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Bacardi Island, the fantasy island of all Bacardi drinkers worldwide……… As we docked against the old brick quay, fenders out to protect the ship, the buzz of anticipation for that first Bacardi filled my head, creating a needful wanting that had to be satisfied. I took the fore spring, and twisted it round the Bollard, figure of eight style, before securing the ship at harbour. Running down to my mess deck, out of my now oily work clothes, and into an invigorating shower I leapt. Dressed in my finest T shirt and jeans, clean shave, and parting of hair at 45 degrees, I took my 22 year old body up to the main gangway for the standard lecture of “don’t do naughty women, alcohol etc.” this, as I said, was standard practice for all Navy runs ashore at that time. We walked down the gangway, onto the firm footing of land, known as Puerto Rico. Having already witnessed the daunting stone fortress that overlooked the harbour entrance, I knew that Puerto Rico was a historical place. Here, the legendary Nelson thought the Dutch and French over many a day to secure a stronghold for the British Empire, many a person died, fighting for what was seen as an important stronghold in the shipping routes of the Caribbean. The streets of San Juan were as old as you would expect, with the modern, “we are now an American Island” theme to them. By this I mean that a 200-year-old building with a McDonalds in it, is quite a sight! I spent more time around the shops later in my stay, but this was my first day ashore in 6 weeks, and I was up for a good time. We hit the first bar we came to, and guess what, they had Bacardi! There was so Many different types, and ways to serve, but the best one had to be the famous Rum Puncheon, a subtle blend of Bacardi, and whatever they felt like, as each bar had Rum Puncheon, and no 2 were the same. This was also the cheapes
t drink, about 50p, whereas a beer was over a pound. Ah yes, that first day was just a blur. SHOPS I always put a bit about the shops in, as it is sure to get the likes of Moose and Lizzi, to rate it higher, the little shop-a-holics, that they are! Okay then, perfume, gold jewellery, duty frees, and the standard tacky gift shops, adorn the streets of San Juan. As there is a huge American Air Base, and Nave base here, they tend to stock up with everything American you can find. It takes away the theme of the Caribbean, but makes for cheap shopping on electrical goods, cameras, and jewellery. There is a large amount of cruise liners docking in the main harbour as well, so the trade is almost 24 hours a day, and these shops tend to agree with that! Cheap, and many a bargain girls, and for us men, there are many bars scattered between these shops where you can wait in Bacardi Bliss for your young lady to do the shopping! BEACHES A taxi ride away, to some of the most exclusive beaches in the world. Many scantily clad ladies, and I guess, but I don’t really remember, some hunky men. I had to put that in to keep the ratings up fellas! Most of the beaches are either nudist or definitely topless. I felt it only fair to go topless. There are many people walking the beaches selling cold drinks from ice boxes, and trinkets, coconuts, and other things. The prices they charge are very reasonable, especially after a bit of haggling, and they tend not to hassle you if you are polite. They do get uptight if told to P*** O**, so don’t be a typical Brit, OK. The sand is clean, and the water is blue and clear. Scuba diving, Para gliding, Water Skiing, Jet Skis and snorkelling could be witnessed from any beach vantage point. My favourite pass time was to sit at the little cabins, with their palm leaf roofs, sipping, yes you guessed, Rum Puncheon, while watchin
g the world drift by. HOTELS All the famous American chains could be found here, and there is enough info around this site about them, so I will pass here. The other side of the coin, see’s the Club Med style hotels, all inclusive, full of well to do people, and usually with their private beaches. A challenge waiting for the young 22 year old “wet behind the ears” Royal Navy seaman, to infiltrate, which he did in style. First things first, you had to have an armband to get drinks. So what I did here, was find a couple of girls, get chatting, and when they were going to the bar, I would ask them to grab me a beer or maybe even a Bacardi! The same applied to food and snacks, but be careful that the people you are with do not get suspicious, and that they are fun people who you can tell you have sneaked in after a while. The security guards are a different matter, but here is a great story. When approached by a security guard, I pretended to have had a bit too much to drink (?) and said I had lost my armband while swimming. He took me to reception, where the girl recognised me from the pool earlier. She asked my room number, and I said 34 or something, but mumbled it a few times. So in the end she said are you such and such, to which I said “yes”, and I was issued my very own armband!!!! Good move eh! FOOD & WINE As you can imagine, being americanised, the different styles of food were extreme. My favourite is seafood; therefore lobster, conch, shellfish and fried fish selection were the most common meals to share my table. There were plenty of fast food joints, Macdonald’s Burger king, Pizza Hut, to name just a few. If you go down by the quay, that is where you find the classy and what I called “wooing” restaurants, where you would take the young lady you had met on the beach that day (allegedly). There are many little intimate café style
eateries, and moody little alcoves to sit, and share fine Beaujolais. Candlelit evenings, with tequila sunrise skies, and the silhouette of a yacht, overlooking the bay. I can almost touch the water as I write. SUMMARY Not the cheapest place to get to, but a worthwhile holiday island, for those who don’t want to spend all day on a secluded beach. More the fun lovers place, and for those romantics who like to love and live. It was 15 years ago I went, but the memories are still as clear as yesterday, that in itself is a recommendation, is it not? Angus, the Bacardi King.
"The Commonwealth of Puerto Rico (Spanish: Estado Libre Asociado de Puerto Rico), also Porto Rico (archaic) and more commonly Puerto Rico, is a United States unincorporated territory with Commonwealth status located in the northeastern Caribbean, east of the Dominican Republic and west of the Virgin Islands; about 1,000 miles off the south coast of Florida. The archipelago of Puerto Rico includes the main island of Puerto Rico, the smallest of the Greater Antilles, and a number of smaller islands and keys, the largest of which are Mona, Vieques, and Culebra. Puerto Ricans sometimes refer to their island as Borikén, or the Spanish variant Borinquen, a name for the island used by indigenous Taíno people, and from which derives a term used for Puerto Ricans: 'boricua'."