May 29th, 2010
Chinchorros, Friquitines, Dives, Informal Eateries, Cocina Criolla, Puerto Rico, The Island
I forgot to tell you that part of the services available at Hacienda Pellerano was my own driver. He was at my disposal, as long as he could juggle his schedule, which he did. He knew all the ins and outs of this island.
In the island of Puerto Rico any road takes you to a beach or to a chinchorro or friquitin. There are really no long distances.
You are wondering what chinchorros are. Well, both chinchorros and friquitines are informal eateries that are found all throughout the island. I would equal them to the diners, dives and holes in the walls in the United States.
Anyone on the island will tell you in Spanish that “Chinchorros son donde se come bueno de verdad.” (Where you can really eat well.)
At the chinchorros and friquitines you will find “Cocina Criolla” which is a unique blend of different influences that even though similar to Latin American and Spanish cuisines, has a flavor that is its own.
Check the website www.elchinchorreo.net, which was established in Moca in 2009 and has all kinds of information about the well known chinchorros and the ones about to be discovered.
One of the trips to the interior side of the island took us to to the north coast near Dorado and Vega Baja where we decided to stop at Melao, Melao El Coco Embalsamao. Of course we were in need of a cold and sweet coconut. At that time of the day it was getting hot.
I would consider this more of a friquitin. You stop, have something to drink, wether you want your coconut spiked, that is your choice as well. Want a bite to tie you over, well that can be arranged too. These eateries are used by anyone traveling from one destination to another. Need a hat? They have it. El Melao Melao was so clean and the owner was very friendly. My driver knew him.
We were in route to the town of Orocovis, which really, is the center of Puerto Rico.
On our way, of course we had to stop to check out La Cascada, after the town of Morovis. Another friquitin was just adjacent to it. The waterfall was beautiful and definitely another Kodak moment.
The island of Puerto Rico has so much to offer. The topography of the island is so diversed. You might be at the beach and then just under an hour you are at the mountains where the temperature will fall about 10 degrees and then you can be to a desert like valley in no time, as well. It really is incredible.
Our driver liked to stop and check all the “colmados”. Off again to the Mirador of Villalba. This is the area where you can see both coasts; both oceans, the Atlantic and the Caribbean at the same time. But, on that particular day, it was cloudy and hazy so the view could not be appreciated the way it should have been.
After chatting with some other people we found enjoying the same views, we took off on PR 151 (not proof). A very curvy road to the town of Villalba, and then to Juana Diaz to the town of the Three Wise Men. Juana Diaz is in the southern coast and during the Christmas holidays, on January 6, the Epiphany is celebrated right in the middle of the town. The celebration of the Three Wise Men visiting Jesus is a must if you are visiting Puerto Rico at that time of the year. Also Juana Diaz is known as the City of Mabi, which is a fermented drink made out from the bark of the Mabi tree. The festival is in March.
My next friquitin was on the north coast of the island and very near San Juan. It was not on this particular day, but that area is full of friquitines and on a week-end it is packed. The beaches are beautiful and one cove that I thought was gorgeous on a late afternoon was the beach of Vacia Talega. You can see the city from that point of view but the feeling is that you are really so removed from it.
The Taino was where my coconut was waiting for me. Located in Pinones, where all those beachside eateries are in abundance, around the corner from San Juan and in another of those scenic routes. Again, the water was so sweet and the “tela” or meaty part once the coconut when opened was soft and tasty. A little alcapurria (fritter) and an empanadilla hit the spot.
On the eastern side of the island, in Maunabo, there is a restaurant called El Nuevo Horizonte, with their own little friquitin. It is more for drinks but the view is just beautiful.
It was late when we arrived at Hacienda Pellerano. No wonder this Island is called La Isla del Encanto, or, The Island of Enchantment.
Talk to you later…..
Tags: Activities, Chinchorros, Coconuts, El Melao Melao El Coco Embalsamao, El Nuevo Horizonte, El Taino, Friquitines, La Cascada, Mirador Villalba, Pinones, Puerto Rico, Things to do at the beach, Vacia Talega, What to do at the beaches