El Conquistador

Last week Pat attended an architecture convention at the El Conquistador Resort, and I tagged along. El Conquistador is in Fajardo in the northeast of the island, and pretty much the quintessential beach vacation hotel.

We found our room to be only okay for the price, but you really can’t beat the amenities. They’ve got like 87,000 pools and hot tubs, including one with a swim up bar, which leads us to…

the required fruity drinks.

They also have a full-on water park…

And my personal favorite, the funicular!

Of course it’s all oceanside, because how could it not be.

If it’s your first time in PR, I wouldn’t recommend this over, say, exploring Old San Juan or El Yunque, but for a second or third trip you could certainly do worse. Any place with a lazy river is okay by me.

Feliz Cumplea├▒os a Pat

Last weekend we headed to arguably Pat’s favorite place on the island, Rincon, to celebrate the birthday of arguably my favorite person on Earth, Pat. We were mostly there because of a good swell coming through, and he got several surfing sessions in. But we did other stuff too!

We drank watermelon juice…

Visited the ruins of the lighthouse…

Visited the not-ruins of a lighthouse…

And had a poolside birthday brunch.

I also tried to feed some horses mints, but they weren’t interested. ­čśŽ

We also went to the Rincon Art Walk, which is a kind of arts and crafts fair that happens there every Thursday. He found a nifty artist he really liked and walked away with a t-shirt.

Overall a great completion to the Pat-year, some big waves and good drinks!

Finalmente Fuimos a Vieques

After at least one deferred trip thanks to COVID, we finally made it out to Vieques! Similar to Culebra, Vieques is an island on the southeast coast of Puerto Rico. It is larger and more populous than Culebra, and a surprisingly popular American mainland tourist destination. It does not presently have a hospital, though, so please stand 6 feet apart.

Our primary goal on this particular excursion was to cash in on my birthday present: horseback riding! With real live horses and everything! + Cute dog!

Vieques also boasts any number of wild horses, after the fashion of Assateague Island. Unlike Assateague Island, however, there are no park rangers or posted signs admonishing you to stay away from them. You can catch one if you want. (Pat wouldn’t let me.)

(Yes, we rented a golf cart. Yes, you should be jealous.)

Aside from riding, we spent our 3-day weekend in traditional island style: with fun drinks…

Breakfast sandwiches (of champions!) from a really awesome place called Rising Roost…

The world’s most free-range chickens, which local chefs’ actions suggest probably-to-definitely end up in your dinner…

And of course, making sweater-thief kitty friends. Always!

Correr y Surfear en Isabela

Hello and welcome to the description of my favorite location in Puerto Rico so far! It’s called Isabela, it’s along the north coast about two hours west of San Juan, and Pat wanted to go because there are a lot of good surf breaks. Because there are a lot of good surf breaks, a resort town sprang up in the area, with the associated shops and restaurants and the like. This is not an uncommon story.

So, what makes Isabela so special? THEY HAVE A RUNNING PATH.

And lots of surfing. We stayed in an Airbnb practically on top of Jobos, where Pat surfed.

AND I RAN!

There was a restaurant literally right next to our rental. It served pretty decent food and even breakfast. One morning Pat and I got breakfast AFTER I WENT FOR A RUN!

ON THE RUNNING TRAIL!!!!!!

ISABELA IS MY FAVORITE!

TELL PAT TO ONLY SURF HERE FROM NOW ON!

Cenamos en La Casona

Hooray for easy access to COVID vaccinations! Now that we and the larger majority of the people we know have gotten their shot, we’re starting to feel comfortable hanging out and going places again.

Last weekend we sojourned out into the wilds of civilization again for dinner at La Casona, a Spanish restaurant in Santurce. Our local friends Eddie’s and Emma’s nephew was in town with his girlfriend, so we joined some of our neighbors for a celebratory meal.

Highlights included delicious charcuterie, a roving guitarist, and my personal favorite, parrots!

The grounds are absolutely sprawling; we barely skimmed the surface, but we did get to check out the wine cellar.

Here’s hoping we collectively kick COVID to the curb for good and can go on more adventures!

Donde correo

I’ve found a new running trail! It (mostly) hugs the beach all through Pi├▒ones, and features some pretty sweet views of the ocean and sometimes even the mountains.

I tried to take a video during my last long run during my favorite portion of the trail. I can’t say it turned out great, per se, in that it a bit herky-jerky and I didn’t always control the camera as well as I would’ve liked. In my defense I was also partially concentrating on not tripping and falling on my face.

All the same, this video will give you the gist, and Pat doctored it nicely and added some music (Nellie McKay’s “Caribbean Time,” since you asked). It doesn’t do the trail justice but it’ll have to tide you over until you can come visit.

Culebra

We snuck one more trip in under the wire before COVID-19 shut everything down. Follow us on a visit to Culebra!

Good advice… Maybe we should have stayed.

Culebra is an island off the east coast of Puerto Rico; you take a ferry from Ceiba to get there. Pat’s surfing buddy Raymar is a native, and we spent a lovely weekend with him and his family.

Raymar’s sister owns the cottage we stayed in (Aleli Cottages); it was not the worst view.

A lot of it our trip was surfing-based, of course, with various members of the party engaging in surfing shenanigans whereas various others preferred, say, drinking prosecco on the beach. Also there were some abandoned tanks from the army (parts of Flamenco used to be a bombing range).

We also met Raymar’s extended family’s 4 dogs, which I obviously loved, plus some wild – or possibly escaped – horses, one of which tried to break into our bungalow.

The offending party.

Also also, we went off-roading in Jeeps to Playa Brava, which was so much like an amusement park ride that my dopamine levels soared accordingly, and as usual Pat and friends went surfing.

Add to that an incredible meal at the Dinghy Dock (grilled tuna FTW!) and a late-night dip in a hot tub (cue that dopamine), and it was a very satisfying trip indeed. We’ll definitely be back!

El Yunque

Last weekend Pat and I took an initial trip to El Yunque, just to get an idea of what trails and such are available. Now when all you intrepid explorers extraordinaire visit, we can offer a little guidance.

We’ve found views:

And waterfalls:

And towers:

And the tops of trails (we haven’t done the trails yet; we’re waiting for you, so hurry up and get here):

And of course, we know where to get a beer after.

(Ocean Lab. It’s always Ocean Lab.)

Volvemos a Rinc├│n

Last weekend we took another trip west. Highlights from the trip include:

  • We stopped at a scenic overlook!
  • Lunch at Kai’s at Playa Jobos in Isabela where Pat bought a new board (not at Kai’s but a surfshop down the road)!
  • We drove up and down (repeatedly) a terrifyingly steep and narrow road to our Airbnb in Rinc├│n! (This photo doesn’t do it justice; to fully comprehend the horror it helps to remember that it is NOT a one way street.)
  • We frequented Friends Cafe, admired the holiday decorations because Christmas ain’t over ’til it’s over around here, and poked around the Sunday flea market!
  • We watched big wave surfers tackle Tres Palmas surf break!
  • Pat took his new board out at the Little Malibu surf break and we drank Don Q and Cokes!
  • And whatever this is.