Saturday, December 18, 2004

Puerto Rico where we were, in Condado, had a vague look of distress. Everything was clean and safe for the tourists but there seemed to be a weariness from the decades of catering to them. On Saturday night at the El San Juan half the crowd was up in a throng watching a boxing match on TVs suspended from the ceiling. The room was ornate and old and retained some of the grandeur of another age when you had to wear formal clothes to gamble. The dealers were aloof, even rude. I sat down at a blackjack table and in between hands the woman to my left lit a cigarette, and the dealer waved off the air before her with a sour look. I rose in protest. Elsewhere dealers were grim and humorless; the cashier girl said neither thank you nor good night.