Our Caribbean Vacation in Puerto Rico

Wife and I snuck down to the bar. It was a nice getaway from our getaway. Someone would look for us. I told Wife to keep her head down.

There was a lot to do during our time in San Juan. As usual, different people wanted to do different things. We divided our time between finding out what everyone wanted to do and taking in everything a new destination had to offer.

The Capitol Building in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Puerto Rico’s Capitol Building.

Upon touching down in San Juan, we collected our luggage and our children and stepped outside to find a taxi. Certain children needed to be reminded we were in public, and everyone needed to pretend we were a nice, normal family. We found a taxi and were brought to our hotel. Wife and I got keys to our rooms. We had rooms next to each other. This was an improvement from last year, when our rooms were on different floors. That made coordinating events of the day a little challenging.

Nice to be at the Hotel

There was a little special something included with our keys. I’ll get into that later on. Anyway, everyone got settled into where they would be staying and sleeping for the next few days. Bags were unpacked and warmer clothes were exchanged for summer attire. It was single-digit temperatures when we left Logan Airport, and we were basking in 80-degree weather in beautiful San Juan.

We were all a little weary from our sojourn. Flying four or five hours is bad enough. Having to sit up in seats that don’t recline didn’t make it any easier and having our flight delayed didn’t help, either. Thankfully, all of that was behind us. We were ready for the warm temperatures and blue skies that San Juan had to offer us. Well, the warm temperatures were there. We needed to wait for the blue skies. Our plane landed after sundown.

The Boy wanted to see the pool. Other cherubs asked about the beach. We reminded everyone we had days to see everything in town, including the pool. For now, we needed to find somewhere to eat dinner and discuss our plan of attack.

The Oppressed in front of the Christmas tree in the hotel lobby.

Christmas Day

Christmas was spent in the hotel and at a local restaurant. Before leaving home, I called a place that wasn’t far from the hotel. They assured me they were open on Christmas and could accommodate my family (all seven of us). I played it safe and made a reservation for one o’clock in the afternoon. We arrived at the restaurant and celebrated “Navidad” in an air-conditioned restaurant. This was a far cry from the cold Christmas we celebrated last year in New York City. This year we were walking in the warm Carribean weather. We got back to our hotel for more swimming and a little more rest.

I spent my time in the hotel room doing crossword puzzles, reading Christmas stories, and watching “A Christmas Story”. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find it in Spanish. I thought I would since I was in a Spanish-speaking land. That was alright, though. It was easier for me to follow along, which made it easier on my brain.

Beach and Pool

If we weren’t swimming in the pool, we were swimming at the nearby beach. The water was warm, and we were there for hours on end. Our favorite activity there was riding the high waves that came rolling in and crashing down on the shore. Everyone had fun getting knocked over. Wife and I took time from the waves to look around and make sure all of our children were still alright from time to time.

How Many Chairs?

Our hotel had a part of the beach where people staying there could use lounge chairs put out by the staff. If we needed a break from the water, we could just head over to the chairs. Wristbands showed the staff that we were with the good guys.

Upon confirming our stay with the hotel, people manning the chairs asked us how many chairs we needed. We needed seven. Their eyes widened when they learned Wife and I were with five children. Chairs were brought out and, sure enough, there were five little cherubs with us looking for a spot to leave their things while we were in the warm Caribbean water. Not only that, but there were spots in the shade that allowed us to cool off out of the water when we weren’t in the water.

Their eyes widened when they learned Wife and I were with five children.

The beach was great. There was something about being able to swim in the ocean while people back home were dealing with cold temperatures. We were all working on our tans while friends, family and neighbors were working on their snowblowers and car batteries. We had a lot of fun at the beach and at the pool.

I liked the beach. Not only was the water warm, but the waves were high. Everyone got into the water and rode the waves. We jumped into the waves, tried to dive under them. Went out into the water and rode them back to shore, then went back out. The water was warm, but it still cooled us off.

A New Friend

I think The Boy had the most fun at the pool. One day while hanging poolside, we met a family with a young boy. “M” and The Boy got along and started playing with each other. From that day on, the entire family knew The Boy’s vote when it came to deciding beach or pool. Getting to the pool became the priority all day every day for the boy. No matter what we were doing, The Boy wanted to get back to the hotel so he could change into his bathing suit and see if “M” was there.

Wife and I also enjoyed talking to M’s parents while we were hanging out working on our tans. We talked about our lives back home and what we did for work. It was okay for me if we got down to the pool and they weren’t there. It gave me a chance to read my book while the kids splashed around in the pool.

