puerto rico, part three-and-a-half
dump, literally and metaphorically speaking

puerto rico, part 8,394

(is she ever going to be done with spring break?!)

i had hopes that spring would arrive in minnesota and i could move on to lovelier things. but as it stands, it's snowing. right now. outside. on may 3. holding on to spring break helps dampen the urge to curl into the fetal position under a blanket and sleep until june.

but this is it. i promise. last bit of spring break. and, as i said a month ago earlier: i saved the nerdy for last.

there were a handful of things we wanted to do while we were in puerto rico, and for several reasons we ended up not doing any of them. however, the one thing we DID do was check out the arecibo observatory.

now, geeks and nerds and sci fi fans may recognize arecibo from the movie "contact" with jodie foster.

being a family of geeks, nerds, and sci fi fans, being on the same island as arecibo and having the ability to go see it was a no-brainer.

we rented a car and drove an hour to arecibo, then another half an hour up into the hills to get to the observatory. the higher up and farther away from the highway we went, the more marc said it reminded him of ecuador. especially when we had to slow down for roosters to cross the road.

but after lots of tight turns and potholes and near misses with oncoming trucks, we finally saw our first glimpse of the observatory.

and our little geek-nerd-sci fi hearts went pitter pat.

we parked and had to walk up a steep hill to get to the actual building. along the way were these amazing art pieces of the planets ...

we paid admission then spent the next hour or so reading all of the information about the radio telescope, astronomy, astrophysics, physics, meterology, and other sciences that i bet would have made much more sense to us in high school and college. but the kids dug it, and henry reverted into mr experiment mode like he always does in museums and science centers.

we checked out a scale model of the telescope and read about how it worked, then watched a 20 minute movie in spanish about the history of the telescope (i caught about every 14th word ... harper was, shall we say, "a little bored") ...

and then it was time.

and our nerd-geek-sci fi hearts beat faster still.

as the nerdiest-geekiest-sci fiest member of our group, marc needed a moment alone with the telescope.

once we'd had our fill ... and then stuck around to listen to the tour guide ... and then had more of our fill, the kids were ready to check out the gift shop. two electromagnetic knickknacks later, it was time to go. except it was raining. so we decided to wait it out before trekking back down that steep hill. once the rain slowed to a sprinkle, we headed out. only to get caught two minutes later in a downpour.

we waited in a shelter for several minutes before deciding the rain wasn't going to stop. so we made a run for the next shelter.

after waiting there a few more minutes - soaked and shivering - we said, "screw it" and walked the rest of the way down to the car.

the drive back to the highway was made more interesting by the flooding roads and floating roosters, but we survived. and harper promptly passed out for the remainder of the trip.

it was a great day, and we capped it - and the week - off with an amazing steak and popovers as big as our heads at the ritz carlton down the beach.

the next morning, we packed up and said goodbye to our vacation. we were ready to be home, but so grateful for the amazing week together.

... however ...

marc thought the kids would want to spend our last day in puerto rico swimming and soaking in a final day of sun and beach, so he'd booked our return flight for 4:30. but they didn't want to swim. they wanted to lay in bed and watch cartoon network.


so ...

finally it was time to go.

we were flying a different carrier home than on the trip down, and marc didn't have any status with this airline and was told that the plane was full and the four of us would be sitting separated in different parts of the plane. that wasn't going to work. (i've told you about how fun harper can be? imagine being a total stranger on a four-hour flight with that sitting next to you. i would have allegedly felt really badly about putting someone through that.) so marc made friends with a ticket agent when we checked in, discovered the plane was not, in fact, full, and got us seats in the row just behind first class. tons of leg room. again, it was me and the kids ... and marc across the aisle. (i always get stuck with that job.) but we had some wiggle room. and a bathroom with a broken door was literally right in front of us, so i had fun watching a parade of people get stuck in the bathroom.

when marc changed our seats before leaving puerto rico, he opted to pay a little extra to get us all in first class for the trip from charlotte to minneapolis. settling into those leather seats at 9 p.m. after a long week, and a longer day, for a four hour flight was heaven.

but then harper went into "it's late and i'm tired and i just want to be home" mode.

and started to ask if we were ever going to take off.

and the minute we did, every light in first class went off and everyone fell asleep. including my child who never sleeps anywhere.

and she slept the whole way home.

(and i was the lone pain in the butt passenger who kept her light on and read the whole time. not sure where harper gets the "doesn't sleep" thing ...)

and getting home was so, so good.

and with that, spring break - finally - comes to a close.



I just asked my honey if the word arecibo meant anything to him and he went on to list details about it and apparently every movie it's ever been mentioned in. I'm thinking our guys will get along just fine.

Your family will cherish the memories of that trip forever. So great that you could give them that.

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