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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.