Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Puerto Rican Escape

If you’ve never been to Puerto Rico, you are missing out! A short plane ride from Miami lands you in the lush tropical US territory of Puerto Rico. But this was no ordinary vacation to Puerto Rico. This involved months of planning and coordinating travel plans with 3 other couples all of whom are my neighbors . . . I must admit that I hoped that we all would get along as well on vacation as we did back home on the cul de sac. I didn’t need to worry about that as everyone got along fabulously! Here are a few of our highlights and thoughts:
Diversity. Puerto Rico is fabulous for people watching as you seem to get all sorts of different people on the streets and beaches given the heavy cruise ship and casino traffic. Stiletto heels and mini-skirts abound!
Amazing food. Somehow each meal was better than the one before. Some of our favorites in and around Old San Juan include: Marmalade, DragonFly, The Parrot Club, Solera, and Buddha Thai.
The beaches. The beaches were gorgeous regardless of if the sun was out or not. When you live in Minnesota and it has been snowing since October, a Puerto Rican beach takes on a touch of heaven.
The mojitos. We made it our mission to sample a mojito at nearly every establishment we visited on our stay. Our favorite mojitos were at the Nono Bar in Old San Juan.

Flirty security agents at the San Juan Airport. Why aren’t the passenger screeners like this back in the States? But then, most everyone down here seemed quite happy and content.

I certainly hope to return to Puerto Rico someday to indulge in the other parts of this beautiful island.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Thoughts From My Window Seat

Why is it that I always feel so calm and at peace with myself and the world when I’m strapped into my seat on an airplane speeding down the runway at take-off? Maybe it is because I’m temporarily not in charge of getting from Point A to Point B. I’m along for the ride.
Now some of my friends and family could not ever really relate to this feeling of elation upon becoming airborne given an innate fear of flying. Any fear I might have is quickly replaced by freedom. Freedom, definitely. That freedom feeling is much strong when flying solo, like tonight. I checked my bag and headed to the security line, feeling a bit naked without three kids and their stuff in tow. I felt like I’ve left something behind. I did. Responsibility for anyone but myself. As a mother of three, this was a rare moment. As much as I love my children and spending time with them, there is nothing quite like going on a pleasure trip with the children in good hands at home.
For some reason, my plane is flying incredibly low tonight. At first, I was half expecting to turn around given our proximity to the earth. But here we remain. Low. I know that we are low because all of the little planes are coming down in altitude from the heavens above my plane to land at the airports below. I can make out street lights, traffic, and the occasional McDonalds golden arches. On this perfectly clear night, never before have the lights of Cedar Rapids, St. Louis, and all of the places in between looked so beautiful. All of the cities and little towns lie glittering below my feet. The bright stars in the sky replace the extinguished city lights as we fly out over the pitch black darkness of the Gulf of Mexico.  Until Tampa Bay and Sanibel Island shimmer in the distance below, spread out like jewels in the inky dark of a March night.
Perhaps flying solo lends a certain calmness to the crazy life of a mother. Maybe The Killers blasting on my iPod helps as well. There is no one but a stranger beside me, and she certainly won’t demand my iPod to watch Toy Story. Regardless, as I gaze out of my window over the wing, I’ve found a reassuring, if temporary, peace.