Jun 27

Culebra (take 3??)


Posted under Puerto Rico, Trips & Tours by MicheleP.

Well, I had planned a wonderful post titled “Culebra – Take 3” and it was going to be the “On going to Culebra – 3rd time is a charm…”

Scott took the day off Wednesday as Heather and I planned to spend the day relaxing and taking in some serious sun on Culebra. We got up early (I’m quite certain Heather’s eyes have not seen the likes of 5AM in a long while), packed all our stuff and headed to Fajardo to catch the ferry at 9:00. We arrived in Fajardo about 7:30 – a good hour and a half before the ferry was supposed to leave – and we got in line.

It has been stormy here for two days and unfortunately every tourist on the island of Puerto Rico had also been waiting to go to Culebra until today.

Around 8 they actually started selling the tickets. At nearly 9 (when the ferry was scheduled to depart) we were still a good ways back in the line (and there were at least 65 people behind us) when they announced “no mas boletos”.

NO MORE TICKETS

GRRRRRRR!

Ok, so time to put Plan B into place. Wait, we don’t have a Plan B. 

There is another island that the ferry terminal serves. Vieques is larger but not near as popular and the line to Vieques was short. We looked at each other, “Well, wanna go to Vieques?” and since we were in our swimsuits and prepared for a day at the beach, we hopped over to the line for Vieques and were able to get tickets. With tickets in hand, we went inside the terminal to wait for our ferry to board at 9:30. At about 9:40 we realized that we didn’t see anyone in the terminal who wasn’t waiting in line for the Culebra ferry.

Suspicious.

We had a moment of panic. I mean, neither of us speak Spanish…but is it possible we missed an entire ferry boarding?

We walked outside and saw someone handing a ticket to a ferry worker. We asked where they were going. Vieques. Evidently we had bought tickets for the cargo boat and it was loading OUTSIDE. No sooner did we get onboard and sit down did the whistle blow and we departed. We figured we were about 2 minutes from totally missing the boat.

The ride over was nice – and by nice I mean because we had each taken 2 Dramamine tablets. From the looks (and sounds) of those around us, those 2 tablets were our best decision of the day.

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All in all, it was a great day – the beach was beautiful although the sea was a bit rough and the wind rather strong. Neither of us was ready to go home when it was time to return at 3.

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May 12

Mother’s Day in Review


Posted under Life, Mothering, Puerto Rico, Trips & Tours by MicheleP.

We had a great Mother’s Day here. We started by going to church and watched the girls perform with the other children. As you can see from the pictures, my girls are the youngest by quite a few years. I wasn’t sure that they would even go up there (on Easter they were supposed to do something and ended up being stuck to me the entire time) but they did and were quite the little hams.

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At first Libby was rather upset – and was on the verge of tears – not because she was afraid…no sir…she was upset because SHE didn’t have a microphone and was afraid no one could hear her. After asking for a microphone (yes, outloud in the middle of the song…”Ms Vicky! Ms Vicky! Ms Viiiiiiiiicky – I need a MIC-A-phone!”) Ms Vicky obliged and moved Libby over in front of the other microphone.

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I really don’t know where these girls get this from - it MUST BE THEIR FATHER!

After church we drove through Wendy’s (Scott really knows how to spoil me) and then headed to the city of Ponce for the afternoon. The drive there was lovely and we got to see some new sights.

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As we got closer to Ponce the landscape really changed – from lush and tropical to rather dry, arid and hot.  It looked more like the panhandle of Texas than an island in the Caribbean. We ended up at the boardwalk and enjoyed walking around there for a while and then spent some time at a children’s park.

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Once we were sufficiently sweaty…and dirty…we went in search of a cool treat. The piraqua trucks were in full force but we opted to head into town in search of something a bit more “trusty” :)

One thing we haven’t fully learned yet is that things close here on holidays.  Stores, malls, restaurants and even some gas stations – all closed! Thankfully Baskin Robbins was open (and quite popular) and so we got to sit in some air conditioning and have a nice cold treat.

We decided to head back home a different way than we came and go through the mountains. There is a highway that is mostly finished and the scenery was quite nice and enjoyable. However, the 20 miles or so that is not finished is your typical much-too-narrow-and-curvy mountain road and is not well suited for those who get carsick easily. Turns out, Clara wasn’t so fond of the curvy road and we ended up on the side of the road more than once on the way home. Good times!

 

 

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Apr 25

More family fun – San Cristobal


Posted under All in the family, Life, Puerto Rico, Trips & Tours by MicheleP.

We’ve done El Morro several times now but have not gone through the other fort: San Cristobal Fort or Castillo de San Cristóbal.

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We were told by some friends that on Tuesday nights there is a little cultural show and dance so we decided to give it a try and we had a great time. Sure, it’s a bit on the “touristy” side of things – but still a nice evening and if you are going to tour the fort, you might as well go on a Tuesday and enjoy the show as well.[photopress:Dancing_at_San_Cristobal_1.gif,full,pp_empty]

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At the end of the show, the dancers bring people from the audience to dance with them. Abby was picked and did a great job!!

