Up early, we packed and sped back to San Juan, trying to get the car back
to the rental office in time. We barely made it, thanks to some
over-caffeinated maniacal driving on my part.
|We spent the afternoon shopping,
catching a few cultural sights, stopping at random bars for refreshments,
lunch at another old diner, Café Mallorca, for a fine shrimp stew, pausing frequently to
apply aloe to my fried skin, splotchy where I’d missed spots with
sunscreen out on the beach.
The Cathedral of San Juan, where Juan Ponce de Leon is entombed. The
ceiling trim is all fake, painted to look like carved, gilt
wood. It's still an elegant little place.
We relaxed at the apartment for a bit before charging out for our last
night on the town. We hopped in a cab to head out to the Condado, the
upscale hotel district overlooking the Atlantic. First stop, Che’s for
dinner, an Argentinean place with tasty beef. Expensive but ample
||A short cab ride takes us to The Water Club, a
seaside hotel with a trendy bar, Liquid, and restaurant,
off the lounge. The bar is swanky, done up
in that art deco retro futuristic style that’s somewhere between The Jetsons and the Korova Milk Bar, all Plexiglas and plastic.
But the real deal is the rooftop bar,
Wet, where you get a view of the city, and
the scantily-clad pretty people in search of classy nightlife mingling with
guests from the States visiting the island for business and blowing their
expense accounts. You also get the other style of music you’ll hear in
Puerto Rico, electronic house/techno/Eurodisco racket. If it’s not
electric piano salsa, it’s machine generated beat-heavy redundancy. $12
“martinis” aren’t really worth the price, nor is the $7 rum and soda I
opted for, but the view was impressive.
||If you visit, make sure to scope
out the full rooftop bar area before choosing a seat. We discovered the
bed-like couches on the back side after we’d already decided to head
elsewhere. Unfortunately, they don't face the view and they're too low to
see over the railing. Poor design, but it's a nifty place
|Around the corner is the Wyndham El San Juan, formerly not a Wyndham but
one of San Juan’s old elegant hotels with a small (by Vegas standards)
casino. The lobby is beautiful with carved wood everywhere and a massive
chandelier hanging over the opulent bar. I opted to get a drink and lounge
while SW and SVA blew $20 in the casino on roulette.
Overmade Christina Aguilera
look-alikes postured on one side of the bar and local girls in pageant
attire paraded through the lobby, apparently there for a wedding. A hot
older woman, American, redhead, voluptuous, on the rebound from Bob, hit
on the bartender. She was all dressed up and nobody to lay. But she wasn't
interested in the “hello there” stare I gave her. Even the bartender got too busy to return her
attentions. Eventually a guy showed up and bought her a bottle of expensive
champagne, which she drank while barely sparing him a glance. I began to think Bob made the right move.
A band started playing in the lobby, a woman singing slow ballads en español to electric piano, of course, and a bongo player. The Christina
Aguilera girls looked bored and my girlfriend reappeared, $20 poorer. I asked
for the check and eventually got it. $8.50 for a rum and soda? Fuck that
In Atlanta our neighbor said there were three things we had to do in PR:
visit Old San Juan, see the rainforest, and visit a strip club. “The strip
clubs there are unlike anything you’ve ever been to before,” he claimed.
Item one and two down, we'd been asking around for recommendations for the final
item on his To Do list. All responses were unanimous – Diva’s. We cabbed
over there and forked over the $10 cover, even for the ladies, and walked
in to a place about the size of Atlanta’s Doll House – tiny. One room with
a mirrored wall so you don’t feel like you’re in an elevator, with a
single stage, watered down, overpriced drinks, and the girls don’t even go
full nude. What the hell? There were some pretty girls with fewer breast
implants (didn’t spot any in the ladies we saw) than back home. Some nice
pole dance tricks, including a split and crotch grind – against the
ceiling. We sat through four or five ladies waiting for something “unlike
anything we’ve ever seen before” only to wind up bored.
Bored at a strip club? Sheesh, I’m jaded.
About the only difference between Diva’s and any strip club in Atlanta was
the music. Instead of the ever-present Def Leppard Pour Some Sugar On Me
you get in most (non-"urban") strip clubs in Atlanta, it was all electronic Eurodisco crap in Diva’s. That, and the usual
annoying DJ was yammering in Spanish instead of frat boy English. (Why
doesn’t anyone use a woman with a sexy voice as a DJ in a strip club?)
We’d been told to stay away from "ghetto" clubs like Lucky 7, only to find
when we returned home that those were the very clubs our neighbor was
recommending. He confirmed what the locals said – the Lucky 7 functions as
both strip club and whore house. "I got a lap dance and laid for $80!"
said our neighbor. But without native guides we weren’t bold
enough to brave such an adventure. Next time, perhaps.
We headed back to Viejo San Juan and Calle San Sebastian, the street
filled with bars and nightlife around the corner from our hostess’
apartment, and found Nono’s open. Nice little corner bar across from a
plaza where youth linger on weekend nights, but mid-week the streets are
empty and Nono’s announces last call not long after our arrival, despite
the fact that the bar was half full. A gaggle of overmade girls and a
couple of boyfriends showed up after us, showing some of the local beauty
I’d missed. Not my type and in general I wasn’t knocked out by the female
sex in Puerto Rico, and I have a thing for dark-skinned girls. It’s not
the happy hunting ground that Copenhagen was when I visited there in 1996.
I’ve been told Brazil is a wonderland for girl-watching so that’s
definitely on my “One of these days…” list.
We didn’t have the enthusiasm to track down a late-night joint, knowing it
would be empty on a Wednesday night, so we headed back to the apartment,
sad to be winding down our last night on the island.
"These people could put us out of
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