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puerto rico, part three-and-a-half

i left you hanging, didn't i? marc's parents were visiting over the weekend, it snowed again. and then again. my car went out of commission ... again. it was a full, stressful, busy week.

in light of that, i'm not going to get into the nerdy geeky cool thing we did on our last day. today i'm just going to leave you with your moment of zen, let's say. our thursday evening spent walking on the beach and collecting shells.

we'll get to the nerdy cool stuff in a day or two and finally be done with spring break. it's time, right?

there you have it.


puerto rico, part 3

before i share happy, sunny pix, i just have to say that my heart goes out to boston and all of those who were involved, directly or indirectly. boston is one of those cities that i am inexplicably in love with ... it's like i must have lived there in a past life or something, and felt at home the minute i first set foot in it. five years ago, i was in boston with marc while he was on business, and managed to end up at the ticker tape parade for the celtics after they won the nba championship. i was with marc's uncle, his cousin, and his cousin's girlfriend, and we stood, literally, across the street from where the first bomb went off on monday. it could have happened just like that: same place, same crowds, same happy ignorance of anything but celebration and pride.

and to whomever did this: if you had some big point you were trying to make, stop being a coward. own up to what you did, get your sick "credit," and tell us what the point was. because right now, all we think is that you are a heartless chickenshit.

and with that, puerto rico:

after our day in san juan and my night of courting the porcelain god, we decided to take it easy on tuesday. which turned into taking it easy on wednesday, too. the kids only wanted to swim in the ocean, look for shells, swim in the pool, and siesta. oh, we got really good at the siesta.

and all i have to show for it are iphone pix ... that's how lazy it was.

we would head down to the patio restaurant, grab a table, then grab breakfast at the buffet. every morning: i had an omelet, harper had pancakes, henry had bacon, and marc had juice. (and sometimes fruit and a pastry.) we would then wander the beach for awhile, ease into the day, and head too far into the surf looking for shells. which resulted in losing half of our wardrobe to salt, sand, and water. you would think we would have learned to wear swimsuits to breakfast.


and there was the one morning when, after breakfast, we ran into the coconut man. he walks several miles up the beach early in the morning, climbing palm trees and chopping down coconuts, then on his return trip he sells the coconuts - chops them open and serves them up. just like that. now, harper is in love with coconut but has only had the dried-out nasty ones from the grocery. she was in heaven, eating real, fresh coconut.


henry still hates it. fresh or otherwise.

when we did finally put on suits and head to the pool, the kids and marc swam, and i stayed in the shade, wearing spf 400, a cover-up, a hat, and reading a book.

occasionally, someone would come visit me.

but about that time, marc would say, "let's eat lunch in the pool!" and they would flee ... to the swim-up bar, to order burgers and fries. and i would then get in the water and go join them. and then we'd all swim for another hour or so.

turns out, you really can't enforce the "no swimming for an hour after eating" rule when you're eating IN the pool. just fyi.

around 2 p.m. or so, we'd make the parental decision that the kids had had too much sun for the day, and we'd head in. at this point, we became firm believers in the power of the siesta. the kids would go to their room and watch "tom & jerry" for two hours, i would read and/or watch two hours of giada and ina, and marc would read (no, seriously ... he read a book! a whole book!) or nap. and it was blissful.

(there was that one ill-advised afternoon when henry joined us for channel-flipping and we lost half an hour of our lives to "amish mafia.")

 after that, we'd go back out to the pool until dinner.

one of the days, harper had her other "best day ever!" ... she hung out with an iguana.

we'd seen a couple of smaller iguanas and a gecko just hanging out in the pool area, and harper was determined to see one up close. on this day, the granddaddy iguana came lumbering out of the garden and was walking slowly across the pool deck. harper was very stealthy (as stealthy as one can be while containing giggles of glee) and followed it all around the deck. soon, one of the restaurant workers walked over by her and started feeding the iguana some shredded lettuce.

then he handed harper the rest of the lettuce and told her to feed the lizard, whom he called "pepe."

