Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Snorkelopolis

I love snorkeling...while I'm snorkeling. But I noticed today when I was preparing to take my post-all-day-in-the-sun nap, that when I'm not snorkeling, but only thinking about snorkeling, there are always LOTS of sharks and strong undertows that tend to send little rushes of adrenaline through me, making it difficult to fall asleep. But during the actual experience today, I saw the most amazing fish - some kind of parrot fish - that had green scales that were pink underneath and a yellow, blue and orange tail - all iridescent and simply lovely!
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We saw a school of bluish-grey fish that just did not seem to mind if you followed them around. I saw about 3 or 4 little barracuda, but I didn't realize it until after. Not sure if I'd have followed as close if I'd known. Saw a white fish that disappeared against the sandy bottom except for a bright yellow stripe down its side. But the most amazing thing I saw today, and certainly since I've arrived, was a sea turtle! I followed it until I thought the danger of the boat leaving before I could make it back was getting a little high for my comfort zone. He would keep one eye on me, but wasn't too nervous, as he swam (it looked like he was flying!) around and surfaced for air every couple of minutes. After the second stop - on Flamingo beach - I lay on the roof of the boat, absorbing both the heat from the...whatever boat roofs are made of...from below and the sun from above. Just when I thought I may actually overheat, a cool breeze would blow over me and everything was perfect again.
Perfectly warm

Thanks to 15 SPF, the only damage I've sustained is some noticeably widened freckles. Also, I may have a permanent mark around my eyes from having my mask too tight. But I'm not quite sure yet how to make it not leak and also not cut off the circulation in my face. I suspect that will be covered when I start taking Scuba lessons in April. Hopefully Scuba will be fun enough when I'm actually doing it to nullify my daymares of sharks and malfunctioning equipment!

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Ponce

Slept in today and then took a 1.5 hr drive southwest to the second largest city in PR, Ponce. Robert was only in the mood to drive with the pedal to the metal, NOT sightsee. Through begging, I did get him to park by the central plaza and old fire house for about three minutes so I could take some photos.
Fire House

Then we drove up to the Museo Castillo Serralles (The Seralles Castle) for a tour. It was quite beautiful and Robert was quite cranky. I enjoyed just seeing more of the local flavor of the city - the pastel colored houses and Catholic School children in uniforms. On the way home, we got caught in a rainstorm. Because the A/C was cranked up to high, I rolled down the window and stuck my hand out to feel how strange it is to be in some Oregon style rain while the weather is still warm, and the answer is: Strange!
I took a short walk on the beach at dusk.
Full Moon

It rained in San Juan as well today so everything was pretty wet but still quite comfortable and of course, peaceful as all get-out. It'll be an early night tonight as we are being picked up by Robert's Aunt and sister tomorrow morning at 7:45 for the trip to Culebra for some more snorkeling.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Further Adventures...in PR

Sunday Robert and I drove to the rain forest (El
Yunque). I climbed up the tower for a spectacular 360
degree view of the forest - just beautiful!
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But since
it's winter, it's the dry season so no rain in the
forest that day. There are a LOT of little lizzards
running around which I LOVE!
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Once in college I owned
a teeny little anole named...Opie. He was the love of
my life for about two weeks before he passed on to
that great anole farm in the sky. I used to harvest
miniature bug colonies from the moss on the tree
outside for him to eat. Sweet little Opie...
Anyway - rainforest - COOL! Today we got up at the
crack of dawn and went with a group of young tourists
on a Catamaran to an Island off of Fajardo for my
first time snorkeling! I was super nervous but MAN
was it fun!
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It was so awesome we're going to join a
friend of theirs who are taking a boat to Culebra,
another island to the East of PR on Wednesday. I saw
so many different kinds of fish I've never seen before
and managed not to swallow too much water or get eaten
by sharks or baraccuda. Robert's mom got the night
off from cooking tonight since we went to a restarant
called Tropical. We were joined by Robert's sister
and Aunt. I've never heard so much simultaneous
conversation in all my life! I put myself in their
hands since I couldn't read the menu and got a
wonderful Mahi-Mahi with coconut sauce - just
spectacular! After dinner Robert and I connected his
laptop to his mom's brand new wireless DSL so we are
both tapping away on Yahoo.
Also, last night I learned how to play Rummikub (sp?)
so watch out game people - I am SO going to buy this
game and make you play it with me!
Tomorrow we take a longer drive to the second largest
city, Ponce. Not sure what to do once we get there -
must check out the guidebook tonight.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Arrived in San Juan

I would like to start out by letting Jessica know that Dag bought me a copy of the Gunslinger at Powells before I left for the airport!   So I will want to borrow book 2 when I get back!

