Friday, March 28, 2008

Only in Puerto Rico

Yes indeed, this fabulous vista could be seen from our very hotel room... and therefore inspired much commentary. Apparently one of Joel's family members breeds them for this kind of thing. There's nothing like cockfights to remind you that you aren't in Kansas anymore.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Puerto Rican Food: if you fry it they will come....

Ok, so I didn't take many pictures of the fried food since most of that was actually appetizers. But, I think the fried stuff was our favorite. We ended up having surullos alot, which are fried corn flour dumpling with sugar in them. Sometimes they have cheese in them too, so yummy!!! The first picture was our first meal on our trip (aside from at the airport). We ate at the pool bar and had steak churrasco with grilled potatoes and a salad with pickles in it. It was quite good. The next meal I documented was at the rehearsal lunch on Friday. We have awesome roasted ham with pineapple and it had tons on sweet and savory spices like cloves, cinnamon and star anise. We also had roast pork, rice and salad. The third picture is of my lunch at El Meson, which is the Puerto Rican equivalent of a Subway. I had ham and cheese on a sweet roll and some fried corn sticks. It was okay, but not my favorite meal. The last picture is of my final poolside meal of the very authentic hot dog.... hey at least I had a Pina Colada with it...

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Architetcture of Puerto Rico

I took this first one walking back from our beach. The rest were taken on our day in Old San Juan. I just love this kind of architecture!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

PR Trip - Day 6: The Trip Home

Well, not much happened today other than last minute packing, breakfast and the cab ride to the airport. We got there early, the flight left an hour late, but still we arrived on time in Boston... huh? I have a feeling this was a planned lateness. Anyway, while we were waiting for our flight a band marched through the terminal playing some lively music. Only in Puerto Rico....

We had such a great time on our trip. I really hope we can go again some day and see the things we didn't get to like Arecibo and El Yunque. who knows what will be to come...

Oh, and don't think this is the last of the pictures from this trip. I still have stories to tell.

Monday, March 24, 2008

PR Trip - Day 5: Lazy Days Around the Pool

On our last day after Lars and Tara headed to the airport, we were very lazy. Most of our day was spent at either the pool or taking a nap in our room. At this point we both just wanted to relax.
We ended up grabbing a snack at the pool bar again and this time we actually sat in the pool section. I got a pina colada and B got his usual Coke. After that we took naps on the lounge chairs and wandered
upstairs to get ready for an early dinner. We went to Mi Casita which is a little local diner a couple blocks down the street. The people at the front desk said the place was good yet had horrible service so to try to go not during busy times. We each got Mofongo, which is fried green plantains with a light tomato sauce/broth and a meat of our choice. Brian got beef and I got camarones (shrimp). It was pretty good overall, but I was starting to really miss the food at home. The rest of the
evening we spent packing our bags and resting for the trip home.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

PR Trip - Day 4: Fine Sand and Surf

Well today was our beach day... we were originally planning on trying to go to Arecibo Observatory today to see the Radio telescope that featured so prominently in the movie Goldeneye. We were looking forward to going but due to lack of planning and the large expense of trying to go 1.5 west of San Juan we decided not to go. While I wish we went, it was probably better that we hung around the hotel and went to the beach. I think we were all pretty tired at this point, so a little r&r was
needed. I love how Brian looks like he is emerging from the sea like a giant monster in the first picture. this next picture was yet another one of my self portraits. It's actually pretty amazing how well you can point a camera at yourself and
get a good image sometimes. It baffles the mind. As you can see, Brian just hates the beach. While Lars, Tara and I went in for a little while, came out for a little while and then went back in, Brian stay in for what seemed like hours... I had my trusty SPF 70 on, so I kind of wanted to catch some sun for once without fear of immenent prescription required relief. The beach was pretty busy too, so we constantly had to worry about the boats coming in nearby.
Ah, the famous Puerto Rican classic: el hot dog con chili.... right. Hey it tasted good, do you blame me?

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Erin and Joel's Wedding at El Convento

Despite what you may think, yes this event does require it's own posting. There are way too many pictures to put up for this to be incuded in the March 22nd posting. So, I'm probably not going to say much... Joel and Erin's wedding and reception took place at El Convento, a lovely old hotel in Old San Juan. This trip was so special because we really made the entire trip to Puerto Rico just to see them get married. It just so happens we added a few days and had a blast doing other things too. The ceremony took place in a beautiful courtyard inside the hotel and while we couldn't hear much of it the ceremony itself, it was readily apparent that both Erin and Joel were very happy. The following pictures are the best one's from the ceremony and reception. I had a hard time working with the lighting in the courtyard and in the very dark reception hall so many of my pictures came out blurred. However, you can see how gorgeous a day it was and how much fun everyone had.
One of Joel's nieces I think, I didn't quite catch her name, but she was so cute as a flower girl...

Laura, Erin's only attendant. She flew from Egland to be here and gets the award for most tired since she and her husband Curtis had no time to adjust to the current time before they had to head back to England. Plus she had just finished her midterms at med school before she flew in... poor Laura.

The happy couple! Erin and Joel definately are a good match for each other.

Just Married!!!!

I think Erin is just happy it's all done. Planning the wedding wasn't a picnic since the wedding site was a four hour plane ride away. Fortunately Joel's sister really stepped up and helped with the planning since she lives in PR.

Relaxing in the cool San Juan night air :-)

I love how they couldn't decide on a flavor, so they just got two cakes.
Reason #1 why Stephen should not be allowed alone with a bouquet of flowers.
Laura and Curt cutting up the dance floor.
Stephen and Maria posing with the newlyweds.

