Archive for the R&R in PR Category

That’ll be 100 knockers!

Posted in R&R in PR on August 17, 2011 by robdc

I love PR and I seriously do believe that I will retire here one day. This trip was planned rather quickly because of the expiration dates on the free tickets we got when AirTran bumped us last year. A big thanks to AirTran for that because this was a much needed respite, and one hell of a time for such a hastily planned trip. When we got to town we didn’t mess around, we knew what we were doing this time. We got in, picked up the keys at my aunt’s amazing house in San Juan and ran to Yabucoa. When we got there we bug bombed the place right away which forced us to party outside for the 4 hours and change it takes to properly evacuate the place of any possible bugs.

IMG_1867IMG_1871

IMG_1873IMG_1876

Then we made grilled Cheese!

IMG_1878IMG_1880

The next two days we indulged in the main event here in Yabucoa, the beach. It was insanely packed compared to the last time we were here (there were 8 other people stretched across the half mile or so) but we managed to carve out a nice chunk of beach for ourselves.

IMG_1955_tonemappedIMG_1994_tonemapped

I was even able to sneak some rock climbing in…

IMG_2011_tonemappedIMG_2014_tonemapped

This place has a soothing quality I can’t really put into words, it makes me feel like I’m home. Screw the fact that there’s no AC and there are animals that could kill you all over the place, I want property here.

Next we landed on our god damned feet, yet again. We went to San Juan intending to take my aunt out to dinner, unfortunately she had previous plans and couldn’t join us but when we arrived it became evident that something was going on. I had never seen San Juan like this, there were people dancing in the streets, there was live music everywhere and food, dear god the food. We had stumbled into San Juan’s culinary festival and it ended up being some of the most fun I’ve ever had in this city.

IMG_2029_tonemappedIMG_2034_tonemapped

IMG_2050_tonemappedIMG_2051_tonemapped

We finished with a meal at Raices, the restaurant Rafa brought us to the last time we came through San Juan in October. It was delectable and not a single complaint was heard.

The drive home was basically right out of an episode of I love Lucy, we were coerced to and from old San Juan a total of 3 times either by mismarked highway signs or defective electronics. One thing we have learned about PR is that GPS does not do this place well. We headed back to the house (which I now know is named Macondo) and had a little dance party before turning in for the night.

IMG_2062IMG_2059IMG_2058

The next day we awoke to a challenge, one no one had any idea was coming. We were headed into El Yunque, the closest rainforest, for a hike. Amber had been here and been down a trail before, she warned us that there were “a lot of ups and downs” but that the trail was manageable. Normally people approach this place from the north, coming from San Juan, but since we were coming from Yabucoa we were coming in from the south. The drive was exciting, it was the closest I’ve ever come to rally car racing. I said on more than one occasion that I felt like it was something I should have paid for, it was fun, as in purely fun. It was perilous and at times we were on the edge of a mountain passing oncoming traffic with only an inches margin of error and I loved it. Much to our chagrin, the road was blocked only about a mile into the rainforest so we couldn’t get to the hike that Amber was familiar with, but there was a trail that started where the road was closed so we decided to divert our plans. The sign said that the hike was “challenging” and had highlights of a bridge and a river, that was enough for us. We started the hike and almost immediately it became clear that we were out of our element. The “trail” was rife with quicksand like mud pits that wanted to suck your shoes off. Thank god Amber suggested that we bring the music to have a soundtrack because I fear that without it we might have turned on each other. At one point we encountered some running water and we had to make the decision on whether or not to cross. I think this is someone’s idea of a joke.

IMG_2074_tonemapped

Apparently a piece of string counts as a bridge here because that’s all we got, not exactly a point of interest. We did stop for a bit and soak in the freezing (and phenomenally refreshing) pure mountain water.

IMG_2068_tonemapped

Then we kept on. From this point on the hike turned from taxing to down right dangerous, since no one had been this far down the trail in god knows how long, we were clearing the path of spider webs as we went on and on more than a few occasions the “path” led us along a sheer drop and broke, so you’d have to step over a gap to not fall to your death, or at very least the birth of a shitty day.

In all we ended up hiking for the better part of 5 hours, we were beaten but we conquered a mountain and we all felt a supreme sense of accomplishment for it, even though we all looked like hell. On the way back we encountered two stupid gentlemen who had just begun the trek in flip flops, we offered no warning, too bad, so sad. We hopped in our KIA and began the rally race home.

