After what feels like an eternity of education, Brittany and I both graduated! We both walked at the Ceremonies on April 23, 2010. To celebrate, we took a small vacation to… PUERTO RICO!
(*Ahem* – Now Brittany is going to take over this blog post. I’m sorry if my part is not as witty as Chris’ part. I’ll do my best.)
PUERTO RICO!! We decided to have a loooong layover on our way to the Dominican Republic. We tried to pack as much adventure into those 3 1/2 days as we could, maybe a little too much adventure. We thought we’d learned everything during our years in school, but our days in Puerto Rico taught us a few very important (and somewhat costly) lessons. We’ll get to those stories a little later.
We have a mini tripod for our camera, and we love it. It makes photos like this possible (I’m not sure I’d want anyone taking a picture of me in a loin cloth anyways -Chris).
As we were driving toward the trail head, we stopped at this overlook, and as we were gazing out over the beautiful forest Chris had a great idea…. let’s look for a geocache!
So, Chris pulled out his handy laptop/cell phone duo. As you can see in the picture, it took a little bit of effort to get reception, but we were successful. With great effort and after more time than we intended, we found the locations to several geocaches in the forest and set out to find them.
After starting our search for the geocache we realized several things: a) we weren’t sure which trail to take to find the geocache b) our GPS was quickly running out of battery c) we had to be out of the park by 6:00pm sharp or they’d close the gate and we’d be locked in the park.
Long story short, we turned on the GPS every twenty minutes to see if we were getting closer. After hiking for probably more than an hour, we think we were fairly close to the top, but it was nearly 5pm. We had to hike down and drive out of the park before 6pm, so we gave up and turned around to hike back. We weren’t entirely sure how long we’d been hiking, so we didn’t know how long it would take to get down. We ran down, just in case. I think we made it down in about half an hour 🙂
The next day we went into San Juan to tour the two fortresses: San Felipe del Morro & San Cristobal. San Felipe (picture on right) was built up over many, many years from a single tower to the huge complex we see today to protect the harbor. San Cristobal was built to protect San Juan from a land attack.
We spent the first part of the day touring San Felipe, and then we ate lunch on the grass in front of the fortress. We’d bought groceries so we didn’t have to eat out as often. Everyday for lunch and dinner we ate two pieces of turkey and a slice of cheddar cheese between two pieces of white bread with a little honey mustard for flavor. Yum. We grew to strongly dislike these sandwiches, but it got us through.
When we went to the third level of San Cristobal we found an iguana just sitting on the grass. I don’t know if an iguana could bite me, scratch me, or otherwise hurt me, but I wasn’t going to take any chances. This is as absolutely close to the iguana as I ever wanted to get. I moved very slowly. The last thing I wanted was a frightened iguana running toward me. We learned later that the people on the island consider them to be a pest. They feed on bugs and therefore thrive in Puerto Rico.
This picture ( 2 below) was taken from the top of San Cristobal fortress and in the distance by the ocean you can see the San Felipe fortress. You can also see part of the wall that used to completely surround old San Juan.
We stopped to take a picture while on top of the San Cristobal fortress. It was neat to see both the old and new parts of San Juan.
We wanted to try some authentic Puerto Rican food, so we asked our tour guide for a recommendation. She told us to go to Cafe Puerto Rico and get a mofongo. So, we did. I was hesitant to try something new, but I was sooo glad we did. I really liked the mofongo. It is mashed plantain that is deep fried (perhaps that’s why its delicious) and then they make a crater in the center which they fill with whatever meat you want.
Now don’t let this next picture fool you. I’m smiling, but I’m not exactly thrilled. We had planned to catch a ferry and visit the island of Culebra which claimed to have “one of the most beautiful beaches in the world.” We were pretty excited, but things didn’t go as planned.
To give a little background information, the condos where we were staying were behind a gate and a wall that had spikes at the top. We were supposed to be parking in the garage attached to the condo, but the gate opener had a dead battery so we had been parking on the street outside the gate and wall. Two nights, no problems.
As we went out to our car that morning after the third night to catch the ferry to the most beautiful beach in the world, we found that our car window had been broken, and someone had searched the car looking for something to steal. Luckily, the night before I had debated it, but finally decided to take everything in with me so there was nothing for them to steal.
Lessons learned: 1) Toyota theft-deterrent system doesn’t really deter a thief 2) A $6 battery and twenty minutes is cheaper than a broken window and half of a day spent exchanging rental cars 3) Some credit cards cover car rental damage, but the name on the credit card and rental car driver have to match. Oops.
Well, there are more stories to tell about Puerto Rico, but this blog post is really long, and I need a lunch break before delving into the second half of our Puerto Rico adventure.
To be continued….