Puerto Rico, you lovely island...

Bonus points to the commenter who knows whence the title comes. 
As you may have guessed, the "country" for our date tonight was Puerto Rico.  Okay, so it isn't technically a country; more like a commonwealth/territory of the United States.  I learned a few fun facts about it, such as the fact that Puerto Rico shares our president but no one there gets a say in choosing said president.  They have their own congress which they elect themselves, yet historically the United States congress is the one calling the real shots in terms of major legislature.  Sounds a bit like when we were a colony of England, and we didn't much care for that "virtual representation." Also, the unofficial national animal is the coqui, a frog which is (and here I quote Wikipedia) "endemic to Puerto Rico."  Puerto Rico is Spanish for "rich port" and Columbus originally wanted to name the island San Juan Batista.  That name only stuck to its capital city and the island itself went by Puerto Rico, but the natives have another name for it derived from the Taino Amerindian word meaning "Land of the Noble Lord." (All of this information is paraphrased from Wikipedia so it may not be strikingly accurate, but this is a blog post and not a research paper, so there.  Students of mine, if you read this, know that you may not rely on Wikipedia for your research papers, but use it all you want in YOUR blogs.)
I was none too sure of the authenticity of the recipe I made for our dinner last week for China, but I'm quite sure of the authenticity of this week's meal, which was arroz con gandules (rice with pigeon peas).

I'm sure of it because it came from my grandma, who lived in Puerto Rico for a year and thus had time to become acquainted with the local cooking.  So, that is what I cooked up, along with a recipe for tostones (fried plantains). I've never eaten plantain before, and it looks like an overgrown banana, but when it is fried, I'd be hard pressed to tell it apart from oven baked french fries.  Needless to say, it was a hit (except with Ruby).  We listened to Putomayo's Puerto Rico CD as we ate for an extra festive touch. 

Max likes the plantain

After the kids were in bed, our options for the date-y part of the date night were either salsa dancing in our living/dining/kitcheny room (it's all one thing, really) or watching a movie.  Unfortunately, the "Salsa dancing for beginners" DVD I put on hold from the library did not come through in time.  There was, however, a promising looking link on YouTube to some salsa lessons.  But despite agreeing--after watching a few YouTube videos of some spicy Salsa dancing competition clips--that it was darned sexy and athletic and would be super fun to take up someday...that day was not this evening, so to speak.  Also, Ben had awoken from his long afternoon nap and was not interested in being put down so that we could dance, and Salsa dancing is just not the same with an almost 9 pound baby strapped to your chest.  So, the movie option won again.  The choices were "West Side Story" (c'mon, it may not be set IN Puerto Rico but Puerto Ricans are central to the plot) and "The Rum Diary."  I knew nothing about the latter film except that it came up in my library catalog search for DVDs related to Puerto Rico.  Since neither of us had seen it and since Allen had seen and disliked (the nerve!) "West Side Story,"  we went with "The Rum Diary." 
It was a well-made movie and had some great acting by a lot of lesser known actors.  But it's a rather dark story, at least if you consider it a bit of a dark lifestyle to drink excessively and take experimental narcotics that give you terrible hallucinations.  But then it is based on the life of Hunter S. Thompson, so I guess I should have expected as much.  Anyway, it was an interesting film and if you're not easily offended by coarse language, some sexytimes, and a LOT of drinking and some drug use, and you enjoy the scenery of Puerto Rico...then you might like it.  I would have liked it less if I had spent any money to rent it, but it came from the library so it was cheap as free.  In fact, this whole date did not cost anything (unless you count a few grocery purchases, which amounted to under $6).  We even had the very un-Puerto Rican treat of two free drinks from Dutch Bros. coffee thanks to our collections of half-filled out punch cards accrued over the years.  I know, I should have held out until we visit the Netherlands, but it seemed like a night for a warm drink. 


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