Alas, I’m back from Puerto Rico. Last week, Special K and I headed off to PR for a 4-day escape from the horrible cold that is Nebraska (Currently 5Ã‚Âº F, yuk!). I can say that I’ve never wanted so badly to move any place I’ve ever visited, but this place has a certain charm. For those of you interested, let me lay out the trip:
- Got up at the ass-crack of dawn and sped on over to the Omaha Airport. Apparently Obama and Clinton were flying IN to Omaha because security was pretty tight and the line was long. Eventually we made it to our plane and departed on our 2-hour flight to Houston, once there we connected with a 4.5-hour flight to San Juan, Puerto Rico. Luckily I introduced Special K to the TV show Nip/Tuck, so we watched a few episodes from Season 3 during the long flight. Once in San Juan, where it was 80 and sunny, we took a cab to the place I stayed last time I was in PR, the Howard Johnson in Old San Juan. It’s not the best Howard Johnson in the world, but it’s not horrible and it’s right in the middle of Old San Juan, so it’s nice. Once there, I pointed out the calming sound of the Coqui, a little frog that’s unique to PR. Afterwards, K and I hit the streets of Old San Juan for a bit, there’s tons of little shops and restaurants, then we settled at a little place called Barrachina for some Puerto Rican food and Pina Colada’s.. after that, we went back to our room and called it a night. ..or at least I TRIED! The roads in Old San Juan are really small.. a car barely fits, and apparently a lot of deliveries are made at night, so all night long I kept hearing trucks backing up.. which was kinda annoying, and then our A/C only had two modes.. OFF and ALASKA.. I kept getting up to turn it off and on again.. I had a rough night.. K, on the other hand, slept like a rock.. nothing woke her. Oh well.
- Friday we woke up around 9am, checked out of the room, grabbed some Starbucks.. yea, there’s a Starbucks there! It’s not a 3rd world country! ..geesh. We grabbed a cab from Old San Juan to a little town called Fajardo. It was about an hour and a half cab drive, past some beaches and the ONLY Rain Forest on US soil.. El Yunque. One of these days I’ll go there.. it was pretty neat to have it be sunny outside but still seeing a rain storm hover over that forest. Once in Fajardo, we arrived at an itty-bitty, little airport where we hopped on a little “puddle-jumper” airplane to get to our goal.. Culebra. The plane ride was about 20 minutes long, it was a small plane, seating about 8 people. I managed to spanish my way into the front seats, so K and I had a great view as the back seats could only look at the back of our heads. We passed by a lots of little islands before finally CRASH LANDING at Culebra.. ok, so maybe it wasn’t a crash landing, but it definitely reminded me of a ride I was on in an amusement park. ..quite exciting. Once we landed, we grabbed our bags and I called the hotel to come get us. Shortly thereafter a van showed up and took us to our hotel.. the Bahia Marina. Our room wasn’t ready yet.. as people never want to leave once they get there.. who can blame them? So I decided to rent a car, as even on an island with only 1600 residents and two main roads, nothing was walking distance. Oddly enough.. not!, the car rental place was back at the airport.. so we got a ride back and rented a Jeep.. just like mine, but newer. We drove into town and stopped for a bite to eat, then back to the hotel and checked into our amazing room. It had a futon, DirectTV, 2 beds, 2 full bathrooms, and a full kitchen.. stove, fridge, and all! Totally MORE than worth the $175/night. And the VIEW!!! Well, just see from my photos on flickr. K and I soon went back out, grabbed some more Pina Colada’s and hit the pool.. which was empty because all the normal people went to one of the islands 4 beaches. That was fun. After that we rolled into town and stopped for dinner at a water-front restaurant called the Dinghy Dock. We sat there for a while talking before we even ordered.. the service wasn’t too great, but what was cool was that the water by the place was packed with huge fish seeking scraps from the diners. By the time we were done, it was dark out.. so K and I started back, driving by many Roosters and Chickens that just HAD to cross the roads. It was a beautiful night out, I drove the jeep up a little hill and killed it, turning off the engine, the lights, everything. K and I just stared up in pitch darkness looking at the stars. It was perfectly clear sans one rogue rain cloud that wanted to spit on us for a second. We were in amazement of the beauty of this place.. it is truly paradise. After that, we went back to our room and hit the hay.
- Saturday morning we got up and drove out to a little shack for breakfast. Afterwards, I had set my heart on taking a Kayak to the beautiful water that we kept seeing in the distance on our drives. We were told of a kayak rental place “down the hill” so K and I walked down only to be told we could not rent them because they were only for patrons of a certain hotel. So UP the hill we walked, got in our car, and drove to the beach instead. Flamenco beach is rated the #2 beach in the US by the Travel Channel. Once we arrived, we noticed a stack of beach chairs.. K told me to grab 2 and follow her, so I did. Partly along the way, I heard the grunts of a caveman from behind us.. I turned to see a man flagging us down.. turns out the beach chairs aren’t free for the taking. They cost 7 bucks a day.. alas, I only had 10 bucks.. so we paid for 1 and found a spot to hide from the laughter of people who observed the spectacle. The beach was beautiful, K and I got our feet wet, but the mood was ruined by the caveman, and I’m not much of a beach person.. so off we went. I really wanted to kayak, or go on a boat ride, so I started looking up phone numbers for boating places on my iphone.. the only source of internet I had. We called a few places, but noone was available. We decided to give up on that dream and go eat.. we ate often in PR. We stopped at a place called Mamacitas. Again, the waters were filled with hungry fish, which by now was considered “normal” by us.. so we sat unimpressed and ordered our meals and Pina Coladas. As we sat in wait, something scurried across the ground, making K freak out… it was an Iguana.. or two.. or three! Iguana’s are everywhere and they aren’t afraid of us. Luckily, they’re harmless.. but watching K lift her feet off the ground was entertaining none-the-less. As we sat around eating our food I got a call from one of the boat guys I’d left a message with.. he was available. So we hurried with lunch and met up with him. What followed next was about 2 hours in a boat, taking in the sun, fighting the waves, watching a Stingray jump out of the water, and seeing the most beautiful parts of Culebra and the surrounding islands.. including one that only inhabitants are birds and goats. It was very mesmerizing and made us feel like the luckiest people on Earth. Once back on dry land, we went back to our room for a little nap, then we had dinner at the hotel where our waiter, Mario, gave us waaaay too much attention. Talk about being waited on hand and foot.. I would not have been surprised if he started to spoon-feed us our food. Regardless, the food was great, the attention was funny, and the Pina Colada’s were cold. After dinner we went back to Mamacitas, where every Saturday night is conga night. 3 brothers bring their conga’s and play live music for a couple hours. We went to that and watched some hippie chick hog the dance floor, then back to our room. We went out on the deck and talked about how fun the trip was while watching the stars and listening to the sounds of the island. Then sleep-time arrived.
- Sunday sucked. Got Up -> Checked Out -> Had Breakfast -> Turned in Car -> Went to Airport -> Flew back to Fajardo -> Took cab to Old San Juan -> Grabbed some grub -> Took cab to Airport -> Waited 3 hours at Airport -> Took Flight to Houston -> Took Flight To Omaha -> Froze to Death upon Arrival.
.. and that’s how I spent my winter vacation. All-in-all, Culebra is a wondrous place.. if you’re looking for a beautiful place with nothing to do but relax, I highly recommend it.