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August 15, 2007

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Ok, I'll give it to you, this is a nice turn of phrase: "The rooms are the kind of thing you imagine that somebody who’s just lost his job and his wife might live in while deciding whether to develop a heroin habit."

Thank you, sir. I'll try to keep it up, but I'm no Carlos Yu.

Oh damn, oh damn, I wish I'd found you last month. We could have shown you a tad bit more happiness around Ponce.

The Meliá *is* a dump. EVERY hotel here in Ponce is a dump. The place is NOT life-sucking, though; we've grown to love it here. But it took a while.

Ponce was prosperous as recently as the 70's. Petrochemicals -- you can see the ruins of the processing plants to the west of town if you're headed towards Mayagüez, just before Yauco. There used to be twice as many ruins, but the Japanese bought half of them and carted them off to Asia whole cloth, apparently.

So what you're seeing is the dried husk of a city. It's slow. It's melancholy, especially downtown. But it's got its own tune, and if you give it a year or two, you start to hear it.

The Hotel Intercontinental (the ruin behind the Cross) is a great emblem of Ponce's recent past. It was really nice until the owners defaulted on the mortgage and disappeared entirely. Ownership reverted to the city. They housed some mudslide refugees there about fifteen years ago, and they stole all the fixtures when they left. And the windows. Some friends of mine are using it for paintball lately...

But Ponce endures, weirdly. There's no Earthly reason for 200,000 people to live here, and I have given up all hope of ever understanding what makes the Puerto Rican economy function at all. Solar power, apparently (a friend of mine once said the same of Spain.)

But it grows on you. As long as you don't stay at the Meliá. Hell, I would have put you on our roof in a tent, it would have been better than the Meliá.

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