Saturday, December 28, 2019

Christmas Vacation ~ Other People's Vacation Pics

Cookie Day began with ... PIES!
We aren't sure how we scored Christmas with the Youngest TWO years in a row... but we were thrilled to show our daughter around our new home for the first time!  Since before we started cruising, Bruce and I have stopped participating in the commercial side of the Christmas Holidays, opting for a more quiet, appreciative time to reflect.  After years of mass consumerism, we're surprised and grateful that it seems our kids have adopted this as well!

What this means for us is that instead of a deluge of gifts and distractions, we focused on just spending time making memories together.  Our plan was to relax and enjoy one another's company... and I would say that we hit the mark!  This post may not be interesting to anyone but us, but it's our way to store these precious memories.  Let us begin...

Five days.  We only had five days together!  The kids have limited vacation time that must be allocated amongst other obligations and family.  We were literally walking out the door to go to the airport when the news that their plane out of SD had been delayed, causing them to miss the flight to Puerto Rico.  Luckily they were able to get on the next plane, which would arrive three hours later.  That's three hours we missed, but I made up for it by getting some of the cooking done, to make way for our Cookie Day!

As soon as we got the kids back to our place, we dove right in with our Cookie Day extravaganza.  Wearing our matching Puerto Rican Flag aprons, made by ME for this occasion... we cranked out dozens of cookes, to go with the pies and fudge I had already made.  Yes, this is way too much sugar for the four of us, and we had intended to take some to the neighbors, but somehow, it just didn't happen...

Wrapping the lights around the tree...
Suddenly the day was gone, and I realized that we had yet to decorate our little Arbol de Navidad!  I brought out the basket of sand dollars I'd been collecting, and some wire and snippers, and we all sat around making last minute decorations.  Scott wound the lights around our little Tintillo tree, and we gently placed our simple ornaments upon her thin boughs... and soon, we had a thing of beauty to behold!

Tiny sand dollars made perfect ornaments for our tree!

Charlie Brown has nothing on us!
Found THIS in our yard! 
Christmas morning dawned sunny and warm.  News of cold weather in the States seemed impossible to comprehend, as we enjoyed the perfection of a Caribbean Island holiday!  With no mass gift opening frenzy to endure, we wandered out to the beach in our Family Christmas garb, and captured some photo memories!

Gotta love this!

Well that Christmas Dinner isn't going to cook itself!  Eventually we had to quit fooling around and get back to work in the kitchen.  I don't know what the guys did, but Brittney and I produced a delicious, if only somewhat abbreviated dinner for the four of us and our Plus-1 friend, Burt.

It's amazing how intentions to keep it to a small meal, somehow grow when everyone has that one thing that has to be included.  Oh well, leftovers-for-days, means we won't have to cook for the rest of the time the kids are here!

It took us all day to get everything ready, and about half an hour to gorge ourselves to near oblivion.  By nightfall we felt the need to get out of the house, so we drove to the plaza in Guayama for a look at the lights and maybe some ice cream!  Hey, I couldn't let the kids get off the island without trying the Maiz con Canela from Rex Cream!

We stood dutifully in line, and then took our little cup-of-heaven to a park bench to enjoy the ambiance.  There were heartwarming tableaux of young kids doing circles in their new new skates, or gliding around on their hoverboards... There were even shiny bicycles weaving in and out amongst the people all coming down off of the Holiday High, with a low-key Christmas evening.

Two days down, two more full days to go before the kids leave...  I know that I should not be dwelling upon their inevitable departure, but I just want so much to show them everything I love about this island... and of course, keep them here FOREVER!!!  But of course, that's ridiculous!  So, we must make the best of the time we DO have... moving on!

I have a Christmas tree in my coffee!

These kids have lived for several years on an island in the Pacific.  Because, in many ways, islands can be similar, they were not really that interested in seeing the island's physical attributes.  They are more interested in seeing some of the things that make THIS island special.  One of those things, is the way the people can make something that would otherwise be considered an eyesore, into something more of a magical tourist destination.  A prime example of this is happening in the little town of Yauco!

We drove to the west and, after a stop for a fancy cup of coffee and a nice brunch, we worked off some of those calories with an urban hike to the top of the Macromural Brisas Tropical, which is the mother of all murals, splashed across multiple buildings and walkways, as it climbs up, up and UP!

No hiking just for the hell of it for us!  No!  We must have PURPOSE!
Imagine the sound of labored breathing here as we make it to the LAST summit!
The wide-spread view of Puerto Rico at our feet, was the reward for our efforts!
And some Togetherness!

We enjoyed the cool breezes and the awe inspiring view, then with quivering legs, made the climb back down!  We drove around the town a little, then headed back home to rest!  You can only pack so much into a day, and we still had one more to go!  These kids live full and busy lives, and they value their down time a lot!  Good news for us old folks!

On the way to the tree, we passed this.  My daughter just had to get a photo!  FOR SALE!
The next morning, we took the kids out and see more of the island!  I couldn't let them leave without seeing my tree! This wonderful old tree was nameless until we moved here.  I just couldn't understand why something so everlasting and venerable could have reached such an age, without being given a name!  So I did it!

I chose the name Atabey, because she was the supreme goddess of the Taino people, and it just seemed fitting.

Having driven to the west yesterday, we continued our exploration to the east today.  The coast road is littered with stunning views and beaches.  Playa Los Bohios is always a fresh view with every visit.  We've had some beach erosion recently, and the line of palm trees were showing their roots!!  My first impulse is sadness, but I know that the sand will return, just like it does on our own beach!
Black sand beach, with white sand on the bottom
The lighthouse on Punta Tuna is so close to our home, it seems that we always take guests there.  It's good for the view, and everybody loves lighthouses... right?

We wandered around the point, visited with the park hosts and let the wind blow through our hair!  Then we turned back toward home.

On our way here, we noticed that there were surfers at a place along the road called Inches. My son-in-law is a surfer and if at all possible, he wants to surf in every country he visits.  Seeing the longing in his eyes, we returned to Inches to see if he could rent a board for an hour or two...

Well, the surfboard rental didn't open until 11am, so we went to another place to inquire... but sadly, it was not to be for this visit.  Next time we will be ready with a board for him!  So, back to a little place we wanted to try for lunch!

Waikiki was a pleasant surprise!  The inconspicuous spot is just a blip on the way past... but if you stop in and take a look around, you'll find a calm little strip of beach, with an eclectic collection of furniture made from found items.  This is is one of the things I love so much about Puerto Ricans.  They don't need much to make something unique and fun!

Doesn't look like much... but step on down to the beach!
There's a hodge-podge of seating made from whatever!

We enjoyed the breeze and the swings, while waiting for our food!

The food isn't fast, but it's good.  We had a certificate for stuffed mofongo, so that's what we had, but their menu is surprisingly varied!  We will be back here again!

After a late lunch, we all decided to just call it a day.  We spent the evening relaxing and just enjoying the company.

The saddest part of having guests, especially my kids, is having to say goodbye again.  This visit was so short, but we're just happy that we had the time together just hanging out.

Now that we live in Puerto Rico, the flights are relatively inexpensive, so we can plan on many more visits soon!  That makes the goodbyes a little more manageable... So, the next morning, after the kids had their things all packed, we went for one more little walk on the beach for some photos, then we loaded them up and took them to the airport.  As always, I'm a little melancholy on the drive home, but I wouldn't miss their visits for the world!  I'm just so grateful that my kids come to visit, and we are already looking forward to our summer travel plans when we can come to see them in San Diego!

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