St. John the Baptist

Further away from the hotel, the family took a tour of Old San Juan (also called “Viejo San Juan”). We saw the fort and walked down the streets of the old city. The family was near the church where Ponce De Leon was buried. Alas, it closed before we got there. The Oppressed and I were upset to learn we wouldn’t be able to see this. That’s alright, though. There were plenty of other things we say on our tour. We even hiked through a rain forest. That gave everyone in the family a chance to work off some of the extra calories we had been consuming.

Two of the cherubs walking the streets of San Juan.

Eating in Puerto Rico

Speaking of food, there was plenty of it to sample while we were down there. I was tasked with finding a place to eat on Christmas Day. We figured we could always eat at the hotel if we couldn’t find an open restaurant. Luckily, I was able to find a place that was open, and it wasn’t far from the hotel. I made reservations. They were able to accommodate seven people, bless their hearts. We were at the hotel for lunch. After lunch, a little nap and then back to the pool for a little swim and then back to the hotel rooms for some down time.

I thought hotels would give people a little taste (See what I did there?) of what the area has to offer.

When travelling, we like to try local foods (and drinks). We have learned it’s hard to do that when you’re eating at the hotel. I thought hotels would give people a little taste (See what I did there?) of what the area has to offer. Why else would people travel to different parts of the country or the world?

This wasn’t the case, however, and most of the menu was your generic American fare. I don’t have a problem with typical American food at all. I was just hoping we would be able to order something nice and Caribbean.

I’m not saying the food was bad, either. It was good food. The drinks were good too. I was able to sample a Puerto Rican beer or two. Most of the time, though, it was your standard choices of beer. That hurt a little.

Happy Hour

Speaking of drinks, Wife and I found out about a nice little Happy Hour in the lobby where guests of the hotel were allotted two drinks on the house. That was nice, and we usually grabbed those drinks coming back from whatever swimming activity.

Sometimes, while the younger children were immersed in their screens and the older children were immersed in sleep, Wife and I snuck down to the restaurant for drinks and appetizers. It was a nice getaway from our getaway. Of course, one or more of the children would look for us, and their curiosity would lead them right down to the restaurant, where they would ask us what we were doing. I would tell Wife to keep her head down so no one would see us. Wife told me it wouldn’t matter. It’s not like we were behind a wall. We were sitting at a bar that could be seen by everyone in the lobby.

Dinner Plans Changed because of a Local

Our last night in San Juan was spent looking for a nice local place to end our week-long celebration of the Holidays. It had to be a place that wasn’t too far, and we couldn’t eat too late. I’ll get into that later on.

We thought we had found a great place to eat. It was close enough to the hotel we could walk. I liked that, especially since there was a lot of food and drink we had sampled and enjoyed during our vacation.

There were a lot of stray cats in San Juan.

Our walk was an interesting one. Everyone talked about how nice it was to be walking in shorts and short sleeves in December. Everyone was hungry from swimming. We were talking and nobody noticed how sketchy everything was becoming. There were some questionable looking storefronts. We were all looking around and soon we noticed our surroundings. Someone had noticed we were being followed by somebody. We all grouped closer together. Lucky for us, there was a CVS open. We went in there and waited it out. Our follower left not long after we entered the store. Adults checked outside to make sure everything was alright. We decided to go back to the hotel and eat there.

A Tough Flight Home

All good things must come to an end, including our trip. Coming home from a vacation brings you back to reality.

We were jolted back into that reality on the morning we flew home. The only flight available was at 5:00 in the morning. We were up at 3:00. Everything was packed the night before. We went to bed as soon as we could after our altered dinner plans.

We got up and dressed. Pants and long sleeves. We were heading back to Massachusetts and weather conditions we were accustomed to in December. Everyone but Slugger dressed warm.

Our flight wasn’t delayed this time. We left San Juan, the warm weather, the warm water, the scenery and the people (sane and sketchy). Soon we were back home. We loaded the van and drove back to our house. Our bags were left by the door and went to our bedrooms. We had been up since 3:00. People were tired and we needed to rest and recover so we could prepare ourselves to bring Doggie back home and get ready for the next exciting event that awaited us.

Travelling to San Juan and Warm Weather

Like last year, Wife and I thought it would be better to travel instead of buying Christmas presents. After looking at options and seeing who could accommodate seven people during the most wonderful time of the year, we decided Puerto Rico was the place to be.

As usual, there were many details to tend to before we could leave. Doggie needed a place to stay, and we needed someone to check on Kitty, making sure she had bowls full of food and water.

On the human side, we needed to make sure the Miracles of Christ had everything they needed clean and packed. I tried to help The Boy, but he insisted he was fine and didn’t need help from any adult in the house.

Travel Day

The day of our flight arrived. Christmas Eve. Everyone descended from their bedrooms upon the kitchen for a quick breakfast. After grabbing whatever we could find, we loaded our luggage and our bodies into the van and joined the countless other jolly travelers who ventured out to Logan International Airport.

