Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Vacation in Puerto Rico - 5

Thursday – December 10, 2009
We were able to relax Thursday morning before heading to Caguas. We met up with Danny’s family at the Botanical Garden, which is a newer attraction, built on what was once a sugar cane plantation. Puerto Rico industrialized heavily in the 20th Century. But now there is a burgeoning ecological movement, with increased interest in the early, pre-colonial history of the island once called Borikén. Petroglyphs left by the Taino Indians are on display here, along with flora, fauna, and a rare species of parrot native to Puerto Rico. There is also a replication of an early settler’s shack, with a garden of the type that would have been seen at the time. Toward the front of the facility are the ruins of a sugar cane plantation, with old equipment and displays explaining how cane was converted to syrup, and then into sugar.

Our caravan headed to an open air eatery in Cayey where the cook was offering samples of roasted pork. The whole pig was roasting on a spit, and he chopped off pieces of flesh and gave it right to us. This is not the kind of thing one encounters in the mainland. But I think it’s worthwhile to be reminded from time to time that humans, even vegetarians, feed on death. The rest of the meal was mainline Boricuan cuisine, plantains, cod fritters, and guanimes, washed down with Pepsi (which is far more popular than Coca-Cola in Puerto Rico).

My GPS didn’t seem to be acting up as before, so we decided to return to Fajardo without using the highways. Our trip took us through the rural, mountainous area of Puerto Rico. We passed several horse ranches and farms. I noticed that many of the cows seemed skinny, then realized I was used to seeing American cows, pumped up on growth hormones which are not used here.

The driving left me a bit tired, so I took a nap before heading out to get some evening air by the pool. On the mainland, my favorite part of the day is morning. But in Puerto Rico, I prefer the evening, when the Coquis are singing in the tropical air.

Danny and I had planned to head to a small restaurant called La Estacion, built out of an old gas station. But we found they were not open on Thursdays. So, we headed down the road to Tasca ole Lelolai, which turned out to be an excellent choice. We were seated at a table on the balcony overlooking the Fajardo harbor, and we saw a ferry making its way to Culebra, its lights reflecting in the evening water. Our attractive waiter, Maelo, (have I mentioned that Puerto Rican men are almost universally hot?) told us about some great specials. We enjoyed our drinks and the effect they gave us as we took in the view. I realized once again how lucky I am. Great job, check; Great lover and partner in life, check; Canine companion who loves me, check. Danny and I enjoyed both our appetizers and meals, but were too full to take in dessert. We will definitely be returning to this restaurant on our next trip to Fajardo.

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