Since moving to San Juan, Puerto Rico I have landed two part time jobs. Which is awesome seeing as how work is scarce, but it also eats up a lot of my time. However; I have Sundays off, which leads to a full day of misadventure.
This last sunday my friends and I ventured to a town called Guavate. It is known for its weekly pig roasts, which also happen to fall on the lord’s day. My roommate refers to this town as “Pork City” and he really isn’t lying. It’s further inland on the island and in a more mountainous area. As you start to get close to this town you will notice a dark cloud and plumes of smoke in the hills. At first I thought that there was a forest fire. But it was pointed out that the black cloud overhead was actually a cloud of delicious meat summoning us.
As you drive up the mountain you start seeing kiosk after kiosk of lechoneras. Stands are set up with various homemade hot sauces and nick knacks. Progress a little further and you will stumble upon larger areas with much larger lechoneras complete with live bands. It kind of reminded me of a state fair, but dedicated to roast pig. We find the kiosk that my roommate had wanted to go to and proceed to wait on line for food.
At the time of our arrival the line was rather short. The three of us ordered enough food for a small village in Ethiopia and it only cost us $50.00. You can’t beat that. I noticed that everything was rich and probably cooked in butter. What vegetable dishes were available were all tubers and roots. So not only were we gorging on meat, but butter and starch as well. A slight pang of concern for my health passes through me before I dig in. Like I said, it was a passing concern.
There is a merengue band playing in the background. The woman is howling about how she goes crazy in bed as an older couple proceed to grind on each other in ways that would be considered pornographic by most standards, including my own. We laugh and try to snap photos of this couples frottage. One can’t help but wonder what sort of raunchy sex this old couple has; it’d probably make your eyebrows fall off from the amount of steam produced. I shake off this couples public tantra and get back to consuming plates of roast pork, blood sausage and yuca.
We glance back at the line we were previously on and it has wrapped around the establishment twice. Looks like we got there in time so we celebrate with an order of pina coladas. It is at this point that I’d like to point out that there is very little healthy about this mountain town. Upon receiving our drinks, we noticed that it had a ton of whip cream, a fruit salad on top of said whip cream and a sour gummy worm for garnish. That passing concern for my health returns and I wash it down with my diabetic inducing rum cocktail.
My motley crew decides to walk around a bit and look for funny tourist shit to buy and to burn off some of the carnage consumed. We buy a bumper sticker of a flying super pig with the town’s name above it. We also got the coveted Guavate sticker with just a roasted pig on it. The latter sticker was put on our truck and christened it as a vehicle not fit for vegans. EVER. Taking in the sights I notice that sharpie markers must sell like crazy from the amount of painted on eyebrows the women had. It also seemed odd that said women all wore stripper heels. Stripper heels are pretty common in Puerto Rico in general, I’ll get into that later, but it seemed baffling to live on a mountain town and wear 6 inch platform wedges. Orthopedic surgeons must make a killing in this town.
The sun starts to really bear down on us to the point that another drink is in order. We see a woman selling a drink called Mavi. It looked kind of like a refreshing fruit punch, which seemed appealing. Two cups are purchased and as we go to take our initial sips we realize that this drink is so not what we were hoping for. It smelled like my socks after a long hot day and tasted like someone mixed catsup and seltzer together. I took three sips to make sure I wasn’t hallucinating and dumped it immediately. Another round of pina coladas were ordered and another wave of fear came over me. This drink not only had a shit ton of sweetened fruit and whip cream, but it also came with sprinkles on top. No shit, sprinkles. The girl serving up this was also a little heavy-handed on the rum. I definitely am getting my blood and cholesterol checked after this one. I also start to notice how I am probably gaining weight from all the fat content in the air. Decadence be damned, it’s a long way to the top if you want to rock and roll.
I would highly recommend the trip at least once in your life. The mountain landscape is beautiful and the food actually does reflect it. I wish my grandfather could have been with me. He would have went apeshit over the food and it may have even reminded him of the island he called home at one point (Cuba) as roast pig is a very island custom. There is something timeless about sitting at a table and eating regional food whose recipes have been passed down for generations while swilling cheap beer. Even if it may have you dancing with a defibrillator later.