Arrived well in San Juan Friday afternoon. I slept through both flights so was reasonably well rested. Robert picked me up at the airport and drove willy-nilly back to his mom's place, where we're staying for the week.   I had forgotten how much Robert loves the gas pedal.  A LOT!

After dinner, we careened through Old San Juan and then walked through the neighboorhood and spent a couple of hours catching up on each other's lives at a local bar.   There was some big important baseball game going on and every once in a while you could hear boisterous cheers coming from all nearby establishments as every one had a TV showing the game.   Baseball is HUGE here.  We passed a bus with heavy police escort which turned out to be full of the Cuban baseball team…no doubt here for some other big important game.

Despite all the plane-sleeping I did, I could not stay awake to watch Conan O'Brian's show about how much he resembles Finland's president, who just happens to be a woman.   I was doing the uncontrollable head-jerk thing and had to slink off to bed.  Due to some conflicting vacationing planning, I'm sharing a room with Robert's mom's pal from NJ, who has been here visiting as well.   She's very nice and did not complain about my snoring at all.

I slept in til 10am this morning and after an enormous breakfast, including my first taste of fried Spam, we drove back to Old San Juan, this time parking and walking around.
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We took a tour through El Morro, the wall that surrounds the old city.


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  Every Puerto Rican family was in the field flying kites.   The weather is so beautiful (no thunderstorms yet, Dag!).  Every once in a while I need to picture the snowy cold I left behind in Pórtland just so I'll apréciate this all the more.   Please excuse the strange punctuation.  I'm using a spanish version of Word so it keeps autocorrecting in random accent marks and changing my words into the closest posible Spanish Word.   As I type, almost every word has a red wiggly line under it.  After Old San Juan, Robert and I shared a Sándwich Cubano from a place across the street.   Inside, it had ham AND pork, but I'm on vacation diet this week, which reminds me, I had some really yummy almond choclate ice cream at Basksin Robbins!!!   When Robert's mom returned from her baby shower, she took us for a drive to Pinones, where you can drive your car on these little roads of sand between the concrete road and the actual beach.   We listened to the Three Tenors and robert and his sister and their mom yelled at each other pretty much the entire way, but that's  just how they communicate.   I'm having a hard time staying awake this afternoon.  Well, it's almost dinnertime.  I'm not sure what's planned for tomorrow.   Maybe something more low key as we plan to take a snorkeling excursion on Monday.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Packing for PR

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I noticed on weather.com today that it's raining in Puerto Rico but I don't care because it's also in the high 80s. It can snow if it wants to as long as it stays in the high 80s!
So by this time tomorrow, I should be sitting in the airport on about chapter three of the Gunslinger, which my sister has agreed to loan me for the trip. I read the first three books some time in the early 90s I believe and just never got back into it. Now I need to start over since I remember absolutely nothing about it except that I liked it a lot. Something about a man and a journey...

Trying to learn from my last travel pitfalls, I have been doing my best to NOT get overly excited about this trip! I mean, yes, I'm totally looking forward to it, but I try to keep that thought distant so as not to guarantee a bout of post-travel depression. All the weird feelings about going without Dag help a lot because I don't feel right gushing about it to him. I've only had the stomach-flippy thing from thinking about the trip on two occasions!

A couple of nights ago I dreamt that my dad gave me a ride to the airport only I was going to Paris. Once I got there and he'd driven away, I realized I'd forgotten my passport and also that I wasn't sure when my plane left and couldn't find my itinerary or a screen at the airport. I got home somehow and located my passport and was trying to figure out my flight on the internets but the airline's website was all in French. My alarm clock rescued me.