PR Trip - Day 3: Old San Juan, El Morro and the Wedding

We all started off the day at El Castillo San Felipe del Morro, which is a forts built to by protect San Juan from invaders in 1539. In 1589 the fort was rebuilt to its present layout
by San Juan Governer Diego Menendez. El Morro is somehwere I definately wanted to go so I was very happy when we decided we would start the day there. The big tall building in the first picture is a light house and the fort extends down 4-5 levels from that point. I don't think any of us explored them all, but Brian did go down to at least one of the lower levels. The picture of the garita (sentry box) on the corner of the fort wall is so much a part of Puerto Rico that it is even on the territory's license plate. We saw many of these garitas throughout the day at El
Morro and also on the other defensive walls around Old San Juan. What was really neat about the fort was seeing the cannons and even the metal tracks used to move some of the larger ones to aim at the enemy. After we explored the fort, we decided to head down towards the more commercial area of Old San Juan to try to find some dress clothes for Lars and ome lunch. I just loved walking through Old San Juan. Everything reminded me old being in Spain when I was in
10th grade... especially the narrow streets, tall buildings and pastel painted architecture. Also, religion, i.e. Catholicism plays such an important part in the lives of most Puerto Rican's like it does in Spain. There are all sorts of references to the bible and christianity just out in the open unlike in the continental US. I especially like this picture with all the one way signs right next to a image of Saint Fracis of Assisi that was part of the wall. While people shopped, Brian and I hung out in La Plaza de Armas and watched the pigeons squabble over bread tossed by locals. I did go into one shop called "The Poets
Passage", which featured small pieces of art made by local artists. They had walls upon walls filled with hand painted "doors of San Juan." Each one was a door and the front of a traditional building in one of many lovely pastels. They ranged from small doors on magnets all the way up to huge portrayels of well know buildings like El Convento. I liked these so much that I picked up one for each of our folks and the friendly woman running the shop said she would be happy to personalize them. So, with las casas de Jennings y Loranz in hand and the others' shopping done, the group went in search of lunch. We ended up eating El Meson which I am guessing was a local version of Subway, which was okay... I had ham and cheese on a sweet roll with fried corn sticks and the largest diet coke imaginable. Everyone else seemed to share my "meh" attitude about the food, but we had been treated to some pretty good food already, so it was bound to happen. After lunch we walked back up to El Morro and took a Taxi back to our respective hotels to get ready for Erin and Joel's wedding.

Friday, March 21, 2008

PR Trip - Day 2: La Playa, Rehearsal Lunch and La Bateria del Escambron

This morning after breakfast Brian and I walked down to la Playa in Isla Verde, which was our neighborhood beach and only about 5 minutes away. We didn't go into the water becuase it was too cloudy/cool the surf was still a little high because of a nearby storm that passed by a few days before. The seas had calmed alot by today since even on Thursday, when we arrived, the swells were said to be at 30 feet! We could really see how fierce they were when we

went to the Caribe Hilton to visit with Heather and Rob last night. Since the hotel is right on the ocean they had to caution tape off the beach area.
The surf had been so high that they even had to close one of the pools... Despite the fact that we didn't go swimming this morning, we did have alot of fun at the beach. We took lots of pictures since the beach was very empty and
therefore made pictures less cluttered.

After we met up with Lars and Tara, Joel came by to pick us up for the Rehearsal Lunch at Hosteleria del Mar, a nice little place in Ocean Park which is a very nice section of San Juan. The restaurant was absolutely beautiful.... and right on the water. Originally the lunch was supposed to be on the beach where they have a bar and tables, but becuase of the storm surge the bar actually had gotten broken in half! So,
needless to say we had everything inside. While a beach lunch would have been nice, I don't think we missed out on anything by having it inside. The room was open and we could feel the
breeze right off the ocean.

I took the one of the beach wall while waiting for a cab after lunch, which by the way, went until about 5:30... truly "island time."
The street went right up to this wall with a stairway leading to the beach. We took the cab back to the Caribe Hilton to spend time with Heather, Rob, Maria and Stephen for the evening. After
spending some quality time chatting in the lobby we decided to walk back to La Bateria del Escambron (the area near the restaurant we ate at last night) to take some pictures since it
had been quite dark the night before when we were there. This was an area that was restored within recent years and we thought we might be able to get some good pictures of the waves since they were still higher than normal. There were actually quite a few people there and it was very windy which I suppose was left over from the storm as well. I really liked the shot I took of the wall with the waves in the back groung although I keep feeling that it could have been done better...
something about it just doesn't seem right. Whatever problems I have with that picture however, are completely nullified by my happiness with this sunset over the palms. I never thought I would have a chance to take a shot like this. As most pictures of this kind, I was able to take it completely by accident. We hadn't even planned to come to El Escambron today....

Thursday, March 20, 2008

PR Trip - Day 1: Welcome to Sunny Puerto Rico

This was one of the first views I had once we got to our hotel in Carolina, an area east of San Juan, PR. I couldn't belive how beautiful it was just at our hotel! It was around lunctime and we decided to eat at the bar by the pool instead of venturing very far. We had been up since 3:30am that day to get to Logan Express to make our 8:00am flight so we were pretty tired already. Brian and I had only managed to get to bed at 12:30am anyway so we were only

operating on a power nap to begin with. Oh and JetBlue = Win by the way. Having a little tv showing DirectTV built into the back of every seat absolutly rocks. After a great lunch of grilled

Steak Churrasco for Brian and I and burgers for Lars and Tara, L & T went upstairs to take a nap. At this point I think Lars was still ok with me taking so many pictures of everything, but I think this
marked the end of that sentiment. Most of the rest of my pictures of him featured an annoyed frown... oh well, he'll get over it. I guess it doesn't help that Tara is just as much a
shutterbug as I am, if not more so. Brian and I played in the pool and then took our nap outside on the chaise lounges by the pool. As you can see, we suffered so....