What do you do after you have stared mother nature in the face and let her beat the crap out of you? Why, you play monopoly of course… In what is quickly becoming a tradition when I pay a visit to Macondo, we had a game night. Megan had her heart set on playing a real deal game of monopoly. Much to my surprise, I had never actually finished or even really gotten into a real game before. I was completely unfamiliar with the boon of hotel buying and the bargaining rules were totally alien to me. As the straggler shots (we were running pretty low on the usuals so the concoctions we were drinking were less than favorable at times) kept flowing the game got more fun and we had one hell of a time.

IMG_2086IMG_2105

IMG_2130IMG_2131

For no reason, here are a couple of shots from a vantage point higher up on the mountain.

IMG_2064_tonemappedIMG_2085_tonemapped

Once again I need to thank my aunt Mari for being the beyond gracious host that she is and allowing us to have this amazing time. Yabucoa is the place of my dreams and her facilitating our ability to make it a reality is a gift that I’ll be struggling to repay. Thanks Tia Mari and thanks Puerto Rico, we will see each other again soon and there will be much whiskey involved, I promise.

Coje lo,

Robbie

Advertisements

Now boarding Zone 99, Seat ‘?’

Posted in R&R in PR on November 3, 2010 by robdc

Psych! Leaving PR? Not so much. Although I fly standby as much as possible, this was not one of those times, we bought seats on this flight and were confident that we’d be home when we all planned. Apparently the airline industry and the universe had different plans for us.

We checked in at the airline and got some very strange language from the airline employee that was attending to us, even though 2/3 of us were fluent in Spanish, we all came away from the encounter with different ideas. I was harkening back to standby flights and assumed we got bumped but remembering that we paid for seats, quickly I chalked it up to my misunderstanding. Long story short, here’s our flight leaving without us:

IMG_0936 We were told that we had boarding passes but no seats and the flight had been overbooked… What?! Our boarding passes literally had a boarding zone of 99 and seat number ‘?’ I was hoping these people were just messing with us. In fact when I brought up my interpretation of what had been said to us the dude at the counter said to us in English “I am not at all saying that you won’t get on this plane.” Lied right to our faces.

So here we are at the San Juan Airport Hotel with our trip unintentionally extended one day, wondering what to do with our time.  Dinner seems like the most important factor so we head to Isla Verde to see what’s popping off on a Monday night.

IMG_2848

With dinner at spice and a bit of time at the ritz casino we managed to make the best of a bad situation but it still kinda sucks to have your itinerary edited by factors that are completely out of your control. Either way thanks again PR, see you sooner than later I’m sure.

Cojelo,

Rob

Boom goes the dynamite!

Posted in R&R in PR on November 3, 2010 by robdc

I don’t want to sound like we didn’t do anything on this trip because we did plenty but we had a dope spot with a dope beach and we just enjoyed the hell out of that combo for a good portion of the journey. We’d wake up, put ourselves together and head to the beach, do that for a few hours and head back to the palace, where it then became the ‘us show’ and we just cracked wise and ran around making each other lose our shit for the rest of the night. Doing this for more then one day in a row somehow mysteriously negates the law of diminishing marginal utility.

IMG_2680 IMG_2795

I present exhibits A and B, Keara doing the same thing (‘fun hooping’ with her neck) both during the day at the beach and back at the house, both acts equally hilarious although happening during two different times and in very different settings.

IMG_2669  IMG_2647 IMG_2645

Epic rock wave crashes along the abandoned beach, Megan’s steeeeek and volcanic sand, all fueled by mango mimosas add up to 6 very happy nomads.

I have to mention that the surf was pretty rough. I mean, entertaining but rough. We got our asses handed to us quite a bit by the waves. Riding a couple in resulted in more than one or two bruises and scratches among the group.  We also weathered a serious storm or two in the water. Being from south Florida most of us were used to 20 min tropical storms but usually hiding inside a building. Choosing to challenge nature (more than one Forest Gump reference was made during the maelstrom) was probably a stupid choice but what the hell, we’re on vacation. I will admit I’ve never just taken a rainstorm like that and the feeling was a level of invigorating that I seldom experience, especially when we were committed to doing it repeatedly, at least 2 or 3 different storms over the time we spent at the beach. We later found out that a hurricane had threatened the south coast of the island and we were throwing hands with it’s bastard children, not to say that we are any smarter for having chosen to deal with that first hand but we did and I think we all enjoyed the hell out the conflagration, some of us may have more bruises and scars to show for it then others but I can assure you that no one regrets the experience. This trip really couldn’t last long enough, I want to live here, but we’re packing it up and riding out tomorrow so this is probably the last of PR for 2010, again I can’t thank Tia Mari and Rafa enough for accommodating us and making this trip possible, I’m beyond positive that I’ll be back sooner than later and we’ll have another great time.

