“Puerto Rico, you lovely island, island of tropical breezes…” ~West Side Story
The lyrics of this song have been in my head lately because of our Girls’ Weekend in Puetro Rico! Okay, Girls’ Weekend actually took place a couple weeks ago, but I’m a little behind in the blogging! We flew out of Beef Island the last Thursday of Spring Break, arriving in San Juan by 9am and meeting Laurie at our apartment in Old Town by 10.
Our apartment was awesome. Gorgeous tall doors, cavernous vaulted ceilings, louvered doors opening to the street and courtyard. The front living room got excellent natural light during the day, while the back room and lofted bedroom were great for late afternoon naps. It was located on a cute little street that our front windows opened up to. We just couldn’t resist some fun photos!
From there we went out to explore a bit. The first stop was La Bombonera for an amazing Mallorca (pronounced my-or-ka), which was like a hot ham and cheese sandwich on a powdered sugar pastry… to die for!
Laurie, Michelle, and Stacy had all been to PR several times already and had organised the first girl’s weekend last year, but it was all new to Gemma and me!
We walked up and down the cobblestone streets, down to the cruise harbour, and spent considerable time in CVS and Marshall’s! Then it was off to see some of the historical stuff, but who could resist a group photo in front of this massive tree on the way?
We passed the tree on our way to the Castillo San Felipe del Morro where we played the cat version of Where’s Waldo. Those cats were everywhere! And there must be a sanctuary or something down by the walls of the Morro as we saw about 10 different cats in a 100 square foot area. They were lounging on the rocks, under the trees, one was even sleeping with all his paws in the air!
Along the walls of the Morro we had more photo oportunities! This one is nicely staged. : )
We kept walking until we reached the large open green in front of the Morro where we took some fun jumping pictures. This made me think of last summer’s Boston trip with Amy, Cierra, Emilee, and Monica!! Miss you girls!
Then it started to rain a bit. We all laughed that only the Brit was able to handle the rain!
By then it was time to head back to the apartment to get ready for our night out on the town!
That night we had delicious Mojitos at Carli’s Piano Bar and incredible sushi at J-Taste. Both places are can’t-misses in Old San Juan! There just aren’t places like this to go out to on Tortola!
The next morning it was up-and-at-them early for our day in the rainforest! We were all a little less than chipper as we waited for our pick-up at 7:00am…
But before we could sail through the trees, we had to hike up the waterfall!
I admit, I didn’t love wading into the waist-deep water since I couldn’t see the bottom, but it was still an awesome hike. The ziplining was a rush and the forest was beautiful. There was a lot of waiting around as the others in our group zipped, but we enjoyed filling the time by planning our sounds for the “Best Wierd Noise” Contest and rating everyone’s landing on a scale of 1-10.
We only did the 1/2 day Zipline and Waterfall Hike, but we were still exhausted when we got back to San Juan! I think every one of us took a nap! That way we were nice and rested for our last night out!
We had some swanky drinks at Marmalade before heading off to an incredible dinner at Cafe Puerto Rico, where we had another incredible meal.
Or so we thought! Our fantastic trip ended on a bit of a sour note.
After a few delays at the airport, we boarded the plane to Tortola. I was watching out the window as we travelled, so I saw St. Thomas as we passed over it and the lights on the hills of Tortola. The landing gear came down and the pilot signaled the flight attendants to prepare for landing, and then it felt like we were just sitting there, in mid-air. Finally, the pilot came over the intercom to say that we couldn’t land due to too much water on the runway, so we were going back to Puerto Rico!
We got off the plane in PR to find all the people who were waiting for the last flight of the night to Tortola, including a Cedar teacher and several Cedar families! There was some frustrating time when airport staff wouldn’t tell us anything. There was some laughing time when we thought we were going to get on the next flight and relaxed a bit. Then there was some ugly time when we found out our flight was cancelled and we weren’t getting on the next flight. No weeping or wailing, but definitely some gnashing of teeth! Sweet Matt B (Grade 3 teacher) was on his way back from Germany and offered us his seat, but we insisted that the airline wouldn’t allow that! Stacy and Laurie managed to make it onto the flight, but our protests that there were still 3 open seats (I could see the little lights blink on as people scanned their tickets) and we were 3 people ready to fill them, were to no avail. Due to the weather, they had to reduce the weight limit on the plane and Michelle, Gemma, and I were stuck in the PR airport.
Our next quandry was whether to leave the airport, or spend the night in it. We’d already heard people on their phones trying to arrange a room for the night, but most of the city was booked. Tony even looked online for us and was able to find 3 open rooms, all of which were over $300 for the night (it was after 10 pm by now, we’d arrived at the airport around 3), and most of which were all the way across town. Besides, the husbands were not keen on the idea of us sleeping in the airport.
We had to leave the secure area in order to get our bags anyway, two (out of four) of which we were able to retrive, so in desperation, we tried the airport hotel, already knowing they were full. After hearing our sob story, the desk clerk said she had some rooms that were reserved for American Airlines staff, so she would call AA and see if they needed the rooms. They didn’t, so we thought we were golden! Then she told us that because there were three of us, she would have to charge us for two rooms. “But we will all stay in the same room anyway – we’re not going to leave one girl by herself,” we told her. It made no difference, three people would have to rent 2 rooms. This did not make us happy… so we walked into the hallway to discuss the situation.
Little miracles do happen! As we were talking out in the hallway there was a woman searching through her bag. She was also trying to book a room somewhere, but there were none to be had. We approached her with our proposition – We book one room, she books the other, we split the cost 4 ways. She accepted, we went up to our FREEZING cold room on the 6th floor, and had a safe place to sleep until our 8:00 flight in the morning.
When I say freezing, I really mean it! This is Gemma and myself curled up on the bed under the blanket Michelle bought at the mall while we waited for extra hotel blankets to arrive. We like to call this the Penguin!