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Walmart in Ponce
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The Home Depot in Ponce
Everything you can dream of is real in Ponce”, as said by the local tour bus. In a sense, it is very true because I honestly dreamt of a Walmart and Home Depot to go to and what a coincidence that there are both located in the city of Ponce right next to one another. 

After shopping for hours and arriving back to the household, I started to think and came to a conclusion that Ponce, Puerto Rico is Americanized.  There are local shops in the city hall and downtown district, but if you drive around the corner you’ll see a Wendy’s, Burger King, Walmart, The Home Depot, RadioShack and many other Americanized store locations. The city is becoming more Americanized because more tourists are finding Ponce as a hotspot, which means more locals need to learn English to communicate with the tourist. Is this taking away from their local culture? It’s a hard topic to discuss being that tourism is what drives Puerto Rico’s economy. The struggle between money, wealth, and economy is in battle with the sustainability of the island’s local culture.

To end this blog entry on a better note, did you know that there are more loose dogs on the streets than there are public garbage cans? Just some food for thought. Please leave a comment if you know why that is.  

- Edward L

 
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Cross Tower and Sugarcane Mansion
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Street of Firemen Houses
It’s been exactly a week since the arrival to Ponce and I see improvement. Not so much in terms of putting together the analysis of the relationship between resorts and its urban fabric, but more in the sense of getting to really understand and be a part of one’s culture. 

After going on the Ponce tour bus around the city, I realized there is a lot more to offer than just city hall which is where I am currently residing. The mountains include the Cross Tower and the Mansion Museum, which use to be where the owner of the sugarcane field’s house was located. A lot of history is in and around the city of Ponce like the FireMan houses along one whole street a few blocks away from city hall. The history behind that was, years ago the city of Ponce was in a big fire and a few firemen risked their lived the whole day and night in order to fight this fire and they succeeded in saving the city of Ponce. With the success, a big tribute of houses designed like firehouses were given to them as a means of respect and appreciation. 

Each day I learn something new that I did not know about this city through explorations with my camera and curious mind. I realized to really understand the design of a place; you must first start with its culture. What’s their norm? And what better way to find out than to actually be part of it, which is my plan. 

- Edward L

 
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Teatro La Perla
Party Hard, Work Harder. That’s what I’ve noticed this past Memorial weekend so far. During the weekdays, people work extremely hard and are on top of their jobs. After 5pm, its all about relaxing and not doing what they were doing from 9am to 5pm. The night gets lively around 9pm to 3am, in which the corner of the street from where I live is the Teatro La Perla. Crowds of people drinking and catching up with each other’s week with loud music that could be heard from blocks away.

Prior to arriving in  Ponce,  I told myself that I will only purchase items from local places in and around the surrounding community of Ponce and not buy things that were Americanized just to see if it was possible; I failed. Essentials were needed and I had no personal sort of transportation, which had me to walk to the closest stationary store that would have essential toiletries: Walgreens. I failed my own challenge. I realized it was because I was so accustomed to the American style and culture of living.

As for Resorts and my study, my pace has been slow and not much has been analyzed yet. Getting to learn more about the Puerto Rico culture and custom was a more significant factor to me this past week. By the start of next week look forward to some interesting blogs about Resort Designs, hopefully starting with the Hilton down here in Ponce. 

- Edward L


 
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Skyline of the Mountain Range
A few blocks down from my household, I’ve noticed a lot of run down areas that seem to be vacant with not much care nor attention from the people in this community. I initially called it the “ghetto”, but looking more in depth into why I realized it’s because these have been historic places in the Ponce area. Restoring them would cost too much and breaking them down would interfere with the political design agreement, where all historic places need to be kept in place. 

North of us are the rainforest, mountains, and the rural lands of Ponce. The skyline speaks for itself.  I plan to make a visit there soon enough in which I will prep myself for the mosquito attacks. 

The region of Ponce is full of history and religion. Churches, museums, plazas, urban parks, and the Parque de Bombas (firehouse) is what makes Ponce the place it is today. Architect here is very colonial with many restorations to them besides the Pontifical Catholic University of Puerto Rico School of Architecture, which is very contemporary. In a way, that’s what makes Ponce the tourist spot; its history. There are many tourists in Ponce, which is helpful because a lot of the locals here are bilingual allowing us to speak and communicate with them making it easy to ask for directions and just interact with the local culture here in Ponce, Puerto Rico. 

- Edward L 
 
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The Household
So not much later after arriving in the household, we started compiling some trash, which got me to wonder where the trash goes and when we would move it to the front. Little did I know, that the garbage truck comes everyday at 7am and 4pm, which was very surprising to me because in Brooklyn, NY trash only comes twice a week. With the trash in the sidewalk, I’ve noticed that the sidewalks were extremely narrow. The narrow roads provide this very enclosed feeling, which doesn’t feel too welcoming. Streets are designed to be narrow here in Ponce because it is a historical area in which designing or restoring buildings and sidewalks become a very complicated process so people decide to keep it as is.

Water here in Ponce is also very distasting. It has a very strong sense of chlorine and personally the local Medalla beer taste a lot better and cleaner. While trying to settle in more in the household, I turned on some lights and the landlord informed me that the electricity here in Puerto Rico is more expensive than anything so be careful of utilizing the air conditioner. This is either going to be a hot summer with no air conditioner or an expensive cool comfortable summer with air conditioner. 

- Edward L

 
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Thin narrow streets of Ponce






















We have finally landed safe and sound in San Juan. The PR group is on their way to Ponce to get settled in and get to work. First thing I’ve noticed was the crazy amount of traffic and the amount of cars that had missing parts and dents in them. It took 2 hours to drive in from San Juan to Ponce with all the traffic.  Cars here are 25% more expensive here than in the States, which was surprising.

Streets in the city of Ponce are extremely thin. No more than 3 feet of space for the pedestrians to walk, which forces the people to walk in the sidewalks with the cars. Cars drive extremely close to one another and at times it looks like an accident will occur but somehow they manage to avoid the crash from each other. Streets of Ponce are lively especially tonight where bars are filled with people enjoying their warm breezy nights with a beer in one hand. Music is loud and the streets are bright with orange lamp posts.

Everybody in Ponce in easy to get along with so far and the Ponce team has been able to manage our around way around the radius of the house letting ourselves become more familiar to the community in which we live in. However, people are almost too laid back at times. Just know that when they say 20 minutes, be ready to wait 45 or even an hour at times. 

- Edward L

 
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Safety on Flight
I have been picturing this moment for four years now since I got accepted to the Department of Landscape Architecture. The 5th year Study Abroad Program is no longer a dream, but a reality. I am thrilled and more than excited to embark in this journey to be more independent and strive to find my personal design process. 

The COUNTDOWN is on: 9hours 30minutes to takeoff. Next Stop ====> San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Arrival: 13:00 San Juan Airport

- Edward L

    Author

    Edward T Li
    Bachelors of 
    Landscape Architecture
    E: eli@syr.edu
    T: 917. 385 .7113.

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