(and, seriously ... what is it about my girl that makes total strangers just hand her food to feed wild animals? should i be concerned about that?)

but pepe was soon in love with harper and wouldn't leave her side. it got to the point that harper was sitting, petting pepe, feeding him little leaves that she found on the ground.

soon enough, another little iguana came running over to pepe, and then the two iguanas wandered back into the palms.

for the record, yes - she now wants an iguana.

after another hour or so in the pool, we would head back to the room to get cleaned up for dinner. one night we were back on the hotel patio - the restaurant, sirena, made some really yummy stuff - but another night marc found a place online that sounded good. and it looked - on the map - to be about seven blocks away. so we started walking. and it was a pretty walk.

but when the map had us turn down an alley into a residential area, marc had to wonder if we were actually heading to a seafood place. signs pointed decidedly to no.

so we stopped walking, looked up another place, and backtracked about four blocks. around this time, harper had decided she was over the walking, she was hungry, she wasn't happy that we'd dragged her out into this misery of uncertainty, and whatever else she could whine about.

finally, we turned into the el san juan resort, where the restaurant, koko, was located, harper grumbling the whole way.


(i almost wish i had video instead of a picture, so you could hear the bitching and foot stomping. it would have been funny had i not been completely done with her.)

then we got into the restaurant and sat down, and she kept moaning and groaning.

then we ate, she and marc split some mango crepes for dessert, and she decided life was good again.

she's a real treat, that one.

dinner was, again, delicious. we ate some really good food on this trip.

after two days of doing not much of anything, we decided that our last full day needed to be filled with something. so we got a good night's sleep, and made plans for a fun thursday. but i'll get to that next time.

el viejo san juan y el morro

i just left you hanging, didn't it? sorry. i was shoveling yesterday.

so after lunch at ceviche house, we grabbed a taxi into old san juan. the driver dropped us off at el morro, the old fort, and we started our self-guided, self-propelled tour.

and, truly, nothing has changed since we were there three years ago, so i didn't take too many pictures of el morro itself. you can always revisit that here. i did, however, notice something i hadn't noticed then: there are burglar alarms. in the fort. the fort that was built, by definition, to keep people out. and they used the word "burglar." i was amused.

anyway, we started in the center section of the fort and looked at all of the rooms and read about their various purposes. the kids were vaguely interested in the bunk room ... not even the idea of sleeping on wooden platforms in a room without windows seemed to make a huge impression on them.

and the beautiful symmetry that caught my eye? they walked right through it.

harper perked up a little when we got to a window overlooking the ocean, where the best breeze was blowing in. but yes, my eldest was on his cell. probably trying to get wi-fi.


he finally got a bit interested when cannons were involved.

and when he had to squeeze into a lookout tunnel thingy.

at the top of the fort, the kids found a long-range viewer and thought that was pretty great.

and then they all gathered in one of the little guard house thingies.

and we just kept exploring. and, for the most part, they were alert.

once we'd seen all we could see, we walked into old san juan. where it got progressively hotter ... and hotter.

we stopped at the piraqua cart for authentic, hand-made snowcones. henry got raspberry, i got pineapple, marc got coconut, and harper asked for anise. crazy kid loves anise. she eats the seeds when we get indian food. but the piragua guy looked as her and shook his head. "no. es no good. she won't like." rather than get into a discussion about the odd taste buds of our eight year old, we told her to pick something else. so she opted for coconut, too.

she then proceeded to grump and pout about who-knows-what and cause us all to banish her 20 feet away from us.

then she started to wander, where she looked at birds and bugs and found a stray cat ...

and she became moderately happy again.

once our snowcones were gone, we continued through the streets of old san juan. at this point, we were all tired and hot and sweaty. harper was a grouch, i was concerned that we were getting too much sun, and i think we all just wanted to head back to the pool.

we reached a plaza, where the kids and i sat while marc ducked into walgreens (yes, walgreens), on the street level of this lovely old light blue building, to get some aloe and more sunscreen.

while we were waiting, we started to notice all of the pigeons in the plaza. harper, being nature girl, finally got a smile on her face and started to stalk the birds.

pretty soon a mass of them started to flap around.

but did you see the guy at the left of the photo? with the bag of bird seed in his hands? he took one look at harper and saw Easy Mark written all over her.

and pretty soon, harper had her hands full.

and then her hands got really full.

and then it was more than just her hands.

then henry came over and offered himself up as Mark #2.

sadly, this was the highlight of the trip for harper. it cost us $5. we could have gone downtown minneapolis with a bag of seed for that.

oh well.