Off to the store for a $10 bottle of water and a $20 bag of chips.

We arrived at Logan. Our flight was delayed two hours. It was a bitter pill to swallow, even if I was prepared with my book, crossword puzzles, and beef jerky. We had a five-hour flight ahead of us and the delay gave us time to kill. Off to the store for a $10 bottle of water and a $20 bag of chips.

We spent our time as best we could. I read some chapters and did some puzzles. We ate at a restaurant since people only ate a little something before high-tailing it to the airport. When we weren’t at the restaurant, I tried to coax the children into a game of cards. They declined. Back to my puzzles.

We Work Here? No Food?

After suffering in the cold purgatory of Boston, we were finally invited to board the plane. This was an airline we had never flown before and after sitting in seats that didn’t recline with small, barely usable tray tables, I doubt we’ll be flying this airline again. Bringing our own snacks and drinks meant we didn’t need to buy snacks from the airline.

That’s right. While most airlines at least gave you a can of Coca-Cola or a bag of pretzels, this airline didn’t. If you wanted something to tide you over during the 5-hour flight, you had to pay for it. You would think they would at least give you some pretzels after checking in yourself and your luggage.

San Juan

We touched down in beautiful San Juan, Puerto Rico. Looking out the window, I noticed palm trees gently swaying. We have our luggage and all of our children. No matter how hard I try, I can’t lose any of the Miracles of Christ. We get a cab and take the short drive to our hotel.

Everyone changes out of their pants and long-sleeved shirts. It was single-digit temperatures back home. We change into shorts. Bathing suits. There is a pool at the hotel, and we’re going to use it. The Boy lives for the hotel pool and it’s going to get even better for him very soon.

Flying to Florida for a Vacation with Your Children

A family from our neighborhood moved to Florida. This was a family that watched football with us when we had our outdoor football parties during Coronapalooza. We grilled. Their kids came to our house, and our kids went to their house.

The Oppressed and The Boy had a couple of days off one week. This, coupled with the weekend, seemed like a great time to travel to the Sunshine State for a little reunion.

Flying to Florida

Our trip took us to Sarasota. I had never been there. I’ve been to Tampa. I’ve been to Orlando and, if you count layovers, I’ve been to Miami once.

I was very much looking forward to this trip. For one thing, I like to travel. Another, I love doing things with my children. Our trip down to Florida included a three-hour layover. I was imagining a nice lunch with the kids but I’m getting ahead of myself. There were adventures before the plane even took off.

Adventures at Logan Airport

Getting to the airport wasn’t a problem. It was getting from the car to our gate that was fun and adventurous. I didn’t get the greatest spot in the garage. Me, two kids and three carry-ons needed to get across the airport to our gate.

I coached the children as we made our way through the garage, I told them we needed to hustle if we were going to make our flight. We got to security. Everything needed to be emptied out of pockets. Some devices needed their own tray through the x-ray machine.

Looking out an airplane window. Outside are clouds and an airplane wing.
The view from 30,000 feet.

We were running out of time. Our flight was leaving soon. We made it through security. My belt needed to get back on. I cheated and didn’t use all of the belt loops.

The children and I continued to hustle through the airport. Our gate just happened to be the last one in the terminal. We got to the gate with a couple of minutes to spare. I don’t know how we did it, but I let the children know what a great job they did in making it to our gate.

Lunch in Baltimore

We had a layover in Baltimore. There were three hours to kill. It was decided before leaving Boston that we would eat something during our layover. It’s exciting to eat in a different city and see what the locals have to offer. The airport isn’t our first choice, but we couldn’t leave and go back for our flight, so we made the most of it. Speaking of eating locally, The Boy wanted a crab cake. Wife would have been so proud.

A crabcake sandwich with a pickle slice on top and french fries on the side.
A crab cake sandwich in Baltimore.

We stopped at a store after lunch for some snacks. We still needed to fly to Sarasota, and they don’t give you candy on flights. Done with our shopping, we find seats at our gate. The flight is on schedule. Children settle down for a little screen time and maybe check out the plane while I settle down with my book and wait for us to be called to board.

On to Florida

It’s an uneventful flight. We have snacks (no candy) and drinks. The Oppressed and The Boy look out the window occasionally. I keep reading my book, and it’s looking like I’ll finish it before our trip is over.

The plane descends. I pack what we used during the flight. The Oppressed keeps checking to see if I have my seatbelt on. The Boy is asking what the weather is like and how much longer until we get to the house. I assure them it won’t be long; we just need to stop and pick up the car.

Landing in Sarasota.

It’s a van. Something that will hold us and potentially some extra passengers as we go to and from different destinations during the trip. The children and I wait for the rental. They’re getting it ready for us. Once the car is ready, we load our stuff, get in the car, and we’re off to see friends we haven’t seen in months.

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