Vacation Recap – Part 1

27 May

So we landed in San Juan , Puerto Rico bright and early on Saturday morning. Courtesy our 7 am flight out of NYC that we were at the airport at 4:45 AM for! Call me paranoid!
Our plans for the trip were made with a couple who were one of our closest friends from Austin – K (guy) and V (girl). Less than a week before the trip started K’s sister, A who also I know well,  joined the trip. We have traveled with friends before and have had a mixture of good and bad experiences. This time my main guiding principle for my sanity and peace of mind was to make no plans and have low expectations, to avoid against disappointment. This trip was going to be about rest and relaxation and that was my only aim.
It was raining heavily when we landed on Saturday morning and I was really sad to think that the beach part of the vacation might be a miss.
As our friends had reached PR the night before, we waited for them to pick us up from the airport in the rented car. Once they got there, we went to buy tickets for a ferry ride to an island called Vieques. While San Juan is quite well developed and advanced in terms of infrastructure and services, Vieques is remote and quite untouched in terms of natural beauty. Our plan to divide our time between 2 places worked in theory, except that I felt we lost 2 days – the days of travel from place to place. Bandar was tired out terribly on these heavy travel days too, Her temper and behavior got worse and worse as the day progressed and tiredness set in. Dealing with her tired us out in turn – more so the husbadoo than me as she is such a daddy’s girl.
The other issue was the 6 of us had a crazy amount of luggage with us. I really don’t know how or why this happened but it did. I have learnt from this trip that traveling light is something I have to work on. It became a pain to drag heavy stuff everywhere – from cars to ferries.
We grabbed a lunch of sandwiches and pizza and boarded the 4 pm ferry and had a choppy ride of almost 2 hours across to Vieques. I never thought I would be seasick but I was and had to lie down horizontally after a while. That seemed to help.

Vieques was serene and peaceful, a quiet seaside town. We had rented a house through this awesome rental website called http://www.VRBO.com. Highly recommend doing this if you are traveling with an infant / elderly parents and need access to a kitchen etc.
The house was small but cosy . We settled in for the night after eating some of the random selection of food we had got from home and also purchased before boarding the ferry. I am glad we picked up bread, milk and other essentials in San Juan as there are exactly 2 shops near the place we were staying in Vieques and one of them opened only for a few hours each morning. The locals waited for a weekly farmers market to buy fruits and vegetables. Bandar fell asleep and we settled down to playing a board game with our friends.
We could hear the chirping of tropical birds all night long. Such a lovely sound to fall asleep to.

The next day we woke early thanks to darling Bandar and went for a morning walk to the boardwalk and beach. I loved this morning walk with Bandar in her carrier strapped to the husbadoo. We saw several wild , stray horses grazing all over the island. Bandar admired them from a distance but is such a scaredy cat when one turned and walked towards her!

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We had a lovely walk to the boardwalk and then the beach. There was a slight drizzle and the sand was damp from the heavy rains the day before . We decided to head home , grab some breakfast and come back to beach with our beach gear.
We did exactly that and came back with our friends in tow.
We spent the morning at the beach and Bandar did not really go into the water. Instead she enjoyed building a sand fort with her dad.

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We then went back home to shower and go to lunch.
The boardwalk had a nice selection of places to eat and we found a place with decent vegetarian options.Try this place called ‘Duffys’ if you are ever there, their veggie burger was good.
Food in general was pricy in Puerto Rico. Maybe because all produce is from the mainland. It was almost 6 pm by the time we finished eating and we just walked back home to relax. Bandar’s schedule was really out of whack with recovering from an illness, spending hours in the sun, no proper nap and food on then go. She went to bed early and so did the husbadoo.
The nicest part of these rentals is the fact that they stock it up so well with games, and puzzles. My friend V and I started a 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle after Bandar went to bed. I love puzzles and she does too so it was nice to have a cosy chat as we worked on it together.

The next day we started it off doing something Bandar loved – we took her to a park nearby and she had a blast. It was mid morning and other kids likely were at school so we had the whole park to ourselves. She kept asking – ” Where babus? “. Babus is the word she uses to refer to other kids , courtesy her old Gujju nanny in Austin.
We had rented a car to drive to some of the beaches on the other side of the island.
They were truly beautiful – our favorite was Caracas.
We finally saw the beautiful caribbean blue you see on tourist travel brochures.

