Tuesday, June 24, 2008

WTF Plaza las Americas

My first visit to Plaza las Americas in years took place last night. It is, allegedly, the largest shopping mall in Latin America (or, at least, in the Caribbean region). It has gone decidedly upscale which doesn't quite score with the minus zero GNP of the Island - according to the CIA and they should know, below Haiti! - and the Island's rank as lowest income level in the USA. You wouldn't necessarily have to go to the so-called Mainland or to Spain to shop since they have MAC, Kiehl's, Custo, Tous, Coach, Brooks Brothers, Agata Ruiz de la Prada, GAP, etc. The logo for the mall is the three sails of Columbus' boats, a nice metaphor for the imperial arrival of culture and commerce. These sails re-appear within the mall.

This mall has Valet Parking, a nice touch given the extreme heat, the massive size of the parking lot, and locals' fear of crime. To wit, there are guard towers in the lot itself.

Similar ones are found in supermarket or drug store parking lots. It feels good to know you are covered by an armed guard when you return to your car loaded down with maxi pads and batteries.

The shoestores are some of my favorite things -- women apparently do not wear heels under 4 inches here. And the Puerto Rican Neutrals are very much in evidence. In fact, many shoes contain several of these neutral elements at once (see photo) - metallic, animal print, patent, sequins or stones, etc.

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