Friday, November 14, 2014

Last Day-Beach Time!

Our last full day we spent most of the time lounging by the beach.  We went to the Balneario Monserrate (a really nice public beach that you pay to get into) for the morning and then to the kiosks for some lunch.

Ike trying out the boogie board.

Riding in a wave.  This beach was super calm and had a swimming area.

Dave practicing his surfing.

This beach was so nice!

After lunch, we headed back to our condo to check in for our flight and then we were back out to enjoy the beach (La Pared) for the rest of the afternoon.  The kids really liked playing in the waves, but they were usually a little too strong for them to be out in for very long.

The kids repeatedly did this to watch their hands disappear in the surf.  Here's a video of Ike at the beach.

Lots of laying in the waves as well.

The kids are still doing the "water bucket challenge".

The next day we flew out at 4, so we went to the beach in the morning to soak up some last minute sunshine.

We caught a crab!

Last picture in Puerto Rico...wishing we were back on the beach now!

One last video...Ike playing with a coconut and a view of our beach.  So that's it!  Our trip really felt like an adventure and I think the kids enjoyed it.  It was really cool to hear them trying to speak to people using Spanish (they were good with saying please, thank you, yes, etc.).  I heard Dave tell one of his teachers this morning that vacation was "great! and we played at the beach!!".  I told Josh that I would love to go back when the kids are older so they could take surf lessons and we could visit the western side of the island (we missed that whole side and most of the south).  I highly recommend this as a great way to experience the Caribbean without needing a passport-and it's a pretty reasonably priced beach vacation.

El Yunque Rain Forest

On Monday we went to visit El Yunque, which is the only rain forest in the United States.  It was so beautiful there and unlike anything we had seen before.  We bypassed the visitor center and went straight on to find some of the waterfalls.  First up was Coco Falls, which was right on the road.

View of the falls.

Have I mentioned the humidity in Puerto Rico?  Made it hard to take pictures sometimes!

We found the trailhead to La Mina Falls and started off.  And it was about 3 times as long as I thought.  Oops.  The kids were troopers and Ike did a pretty good job, but Dave complained about 75% of the hike.  Oh well, I really wanted to do it and sometimes kids just have to suck it up right?  Anyway, we hiked and hiked and hiked until we finally got to the falls.

Trudging along.

We frequently stopped for breaks.

Feeling how cold the water was.

Looooong trail to the falls!

I think it was worth it though!  Had to work hard to get this picture without people in it.

Dave trying to swing on a vine that was hanging by the trail.

Ike kept scampering off the trial to go on adventures by himself.

After the hike, we treated ourselves to some pinchos and rellenos at a stand along the road.  We ended up really enjoying the morning we spent exploring the rain forest and hope we can get back someday to do some more of that hiking!  :)  But seriously, I read the book Wild (the one about the lady who hiked solo for 3 months) while we were in Puerto Rico and now I want to go backpacking...maybe when the kids are older?


One of our favorite parts of any vacation is eating.  We love to try new things and introduce the kids to them as well.  Puerto Rican food was amazing and we tried all kinds of new foods!

We stopped at numerous food truck type places and roadside stands that served things like pinchos (meat on a stick essentially), rellenos (stuffed mashed potato balls), and fried plantains.  The kids liked all of that stuff pretty well since it wasn't too far off the norm.  We also sampled some carne fritas and mofongo (like a plantain cup with fried meat on top of it).

There was a surf competition going on right next to where we were staying and a couple of food trucks set up shop there.

These stuffed tacos were crazy delicious.  Ike loved them, Dave not so much.

Sunday night, Josh and I went out to sample different foods at the kiosks.

Josh had to pose in this little alcove that was on the floor of our condo.

At the Tattoo Tavern.

Josh and his pizza.  He just can't stay away from it!

We also tried a great burger place while we were out that night called El Jefe.  We liked it so much that we brought the kids back to it a couple days later.

You can kind of see the beach behind us-this is the back side of all the kiosks.

Dave chowing down on his burger.

He got to write his and Ike's name on the wall!

Eating pinchos in the rain forest.  Can't beat that view!!

We also had Wendy's (Josh had to order completely in Spanish-that was interesting) and ate frequently at the bar and grill that was next to our condo.  Oh, and we ate Church's Chicken at the airport, haha.  All in all we had great experiences out to eat and everyone was very nice considering we didn't speak Spanish and had two not-so-patient kids with us!


On Sunday we went with my mom (Andrew stayed to watch football) to visit Arecibo and the northern side of the island.  It was about a 2 hour drive, but we wanted to see some of the rest of Puerto Rico.  We also wanted to visit the Arecibo Observatory, a huge radio telescope which was made famous by Goldeneye and Contact.  

Ike climbing the many steps to get up to the observatory and museum.

That's a lot of stairs!

Dave playing with cool science stuff.

At the telescope.  It was huge!

After the observatory, we drove along the coast to get to cueva del indio.  Before we got there, we stopped at this beautiful beach to snap a couple of pictures.

The kids were not feeling the pictures!

Cueva del indio (cave of the indians? maybe...) was awesome!  Probably my favorite thing we did on the whole trip.  We paid $2 to park and then some guy told us to walk out to the red flag and we would see the cave.  This was the way things went a lot of times while we were in Puerto Rico!

And then we walked up to this!

Turns out the cave is "naturally lit" which just means there are tons of holes everywhere that a small child could fall into.  Yep, wasn't stressful for me at all.  :)  We decided not to go into the actual cave (the ladder down did not look all that sturdy), so I took some pictures and we wandered around for a little while.

Waiting as I took some pictures.

Cave drawings from the native islanders.

So beautiful!

Josh and Dave off exploring.

Probably not safe.  I had a kung-fu grip on his wrist most of the time.

View of the "arches".  I didn't really understand what the guy was saying about this, but it was pretty.

After the cave, we drove some more along the coast-where the road turned into a one lane street that went both ways of course.  And then we were back to being beach bums again.

Rainy Day and Pork Highway

Hey, I rhymed!  After a gorgeous day on the boat, we woke up to steady rain.  Everyone said that it never rains all day in Puerto Rico--they were wrong!  There was a giant blob of green over the whole island all stinking day.  We ended up watching some TV, checking out the surfers who were brave enough to get in the water, and heading out to TJ Maxx.

Why is it raining??

We thought we would check out the rain forest, but then encountered this river that looked like it was going to cross the road at any second.  

Josh tried to body surf (or whatever it is called!).  He was not the most successful at this, haha.

The rain finally ended and we drove to Guavate to experience the pork highway.  You basically take a series of switchback roads to get to the middle of nowhere.  On a stretch of the road they have set up probably 5 or 6 lechoneras where they roast whole pigs and serve traditional Puerto Rican food.  It was awesome!

Had to take this picture for Dave!

The pork highway.

Ike and Josh ready to get their pork on.

Other side of the street.


Dave sampling the food.  It was so good!

Mom and Andrew enjoying their lunch.

After we got back from Guavate, we went to the beach for a little while.  Then we went to the kiosks at Luquillo beach to get some dinner.  The kiosks are super cool-they are open in the front and back and out the back you have a view of the beach.  They kind of look like garages, but nicer?  Hard to explain!  Anyway, there are about 50 of them and they serve all kinds of food and some have souvenirs and such in them.

Gamma and Dave walking the beach while we waited for our food.

We ate at one of them called Luquillo Beach Barbecue.  Man it was delicious.  Wishing I could go back there right now!  I will say that Puerto Rico is definitely on island time-we were always waiting what seemed like forever for food!  We did get used to it after a while-just different from the mainland.