Monday, March 31, 2014

Puerto Rico in March

We made it home from our first weekend trip with JetBlue benefits!  If you follow me on Insta you have a flavor for the tiresome journey... If I've done my math right, I spent 27 hours in transportation/airport time and 18 waking hours in PR. Scott and T did get on an earlier flight (by a true miracle) so they were only ~18 hours in transit.  

But, we learned a lot and I feel like I have a handle on things now.  At the end of the day (well, weekend really), we went to Puerto Rico!  And I have a complete packing list for what we need for an overnight w an almost-2-yr-old.  And we have new memories.   And I got a little sun :)  And Tatum didn't!  Good job to us with the sunscreen!  So logistically, the trip probably was not worth it.  But emotionally, probably yes.
We left for the airport at 2:40am.  Pretty early for a walk across town to the station.

When making plans, we decided to each take a backpack and then my purse with plane toys/food.  But while packing we were able to cut it down to just one backpack and one purse making travel easy peasy.  Her bed is inside the backpack.  She got 10 diapers. And we all just got 1 extra shirt.  

 After taking 3 hours to get our rental car sorted out (our U-Save booking never showed up, we scrambled and ended up with Thrifty which was a good experience!) we were on the road.  The rainy road.  It was about now after an early morning, 4 hour flight and 3 hour rental that we wondered if this whole thing was a good idea...
 And then we got out of the car, took this photo, and suddenly it all became worth it.  That little girl has really stolen my heart the last few weeks especially!  She is SUCH a fun age and such a fun girl.
 We ate some delicious tipico food- fried fish, shrimp and lobster empanadas basically.  And while eating we mentioned to a local guy that we didn't have hotel reservations.  He spent his family lunch calling around to find us the best cheap place and see if they had openings for a Saturday night.  He was so sweet to us and his mom adored T and even let us try her fish dish.  This was only our first of several positive experiences with Puerto Ricans.  At every turn, they went out of their way to help us and make things nice. Reallllly good impression of Puerto Ricans!!

Our lunch spot had good food, but the perfect ambiance and views!!

And then in our efforts to find our hotel, we stumbled upon the missionaries who got in and told us about the work and led us to the Fajardo Inn.  They were so sweet and T was a little confused.  
After a little confusion about the sale price of the hotel room, we got the price and took it, brought our backpack up and put our suits on to hit the beach!  Neither Scott nor I had ever been anywhere in the caribbean, so we were thrilled to finally make it!  I finished sewing my first swim suit ever just in time to bring for Tatum on this trip!  The Seven Seas beach was pretty crowded, so we walked a ways and found a pretty secluded spot.

One of her very best trick was headstands in the sand.  ??? She can't quite correlate doing head/face stands with getting sand in her eyes.  Poor thing!

T's fave part of the hotel was for sure the phone. Loved it.  And the pool was a hit too- she even wore (and liked) her new water wings!!

I stepped on T's tinkerbell fairy and cut a pretty good gash out of the bottom of my foot.  Not cool for a day in the sand.
We cleaned up and after waiting a while on a long wait for roasted pork, we decided to move on and try Los Kioskos.  It's about 50 fried food stalls & definitely a cultural experience.  And it actually did taste better than I anticipated.  We had fried lobster stick, and a fried beef/mashed potato ball.  All 3 of us did get sick.  Which wasn't ideal since we were only there for such a short time.
When morning came, we drove up El Yunque National Forest, sooo beautiful!  It is such a dense intense rainforest not too far off the main road!  It was too early to pay to park, so we skipped the hike, but we did drive to the top and get the feel for the place.  
Luquillo beach is gorgeous.  We wish we had more time to layout here.  It wasn't even 8am when this photo was taken!  I hope we get back here sometime soon!
We stopped at a little hole in the wall for Desayuno (Breakfast).  Delish!
Puerto Rico was so interesting because it was a total mix between third world country and modern america.  Literally half a mile apart are a neighborhood with shattered glass, barred windows and litter in a local barrio, and then a shopping center with Wal-Mart, Sizzler, and Petco.  Oh, and Burlington Coat Factory... tons of big name chain places so close to the rough parts.  I've never seen anything like it.  Also, their Spanish is not a Spanish I've ever heard.  New words for things, a different way of speaking.  For example, "Stop" is not "Alto" in Puerto Rican Spanish, apparently. 
Normally, we try to steer clear of the capital city.  We really didn't even make it a priority for this trip.  But we had an extra hour and decided to see the fort before returning the car.  And boy are we glad we did!  We could definitely spend an entire weekend just in the Old City alone, exploring, flying kites in the field, trying new food, and relaxing on the beach.  This fort was so neat, and it was the highlight of T's entire life.  She ran around for an hour straight, playing hide and go seek and climbing stairs all by herself.  She really had the BEST time.  

First try with a jumping pic!

The people around us said iguanas don't bite, but he looked pretty irritated to me.  I love this photo of my two orange loves!

Puerto Rico was never really high on my "To Travel" list.  But now that I've been there I realize it should have been!  I get pretty sad to think that I may have missed out on this all together.  
Trying to figure out a flight to get on.  We missed the 1pm flight, so listed for 6pm, missed that, and then we got 1 seat on the 9pm flight.  Of course Scott took it to get to work Monday morning, and he took T so she wouldn't have to sleep with me in the airport.  Some gate agents were so nice to tell us about the employee lounge, so at least I had a private space with a comfy chair!  We went to the beach at Isla Verde between the 1 and 6pm flights, so we were all salty and sandy for the whole travel ordeal.  Kind of a nightmare.  So glad I threw in baby powder at the last second to help with the sand!!
 And after the long journey, I rewarded myself with a Jamba for the subway ride home.  

 Overall, we did too much in too short a time.  It wasn't a relaxing weekend.  We should have cut half from our list.  Oh well, now we know.  Until next time, Puerto Rico!  If we ever recover from the traumatic flights, that is!

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