Monday, February 14, 2011

Departure: Puerto Rico (And a UNESCO World Heritage Site)

We just got back from an adults-only, 5 day trip to Puerto Rico. It was a fantastic vacation. I grew up in New York City and the islands aren't very far away, but for some reason I never made it down until now. I guess I didn't think it exotic enough (or maybe because it wasn't really far away, I never thought about it as a destination...) But our 16 month old was going to stay with his grandparents in Larchmont, so we couldn't venture too far and we needed some place relatively close (read: New Zealand was out!). 
Maybe it was all the billboards advertising Puerto Rico or the fact that my husband found really cheap tickets, but our destination was set: Old San Juan and the island of Vieques. 
The weather could not have been more perfect: 82 degrees and sunny every day we were there. We walked around Old San Juan, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, saw the forts, the various architectural styles at we ate...boy, did we eat. We had mallorcas (this recipe looks fantastic) at La Bombonera and Cafeteria Mallorca, as well as beans and rice, plantains and yucca. The mofongo and flan at El Jibarito were fantastic- classic island dishes that were big on flavor. My husband had ceviche and mahi-mahi that he said were terrific. We had salads dressed with passion fruit dressing, paellas, snow-cones and bean dips that were so delicious.   
The biggest treat, and hand-down the highlight of our trip, was kayaking in Vieques. We signed up for a night tour that took us to Mosquito Bay, which has the highest concentration of bioluminescence in the world. Every time our paddle hit the water, it would make a glowing ripple. Then we got to jump into the bay. Our bodies were aglow. Aglow! It looked like someone was shining a flashlight underneath us. It was a truly memorable and wonderful experience. 
The next day we took a publico (taxi) over to Red Beach. It was the most spectacular beach I'd ever been to (well, okay, there was some winners in Hawaii as well). Let's just say that Coney Island can't compete with this one. The waters were so pristine, so clear, so was amazing. No pollution, no trash - just gorgeous white sand and stunning water that we swam in for hours! Yes, hours. There was no undertow and that water was really calm. I did think about my friends and family stuck in another ice storm a few thousand miles away, but then the warm waters lapped at my feet...and I applied another coat of non-toxic sunscreen and closed my eyes:) 
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