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Snapshots of the Caribbean
Part 10:
Criollo Food and Free Drinks

Our final evening in Puerto Rico is spent eating yet more delicious criollo food (although I have decided that I don't really like mashed plantains) and talking to some locals in a bar. We meet a guy named Marco who relocated here from California a few years back. I can see why he moved here - the island seems to combine the best aspects of the Caribbean and the US, with a high quality of life and friendly atmosphere. Marco suggested we spend our final day with one of Puerto Rico's most famous companies, and we decided to follow his advice.

While Barbados produces many brands of rum including Malibu and Mount Gay, Puerto Rico is famous for one in particular - Bacardi. Although originally a Cuban company, Bacardi no longer operates in Cuba and has its regional base in Puerto Rico.

On arrival at the Bacardi visitors centre we are presented with tokens for free drinks. Although it is still morning, I cannot fail to be tempted by a lime daiquiri. During the tour, we learn about the history of the Bacardi family, the production methods used, and we are also treated to a cocktail-making demonstration. One of the facts learned is that, strictly speaking, when you order a daiquiri, it must be made with Bacardi rather than any other brand of rum. In the gift shop, you can buy rum that has such a high alcohol content that you are not permitted to take it on board aeroplanes… I settle for a bottle of raspberry-flavoured rum instead.

All too soon, we find that it is time for us to get back to the airport. We bid a fond farewell to Puerto Rico, and vow to return so that we can explore more of the island. By the time we fly over Barbados it is dark, and from the air I pick out familiar landmarks - the highway, the supermarket, and the open-air swimming pool shimmering under its floodlights. I have not lived in Barbados for very long, but I have the unmistakeable feeling of coming home.

- LD, 2004, Barbados -

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