Thursday, December 28, 2006


Vital Old San Juan

Leslie Jones

Contributing Writer

The aromas of tostones (fried plantains) and asopao (a traditional chicken-and-rice soup) drift out of local eateries.

Visitors pause in front of colourful storefront displays, and a sea of pedestrians and cars moves past. Narrow cobblestone streets beckon in each direction I turn, while the sounds of salsa resonate from a nearby plaza, enticing me to move a little closer.

My longtime friend Lori and I are on the first port of call of a week-long Caribbean cruise. It's a crystal-clear Sunday afternoon in the old town district of San Juan, Puerto Rico.

The city of San Juan is made up of three distinct areas: Old San Juan, the beach and resort area and outlying communities. Old San Juan, founded in 1508, is the second-oldest city in the Americas.

An infectious energy fills the air as the sounds of the park rotunda's steel drums intensify. Children play nearby as adults gather to visit. Passing tourists stop to listen, snap a few photos and dance awhile.

Music is almost as vital to Puerto Ricans as the air they breathe.

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