(and yes ... that is snowcone on henry's shirt. he takes after his mom. (i totally had snowcone on my shirt, too.))

we got a taxi for the return trip to the hotel, just in time to see a lovely sunset off our balcony. we cleaned up a bit and headed down to dinner.

where we opted for the buffet inside vs the restaurant on the patio like the night before.

and, after a day in the hot sun, i had a pesto and chicken dish that was swimming in oil.

and ended our first full day in puerto rico wrapped around the hotel room toilet.

es no good.


puerto rico, part 1

i've decided to drag out telling you about spring break because we're expecting more snow. like, the potential of 6-10" by end of day thursday. normally, i'd be all, "woohoo!! snow!!" but seriously. it's mid-april. i'm over it.

especially when i have the wee-est bit of a tan. hard to go back to mittens.

so (and if we're friends on facebook and/or instagram, you're going to see a lot of repeats. it is what it is.):

we left the house at 5:30 a.m. easter morning to catch our plane. the kids were troopers and were up and at 'em without any complaints. i think they were excited. we got to the airport, swung by a dunn bros to fuel up (pastries for the boys and harp, coffee and a turkey sandwich for me. i like protein in the morning.), then headed to our gate. marc had gotten us into the "comfort" section of the plane, so we had a little leg room, which was nice.

our first stop was nyc, and the kids got a veeeerrrryyyy distant glimpse of the skyline.

we ate a quick lunch, then it was back on the plane for about four hours. during which i sat between the kids, and marc was across the aisle with headphones and a movie.

so that was great.

harper kept me entertained, though. she finally figured out how to blow bubbles, and proceeded to take a bunch of photos and videos of herself doing so.

the stinker deleted them all, though. i was planning to share the funniest video with you. trust me: it was so funny i had tears running down my face. oh well.

anyway, we finally landed in san juan at dinnertime, in gray and rainy skies. not a great welcome, but the kids didn't care one bit: there was an ocean outside of our room, and they were thrilled.

and if you apply enough filters to your pix in instagram and pictapgo, you can make it look like a beautiful day.

we were concerned that our rooms would be separated because there was no guarantee of getting them adjoining, even though we requested it. it was very much a "first come, first served" situation, and i was terrified that it would be me and harper, alone, for the next four bedtimes. but marc pulled out his platinum status and got two adjoining rooms, with balconies, and beach views. the dubious upside of being a frequent business traveler. it all worked out perfectly.

after a stretch and some time to just relax, we walked downstairs to see what our restaurant options were. there was a buffet inside, or a restaurant that served outside on the patio. we were all over that, regardless of the rain. and when they brought lighted menus to our table, we knew dinner would be pretty okay.

the food was better than okay, though, and we rolled ourselves back to the room to crash. but only after letting the kids get their feet wet in an ocean for the first time. and harper managed to find two really neat shells ... at night. in the dark. the kid's a natural.

the next morning, they were up and ready to get to the beach. after breakfast, off they ran to check out the ocean, and harper was over the moon to find more seashells.

a few hours later, it was time for lunch. we got cleaned up and grabbed a taxi into san juan, where we ate at the ceviche house.

now, marc grew up in ecuador, and loves shrimp ceviche more than anything, so he looks for it everywhere we go and tries to find the one that will most closely resemble the one from his youth at the beach. naturally, when he found this place, it was a no-brainer. we were going to eat here.

we got several small things to share - fried plantains, fried yucca, ceviche (which was good, but not what he was hoping it would be), empanadas, arroz con pollo, and some steak thing. it was all fabulous. totally authentic, and even the kids loved it. we were stuffed.

so, naturally, it seemed like a perfectly good time to head into old san juan to walk around the fort. for the remainder of the afternoon. in sunny 90 degree temps. which didn't end well for me.

but that's a story for tomorrow ...


the kids had spring break this past week and we actually went away!! i'll post pix and stories over the course of the week, but considering half the pictures i took are on my phone, i need to spend some time organizing.

but here's a little teaser and a hint:

it rhymes with "shmerto pico."

give me a day and i'll be back ...