Thursday, December 24, 2009

The past few fabulous days....

A quick update. Right now, I am watching the sunset, mixed with some light tropical rain cascading down the mountain side. It is late afternoon. The children delivered a Christmas Eve dinner to us and unfortunately got a glimpse of their present for tomorrow, a pool table! Sam is making jewelry for Lucy and Marian and I am soon to get back to my piece for Lucy. We also found a beautiful rock at the beach that we are going to craft into a welcome stone for the property complete with shells, sea glass, and coral.

Lanski, the house dog, has hopped up onto our back porch and has slowly made his way to Alwin while eating his dinner. Alwin is completely ignoring him so Lanski is starting to make funny noises and is begging with all his heart. No chance; the hard nosed Austrian is not giving up the meal and Lanski just barked at him so I kicked him out of the house. He'll be back. We often wake up to his paw prints on the floor in the morning letting us know he has visited during the night.

This is an awesome Christmas Eve and the first I have ever stayed away from my family. It doesn't feel weird at all, maybe because I have grown so despondent of the snow and cold and partly because I am having a great time here. The past couple of days have been a true riot....

Two nights ago, we decided to make a fast track into Old San Juan for a few beers and maybe some Christmas shopping. A few beers turned into a few more and at one point we had the whole place singing Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen! We made wonderful new friends with two women from the Coast Guard and a bartender named Carlos, who is also a classical guitar player. I danced with a wonderful 'crucero' or cruise ship passenger named Dana while her friend took pictures and drew with magic marker on her arm. She was a dance choreographer from NYC so you can imagine how badly I must have compared! On top of my lack of dancing skills I also had crocs, swim trunks, and a dirty NHRA t-shirt on. She was in a beautiful dress with sequence and high heels and smelling of some expensive perfume. We were the center of the old dingy place for an hour, twirling around and laughing to all manner of music. Then the ship whistle blew and off to the boat went my dance partner and her friend!

The party went on into the night as the old bar filled in with people from all over the city and the world. It was a tiny pub with graffiti all over the wall. You can actually request a marker from the bartender. We were loving it. Lisa, one of our new friends invited us all back to her flat to continue the festivities and engage us in some much needed food. It was a block away from the bar and boy were we in for a surprise!

A more beautiful flat I have yet to see! A 400 year old building with original tile floors, plastered walls, 20 foot ceilings, and beautifully furnished, Lisa is living it up! We munched home made quesadillas and played with the dogs then Lisa grabbed her home made moonshine and we moved the party down the street to Sarah's place.

Scantily furnished, but still very beautiful, Sarah's house had a view to die for! Booze in hand, we all climbed a 20 foot spiral staircase up to the top deck which over looked the original Gate of San Juan and a good portion of the city and harbor. The deck was cozy as ever with Christmas lights, and great furniture and we were partying on the top of the world. The conversation flowed nicely, and everyone was enjoying themselves. All of this, and a stone's throw behind us was the original mansion built for Ponce de Leon. Surrounded by so much history, I started daydreaming about the old ships in the harbor and the lamplit streets with all of the action of the night. It was amazing indeed. We finally called it quits at 3am and I drove my drunk European friends back to the jungle for a few hours sleep.

Yesterday we got up and took Sam to the doctor for his physical therapy, then decided to head down the East Coast of the island for a lazy drive. We meandered through grasslands, sugar cane fields, banana plantations, and old towns listening to older jibaro music on the radio and stopping only for food, good sights, and coffee. We must have looked like old folks back home.

We drove mostly on route 3, which is a coastal road that often takes you up and down steep sea cliffs and crazy switchbacks. The views were stupendous all the way and we all kept gasping at every other turn. We stopped at a small rocky beach and combed through the shoreline for some shells and hermit crabs. The crabs were tiny and we would let them crawl around in our hands and then release them back into the sea. It seemed the day couldn't get any better... and then it did.

We were searching for a convenient way to get back to the highway that runs through the middle of the island. Alwin grabbed the map and said "Route 184!!" I pulled over to get a closer look because I know this island and the maps don't always guarantee the route will work. I had my doubts, but Alwin insisted and said something in German which resembled, "any new road travelled will broaden one's horizon". A sucker for poetic justice, I hooked the right at the signpost for 184 and our adventure continued.

This road was truly amazing. We passed a small lake and snaked through a river bed, then into the mountains for some of the most spectacular views I have ever seen anywhere. It was very much a rain forest. We road through a beautiful park near the peak of the mountain and kept gasping at the sights of verdant valleys below and mountain peaks all around us. Alwin and Sam said it reminded them of Austria without the snow. We even saw an abandoned castle on top of one of the peaks. Sam and Al went in for a closer look and to take some pictures.

Nearby there was a bar that was overlooking yet another fantastic vista. We had to stop! I asked the guy behind the bar if he had any vegetarian food and the guy next to me said, " We have beer!" Right on! Willie was our new friend! He and his compadres were eager to hear about our travels and we ended up spending the next three hours there laughing and partying with them. We taught each other our local beer drinking salutations and they wouldn't let us pay for a thing. They even ordered a big plate of food for us to try and broke out some picante sauce to see if we would eat it.

Alwin gave them a show as they kept bringing out hotter mixes to try and beat his tolerant pallet. No such luck! He greedily dipped the pork pieces into the sauce and almost made the guys cry as he shoved them down his throat with almost no effect. They bowed to him and called him "maestro de salsa" or Master of Sauce! We had one of the best experiences we have ever had, and all of us were exchanging numbers and emails before we left! Again, I love this island! Especially its people! So warm hearted and fun loving... not unlike myself! ha ha.

Hope you have a very Merry Christmas and a Prosperous and Healthy New Year! I love all of you!


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