A trip to document the south west side of Puerto Rico’s coastal conditions ended up being a lost long route with breaking into our own car and finally ended up in Copamarina Beach Resort & Spa. It was quite an adventure, but none the less a great experience.
Surprisingly, none of the major highways of Puerto Rico hugs the shoreline, which made it extremely difficult for the photo documentation to occur. There was a lot of wandering and pulling off to the side of the highway in order to take photos off the coast. In one pit stop, we manage to lock ourselves out by leaving the car keys inside the car. Luckily, we were in a little village where there coincidently was an ex-police officer who knew how to use a wire and pop open the door without damaging the power wires. After a few minutes, he managed to unlock the car and obtained the keys. I bought him a beer and decided to socialize with him and his friends in Guanica to learn more about their culture. As we departed, he gave us a few fresh mangoes as a sign of welcome to Guanica, telling us to visit him once again.
We were once again on our journey to document the coastal conditions when we meandered onto this mountainous route only to end up in Copamarina Beach & Spa Resort. They were very welcoming and allowed us to take pictures as well as access to the beach and pool. This resort is the first resort I’ve been to since the start of my study, but I must say that this resort was very isolated. It was hidden in the middle of this mountainous highway that somehow has one of the most gorgeous views of the ocean. An all-inclusive resort that was not touching anything else besides the dense vegetation that isolates them from the rest of what’s near grabbed me by surprise. Are all resort this way in Puerto Rico?
- Edward L
Unfortunately, these past few days I caught a fever and was not feeling at my best. The heat and climate has gotten to me and as a result my body needed to adapt to such living conditions. However, even though I was sick, I got the opportunity to go to La Guancha (The Boardwalk) of Ponce and visit El Morro in Old San Juan.
Parking in Puerto Rico is horrible, and might be even worse than New York City. The ratio for motor vehicles to people is 4:1. As my professor R. Fernandez states every person here has about 4 cars in their garage. It is almost impossible to walk to your destination here in Puerto Rico. Luckily, earlier this week I’ve got a car. Cars are everywhere in Puerto Rico. Public parking spaces on the street are always full. However what makes up for the extremely packed streets from the cars are the parking lots. Parking spaces in the lots are cheap. Rates go from 7hours for $8. These rates need to go to New York City.
La Guancha is a beautiful boardwalk full of life. Restaurants on the side with a harbor to the other. It’s a place to soak up some sun and enjoy the walk down the boardwalk only to reach the 5 story lighthouse which allows you to feel a breeze that makes you feel like you’re in Alaska when you get to the top. The view above the lighthouse combined with the breeze is like no other. A picture would do it no justice whatsoever. It is a place you need to be and experience physically. It’s a beauty.
Old San Juan was absolutely gorgeous. It took 3 hours to get there even though it’s suppose to take only 1. This was because of the mountainous route we decided to take in order to avoid tolls. Not such a great idea especially when these mountains have 3 feet drops. It was an adventure. But it was well worth it. The sunset when you stand on top of the castle is like waking up to a new day full of new beginnings with no stress in your mind. The sunset brightens the soul and makes you smile. But after the sunset, we did not stay for long because Old San Juan is adjacent to La Pearle, a place where no tourist would like to be especially at night. After a long day of Old San Juan, we drove down to San Juan and soon went back on our journey back home to Ponce.
- Edward L
Locality as defined as an area or neighborhood, esp. as regarded as a place occupied by certain people or as the scene of particular activities, is what drives the people in the community with their sense of pride. It defines the people as a group and at the same time individually. It gives them their identity. The locals of Ponce have a strong sense of locality and before designing anything conceptual for them it is of the upright most importance that foreigners define the local’s locality.
Tourism Infrastructure with Resort Infrastructure, how can designers combine the two with the locality of one’s community? Design with the purpose to educate what’s around and not just purchase a plot of land near the coast to construct a massive resort to isolate the locals from. I hope through interviews with several resort managers, developers, and the architects, I will find the answer.
After some personally research, I found that designers purposely set the goal to keep the resort as isolation because of safety reasons. Puerto Rico takes precedent from the Dominican Republic in regards to this design concept of isolation as a safety precaution where armed men stand with weapons in the border lines of the resort. I feel that is unnecessary and taking these precautions to another level when resorts are meant for relaxation. Big armed men with heavy loaded weapons don’t give me the image of relaxation for some reason. Is this something a visit to city hall might fix?
- Edward L
As a surprise to me, Bacardi is not the most consumed rum in Puerto Rico. Although the Bacardi headquarters is located in Puerto Rico, DonQ is the most consumed by the locals here. DonQ stands for Don Quixote, which is actually a novel about a man who is after exploration to seek his curiosity of the world. But not to digress, what is known from another country about one’s island may not necessarily be correct. Instead you must learn by spending time with the locals and observe what they do as a norm. I gained this knowledge by social networking through a bar down the corner in which I spoke to Jose (fellow student in PCUPR) and Nelly (worker of Dulce Fruta), which is the restaurant I have been dining in.
Ponce is also known as The “Pearl” because it was such a beauty when the Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de Leon first settled; hence the city name of Ponce. The Spanish explorer’s last name Leon means lion, which is to no surprise the symbol for the city of Ponce.
This past weekend I acquired a lot of knowledge through social networking in the bars, but also in the Film Festival that I attended last night hosted by the PCUPR’s School of Architecture. They was a combination of short films in promotion to the film festival that is going to occur this coming November in the Tetro La Perla. For more information, please follow their blog below:
- Edward L
First post of June in Ponce and I give to you all progress to my study. There have been a few changes to my study. Resort Typologies instead of Resort Designs. At the same time the study will still attempt to find the relationship between the Resort Typologies to its urban fabric, but also to its local culture. Culture to a community is one of the most significant factors that define who you are, which is what I’ve noticed this past week.
Meetings with the Dean of The Pontifical Catholic University of Puerto Rico School of Architecture, Professor Javier de Jesus Martinez took place yesterday in his office regarding the structure of my study. In this meeting we spoke about entry to all resorts in the island of Puerto Rico being granted as well as contacting the developers and architects for a possible interview. A Press Release will also be issued in Puerto Rico in the following weeks regarding our studies. The support and tools of the school makes my study much more manageable. A big thanks to Javier and many of the other professors in the school who welcomed us with open arms. Thank you.
Everybody in Ponce is very hospitable and has such a warm welcoming way of making the visitors of the island feel more like they belong and welcomed. In a way, they almost force you to feel welcomed. I’m starting to feel some attachment to this culture.
- Edward L
“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
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
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
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