IMG_0933 IMG_0932

Closing thoughts are the view from a restaurant in Yabucoa and Michelle opening some pineapple juice with a steak knife and a bottle of rum, because I think that sums the trip up pretty well.

Cojelo con take it easy to everyone who made this possible.

Rob

Yo no quiero agua! Yo quiero bebida!!!

Posted in R&R in PR on November 3, 2010 by robdc

I’m not a man who loves to admit mistakes but if there is one I thought I had committed on this trip it’s that I didn’t plan much of anything out… at all. I had a place to stay that I had no Idea the condition of, all of us arrived at different times spread over 2 days and food wasn’t even a thought, which is rare for me. So, with that said, I’m actually incredibly surprised with the quality of food we’ve been having. We didn’t have any restaurants we wanted to try ahead of time or anything like that we just ran around and the result was not at all disappointing. When the whole group arrived we agreed on a restaurant in old San Juan called Raises, like many an arrival on our part, we had no idea what to expect.

IMG_0918 IMG_0919

That’s mofongo relleno de churrasco and the chuleta kan kan. The english translations of which are “plantain stuffed with steak” and “super giant pork chop,” the names were very fitting.

The next order of business was provisioning for our weekend in the mountains, so off to the shops we were. As you have to remember there were 6 people staying in one house for about 4 days so it was imperative that we not skimp on the necessities.

IMG_0922 IMG_0921

Our obsession with tiny beers would continue throughout our stay here but it makes perfect sense. Although this is not my first run in with tiny beers the logic behind them is sound. Being in a tropical location a smaller beer will be consumed at a quicker pace, keeping them cool during the duration of the experience. The only problem I had with this packaging option is that they still came in 6 packs, if you’re going to be selling me bottles that hold less liquid it seems only natural that you include more bottles to offset the loss, but I digress.

The first night was insane, we were so happy that the house was as amazing at as it was, perched mountainside overlooking the beach, we threw back a few and got a good nights rest in preparation for the next day’s exploits. When I awoke (on the couch in the living room and not the bed I had claimed) Megan was cooking up fried ham and cheese sammiches for the bunch. I happily accepted.

IMG_0923  IMG_9657

I also stuffed my face with doritos. That night we ventured out, Brandon and I’s usual tactic of hopping on the interwebs or pulling out our phones and booting yelp weren’t doing much good out in Yabucoa so we did as those before us did and just moved in one direction, hoping to find something decent to eat. Much to the dismay of some of our party members we happened on a local eatery that had “seafood and steak” in the title, that appeased most appetites so we stopped there. I ordered a drink at the bar on our way in then we sat down. Then the bartender walked up and gave us some menus. Shortly after, she came back and asked what we would like to eat. “I want the shrimp cocktail” said Michelle, to which our bartender/server/manager and now cook replied “no you don’t”. So Michelle asked what she did want, and the reply was “conch, I’ve got them alive back there, I kill them and make them up fresh” so conch it was. I ordered a steak and was quickly shot down “no steak,” so I had the snapper, but I have to admit that when the name of your establishment includes “seafood and steak” you should probably put slightly more effort into keeping some steak around. The fresh seafood was way beyond what I expected, seriously well seasoned and savory. Unfortunately we didn’t snap any shots of this stuff but we did get this one picture in the parking lot in front of where we put the car.

IMG_0925 For anyone who doesn’t read Spanish, that says “no horses here” which is apparently a congestion issue in these parts of the island, there was a 4 horse pile up on our way in that cost us at least 30 min.

The next night Rafa brought over some fish he had recently caught and fried them up for us.

IMG_9676 IMG_9671

Some of the girls also got partial to the fresh coconut that Brandon was so keen on getting along the shore the day before.

On the way out for half the group we headed back to old San Juan and had lunch with my Tia Mari and Rafa, we tried our best to thank them for the opportunity to visit this breathtaking place but I feel like some words and a meal just didn’t cut it. Either way the restaurant they chose was beyond any of our expectations.

IMG_2818  IMG_2820

That’s a home made hot sauce that did a better than average job of clearing the sinuses of people who had been beaten by waves for the past few days and a rice dish prepared in a pineapple that Keara had.

IMG_2819 IMG_2821

That’s my Tia Mari (Seriously, can’t thank her enough) and I, followed by what I had at that meal, filet mignon stuffed with a ground chicken and pork deliciousness that should be illegal. You may also notice the home made “tomatoed oil” in the background which went very nicely on the rice.

