For decades, this marginal neighborhood of La Perla Puerto Rico in San Juan has been considered one of the most dangerous in the Caribbean.
And it’s not a free title: by 2011, the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) estimated that the heroin business in La Perla reached US $ 11 million annually.
But in recent years he has tried to shake off that sinister image. With help from various groups and a hit song.
Ever since Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee’s mega hit, “Despacito” tourists from all over the world are arriving on the narrow streets of La Perla’s brightly colored houses.
Still considered as dangerous by some
“I suggest that you call someone from the area before you go. There you can only go in company,” some tourists have been told at the airport.
“La Perla? And you’re going to get in there,” a fellow people warns me.
“La Perla breaks your teeth, but your throat sweetens,” said another person.
Security and walls
The basketball court of La Perla has two borders: one is with the beautiful granite wall and stone that protects Old San Juan and was raised by the Spaniards 450 years ago.
The other is the sea, which can be seen behind one of the baskets. In the center of the field is Angel Torres, the president of the Residents’ Board.
“This was a bad time, I remember seeing peeing heroin in the street. In fact, a lot of my friends are either dead or in prison,” he says.
For now, La Perla Puerto Rico is ready to welcome visitors from all over the globe who are looking for their “Despacito” experience.
What to do in La Perla Puerto Rico
- Take pictures of the unique urban art
- Enjoy a great beach coast view
- Visit the little plaza where some of La Perla’s locals play dominoes
- Stroll by the streets and enjoy La Perla’s brightly colored houses
- … and after that, you can walk to any Old San Juan restaurant, just minutes away!
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