11 June 2013

Puerto Rico...

I wanted to go to Veracruz in Mexico, spend a week exploring beachside towns and doing a little hiking, and heading over to Mexico City to see (and run with!) some friends. Or just go to Austin for the weekend for the Flipside Festival.

 Wayne didn’t want that. He wasn’t sure what he wanted.

And somehow, we ended up in Puerto Rico.

It was a trip where we spent and wasted a lot of money. True, we relaxed, and some of the beaches were nice, but neither of us fell in love with PR. I don’t think we’ll be back.
Funny, I had always wanted to explore PR – I have a friend with lots of family there and always thought if I would go, I’d go with her. That would’ve been a very different experience.

Day One:
The night before was filled with doubt (“Should we just cancel our tickets?” “I don’t really want to go.”) We got our bags packed and left our house at 4am to catch the morning flight down. We felt sullen, disinterested. As soon as we arrived, we immediately got ripped off by our taxi driver, which put us in a foul mood.
We dropped our stuff off at the friendly Andalucia Guesthouse, used their sunblock (Glad they provided it free since I had forgotten to pack it!), and headed to the beach. The beach was nice and Wayne decided he wanted to get his kite stuff. And then he was kiting a long time and I had no sunblock and I became torched. I was in tears when he came in, I was so crispy red. We went back, showered, and Wayne slathered me with aloe. We explored the neighborhood and ate Peruvian food our first day in PR, which felt a little weird.
Day Two:
We realized we didn’t have anything booked for Vieques. The original plan now was to go to Austin (but we later discovered that was too $$$$ so we couldn’t) at the end of our trip. I was annoyed bc I don’t like wasting time planning this kind of stuff on trips and Wayne was so indecisive so we had figured zero out. I booked a place, then we went to Old San Juan. (Taxi drivers ripped us off in both directions.) Cute, but nothing life-altering. We got frozen yogurt and then headed back to the guesthouse to grab our stuff and go to the beach. Wayne went kiting, I went running and read Trail Runner magazine. (Doesn’t that sound like wonderful beach reading to you?) I wore a shirt because my entire back and butt were crispy burned. Wayne and I got burritos for dinner (mmmmmmm ginger-tamarind margaritas and cinnamon-cranberry margaritas!!!) and bought bathing suits at the surf shop and got some rum and passionfruit juice to drink back at our guesthouse. We chilled in the Jacuzzi and had drinks on the balcony.
Day Three:
Ran on the beach, during which some idiot stole my flipflops. I was so pissed. I have been to places much more dangerous and impoverished, yet here in San Juan I get my flipflops stolen? My favourite and oh-so- comfy. We got breakfast, then I bought new flipflops at the surf shop, Wayne rented a too-expensive car (WTF $40 a day for insurance?!?!) and we headed to el Yunque. It was a pretty rainforest but it was raining and it was paved (WTF?) and it was crowded. Wayne’s back hurt and it was slippery. We were a  cheery bunch indeed. Then we hopped back in the car, had some pretty roads to drive back on, and arrived in Fajardo. We got a hideous lunch at a horrific bakery and then hopped on the super-crowded, late-leaving ferry, where they made all the tourists wave in a separate line so the locals could board first. You couldn’t wait on the outside part of the ferry because the waves were so rough. There were a million cops, apparently because there had been 15 murders in the past 3 months (drug-related). Finally, our ride ended and we lugged our suitcase and kite bag off the ferry and up to Casa de Amistad.
Our hosts were super friendly. We were immediately at ease. After we settled in, we headed to Al’s Mar Azul for Mexican dinner – which was fantastic, as were the pina coladas. We sat right on the water, trying out the different hot sauces, relaxing a little bit, finally.
We wandered around the town, pretty quiet, empty. We were staying in Isabel Segunda.
Day Four:
An early morning run. I ran out on 200, felt like crap, rain pouring down, dogs chasing me, horses wild on the roads, a little bizarre. I headed back, showered, and we discussed what we should do. No idea.
We ate breakfast at Buen Provecho where a surly expat insulted me about my wrist brace. WTF. Then we booked ourselves on a bio-bay tour for the night, and rented bikes for the day. We packed water, granola bars, towels, sunblock, and headed out.
Our ride was hilly and tough, and cars came whipping around the corners. And then it began pouring and we were going to the beach…misery.
So what do you do when it rains on the beach? You go and get cocktails. We ended up at Bananas, drinking Chocolate Banana Mudslides and Pina Coladas…and eating….and drinking, and chatting w the expats.
Day Five:
Go running. I get chased by dogs the entire time, growling, ready to attach dogs. Hop in the back of a pick-up truck to get past the worst of the dogs. Freaking frightening. At one point, a dog jumps over a fence and began chasing me. The other dogs that didn’t jump barked like crazy. I went insane, screaming and threatening to throw a rock and charging at the dog. I don’t know how I got out of there. So scary. I was shaking when I finished my run.
Rent a yellow Jeep which turns out to be held together with duct tape. Take off the roof and drive around like maniacs…drive down bouncy roads, to desolate secluded beaches. Branches falling in our car. Snorkel. Drive down to the abandoned and freaking scary deserted military bunkers. Stopped by random spots. Scary bumpy crazy roads, is this even safe?
Day Six:
Flat fire. Return the car, get a new one. More beaches. Beach, beach, beach. Go to the Sol Food truck for delicious lunch And then Wayne of course wants to go kite surfing and we can’t find where to go or is the wind just bad?
And then…two flat tires. Someone driving by calls the rental car place bc we don’t even know the name of the road we’re on. Then the cops come and wait w us, telling us the road is really dangerous bc it is “solitary” and there are lots of “stoned” people. Then the cops wait, they have to go. “Stay in your car w the doors locked.” Um great. Finally the car people came, put on two new tires and we drove back to town. “I want to return this car now,” Wayne said, but we just chilled out in town.

Day Seven:

Up early. Run and a pina colada with breakfast. Return the car. Hop on the miserably crowded ferry, ridiculously delayed and stuffy and stinky. Wayne and I hop into our waiting rental car and drive it to San Juan.

Beach. Kite surfing for Wayne. Relaxing….

Day Eight:

Beach. Run. Beach. Kite surfing for Wayne.

I call JetBlue to see if we can change to the earlier flight. We throw all our stuff in our bags, head to the airport and get on the earlier flight, thank goddess.

Vacation is over.

We were so happy to be home….

1 comment:

Josh LaPorte said...

My goodness! I don't know how you guys do this... Juan and I went to San Juan and had a completely different experience; rented a small apartment in Old San Juan; shopped at local grocery stores, took incredibly long walks around San Juan and Santurce, Condado and Ocean Park; found a street festival and danced with teenagers to a wonderful local new wave indie band (Circo); found a rooftop restaurant where we ate frituras and drank cuba libres; toured historic homes with thick walls and cool tiled floors; watched old ladies hang their laundry; Gazed longingly at "la Perla", the neighborhood where locals told us not to venture. Of course, Juan has family in PR but down in the southern part. We never got there. I don't think I love PR the way I love Jamaica but it's so much more gay friendly and no immigration B.S.