The last night (or so we thought) it was half the crew and we settled for leftovers, then had a rousing game of Clue.

IMG_2826 IMG_2830

I’m sure we ate more serious meals but the Dewars is weighing heavy on me at the moment and I’m realizing I’ve been typing for way too long so that’s it.

-Drops mic.

Chk itout, chk itout, chk itout…. (read at 10x speed)

Posted in R&R in PR on October 30, 2010 by robdc

Last night ended like any vacation night should end, I promised everyone I would put a dent in every bottle of alcohol in the house and then fulfilled my promise. I”m not sure who was around when I finished this quest but I know for all my bitching about getting first dibs on beds I slept on the couch for lack of want to walk the extra 15 feet to the bed I had won.

IMG_2788 IMG_2629

I awake to bright lights and loud drunks. Megan is an angel from heaven who happily made fried ham and cheese sandwiches for the entire house. Fed and happy we moved on to the real point, we’ve been told the beach here on the south side of the island is pretty nice so we’re all pretty excited about that. We have no idea what we’re in store for and cameras don’t exist that can capture what this place looks like.

IMG_2636 IMG_2634

Somehow we have a mile of beach to ourselves, what in the name of holy hell is going on. I almost wish I was kidding but there was not a single soul other then us on this pristine piece of land. Needless to say we went completely overboard on the liquor/beer and probably drank too much last night so it didn’t take us too long to get back to a solid pace with the medallas flowing like water. The volcanic sand made for some pretty damn epic views also.

IMG_2644 IMG_2671

Inevitably after many hours of drinking in the sun and the particular humor of these very specifically humored people we deteriorated into silly pictures, here’ s a sample.

IMG_2677 IMG_2678 IMG_2676

I don’t even know what to say right now, this is much more then an enjoyable experience. I love Puerto Rico and I love my family for making this trip a possibility, also I love all these maniacs for coming along and cracking jokes the whole god damned time.

2 Chickens do not a farm make

Posted in R&R in PR on October 30, 2010 by robdc

What to say, what did I expect? Tornadoes had most of the mid-east locked down so flights got canceled and delayed. Brandon and Natalia got pushed back a day and I had to sit in an airport bar for a few hours with only a glass of McAllen and this laptop. In the end I got in and my Aunt Mari picked me up from the airport at 2am, I got a couple of hours of sleep and got up to some coffee and pastries. Picked up Brando and Natalia at 10am and headed to old San Juan to kill time. We had some Medallas (the local beer of choice) and walked around Castillo San Cristobal for a while, it was mad hot.

IMG_2612 IMG_2616

Normal tourist shit, look at the fort, feel the heat and keep walking. Then the phone rings, Michelle and Megan are here, time to head back to the airport. Figure out the mess with the car rentals and then Keara’s here. I’d like to throw a serious big up to my Aunt for lending me her car to handle all this nonsense. Now everyone is here, phone gets turned off and the true brainless fun starts. We finally start the trek to the mysterious beach house, what should be a 45 minute drive.

Yea, that didn’t happen. Of course the drive was fun, we talked mad shit and had a phenomenal time the whole way out but somehow found ourselves on some scary ass roads, if you could call them that. Since I had been preparing myself for a wide variety of situations I was not first to raise a red flag about the road conditions or these mountain inclines, but some of the girls were audibly disturbed by the situation. We were clearly lost as hell. Some recalibration of our technology and we found ourselves at the elusive house. I don’t know how else to put this, I love this place. Here’s our view from the door:

IMG_2626 IMG_2631

I might move here.

En el campo vivo bien

Posted in R&R in PR on October 30, 2010 by robdc

I had such a good time the first time around that I thought it would be selfish to not share this beautiful place with some friends. This time around the trip is slightly different, no fishing trip, no lounging around San Juan. This time my aunt has given us the distinct pleasure of a relaxing few days at their beach house in Yabucoa. If I were a better son I’d know what the beach house looked like as my mother visited it last time we came but I was on the fishing trip mentioned just a few words ago, so I had no idea what to expect, and the versions I got from my mom and my cousin were so varying that the place had built itself up as a bit of a mystery. I tried to present everything as plainly as possible “we’re not doing anything, I want to go down there and sit in the sand, drink and read.” I thought that would be a very un-enticing invitation but it was honest, that’s really all I want to do. Somehow 5 other people thought that sounded like a good way to pass time so here we are… we’ll see how the trip actually turns out but with this group all I do know is that there will be a great deal of laughing. 

IMG_2605

%d bloggers like this: