Ponce offers visitors a full calendar of events, from the traditional pre-Lenten masked Carnival to the monthly street-side jazz and folk concerts. Contact the Puerto Rican Tourist Company (1-800-223-6530) for details on Ponce as well as on island-wide celebrations planned for the year of Columbus (1992-93). In Ponce the best place to stay is the Hotel Meliá, which has remained in the hands of one family since opening around 1900. The genial manager, Nicolas Albors, was dismayed that I hadn’t left time to visit the newly restored Serralles Castle. “It speaks of Ponce,” he said.