Saturday, July 14, 2012

I would fly 1000 miles...Part One

Anyone who knows me, really knows me, is aware that there are three things I fear above all else: sharks, serial killers and flying.  In no particular order. Our latest adventure involved only one of these, although it happens to be the one that is statistically the most likely to do me harm.

Fuschia's brother and his fiance, The Geeks if you'll recall, decided roughly a year ago that they simply must exchange their vows in a tropical destination.  Hearing this, I was stoked, thinking maybe a visit to the Keys was in my near future.  This optimism lasted roughly twenty-four hours before I was awakened from my road-trip fantasies and informed that I would be traveling to Puerto Rico for the nuptials. 

I have no problem with traveling or with wanting an exciting wedding.  I do have a problem with strapping myself into a metal capsule that's being hurled 3 football fields per second roughly 5 miles above the surface of the earth.  That I most certainly do have a problem with.

For months I researched alternate ways to get to PR.....bridge? takes too much government funding.  boat? cruise ships will let you have a day pass on the island, but refuse to act as taxi cab.  kayak?  see earlier comment on sharks.  Clearly if I was going, I was flying.  So for love of The Geeks (and honestly fear of Fuschia), on a sunny day in late May, I headed to San Juan armed with an iPod full of Jack Johnson and enough sedative to knock out an elephant.

I assume we had two uneventful flights as I was actually higher than the airplane for most of those 5 hours.  Exiting the airport we were assaulted by the kind of muggy heat I associate with Savannah in August. Tropical had a whole new meaning.  We took a particularly speedy taxi to the El San Juan resort on Isla Verde, just north of the airport and arrived at a pretty swank hotel.  The lobby reminded me of movies about Cuba in the 1950's with red velvet and dark wood attached to every permanent surface.  Elaborate carving, dramatic chandeliers and it was basically like the set of a soap opera. On Telemundo. Our room was so South Beach as to give me a definite case of cognitive dissonance; 1950's Cuba in the lobby, 2012 Miami in the room. 

After having a hearty laugh at the minibar price list and the room service menu, we suited up and headed down to the pool.  Most hotels dig a hole, line it with concrete, fill it with water and call it a day. Not the good people of Hilton.  The pool at The El San Juan was actually several, maybe as many as many, pools in various sensuous, serpentine shapes.  We would even discover later that there was a waterfall that had a pool at the top of it with coexisting hot tub.  Amazing.  Covering every available surface were the most plush beach loungers I've ever seen; they in turn were covered in an assortment of mostly tan, mostly scantily clad guests.  Ahhh, the good life.

We eventually caught up with some of the other wedding guests, as well as Fuschia's family.   Luckily, their whiteness acted as a beacon among all the decidedly caramel flesh.  After a dip in the ocean, a walk down to a local taqueria and a shower we sat down to rest for just a moment.  Instead we rested for roughly 12 hours.

The next day found us exploring Old San Juan, although due to somebody's (ahem, Fuschia) reluctance to scale hills, I will never know what is at the top of that particular city.  We quickly discovered that the only possible way to stay cool in the intense heat was to stop every 400 yards for another pariagua (snow cone).  I tried tamarind and coconut, as well as a few other more mainstream choices.  After inspecting a good number of the fort walls and assorted armaments, warning Fuschia of feral cats' rabies potential and scouting out a food truck featured on the Travel Channel it was finally time to head back to the hotel.

Our brilliant plan, cooked up in our overheated tourists brains involved saving $17 and experiencing the real PR by taking the city bus back. Check and check.  As always, I had managed to lead others on a tour through the local ghetto.  Keepin it real has always been my strong suit.

Part Two to follow.

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