Chain stores and restaurants are taking over Puerto Rico. There is literally a Walgreen's on almost every corner. Walmart, Costco, and Kmart can be found in just about every city. Plaza Las Americas in San Juan has the world's largest JCP and the highest grossing Macy's in the world. Fast food chains are everywhere even in the small towns. That sounds just like the US. What I have found different about Puerto Rico is that the old downtown areas in most cities and towns are still pretty lively even with the influx of chain stores and suburban shopping centers.
As we travel around the island visiting apartments trying to fix problems and deliver needed supplies, we often miss the downtown areas. However, lately we've been trying to see more of the old parts of town. Some of the missionaries live in the suburbs, but some live in town. Every town has a town square with a big church. Most of the streets downtown are very narrow. Even in small towns, the traffic is always very congested. I find the juxtaposition of old narrow streets and historic buildings with so many modern cars rather interesting. Most of the streets are one way because they are so narrow and we often end up going the wrong way!
Here are some pictures of some downtown areas in Puerto Rico:
Juana Diaz is located in the south central part of Puerto Rico. Although the town has a lot of suburban areas and a giant Cooper Vision plant, the downtown has one of the prettiest plazas I have seen.
|A view of the cathedral and the plaza.|
|Some pretty buildings across the street from the Juana Diaz plaza.|
|A plaza isn't complete without a fountain, is it? Many I've seen do not have water in them.|
|Another domino playing group under a large tree.|
San German is the second oldest city in Puerto Rico after San Juan. It is located in the southwest corner of the island. We visited San German this week to take a new bed to an elder who has been sleeping on a bed with a completely smashed box spring. The elders said that every new missionary in that apartment has slept on the sagging broken bed. We visited last week to do inspections and saw the broken bed. No one had mentioned it before!
|The one and only Victorian style building I have seen in Puerto Rico. It's across the street from the old church. I don't know what it is used for.|
|John in front of the old part.|
|Chris locked up in the ruins.|
Aibonito is one of my favorite mountain towns in the southeast part of the island. While Mom and Dad were here we visited an apartment in Aibonito to do an inspection.
|Waiting on the streets of Aibonito while John drove the missionaries to their next appointment since we could not all fit in the car.|
Ponce is on the south central coast of Puerto Rico. Recently, I drove to Ponce by myself because I had to visit the water company there to resolve a problem we have with one of our water accounts. I was unable to get the problem solved after my two hour drive, but because the water company is located downtown, I decided to walk around a bit before I headed home. The buildings right next to the square are quite beautiful and are in nice condition. There are a lot of museums and other tourist-friendly areas. A block or two from the square, there are many abandoned buildings, a common sight here in Puerto Rico.
|This building looks like it is being renovated. I thought it was pretty.|
|Ponce is famous for its Parque de Bombas, a historic firehouse that is now a museum.|
|The outside of the firehouse museum is painted red and black.|
|Plaza Las Delicias in Ponce.The cathedral is in the center of this plaza.|
|The Ponce Lions. Lions are the city's symbol.|
|A muncipal building next to the plaza in Ponce|
|Another building across the street from the plaza in Ponce.|
|The Banco de Ponce Building built in 1924. The bank has now merged with Banco Popular.|
|Another downtown Ponce building.|
|A typical downtown street a block or two from the plaza. Many of the buildings appear to be abandoned as you get farther from the center of town|
|A beautiful home near the plaza.|
|Another interesting old building in downtown Ponce.|
|I think this is a muncipal building. The city building are usually the nicest in town.|
|One of the museums housed in a historic building. I will have to go back with John and visit some of the many Ponce museums. I had to get back for a dinner and who wants to go to a museum alone anyway?|
|A pretty door I walked by.|
|I liked this flowering tree. I have noticed lately that many trees have lost a lot of leaves. I didn't know that happened at all in this climate. Many, however, bloom year round.|
|Another museum. I think this one would be pretty interesting.|
|Another historic building. Shutters in the window are characteristic of the architectural style of the old buildings here especially in Old San Juan.|
|This statue represents the country farmer who comes to town to sell his produce and is often disappointed.|
|Elder and Sister Lee in front of the farmer statue.|
|This building says School of Tropical Medicine. What is tropical medicine? Drink a pina colada and call me in the morning?|
|The capitol building in the distance and a rather pretty gazebo.|
|I have no idea what this symbolizes. I liked the mural thing in the back that shows the history of Puerto Rico.|
|The capitol building. I would like to go inside sometime. I also would like to visit La Forteleza, the governor's home, but I think you to need to make an appointment in advance and we haven't done that yet.|