Friday, April 5, 2013

We are Positive People!

It’s a fact of life (especially in Puerto Rico) that things don’t always go according to plan. Yet with a bit of positive thinking and a “glass half full” attitude, it’s generally possible to salvage a pretty great time.

Take, for example, the first three days of my friend Lauren’s visit to Puerto Rico over spring break. 

On Friday afternoon, I picked her up from the airport in the rain.  In an attempt to be an excellent tour guide, I swung us through Old San Juan before turning towards Guayama.  Well, first we hit traffic on the cobblestoned streets of the old city, and then, as we were stopped in a bottle neck, a man on the sidewalk tapped on my window and motioned to the passenger rear tire, saying, “Una goma vacia.”  Wonderful.  The story of our tire change, which took over an hour, is enough to merit its own blog post.    Suffice it to say that we were delayed enough to miss our dinner plans (which ended up being okay, because it was Good Friday and the restaurant we’d been planning on was most likely closed anyway, so my friends opted to eat at home).  We stopped at Dominos on our way to my house, since the major chains were still open.

Saturday morning, the plan was to visit San German and see the Conventa de Porta Coeli—the 2nd oldest church in Puerto Rico.  There’s a museum attached, and we’d read it was worth a visit.  I’d never been to San German either, so this day was to be a new experience for both of us.  We did our research and noted that the church was only open Wednesday through Sunday, so we planned accordingly for Saturday.  We got there without getting lost (well, we did miss an exit and have to turn around…but no big deal), and found the church with no problem.  Unfortunately…it was closed.  A guard told another tourist that the hours have recently changed to be Monday-Friday.  So no church for us. 
Porta Coeli (closed)

At least the town is pretty, though.  San German is the 2nd oldest city in Puerto Rico, and the city center is quaint.  Like  Old San Juan, but without the manicured perfection.  The streets are cobblestoned, but not in blue.  Some buildings are impeccably painted in bright colors, but not each one.  To me, it seemed in a way more real than Old San Juan, if that makes sense.  Anyway, we wandered around for about half an hour, then came back towards Guayama.

San German, PR

Easter Sunday, despite cloudy skies and spatterings of rain, we piled into the car and headed to Ponce before 8:00am.  We boarded the ferry to Caja de Muertos with no problem, and the boat pulled away from the harbor more or less on time.  But then it got to the mouth of the bay and turned around.  The captain explained that due to the weather, we would wait 10 minutes to see if wind directions changed, and then see whether it would be possible to go to the island for the day.  Long story short, the trip was cancelled, the day stayed cloudy/rainy, and rather than going to one of Puerto Rico’s most beautiful beaches, we ended up at Chiriopolis in Arroyo. 

On Monday, thankfully, our luck started to turn around.  But even before it did, we kept smiles on our faces (thank goodness Lauren is such a good sport!) and made the best out of each day.  We had a great time Friday night hanging out with Robert, Sonja, Scott, and their visitors on the roof of the apartments.  Saturday night we had a fantastic meal at Musafa and enjoyed time with Kelsey and Kezia.  Sunday we were at least on a beach, it didn’t really rain on us once we got there, and we had good company (and another good dinner that night).  And as Lauren pointed out, for her, rain over palm trees was still preferable to Wisconsin’s current snowy situation. 

Monday, everything actually went according to plan.  We hiked Toro Negro in perfect weather, made it to Corona West for an hour or so in the afternoon, and enjoyed Mexican for dinner.  (Okay, the only hiccup on Monday was that originally we were going for Thai food, but that restaurant was closed.  It ended up okay though, because as we got to know our waiter at Tequila’s and told him we’re from Wisconsin, we found he’d been in the National Guard and at Fort McCoy, and even remembers the mall in La Crosse.  Small world!)  

On top of the watchtower in Toro Negro

Near the start of La Piscina Trail in Toro Negro

Tuesday was pretty great.  We visited El Yunque (had great weather), went to Luquillo in the afternoon and Lauren finally got to see the way a PR beach looks in the sunshine (bright blue water and soft sand…and lots of palm trees).  Dinner at a restaurant in the strip of kioscos in Luquillo, and then we did the bio bay tour in Fajardo.  We had a great night for it, as the clouds completely blocked out the moon and the water lit up brightly. 

El Yunque National Forest

Luquillo, pR

And Wednesday, our last day together, couldn’t have been better.  We left Guayama pretty early and made for Old San Juan.  We only hit a bit of traffic, and enjoyed a late breakfast at Café Mallorca.  The rest of the day included El Morro, a fantastic lunch at El Jibarito, my first ever visit to the capitol, and a sunny stroll along Paseo de la Princesa.  We finished the night at our hotel with a bit of relaxation and went to bed really content with our vacation. 

El Morro, Old San Juan

el capitolio de Puerto Rico

fountain along Paseo de la Princesa

So you see…a bit of positive thinking the first few days brought us some pretty perfect days our last three together.  

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