Sunday, August 02, 2009

Barrio Sabanetas, Plaza las Delicias, Parque de Bombas and Helados Chinos.

Today we drove to Barrio Sabanetas, where I spent the first eighteen years of my life. While P can show SS all the homes he lived in during his childhood, all I have to show her is a parking lot. They literally paved paradise and put up a parking lot. Abuela sold the property years ago and did not bother to tell me that my childhood home (and MY house according to Mami and Papi) had been demolished. It is now part of the parking lot of a monstrosity called The Texan Motel. Classy, really classy. Since that is not enough, I do not even have a picture of my home, and did not get to visit (not my choice) before moving to California twenty-six years ago. P felt I needed to go anyway but it just was not the same. We did get to see cousin T, and he was teary eyed when he met SS. I had no idea that he knew about SS's name. T adored Mami and Papi and it was neat to see how happy meeting Mami's namesake made him.

No picture of my home, but at least P and SS met T.

We then drove to my paternal grandparents' last home, and one of the Abus' old homes in the same neighborhood. We happened to drive by Barrio San Anton, not one of the nicest neighborhoods. P liked this house, and my mother informed us that it was government housing for low income people, and the mortgage payments were on a sliding scale. However, the homes were not popular with the target demographic. P was wondering why.

As we made a right turn, we saw three motorcycle cops. I recalled that there had been a fatal shooting of three victims in that neighborhood, but decided to keep that information to myself. Why? Because P is fascinated with death and destruction. When he found out later on that we drove by the home where the shooting occurred, he was upset. He read the local newspaper and showed me a picture. P said, "Baby, the bodies were in the front yard. Had you allowed me to slow down, we could have seen them!" Yes, my P has his quirks, that is why both JJ and SS like Halloween and scary things.

We dropped Abuela off at her house, since that one hour outside really took a toll. Heh. We headed to downtown Ponce (all two narrow streets) and SS's much awaited first look at el Parque de Bombas.

I remember shopping here with Abuela.

Why do they feel the need to abbreviate the word restaurant? We saw this all over the island and just did not get it. The sign says Chinese Rest(aurant), but since SS had dozed off, P thought Chinese Rest was very appropriate.

Look at the green letters below the red logo. Every self-respecting Chinese restaurant serves mofongo and tostones.

SS's first look at "bomba." I owe SS and P an apology. I did not give my daughter enough credit about recognizing the park, or caring that it was there.

Finally, me and my bomba crazy angel at her Mecca.

SS enjoyed dropping coins in the former water well for good luck. She went through a lot of P's toll change. :)

SS broke down in tears when we left the fire station. SS is not the crying type over leaving places. She might whine in protest when we leave the water park or aquatic center, but she does not cry. This really blew us away.

This is where I was supposed to do my big reveal as to why Puerto Ricans recognize SS as Chinese. There is a considerable Chinese population in the island, but the most famous family resides in Ponce. They arrived in P.R. via Cuba, and established King's Cream on or about 1964. I found out the name of the ice cream parlor only recently (I'm ashamed to admit that I googled it), because it has always been known as Helados Chinos (Chinese Ice Cream). This family began making ice cream from native fruits like guanabana (my favorite), and tamarindo (P's favorite). No one in the island had tapped into that market.

Their business (and subsequent ones) was family owned and operated. I recalled being there as a child and being completely mesmerized by their beautiful faces. My idea of beauty was Mami and Papi, brown, wrinkled faces and Chinese faces. I guess it is not a surprise that I have children with almond shaped eyes and brown skin (well, JJ used to before moving to where the sun does not shine). Much to my disappointment, there were no family members behind the counter this afternoon. Too bad because we wanted SS to encounter Spanish speaking Chinese. The ice cream was as tasty as I remembered it and a hit with P and SS. P stated that the strawberry (fresa) ice cream we got for SS is the best he has ever tasted.

SS proudly waving the PR and Ponce flags. I am not a flag person, this was P's idea.

SS enjoyed getting close to the pigeons. They are used to people around them and do not fly away easily. SS did manage to make a few fly away in fear. That's our girl! SS also learned another Spanish word, paloma.

SS tasting really good ice cream. She is scowling because a woman was scolding her son, and it obviously upset our girl. You can hear the woman saying "No lo hagas, no lo hagas" (don't do it) and SS's reaction.

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