As I and every other surfer knows, Endless Summer is a misnomer. The best waves are always in the winter, and given that we’re now in the full swing of summer… well, I’ve been a bit bored. Thankfully Puerto Rico has an abundance of aquatic activities to keep me busy. One of these days there will be a hilarious post of my misadventures in kite surfing, wind surfing, or sailing, but for now I’ve been keeping myself entertained with snorkeling along our reef. There are hundreds of reefs around here; however, one of the unique things about ours is that it almost touches the beach, meaning I can swim to it fairly easily.
Now for a quick soapbox: remember if you’re around reefs to use reef safe sunscreen (those without oxybenzone and octinoxate).
Anyway here’s some video of me playing around on the reef. Disfruta!
First and foremost, we hope everyone is healthy and staying safe. Jenn and I have more or less been hunkered down at home for the last two months, only really venturing out for groceries or occasional takeout food. We’ve been pretty bored but otherwise doing well.
As Memorial Day weekend came around we were finally able to get back onto the beaches and into the water. Thankfully for me and all the other surfers, the relaxation of the governor’s orders came right in time for an off-season swell. Being out of the water for about 2 months I was pretty desperate. I woke up around 5 AM to do a surf check to find some pretty mediocre waves at my spot. Thankfully I texted my neighbor Carlos to see what his plans were. He cryptically responded to hang tight we’re going “somewhere”.
Carlos has taken me to a few other surf spots around the area and more or less knows the ins and outs of the best breaks on the island. After waiting for quite some time for his friend Mario to arrive at our condo, we finally got underway. We went to an area of the island to the east about 40 minutes from San Juan and then down a pretty ragged dirt road.
After about 10 minutes down the bumpy road we came to the secret / not so secret surf spot. According to Carlos it was packed, but really it wasn’t bad, it was a huge beach and plenty of space to spread out.
After about 4 to 5 hours of surfing we were all wiped. We drank some water then some beers and started back home. My shoulders are still recovering and my sunburn is still healing, but it was well worth it.
What a difference a year makes. Around this time last year we were just getting settled into our new lives in Puerto Rico and a year later… I guess we’re still settling in but now we can also speak broken Spanish!
So like everyone else at the moment, we’re in COVID-19 lock-down. I know it’s for the best but sitting here and watching waves go unridden feels akin to the episode of “The Twilight Zone” where the book lover breaks his glasses.
Since we’re stuck indoors, I figured it’d be a good time to reflect.. and drink; reflect and drink. For obvious reasons we haven’t had many new adventures but this gives us an opportunity to put up some of the more “interesting” things we’ve found in Puerto Rico. Well at least interesting to us gringos. Let’s get to it.
Last week we were graced with the presence of one of my buddies, Julian. As per our usual M.O. we started off the week in our typical disastrous, adventurous style by getting stranded out at La Placita. As a side note for any future visitors, El Coco de Luis in La Placita makes unbelievable mojitos (also with an unbelievable amount of rum).
Eventually Julian and I made it home and the next day we showed him around town. We checked out some of our favorite spots as well as trying out a few new places, such as La Factoría, a hipsterish little bar that makes fancy cocktails with plush seating occupied by children of inattentive parents (the children part may vary by time).
After our outing in Viejo San Juan we packed up our car and headed west. I wanted to check out a new area called Cabo Rojo, which apparently has some of the prettiest beaches in Puerto Rico. I say apparently because we didn’t quite make it to any of the beaches. Our plans changed about 2/3rds of the way there when we lost power steering… driving here is exciting enough without adding extra challenges. Since we were already about 2 hours from home we continued onwards to our Airbnb in Puerto Real. After Julian and I tag-teamed the steering wheel as I parallel parked we got out and found that we were staying in a quaint little marina.
Since I had no intention of moving the car, we decided to take a walk around and get some food and drinks. Eventually we came across 19 Barrios, a brick oven pizza restaurant on the water. Overall it was pretty good for a tiny little marina town. We did find however find that selecting from the menu seemed to be more of a formality and what food came out was really up to to the chef’s discretion.
After finishing up with dinner, Julian and I went out for a few more drinks while Jenn retired to the Airbnb. The neighbors were having some sort of party and Jenn was blessed with hours of prepubescent karaoke which slowly drove her mad. Finally they quieted down and we got some rest. The next day we fought the car up to Ríncon so I could get some surfing in before our trip back east.
The rest of the week was fairly uneventful. I gave Julian a few unsuccessful surfing lessons and spent the rest of my time at work. On Thursday Julian and Jenn attended a party thrown by our Spanish teacher. Then early Friday morning I took Julian to the airport so he could continue his life of leisure in Bonaire. ¡Qué cabrón!
So a bit of surf lingo to start off: a “quiver” is a surfer’s collection of boards and is perpetually lacking at least one board which would really make it well-rounded. Now that the terminology is out the way – I’ve spent my free time this week getting a nice surf rack setup for my quiver. After a bit of internet research, a few Home Depot runs, and a few hours of stressing out the cats with drilling, it was all done. See Jenn so elegantly presenting my work below.
Unfortunately we don’t have too much to discuss this week as we’re getting ready to make a trip back to Maryland and have run out of time to pursue other adventures. We were hoping to get a bit of ziplining done but that’ll have to wait until we return. We may go out to meet our Spanish teachers for some beers later today at La Placita, a food market by day and bar/hangout spot come evening. We’ll update accordingly if it is as interesting as it sounds.
It’s been about 2 months since I started my new position and I figured it’s about time I pull some weight and write something. (Note: The government frowns upon employees posting online so I won’t get into too many details.)
All and all things have been really good with my new position. My coworkers are all entertaining and more importantly, seem pretty competent. My boss is demanding but takes care of everyone on his team. Additionally, he has taken to mentoring me in a learning a variety of Spanish curse words. I’ll leave those for a separate post.
The work itself is interesting and will undoubtedly be challenging. The project our team is currently undertaking involves pulling down an eleven story tower down which sits directly on top of an active hospital; needless to say demolishing a building “quietly” is not an easy task. As a side note, I also need to figure out a way to get the tile mosaic off the side of the building (about 80 feet up) and put down in front of the main entrance without destroying it; feel free to contribute ideas.
It’s definitely a unique experience being the only gringo in the office (and throughout most of the hospital). So far I’ve said my share of idiotic things in Spanish but everyone seems to enjoy it and are quick to correct me. It also works both ways – I’ve become the non-official email spelling and grammar checker.
The guys also are excited to show me around the island and they’ve been a good resource for figuring out places to go explore. Unfortunately, in the last 2 weeks we haven’t had too much time to get out since we’ve been working on setting up our new apartment; another post on that coming soon too.
So things are pretty good and we’re starting to settle in to our new home. As a bonus, Jenn’s work has been happy with her teleworking… so good stuff all around. I’ll leave everyone with a picture of some of my work buddies that hang outside of my office.