A natural curiosity propelled my desire to go beyond the normal touristy stores in Old San Juan, which is notable for its cobblestones and array of colorful doors--many painted in vibrant hues and pastel highlights. I wandered into a lesser travelled section (don't do this alone) just to explore the local residents. Despite my lack of Spanish conversational skills, I found that a friendly smile and an attempt to cross cultural barriers was all it took to befriend people I met. And be forewarned--there's some extreme poverty right beyond the fringes of wealth touted by the brochures. There are extraordinary photo opportunities, too, as long as you don't infringe on anyone's personal sensitivities. I would rather spend time on those streets than in any of the zillion casinos they have at arm's length.