Thursday, February 19, 2009

Puerto Rico Points of Interest

Grab a snack and settle in cuz this is going to be a long one. I'm BACK and I've got lots to talk about!!!
Because GI Joe is employed full time with our nation's military (hence the name GI Joe), on occasion we are able to take advantage of certain perks such as hopping on a refueler jet with a bunch of Air Force and Air Guard guys and girls headed to tropical destinations such as Hawaii and Puerto Rico, free of charge. I love this part of GI Joe's job. Anyway, our trip to Puerto Rico was one of those perks. In the past, we've taken the kids but this time we decided to just make it the two of us. Like I said, I think it was yet another attempt to make up for our first Valentine's Day back in 1997. I really will tell you that story eventually. But I think he finally did it, we had a fantastic time and the fact that it was 85 and sunny the whole time we were there didn't hurt at all.
You may or may not know this about me but I am a Type A planner, firstborn child, to the max. Sometimes it drives my family nuts because on vacations I have an itinerary for each day of the trip usually in spreadsheet format complete with prices, hours of operation, etc. I scour the internet and make a ton of calls months in advance to find out about the tourist attractions, history of the area, climate, and the best hotels for the best rates, always pulling my "do you have a military discount?" card. I'm not ashamed. Part of the fun in parties, vacations, major events for me is the planning. I know I'm weird.
I tell you this to tell you about my experiment in spontaneity. Because it was just GI Joe and I going on the trip and the Air Force peeps were being typical hush hush about the details such as exact time of landing, location, etc, I decided it would be a good time for me to loosen up and NOT plan or book anything, just to go with the flow. That's not to say that I didn't spend hours researching and reading about the island of Puerto Rico, finding out what the sights were, where to stay/where not to stay, hotel and car rates but I didn't BOOK anything. You have to know that this was a huge stretch for me and upon landing in Puerto Rico I was sure it was going to be the death of me. But we survived and it actually worked out great that I hadn't booked hotels in advance because we never would have happened upon the very adorable boutique hotel we stayed in the last 2 nights if I had booked ahead. The internet does NOT know everything! Don't tell anyone but the lack of itinerary was a bit freeing. Not that we'll be doing it this way on our next family vacation but for this trip it was perfect, even though GI Joe on more than one occasion had to tell me to relax and settle down. :)
Here a few of the highlights from our trip:
*Because we were on a military flight we had to sit thru a "pre flight briefing" in which one of the plane crew members said these exact words, "You'll find inflatables and oxygen masks near your seats but if we have to ditch the plane it's going to be a very bad day." I think he was trying to tell us that no amount of inflatables or oxygen masks would save us, it was so comforting.

*The Amazing Race like scene where we RAN, dragging our luggage, while dodging crazy Puerto Rican drivers, from one rental car place to another trying to find one that still had cars available. P.S. GI Joe and I will NEVER EVER appear on Amazing Race, while it might make for very entertaining television it would not be so great for our marriage. We did finally get a car, thank goodness.

*The $75 parking ticket received because we couldn't read all the Spanish mumbo jumbo on the sign. Whatever Puerto Rico, you're an American territory put your street signs in Spanish AND English, especially at tourist attractions. Apparently it said something about No Parking Reserved for some kind of Officiales. Anyone know what happens if you don't pay a Puerto Rican parking ticket?

*I saw a glimpse of GI Joe and I in the future when I overhead a conversation between a lovely retired couple one afternoon on the beach. It was getting late in the afternoon and the sun was losing it's bronzing powers so the old man turned to his wife and said "Honey, I think the sun is just about gone, whaddya say we pack up and head out?" To which the wife responded with "It's just between the buildings right now, let's move our towels up a little....ahhh there's the sun." The old man then just sat down with an exasperated sigh on his newly positioned blanket while she continued her sunbathing until no amount of moving towels would bring the sun back. Priceless and totally us.

*Having a policeman interpret my order for a TACO to the no habla ingles cashier at the taco joint. Seriously...TACO. Isn't that a universal word in the English and Spanish language? Apparently not.

*The near death experiences that occurred everytime we got in the car and attempted to drive somewhere. These people made my driving skills look like a professional driver's ed teacher. Scary thought right?

*The coronary attack I had when we were swimming at the beach and GI Joe dangled a piece of seaweed in front of my face and said "Look it's a sea snake!" And then he nearly drowned from laughing so hard at me trying to run in chest high water while screaming hysterically. Why is my fear of creepy things so darn funny? Strike one on VDay Revival mission.

*The tour of the Bacardi Rum factory. But you don't drink you might say. Very true we don't, but we were trying to do things outside of our norm (remember the experiment in spontaneity?) and the tour came highly recommended even for non drinkers. And it WAS very interesting. After seeing how it's done, learning the history of all the cockails rum is used for, and smelling the molasses that rum comes from for an hour, I could've easily become a lush. Good thing we're Baptist.

*When our shuttle bus carrying us and 6 of the plane crew to our plane on the morning of our departure broke down in the middle of a very very busy street and we were already 30 minutes late due to no fault of our own......awesome.

*Seeing an establishment called "Condom World" every few miles in certain areas. We didn't stop to check it out (really we didn't!) but I can only imagine. Actually, it's better that I don't imagine but still I think Puerto Rico may be a bit shady.

*The amount of pink houses. We didn't see one single normal colored house they were all painted in Carribean colors like sea foam green, sky blues, pink, salmon, turquoise, etc. And it looked very tasteful somehow. Maybe it was the bars on the windows that really set the color off.

*I would make a great Puerto Rican woman, except for the blonde hair and complexion, oh and my inability to speak Spanish. But other than that I could totally do it. You see those ladies LOVE shoes and jewelry as much as I do. They don't mess around when it comes to footwear, no sneakers or Old Navy flip flops here. They are all about the heels. I'm not kidding I didn't see one local woman dressed in anything but cute high heels no matter her age, what she was doing or where we were at. It was amazing. They definitely dress to impress.

I may or may not post a few photos of the trip, it will depend on what they look like after editing. It was pretty obvious that I haven't been faithful to Bob and the Biggest Loser Boot Camp in the recent past. I'm coming back Bob. Or maybe it was because I didn't get any retakes since it was usually complete strangers taking our picture, and it felt a bit demanding, even for me, to review the picture, declare it unsatisfactory, and ask them to retake it!

On a sidenote, thanks Iowa for welcoming us back with 29 degrees and wind. Oh yeah why would we ever want to leave you?!?

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