Yup, we went to the tropics for two weeks in the midst of this miserable St. Louis winter. Yup, it was awesome. Paradise, to be exact. Sunshine everyday. Air conditioning only occasionally. Green, green, green. Except where it was blue (at the beach, mostly).
We stayed half the time in a little fishing village on the southern (Caribbean) coast of Puerto Rico. My favorite bit was walking everyday to the tiny supermercado to pick up a loaf of bread or a jar of peanut butter. We were also able to take some boat rides into the sea- one during the day to see the little islands that dot the horizon, and one at night to see the Bioluminescent Bay. Actually, now that I think about it, I think my favorite bit was the chickens roaming freely about the town. Everyone apparently has a bunch of chickens and nobody bothers to keep them cooped up (ha ha), and nobody also seems to mind the sound of roosters. In another small town we stayed near, peacocks lived on the roof of an abandoned house and would casually stroll across the road, stopping traffic on a whim.
I love not-quite-third-world countries.
A trip to Puerto Rico is not complete without driving in circles at least one time through a rambling small town that uses alleys for thoroughfares but has a brand new baseball stadium (at least they have their priorities straight). We never did manage to find the highway connection, so we took the extremely scenic view to the ocean, driving in circles through a couple more small towns on the way. Just for the fun of it.
Oh, wait, perhaps my favorite bit was passing by the smashingly blue, big, beautiful, Spanish-style house that had cows living in the front yard. I love these people.
The next few days we spent in the rainforest, near that town where the peacocks lived. The house we rented was rather disappointing (seriously, people, no oven!?) but the rainforest is always intriguing, and we found a pretty stream where the children could swim. They now thoroughly understand the saying about ‘swimming upstream’. It was hilarious to see them swim with all their might and get exactly nowhere. When they weren’t futilely trying to defeat the current they were futilely trying to catch the large fish that lived in the swimming hole. It was a stunningly beautiful location, in the middle of the rainforest, with enormous boulders and tall peaks surrounding us. The water was also FRIGID so David and I mostly sat on the boulders and watched our children enjoying the pleasures of a mountain stream.
AND despite the numerous twisty, turny, one lane with cars coming at us anyway, people walking on the shoulder and peacocks on the other side, sheer-drop-off type of roads I managed to never hyperventilate and only once had to ask David to turn around. Woo hoo for progress on managing my phobia!! (Praise God from whom all blessings flow...)
For the last portion of our vacation we moved again- to the heart of Old San Juan, an ancient city with lots of history and lots more parties. Seriously, again, people. I mean, I understand your need to party. But under MY window? At two a.m.? Singing songs and laughing hysterically? Don’t you know that my kids wake up at 6:30? The neighbors partied, and I had the hangover. David bought earplugs.
And then we walked and walked and walked. The kids definitely didn’t care for this portion of our journey, especially since we had swum every day, at least once a day, until transferring to Old San Juan. We toured a castle that is about 500 years old (San Cristobal), toured the governor’s mansion that also has parts that are 500 years old and is the oldest continuously-used executive mansion in the world (complete with dungeon), shopped and shopped some more, and ate at a bakery that was more than 100 years old. But the food was fresh and OH SO YUMMY. I wanted to see the house that was built for Ponce de Leon (guess what? It’s about 500 years old, too) but it was apparently being worked on (can’t imagine why).
Of course, we take the kids half-way across the hemisphere to this city dripping with antiquities and their favorite bit is feeding the pigeons in the park. Typical.
And my favorite bit- at least of Old San Juan? The colors. I love a culture that has no restraint in painting their buildings whatever color they feel like. Teal, pink, deep green, blue, red, orange and more orange. I never knew what color combinations might pop out in front of me when I turned a corner. Vibrant!
So, well, I have a lot more to say (not that I usually have a shortage of verbosity) but this is plenty to start with... and I will post pictures soon!