About 2 months ago, I decided that I'd had it: it was time for our family to go on holiday. I'm not sure why the need to go on a vacation had come over me so thoroughly and completely. I know, in part, it was because it had been quite some time since I'd been near an ocean or sand or a beach, and when you've spent most of your childhood near an ocean or sand or a beach, every once in a while you are viscerally and biologically compelled to return.
It also might have had something to do with the fact that the three of us hadn't taken a vacation together alone in two years -- it seems that most of our recent trips have been to visit more family or friends, often to attend a wedding or some other major life event. And while these trips have been a lot of fun, they haven't been particularly restorative, or provided much intimate family time.
This situation clearly needed rectifying.
It's not like we could actually afford a vacation, you understand -- my new life, while personally satisfying, to date has hardly been lucrative. Still, I began to do a little research, knowing that we would have to dip into savings to make this holiday happen.
I knew that Mexico would be a cheap option (what with our state being on the border and all), but as much as I love Mexico, our last family vacation was there.
I wanted us to go someplace new.
So I kept looking. Eventually, I came across a vacation package offered by Continental Airlines to San Juan, Puerto Rico. I'd been to Puerto Rico before, but I was a child, and really didn't have any substantial memories of it. Marcus and Alex had never been. Since the package cost less than anything I could find in Mexico, Central America, or even the US (!), plus it would both allow me to both go home to the West Indies and allow us to experience someplace new together, it was the obvious choice.
As soon as we landed on Monday, the airport smelled familiar. There's something about Caribbean airports, I think -- they all have sort of the same smell: a mixture of luggage, salt and inexplicably, burnt sugar. By the time we got in the taxi, I was sure I was home: the topography and buildings look exactly like Trinidad, save for decidedly American touches, like Walgreens, Starbucks, and God-help-me, Denny's (Puerto Rico is, after all, a US territory).
"Marcus, Puerto Rico is like Trinidad and the United States had a love child, and she was raised by her Spanish-speaking grandmother!" I said emphatically and authoritatively.
Marcus stared at me, nonplussed. "You seriously need help," he mumbled, shaking his head and returning to his magazine.
I still think he saw my point.
The five days we spent in Puerto Rico were blissfully restorative. Save for the city bus we took into Old San Juan on our first full day of our visit (a breathtakingly beautiful and historic place), we spent the rest of our days on the beach, reading, building sand castles, journaling, hunting for seashells and bathing in that warm, wonderful ocean.
And after five days in this lovely place, the "Island of Enchantment" with its beautiful people, we have returned to Houston ready to jump back into our routines and our lives.
And I feel like my homesickness for the West Indies has been eased in the most warm, comforting way.
* * * * * * *
Thanks so much for playing along last week, trying to guess where we were! There were some really awesome and rational guesses, as well as some guesses from people who think we're inclined to be far more adventurous in a 5-day vacation than we actually are! However, the first person to correctly identify that we were in San Juan, Puerto Rico was Jessica, who somehow figured it out based on two pictures of merely a flower and a tree. Well done, Jessica! I'll contact you via email for your address to send you some photographs of our holiday, as promised.
This was seriously fun, everyone. I may have to do this again the next time we go on holiday somewhere new -- which, sadly, likely won't be for a while. The good news, however, is that we've made some great memories on this one to sustain me for some time (also: that's one island from life list item number 73 down, 19 more islands to go).
On that note, have a great week ahead, folks.
(P.S. -- Don't forget: a mere 3 days remain for you to get your images and words of peace to me for that photobomb that we're planning to fight hate. I've received tons of your photographs already -- I hope you'll send me a few more!)
Images: All images photographed with my old Nikon D200, and various lenses.
Song: Jaleo by Ricky Martin, one of Puerto Rico's native sons. Listening to this song while looking at the photos above takes me right back to San Juan.