Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Jennas trip to Puerto Rico. (says Jenna!)

 Puerto Rico!!
We took our first ever real family vacation this spring.  At least our first ever non-camping, go-to-the-beach sort of vacation.
I want to write all about it because it is not likely to happen again for a looong time.
Today I'm just going to write about the first half...
Mostly because it would be a million pages long if I try to put everything in one post!

My Mom and Dad have been in in Puerto Rico on a mission for the last eighteen months.  
(They will be home tomorrow! Yea!)
In March we took advantage of the opportunity to fly down and say hello!

This was the first flight in many years for the kids. 

We left at midnight...

 and had a layover at three in the morning (our time...)

 We were quite a sight in the middle of the abandoned terminal.
I discovered I can't sleep on airplanes or in strange terminals.
I guess I'm kind of the watch dog. 
So I was the only one who got to enjoy the beautiful sunrise over Charlotte, North Carolina. 

Once we arrived in San Juan it was time to play!
We stayed at an awesome little condo right on the beach.
The completely empty beach I might add.  
 The water in the Caribbean is like bath water.  It honestly isn't cold at all.  
So Fun!
We splashed in the waves and snorkeled around the shorelines. We had a blast.
We have a new understanding of what color 'Caribbean blue' really us.
Gorgeous and serene and vibrant.  The pictures don't capture it at all.  

  Notice the floating hat in the above picture? Weird.

For the first two days we swam in the ocean and the condo pools, and we drove around the little shops of the town.  Think of shops in a vibrant, outdoors, slummy caribbean sort of way...
Some were nicer than others.
There were little stands everywhere where people would break down wooden pallets and use them to cook chicken on a stick (delicious!) and they made these sort of flat, fish flavored scone like things.  
Also yum.  
There were stands of fruit--tiny bananas, mangos, pineapple etc. all over the place.  There were men on the side of the road and when we stopped the car they would run up to the window and use a big machete to chop off the top of a coconut for us to drink.  For $1.  We thought that was awesome.  Benson discovered that he does. not. care for fresh coconuts.  His face was priceless.
But we all loved trying new food. 
We had a little kitchen in our condo so we made lots of yummy stuff.

One of the highlights of the trip for sure was kayaking in the bioluminescent Bay in Fajardo. 
There are little particles in the water that glow in the dark.  They don't just reflect light they actually, really glow!  It was amazing.  Really truly stunning. We kayaked late at night in the dark and the air was warm and earthy smelling.  It was really quiet with the trees and water absorbing all the noises.
We kayaked in through a mangrove enclosed canal and entered into a quiet little bay.  It was like paddling in glow stick water.
We've never seen anything like it for sure!
They said the bay is especially brilliant right now.
The beautiful stars overhead were as stunning as the water below.

After we left our little condo in San Juan we caught a ferry over to Viegas island. 

Our lack of sleep caught up with us and we all fell sound asleep on the 2-hour ferry ride.

We stayed in the most beautiful little Inn! A man there loves the LDS missionaries and he gave us a room and rental car for $100 per night.  He also gave us directions to a little beach.  
 We drove along a bumpy little jeep road through beautiful jungle.  
There are wild horses everywhere on the island.  
And there are no snakes (thanks to the mongoose population) or poisonous bugs in the jungle.  How's that for amazing!

When we got to our appointed snorkeling beach we were  in heaven.  
We were literally the only people there.  
The warm water was filled with beautiful colored fish and coral and big waving lettuce leaf-like plants.  
Other than trying to avoid the plentiful sea urchins, it was awesome.  We came home with some beautiful shells. 
We just needed more time!

 That evening we ate dinner in a charming, tiny rooftop restaurant.  The temperature was perfect and the food was delicious.  Next door the town was having a Nacho Libre-like totally fake wrestling contest.  The boys had to go check it out.  Of Course. Jenna and I went back (with Grandma and Grandpa) to our darling hotel for a swim in the lighted pool.  

Did I mention that my hair went from mid back length to mid-chin length with the humidity.  And my curls were somewhere between the size of a knitting needle and felted wool.  
 And my hair is completely not-unique in Puerto Rico.  
I've never seen so many people with curls like mine! Very Fun.  
And a little strange not to have unique hair. 

On Sunday morning we went to the little branch on the island.  
What a treat!  The people were so kind and beautiful.
Maybe a dozen members?
They all hugged and kissed us.  Sacrament meeting was in spanish but one of the sister missionaries translated most of it for those of us that could hear her.  Rustin speaks spanish really well and translated for us most of the trip also.   Such a sweet spirit at church.  I'm so thankful that my parents have been a part of that for the last year and a half.
We met a family at church that just packed up their kids and moved from Tennessee to Viegas island.  What an adventure!
(Yep. I forgot Benson's Sunday clothes... No one cared.)

 After church we stopped by a humungous 400 year old Ciba tree. That tree has been around almost twice as long as the USA has existed.  Wow. My parents are standing in front of the roots! (more pictures in the collage above) The roots are big and strong and make sort of dish shaped collection areas for water and the tree branches have big vicious spikes all along them.  There is a good analogy there for family history and appreciating and using our roots and protecting our 'branches'  to really thrive.

After Viegas we went and stayed at my parents apartment for two days.  We visited old town Puerto Rico and met some great people.  More on that later!

1 comment:

Jamie Hatch said...

I've been waiting for this! What a fantastic trip! Sounds so relaxing and wonderful and beautiful!