(above image was created for andie smith designs blog, using andie smith backgrounds and template, for my most recent article. plug over.)
so ... we're back. obviously.
it was amazing. beyond expectations. amazing. red hat did a perfect job, and the ladies coordinating this thing were so detail-oriented; not a single thing was missed or less than stellar.
basically - and i didn't share this last week because there hadn't yet been an official announcement within the company - this trip was an award for the top 1% of red hat producers and sellers. this was a huge pat on the back to less than 60 people, and we were there with some real bigwigs. it was ... impressive. and so, so humbling. i've always been proud of how genius marc is and how good he is at what he does, but this was proof that others see it, too, and that was pretty darn cool.
okay. gushing over.
thursday we took off at 7 a.m. and flew to atlanta, then san juan. it was a long day on a plane, but we were so excited that the time went quickly. and soon enough, below us was turquoise water and our first glimpse of puerto rico. (full album of pix is here.)
we landed and boarded a bus to el conquistador. the rum started flowing immediately. which was fine by me.
after an hour on the road, we pulled into a hilly, manicured landscape of a rolling golf course, palm trees, mountains, and bougainvillea everywhere. the resort looked huge ... until we walked into the main area and looked out the back and saw the *rest* of the resort and the ocean. this place was massive. and stunning.
(the garden just outside our hotel room door.)
we discovered that to go from the main area of the resort to the marina 250' below, we had to ride a funicular. i shared that news with henry that evening over the phone and he was totally jealous. we've been watching "amazing race" together, and on the first stop the contestants got to ride a funicular and henry thought it looked pretty awesome. so i had to tell him that yes, it was.
that evening there was a welcome party with appetizers, a buffet, an opening address from the ceo, and more rum. we met many nice people, marc got to talk with a few people he's met before, and we got even more excited about the rest of our stay.
friday morning marc had a short meeting, then we headed out on a catamaran snorkeling trip to a small reef about 30 minutes away. for two hours we swam around, looking at fish and feeding them small pieces of bread. we would lay on the surface and schools of fish of all sizes and colors swam just below us. they got so close that marc got nipped on the finger by one. in the last five minutes of our stay at the reef, another snorkeler saw a stingray, so marc and i quickly swam over by him to see. at that point we were the only three people left in the water; i think marc and i could have stayed there all day. we had a buffet lunch on the catamaran, more rum, then the crew put up the sail and we made our way back to the resort.
it was amazing.
and i didn't take my camera.
that night was another buffet dinner, which is misleading for just how elegant it really was. the tables were set up on a terrace, and all the cushions were covered in red (*red* hat ... get it?), the food was fantastic, and the breeze was perfect. it was such a good time.
(i didn't take my camera to that either. this is courtesy of marc's iphone.)
saturday morning was yet another short meeting, then we got on a bus to go to el viejo san juan for the day. we wandered around el morro, the nearly 500 year old fort protecting the island. incredible.
on the grounds of el morro is a large open area where people flock to fly kites. the wind coming off the water was so strong, and the kites were soaring. it was a breathtaking sight.
the fort itself was astonishing ... how something that massive was built so long ago without engineers, technology, etc., is just mind-boggling.
after wandering around el morro, we headed into the town. the architecture was so cool, and the whole vibe was very welcoming.
we ate lunch at barrichina, the birthplace of the pina colada (yes, more rum), and had a yummy seafood paella. marc and i sat with Tour Guide (he didn't give us his real name, and always referred to himself as "tour guide.") and listened to all his stories about his life and puerto rico. he was an amazing man ... degrees in engineering, marine biology, getting his master's in environmental science, and yet he's been a tour guide for 20 years. he takes care of his elderly mother and can't move on with his life. sad, but yet he is so full of enthusiasm for knowledge and sharing that information with everyone who crosses his path. his catchphrase, "check it out!", was heard after every new piece of info he shared with the group. speaking of attention to detail that red hat put into this event? look at Tour Guide's hat:
like i said, nothing was missed.
that night was our night to have dinner on our own. we ate at an amazing seafood place at the resort, then wandered around after dinner to look at the million dollar-plus yachts in the marina.
then we went back to the room, exhausted, and watched "it's complicated." (can i just interject how amazing the kitchen is in meryl streep's house???)
sunday was our day to do whatever we wanted, so we took a seven-minute boat ride to the resort's island, where the beach was. because the resort is on a cliff, the island is where people go when they want sun and sand. we ate lunch as soon as we got off the boat, and realized that there were some locals wandering around ...
after lunch we trekked away from the populated beach and found a quiet, deserted reef. we spent the next two hours bobbing in the water and looking for shells for the kids.
marc found the best conch shell that harper would have adored, but the darn thing still had a crab in it. had to leave it behind, which was such a bummer.
it wasn't the only shell with a crab still inhabiting it ...
we boated back to el con, swam in the pool for awhile, took a photo of ourselves in the elevator ... me on tiptoes and using marc's shoulder as a tripod, which sort of worked ...
then we cleaned up and went to the final night formal banquet, then dancing at a nightclub in the resort. (yes, if you know marc at all you know that we *watched* people dancing at the nightclub for about 20 minutes. then we left.)
and monday morning we were back on a plane home.
what a wonderful, amazing, perfect weekend. thank you, red hat, and from now on i won't whine when marc is gone every week if it means he might get invited back next year.
now i have some context.