Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving.


Our first Thanksgiving in the Caribbean. 

Sunday, November 10, 2013

$18.00 for one Mojito. Hemingway would have been pissed!

Our weekend away. 

I have to start with, the kids didn't fight that much this weekend. I'm not sure why? They were actually a lot of fun this time. 

We started our adventure in Dorado. Dorado is a large resort area west of San Juan. We spent the night at a very nice hotel on the beach at a golf resort. I didn't get to play golf. This was a work related event. So after the work thing we drove east to the El Conquistador Hotel/Water park. 

Gustazos.com offered a family weekend getaway for 64% off so that is what hooked us. This website offers tremendous discounts on just about everything in PR. We should have brought some food and drinks with us because a bottle of water started at $6.00 each. Ouch!! That 64% discount disappeared quickly. 
This resort is beautiful and offers a free ferry ride to an island with every water sport you can imagine. The food and drink prices still hurt but everyone agreed that this was a better vacation spot than Cancun.

We then took a day off from the water park and went hiking in El Yunque. I was surprised that the kids agreed to leave as they made a bunch of friends at the water park. El Yunque is a rainforest preserve in the mountains west of the resort. After hiking an incredibly steep mountain and fighting the slippery trails in the rain we arrived at a beautiful swimming spot under a waterfall. It was beautiful. 

We left there and had dinner on our way to our next adventure. 

We took a kayaking trip to the bio luminescent bay near Farado. That was worth every penny. Awesome trip and incredibly informative. This bio luminescent bay is one of five left in the world and is considered to be the best of those five. From there we walked to a local park and had dinner with one of the local vendors and listened to a local band. The Pinchos and tostones were amazing. And yes, the $3.00 street drinks are way better than the $18.00 mojitos at the hotel. 

If you have read any of the previous posts you will understand this, eat with street vendors and drink at the restaurants. But I'm thinking it's all better on the street. The locals have it all figured out. 

I have come to the conclusion that this is a true paradise. Living here is like no other place I have ever been. 

Don't be jealous. Someone has to live here. I wonder why we didn't move to the Caribbean sooner. 

I've got to go my $3.00 drink is here. 










The dream


Saturday, November 2, 2013

The cut

Saturday, we got off to a late start. Not sure why. Maybe the island life is starting to hit us. The weather was forecasted to be hotter than normal. Normal is supposed to be in the low to mid 80’s. We have not seen those normal temperatures yet. It always seems to be in the 90’s or 100’s. Basically it’s always super-HOT and super humid!

 

We have some friends that invited us to visit their mountain home. They live high in the mountains. It should be cooler up there, right? So today was a perfect day for a mountain drive. Of course we dealt with the normal, “I have plans. How long are we going to be gone? What are we going to do up there? Can I drive?”  After all of those super important questions were answered we headed out on our mountain drive to find those cooler temps. And no the seventeen year old did not drive.

 

We drove east out of Mayaguez into the mountains toward the town of Maricao. Maricao was the spot of the last strong hold of the original native population. The original natives fled to this mountainous area and hid in the caves and dense forest. Maricao is around 2500 feet above sea level. The roads to Maricao are very dangerous. The roads/trails were originally set up horses and cattle and were later converted to paved roads. The town was founded as a coffee farming area.  Later as coffee production decreased the town moved more into a resort area. Today Maricao is home to one of largest factories in Western Puerto Rico. The German owned company called Fenwal Inc. is located downtown Maricao. They manufacture blood storage devices and transportation equipment for blood related products. Wouldn’t this make a great story line or location for a vampire movie? Maricao also has Puerto Rico’s largest fish hatchery.

 

The drive to Maricao from Mayaguez took us about 45 minutes. We even had to drive up a terrifying one lane road straight up a mountain side. This scared the daylights out of me. I can’t even imagine what sitting in the backseat would have been like. The kids thought it was fun. My lovely bride screamed the entire way up. We ended up on the top of a mountain overlooking valleys, rivers, waterfalls and a mountain that looked like a volcano. This area is by far one of the prettiest we have seen so far and we were above the clouds. 

 

We had a wonderful lunch with our friends and a tour of Maricao. They even showed us several properties that could make a great vacation or weekend home.  The breezes and cooler temperatures make Maricao one of my favorite places on the island. Before leaving we bought some freshly ground coffee from a local store. Gosh, that smelled so good. I love the smell of fresh coffee. We said our goodbyes and headed home. About five minutes later the kids started complaining about the smell of my coffee.

 

It went something like this, “Open the windows! It stinks in here! How can you like that? Can you put that in the trunk? I can’t be in this car all the way home with that smell. Can you drive faster? I was so proud of my lovely bride. She just looked at me and smiled. I knew what she was thinking too. It’s time for the long cut. Besides, driving down that steep mountain road was not something I wanted to do. So I choose a different way home.  My kids knew it when I made that left turn. I could see their faces staring right when I happily made the left. My since of smell was heightened because of the glorious smell of fresh ground coffee.

 

Yes, the famous Long Cut!

 

We drove up and down mountains around crazy turns for what seemed to be hours. It was fun. Plus the extended drive with the smell of fresh ground coffee was heavenly. The frowns from the backseat made the drive that much more enjoyable. We arrived home in less than an hour. My Long Cut wasn’t that bad after all, this time. I am sure I will make up for it next weekend.