, it is covered with more mixture and shaped by the leaf to make a rounded long roll. They are removed from the leaf to be fried and served hot. I was so full from my bacalaoito that I had to take my alcapurria with me. The lunch was good and spicy, but it is greasy, so I decided to take it easy with the alcapurria in my bag for dinner. (When I got home and took it out of my bag, I ate a little piece of it and then made a salad!)After lunch, we went across the street to the beach for a little while ... this was good because I hadn't had a chance to go to the beach at all since I've been here.
Then we traveled to the east side of the island to one of the best-known beautiful places, Fajardo. Fajardo has one of the best hotels, El Conquistidor. It is huge and is known for it's beautiful views. My host and I settled by one of the poolside areas to talk about language and culture. I actually ordered my bottle of water in Spanish and it sounded decent!
I learned so much today. I definitely have a deeper appreciation for the culture and diversity of Puerto Rico.