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We had lunch again at the boardwalk – A place called “Bananas” this time and brought in the sunset on Caracas beach.
Bandar overcame her fear of water and the husbadoo held her to him as we all played in the water for a long time.
We got back to the house tired out and settled in to have a dinner at home. V , the best cook amongst us made vethalkhuyumbu and potato curry. Alas, the khuyumbu was too spicy and gave us a nice burn when we did our morning business the next day! We worked on the puzzle some more and played board games.
The next day was our last one in Vieques and we headed to the much spoken about farmers market, the locals raved about it and I was excited to get some baked goods and other delicacies. Instead it was one stall with just fruits and veggies and nothing really local. Everything was from the mainland US. Such a disappointment. As there was no time to head out and grab lunch and return the car, we had a poor lunch that day with Maggi and dinner leftovers. We packed up, did a basic cleaning of the kitchen and fridge, sadly wrapped up our 700 piece made puzzle and left to catch the ferry back to San Juan.
I will write about the San Juan portion of the trip in my next post! I hope I am not boring everyone with the details. This blog also serves as my travel log of sorts and I want to remember some of these small details when I read about it years later.

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This is Bandar’s family of dolls that come with us everywhere! They are each only a few inches too and we keep misplacing them. All through our trip they were a great source of stress as we had to ensure we did not leave them behind in the rental houses. The one in front and center is “Babu”. He is her favorite and is the one we lose the most! The other family members left to right are Big Appa, Miss Popcorn ( as she is holding some popcorn), Amma, Appa, Appa Three and Akka. She has named them all. It is a miracle we got them all back home safely!

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12 Responses to “Vacation Recap – Part 1”

  1. Revs May 27, 2014 at 1:41 pm #

    Appa 3? Lol! How adorable!! 😀

    • popgoesthebiscuit May 27, 2014 at 2:13 pm #

      Yes, she named him and the others. The men in the group have to be Appa. Tried to teach her the concept of anna but as she only has cousin sisters , she doesn’t get it yet!I am thankful there is just one amma though!

  2. princessbutter May 27, 2014 at 9:07 pm #

    Nice! Wow, wild horses, there? It seems like food situation is in general tricky for vegetarians like me. But I just eat whatever ghaas phoos I can find.
    Your daughter will be an inspiration to Ekta Kapoor with her doll situation.

    • popgoesthebiscuit May 27, 2014 at 9:38 pm #

      Oh ya ,Vieques is overrun with wild horses that enter the house gardens and eat the tons of fallen mangoes! Funny right?
      I tend to prefer sandwiches and burgers over salads, bring in the carbs and fries!! But will eat a salad as a last resort , of course.
      Ekta Kapoor serial indeed – one mom and 3 men.Awesome!

      • princessbutter May 27, 2014 at 9:46 pm #

        I know! Thankfully most places here do the veggie patty. I am happy. But I crave a good aloo tikki sometimes.

      • popgoesthebiscuit May 27, 2014 at 9:48 pm #

        Ohh yes miss the good ol Alu tikki burger. I sometimes crave the Desi McD’s McAlu tikki burger or whatever it is called. Try and eat it at least once when I go to India. At home here we use the Trader Joe masala burger patties from the frozen section.Pretty decent and filling.

      • princessbutter May 27, 2014 at 9:50 pm #

        Oh ya! I was going to write the same about TJs. 🙂 I like going to McD with my mom cuz she likes the place. She feels all ‘hep’. Haha

  3. Little Fingers May 29, 2014 at 3:55 am #

    I loved your detailed travelogue, it was as if I was there with you. Loved Bunder’s doll collection. I wanted to visit Vieques but we didn’t have enough time, also after visiting culebra we didn’t want to go in that ferry again. It is long and tiring. I found the food pricy too. We ate every meal outside and I felt that was costly plus we ate more than what we needed and added on extra pounds.

    • popgoesthebiscuit May 30, 2014 at 12:22 am #

      Ya ferry was hard on all of us..think hard to do both Culebra and Vieques in one trip unless you really, really are up for it! Food was pricey and not that fabulous anywhere really. Hear you on the extra pounds.

  4. kismitoffeebar May 30, 2014 at 7:50 am #

    Loving tyour travel tales ya! 🙂 Love the detail.Peurto Rice is on our cards for a while now and this almost takes me there 🙂

    • popgoesthebiscuit May 30, 2014 at 8:01 am #

      Pleasantly surprised you like them. Was thinking these last few posts are mostly for my memories as it might be boring for others to read endless details:) Do plan a trip there! Let me know if you have itinerary questions!!

      • kismitoffeebar May 30, 2014 at 8:46 am #

        I will definitely 🙂 And I love it when you write posts for your memories – remains so unadulterated and so open and charming to read 🙂

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