Monday, January 24, 2011

The Puerto Rico Post, FINALLY! - Part 1

I know that it has been SO long since the trip, now that I've finally recovered I guess its time to blog about it. I thought I could get this in one shot, but it looks like we will have a multi-part series. ahem, Part One:


3:30am - We wake up, obviously we couldn't miss the Black Friday sales. We arrived at Kohl's at 4:00am, ended up getting a few odds and ends, and checking out around 6:30. Then Dalan bought me a string of pearls for Christmas, even though as usual we were not supposed to buy each other gifts. (On a side note, I have wanted pearls ever since I read Anne of Green Gables when I was 12). We went home and napped for about 2 hours and then finished packing.8:00pm - We left for the airport!!


12:50am - We boarded our first flight to Atlanta.

Dalan, Braden, and I watched some movies on our iPods and played a LOT of solitaire.

9:00am(ish) - We enjoyed a glossy-eyed breakfast at the Chili's Too at the Atlanta airport. It was CRAZY expensive and I creepily got hit on by the host and completely missed it. By this point we were pushing 24 sleepless hours

2:30pm(ish) - We arrive in Puerto Rico. We stuffed 7 people and 14 large bags (plus all of our purses, backpacks, etc.) into a mini van. Dalan and I braved the backseat, Thankfully the ride to our hotel was short, I could only balance mom's suitcase on my head for so long.
In San Juan we stayed at the Verdanza hotel.

It was pretty cute, and I was impressed for the price that we paid. Some of the information wasn't correct on our reservation, so it took awhile to get to our rooms. We were stuck in the van while my dad tried to sort it out. This resulted in one of my famous laugh/cry attacks that freaked the entire family out, and it was a great start to the vacation. (please keep in mine I'm about 36 sleepless hours here). The staff at the Verdanza was extra friendly, even with our copious amounts of luggage they were still super nice.

4:00pm - We attempt to find dinner, we had a short amount of time so decided to play it safe with Wendy's. The employees at Wendy's didn't speak English, so Braden got to do all of the ordering. I ordered a classic #1 with a Diet Coke that tasted exactly like gasoline (or at least like the smell of gasoline, I guess I don't have first hand experience). We then headed back to the hotel where we rushed to change into swim attire.

5:30pm - We head out to pick up Braden's friend Fransheska before heading to the Bioluminescent Bay. Puerto Rico driving is the scariest I have ever seen. I felt so bad for my dad, he had to drive the entire trip and by night was always worn out from the stress. After a few wrong turns we found Fransheska's home. Her adorable mom, Alta Gracia, invited all 7 of us inside. (I think that we are at about 40 hours here, not the best of company). Then the family + Fransheska piled into the van for the 1 hour drive to Fajardo.

Now we come to one of my favorite parts of the trip. In Fajardo we kayaked to the Bioluminescent Bay. Each kayak held 2 people. Dalan and I had quite a struggle working out a system at first. We followed the guide into the ocean, and then went around an outcrop and into a small stream lined with mangrove trees to reach the bay. (This is a daytime picture, the sun had already set by the time we got to Fajardo).
The way in was extremely stressful! Multiple groups lead tours into the Bio Bay, and there is only one route in and out. There were parts that the stream was about 20 feet wide and there were groups passing each other, it was also totally dark, the only light was from the small glow sticks on the front and back of the kayaks. Dalan and I repeatedly ended up in the mangrove trees

and then had to find a way to pull ourselves out (can I mention again that it was pitch black?!). I could hardly handle it. Some people in our group decided to be complete jerks and run their kayak into others. With the dark, oncoming kayaks, getting slapped in the face by trees, and random attacks from the drunk crowd I about lost it! My aunt and grandmother kayaked together, but my grandma got seasick. This made their ride even more unbearable. My aunt ended up paddling while my grandma tried to keep her Wendy's down. We finally made it to the Bay, and it was absolutely amazing! There are microorganisms in the water that, when disturbed, glow a bright blue. You could run your hand or paddle through the water and the shape would stay. You could also just get your arm wet and let the water drip off, the drops would begin to glow as they moved down your arm! We disturbed a school of guppies and they swam off leaving a bright blue trail behind them, it was one of the neatest things I have ever seen! Sadly (and smartly, we got SOAKED) we left our camera behind, but here are some images the company has posted.

I really looks like that no joke! And don't make fun of the cheesy smile, if you were experiencing something that awesome you would have a cheesy smile too!

Since we were the second to last group to leave for the bay, the ride back was awesome! We could see the light of the guide in front of us and just had to paddle straight (kayaking in the dark is quite an experience!) Dalan and I finally figured out a system. I would steer by using my paddle as a rudder in the front and Dalan powered us from the back. We hit zero trees on the way back YEA! Marna and Janae were towed in by our friendly guide Orlando (who has apparently towed up to 4 kayaks at once).

More crazy Puerto Rico driving and we finally made it back to our hotel @ 1:30 am. This may have been the most glorious part so far, because after just short of 48 hours awake, I GOT TO SLEEP!!!

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