Sunday, December 13, 2009
A day at the beach....
Cooler. Check. Beach towels. Check. Swim gear. Check. Reading material. Check. The engine sparks, the windows come down, and we roll out of the jungle with anticipated ease of mind. Yes, it is a beach day... a much needed beach day indeed.
We pull into a local grocery store to find sun block for our very fair skinned compadre Sam. He is in constant danger of burning and we mustn't let the sun we are so eager to play under make his life miserable. Mission failure. It seems most Puerto Ricans don't need sunblock, and as an added note, most of them are smart enough to avoid basting themselves in oil and roasting under our star. Alwin scored big regardless and grabbed a bunch of drinks for us to enjoy throughout the day. We continued along route 3 in search of a hot sandwich and some delicious cafe con leche!
A few miles down the road we spot a favorite of ours, La Moderna Panaderia. The Modern Bakery, the english version of this small cafe/ eatery/ bakery/ convenience store, is anything but modern. It has an old fashioned flavor through and through. Old glass displays keep us from jumping into a myriad of freshly baked treats. Old fashioned restaurant booths haphazardly strewn about the place, hold the remnants of very satisfied customers. This place even has a small spinning display of cheap children's toys in case the little ones are in need. I almost bought the toy pirate set. I still may if it is there the next time I am.
We ordered our Jamon Queso y Huevo ( Ham, Cheese, and Egg ) sandwiches with ensalada and a round of cafe con leche to wash them down. The girls at the counter have dealt with me a few times lately, so I announce our presence with a happy "Los Gringos Aqui!!!" ( The Gringos are Here!!!). They laughed as they went about their business of feeding us and making our fresh coffee. It is a heavenly way to start a day... fresh ham, eggs, and cheese with lettuce and tomato on a fresh baked island bread. The sandwiches here are big enough to give you energy for half the day and so inexpensive you wonder how they are making a profit on them! After thanking the girls and paying for breakfast, we filled our cooler with some ice and headed for Luquillo Beach.
The beach was perfect, and scantily populated for a Sunday afternoon. The big, old coconut palms were swaying in the breeze as we hiked our picnic down to the endless sand. I immediately went for a swim, while Alwin prepped our site industriously. He muscled an umbrella deep into the sand to keep us somewhat shaded throughout the day. We made our way back and forth to the water, then back to the beach, soaking the rays, then cooling off and swimming. Sam and Alwin are very playful and I couldn't help but laugh when I'd hear them wrestling in the water and giggling so loud most of the beach would look to see what they were up to. Most of the day went like that, reading, swimming, laughing. Perfect.
We grabbed some lunch at one point from one of the kiosks and the owner saw me coming and put a big hand out for shaking. We had met and talked a week before and he remembered me. This worked to our advantage as he hooked us up with some fresh eats that were so tasty and again very inexpensive. It seems that people aren't out to get rich, but just provide a great service that allows them to be comfortable. I love that about this island.
As dusk drew near, the sky exploded in a myriad of beautiful purples, reds, and oranges. The big mountain of the rain forest backdropped the awesome scene with a host of big rain clouds that almost looked like a volcano erupting. It was quite excellent to see and I tried to drink it all in and commit it to memory. I was quickly interrupted by Sam and Alwin... Sam burying my feet in the sand and making his own artistic rendering of them and then Alwin playing catch with a water bottle filled with sea water.
The bottle soon became the centerpiece for a make shift game of World Championship Beach Bottle Toss! The heated action began with the Austrian Alwin taking on me, the American. We had each drawn a circle in the sand and were trying to land the bottle completely inside for points. It was a tricky game, as the bottle liked to bounce very unpredictably. Alas, the Americans were victorious. Sam, the referee, had drawn a scoreboard in the sand, and was holding the trophy... a left behind toy boat. He also had the microphone for the post game interview, a child's miniature sand shovel. I gave a great interview to an empty beach that I pretended had my minions and fans from across the globe. I then took over as referee as Sam took on Alwin in a no holds barred, European death match between the Germans and Austrians. The game was shortened due to a lack of sunlight, but Alwin was able to walk away with the trophy and fake interview this time, as Germany proved to be no match for Austria!
We strolled back to the car and emptied our personal effects of all the excess sand and started heading back to the house for a home cooked dinner. I was the chef again tonight and did some eggplant with Balsamic Vinegarette on the grill and an onion and garbanzo bean salad that I also cooked on the grill in foil. It was great eating and Sam followed up with some awesome roasted marshmallows as he caught the final glows from the charcoal embers. This was a great beach day indeed! I am looking forward to working on the property tomorrow. Seems we have some roofing to do! Hope you are all well and enjoying yourselves!