March 23, 2013

Puerto Rico Journal Day 2

March 10:
Our flight was tight. Five very long hours on a turbulent red eye. I felt awful, I could barely cross my legs. I know I shouldn't complain, I'd never give up the convenience of air travel, but could the not do anything more for comfort? While everyone was asleep around 2.5 hours into the flight, the worst possible thing happened; I threw up. I’m blaming it on the constant turbulence, as I am prone to motion sickness, but I’ve never actually vomited from it before. Shane was amazing, and I had had some serious food in my stomach. He held a makeshift bag (a paper bagel bag inside a ripped piece of plastic bag, no sick bags in our chair pockets) over his lap as it got heavier and warmer. If the noises I was making on the almost silent plane weren’t embarrassing enough, the stench sure was. No napkins or water to rinse my mouth. Totally awful, and mortifying. I love my husband, he kept his cool. The rest of the flight was agonizingly slow. And smelly.  

We exited the airport, hours later, to a welcome blast of humid hot air. It relaxes our bones and we both sigh with relief, at last we were here. Our hotel stands on a very crowded one way street. Da House Hotel is a quirky old former convent. Tall-tall ceilings, cracks in the plaster. Ancient wooden doors opening onto the street as a window. Large funky prints live on the walls and the couches that lay all over the second floor lounge are welcoming. With the doors open warm air streams in. Musicians are down below, their energy radiates chaos and enthusiasm. Their sound wavers out and a trumpeter strings together a few tunes. The smell of sea and sunshine tickles my nose and the sun kisses my feet.
Goat Stew with our favourite mofongo
A recommendation for lunch comes to El Jibarito. We walk two blocks over rough cobbles and narrow walks. The iron balconies that lean out of buildings are ornate and bougainvillea fall across each other in the plazas. We saunter into the restaurant, add our names to the list and wait. Five minutes pass and we eagerly eye other patron’s food. When its our turn we tuck into a few new things: Sunday’s goat stew with mofongo (stellar!) and chicken cooked in garlic with a plate of yellow rice for me. Add two Medella, the local beer and the afternoon is complete.
The plazas in the city are wonderful. Every couple of blocks a beautiful square appears. Tall trees feature in every one, some hundreds of years old. Benches are full of people simmering under a hot sun waiting for a glorious trade-wind breeze. Gazebos harbor groups of men playing dominoes and bells ring from vendors shouting “pina! fruit!” for the flavours of sorbet they sell. Children play with pigeons and their families gather calling to each other in rapid fire Spanish. Life is played out in these lively and beautiful plazas.
There is a sign: First Pina Colada Ever Made. We must stop and try it, for the integrity of our research. The courtyard is open and lush. We drink a delicious pina colada each, and remark on some unremarkable food. On our way home we buy beer from the store and take it up, onto the rooftop of our hotel. The clouds have come into port, and the wind is whipping at three stories up. We can see the ocean from our red rocking chairs. We try hard not to fall asleep watching a non existent sunset.
For dinner we eat at Restaurante Airenumo; it’s a half block from the place we are staying. Service was chaos. Food was fantastic. Even so with all the waiting, we dozed off during dinner numerous times, we had been awake for 36 hours at that point (and one 27km run too!). We slept for 10 hours in a deep deep sleep. I awoke around midnight to blaring music from the club downstairs but it barely registered as I turned into sleep again.

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