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.

Real News - Puerto Rican Names

Here I am back in Puerto Rico where I will soon resemble Mama Cass if I don't stop eating mofongo, frituras, asopao, pan sobao, flan, and much more, and I have been given a crash course in local pop culture by friends far less deracinated than me. I will send more posts soon including updates on Ingrid Marie's performance in Vietnam at Miss Universe, born-again clean and sober merengueros, scantily clad women on late night chat shows, Afro-Puerto Rican female impersonators and much much more.....but for now, let me add some names to the roster of shall we say unusual or original monikers favored by my people.

The following list emerged during a dinner party at which the guests began to recall friends', class mates, and coworkers names. To my Boricua readers out there, please send in more names!!!!!!

Migda Lys
Marangelie (alternate form: Maranjelie)
Maria Iberdinia (known fondly as Ibesita)
Ilvin (man's name)
Jina (yes, Gina pronounced in Spanish with the j making the g sound)
Yomarie (not, yo' Marie)
Yolitza (I am going to the courthouse to change my name right now!)
Lady (this, I was told, is a Cuban name, and is pronounced in English Laahdee)
Avis (Aaahveees, yes, it's from the car company)
Abdiel (man's name)
Yelil (man's name)
Dewit (man's name)
Ladis Nilet
Zuaniahy (a Taino name, ladies and gentlemen)

And sorry about the missing accents, use your imagination, but the freaking computer is Anglo-centric and I am too stupid to figure out how to change the keyboard to Spanish. Because I have a PhD which of course guarantees that I have no common sense for everyday tasks. Obvio.