Friday, September 19, 2008
Aahh! What a wonderful, relaxing time we're having! Today Sam and I woke up early since we went to bed fairly early exhausted from traveling. We went up to the 4th floor and took a morning dip in the pool and did some sunbathing. Sam started to turn pink pretty quick so he's going to have to work hard on his tan.
After a relaxing morning we were joined by others who started to wake up. My mom joined us first and ate her breakfast on the terrace with us. Then my father joined us. He sat in the blazing hot sun and drank 2 cups of coffee - what a crazy man! We decided to follow an itinerary that I had proposed pre-trip and visit El Yunque National Rainforest (the only tropical national forest of the states) and have dinner farther to the east in Fajardo. After Leah and Erin finally woke up we walked to the plaza and had a quick lunch at Cafe Avant where we had dinner last night. The pigeons were too tempting this time and we decided to give in and feed them. Take a look at my father feeding them!!!
We rented a car from the main city of San Juan and drove the "scenic route" to El Yunque Rainforest. It was a pleasant, but slightly long drive through different cities of Puerto Rico. We saw coastline, some sleepy cities, busteling areas, and everything inbetween. We knew we were getting close to the rainforest when the incline took a crazy turn and we started doing some crazy climbing. I didn't know if our van would make some of it... Not to mention the insane turns going at a steep grade. But my dad enjoyed the drive and we made it to the visitor's center. We were in the clouds for part of it but when we reached the top of the mountain the view was amazing! We had planned on hiking a small trail to where you can take pictures of the local Coqui bird and endangered Puerto Rican Parrot but being a rainforest, the weather took a quick turn and we were poured on!!! Mom was wearing a thin, white linen shirt and I thought she was going to give us a peep show! We turned around and walked back to the car. The weather got a little nicer and my dad, Sam, Leah, and Erin decided to try to walk to Mona falls which are waterfalls that you can swim in. It started raining again and the hike was taking a long time and the park was closing in an hour so they turned around and we decided to drive to have dinner in the city of Fajardo.
Fajardo is known as "La Metrópolis del Sol Naciente" (the city that guards the sun of the Caribbean). It is on the far east side of the island bordering the Atlantic Ocean. It is a major fishing port so I thought it would be a perfect place for some real seafood. At the recommendation of our travel guide, "Let's Go to Puerto Rico (On A Budget)" I suggested we eat at La Estacion. It was great! The menu is small but the food is grown or caught locally and is subject to availability. My dad had fresh red snapper - the whole thing - grilled and placed on a wooden plank for his enjoyment. I had mofongo - mashed plantains mixed with mahi mahi and shrimp. Sam had skirt steak mofongo. Leah had pork medallions and Erin had ribs. All food is grilled on an open grill in a tent. You sit outside with light from Tiki lamps and candles. We were a large group so we were placed under a canopy - thank god, but more about that later. There are palm trees surrounding the area and a couple of cats that kept the patrons busy by feeding them.
The dinner was delicious! It was a great environment with friendly service and we were just soaking it all in when out of no where rain started just pouring down. It slammed everyone! People were grabbing plates of food and running for cover (which consisted of a small awning off the bar). Luckily we were under the canopy but since the rain was so hard it splashed everywhere getting us pretty wet. But I'll give people one guess at who didn't move a muscle... yep, you're right... my father! If you get Eric and good food together, there is no seperating them! He sat through it all and scarfed down his snapper - fish cheeks and all!
After an eventful dinner and full bellies we drove back to Old San Juan and are now relaxing at the hotel. My dad has euchre planned with his beer and lemonade concotion as the main event. We'll see how long he's able to play cards...
Tomorrow we have a walking tour of Old San Juan planned as well as a tour of the Bacardi plant. Hopefully we'll make it to a restaurant known for its authentic puerto rican fare. More tomorrow...