El ultimo año

My personal hell.

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.

Toilet bar! We’ve strangely never seen anyone sitting there.
Me cookies!
Nothing weird here, but if you haven’t had Coquito you should!
We haven’t been brave enough to venture into Condom World.. one day.
They really enjoy Dewar’s here.. I think my Dad would approve.

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!

Una visita de Julian

Caballeros guapos.

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).

La Factoria
Jenn and Julian preparing for a song and dance number in the streets of Old San Juan.

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.

If you look closely under the house with the red roof you can see some of the worst singers in all of Puerto Rico.

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.

19 barrios = 19 neighborhoods
It was warm out so we started off inside.
In the evening we relocated outside, it was quite pleasant.

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!

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 Rincón

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 Rincón! (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.

This is just to say

That everything’s
fine in
Puerto Rico
And aside
from some power loss
we weren’t really affected
Forgive us
We didn’t anticipate
Any concern

With apologies to William Carlos Williams, whose estate is hopefully not litigious

No, but in all seriousness, I’m not even in Puerto Rico right now, and Pat reports that power has returned to our apartment and everything’s a-okay. The epicenter of the earthquake was pretty far from where we live. No cause for concern! We’ll be back to our regularly scheduled hijinks as soon as I return from Walt Disney World (unless I refuse to leave, which is always a possibility). Stay tuned!

Una aventura en el buceo

A damp business.

Last weekend we checked off one of our PR must-do items – scuba diving. (Thank you to Brian, Grecia, and Elizabeth for their generous wedding contributions to this activity!)

Aqua Adventures operates out of the Hilton Caribe just outside Viejo San Juan. We ended up having a private lesson with Luis, our dive master, who kitted us out with masks, fins, and oxygen tanks before taking us to the hotel pool. There we ran through the scuba basics – things like clearing your mask, adjusting your vest inflation, and relocating your regulator if it gets knocked out of your mouth.

With that out of the way, it was off to the lagoon! The area is sheltered from the ocean but accessible to hotel guests; we saw occasional people swimming at random above us. More to the point, though, was the variety of wildlife we were able to encounter: fish, fish, and, well, more fish. But it was definitely a highlight swimming through a school and having them surround you.

Disclaimer: These are just a representation of the fish we saw. We don’t have an underwater camera…. yet.

After our diving adventure, we grabbed lunch at the hotel pool bar and then poked around some nearby fort ruins. I was crowned queen of the iguanas and then had myself cloned, so that was fun.

Finally we headed over to the La Ocho surf break so that Pat could get some waves in, next to the big rock in the above picture. Diving was cool and all, but we know Pat’s priorities!

Viajamos a Rincón

Last weekend Pat and I took a quick trip to Rincón, a town on the west side of the island that boasts numerous surf breaks.

Unfortunately Pat was unable to try out any surf breaks, and here’s why.

So that was less than ideal for surfing purposes. Luckily, though, the weather cleared in the afternoon, and we were able to take advantage of one of our hotel’s amenities: the swim-up bar. Life goal = check!

In the evening we headed across the street to GastroPark@115, a little food truck court offering everything from hot dogs to sushi.

And that was our Rincón resort experience. Next time we plan to stay in the town proper, where all the little shops and restaurants live. Until next time!

We had part of a slinky, but I straightened it

Last weekend we had my favorite kind of adventure: a theme park adventure! We took a long weekend to Universal Studios Florida with the dual mission of showing Pat around the Harry Potter areas and going through the Ghostbusters haunted (“haunted”) house.

I tend to be extremely long-winded when it comes to describing Theme Park Adventures, so I’ll spare you the excruciating detail. But I’ll tell you we were entirely successful in our aforementioned missions, and a good time was had by all. Assorted pictures below!

Lechón

On Sunday we drove into the mountains to visit the farm of one of Pat’s coworkers. The occasion: said coworker Norberto’s retirement. The party: un lechón, which is basically the roasting followed by consumption of an entire pig. This is probably not as graphic as you think. Or maybe it is; I’m not privy to your imagination. Anyway, proceed with that content knowledge in mind.

If it helps, we also met some chickens, special Puerto Rican chickens known as Kikiriki, which are smaller than your average chicken. They were alive and remained so for the duration of the event.

So here are a bunch of photos from our first lechón, rather more of which contain a machete than you might otherwise expect. Plus here’s some video Pat took of an impromptu jam session. You can’t very well have a party without music.