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At the end of the dance, they do the whole “Where are you from” routine. My girls had been begging to go on stage from the minute we got there and took this opportunity to march up there. Of course THEY needed to be interviewed too! [photopress:Girls_at_San_Cristobal.gif,full,pp_empty]

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Apr 23

Family Fun – Culebra (take 2)


Posted under All in the family, Life, Trips & Tours by MicheleP.

Our guests told us they were game for an adventure and thus we decided to give Culebra another shot (and yes, we did provide full disclosure as to what transpired on our last trip to Culebra). We planned out the day – go on a Monday to avoid large crowds, we would take the ferry over AND back this time, and we packed no shortage of food, water and sunscreen.

When we arrived in Fajardo we were pleasantly surprised to see no line at the ticket window. There are two things that we’ve been told about getting to Culebra by the locals: 1)get reservations and 2)buy a round trip ticket. Well, we were never able to reach anyone on the phone to get reservations (no real surprise there) and they would not sell us a round-trip ticket.  I’m really not sure what we are doing wrong with our travel to/from Culebra.  Clearly we are missing it somewhere – I don’t know – maybe it’s some mean gringo joke and there really isn’t such a thing as a reservation or a round trip ticket to Culebra? Nevertheless, we boarded right on time and had a very uneventful hour and a half trip over. And with no use for the special white bags they distributed 1/2 way through the sailing – it was a blessed trip indeed.

Once we arrived at Culebra, we boarded a bus for Flamenco beach and we were off…

And so was: THE SUN.

We really felt we had thought through everything – and I think we did – we just never bothered to check a weather report. Culebra gets a relatively small amount of rain per year (35 inches per year, I’m told) and the climate actually resembles that of a desert in many ways – except of course, the two days that WE have visited.The rain started as soon as we got to the beach and and let up about the time we were packing up to go for the day ;)  Thankfully, Scott had packed a tent at the last minute which at the time I probably made some snide remark about him taking “everything and the kitchen sink”. But it turned out to be probably the most useful thing we did take as it came in handy to have a dry place to store all our things…and it also kept Grammy nice a dry as well :)

Despite the rain – we had a really good time. Turns out, people don’t really go to the beach on stormy days so we pretty much had the place to ourselves and once you got in the water you forgot all about the rain.

Flamenco Beach

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Abby enjoying the waves

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Sarah having fun on the beach

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Waiting for the ferry home - no problems getting tickets back this time! And notice our lack of sunburn? See,  blessings all around.

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Apr 21

Family Fun – Lago dos Bocas


Posted under All in the family, Life, Trips & Tours by MicheleP.

We’ve had a great time with our newest group of guests and packed a ton of stuff in 10 days! One of the new adventures we tried was Lago dos Bocas (lake of the two mouths). This is located west of San Juan in the town of Utuado. At this lake, you board a boat and go to one of 4 restaurants (free boat service provided by the restaurants). You can also drive around the lake to the restaurants but that seems to take away from the experience, IMHO. We chose the Villa Attabeira. It reminded me of a KOA campground – circa 1980. There were little cabanas to rent and places to pitch tents, playgrounds, a swimming pool (that was not something I would actually swim in) as well as a totally open air restaurant (which is only open on weekends). The food was all very local Puerto Rican cuisine and was actually quite good, the portions very generous and the service was attentive. This was a great little side trip for the day – and it wasn’t screeming “TOURISTS – COME… LET US RIP YOU OFF WITH BAD FOOD, CHEESY DECOR AND LOUSY SERVICE!!” It was a great “local” tourist attraction and we’ll definately add it to our toolbelt when entertaining out o towners.

The boatride to the restaurant

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Arriving at the grounds of the Villa Attabeira

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Looking up at the restaurant

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Mar 30

Busy week (part two)


Posted under All in the family, Life, Puerto Rico, Trips & Tours by MicheleP.

We ended the week with a trip to El Morro, Old San Juan and Condado.

We had a great time at El Morro and went inside the fort this time. You could easily spend a couple of hours going through all the exhibits – we didn’t see but a fraction of it all.

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After spending the morning downtown, we headed home for some lunch & naps before heading back to the city for dinner. After a short rainshower, this is what greeted us on the way in:

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We had dinner at La Hacienda – a little waterfront restaurant in Condado. Our food wasn’t great – actually, it was quite bad and neither Mimi nor Pop were fans of the mofongo. We might have to find a new restaurant with a view for our next round of guests.

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Today we went to church and then Mimi and I did some shopping. That pretty much wraps up our week. Oh yeah, the governor was arrested this week, so there’s THAT.

Tomorrow is Mimi and Pop’s last day :( and I think we are going to have a lazy beach day.

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