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'Cause sometimes I even surprise the knit out of myself.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

I feel. the earth. move. under my feet.....(and it wasn't from all of the mojitos I consumed this week)

6.1 earthquake. Seriously. Here's the scenario. It's 6:48 AM EST on Saturday, October 11, 2008 in San Juan, Puerto Rico. I am on the 16th floor of the Caribe Hilton Towers, ocean side. I was dreaming I was walking through a hallway on a cruise ship slamming into the hallway walls as I try to keep my balance on the rocking ship, as if to be drunk. I was rolling back and forth on my side in my sleep and the hangers in the closet were swinging and clanging. I thought I may have even heard the distance rumble of thunder. After a few minutes of that, reality kicked in that I was not on the cruise ship in Italy nor was I drunk. I was in a hotel room in Puerto Rico and my hangers were dancing in the closet. Ummm hello? So I opened one eye to see the clock read 6:48 AM, realized I was rolling back and forth on my side pretty badly, heard the rumbling, and started smacking my friend, Wendy to wake up. I needed validation I was not losing my mind or having hypoglycemic tremors. So I jolted her out of sound sleep, where she was being rocked in her slumber by the quake, and both laid in bed wide-eyed for a moment until the waves subsided. We didn't hear any alarms or yelling so we assumed everything was fine. Wendy, not feeling totally spiffy from a sinus cold, fell fast asleep as I lay awake through two more aftershocks lasting another few minutes or so. Eventually, I fell back to sleep myself and then hit the computer to google the quake when I was finally coherent an hour or two later.

We are pretty high up, see? We felt it more than folks on the ground since the center of gravity is less the higher you go up. It was the weirdest wave feeling and not the 2 second, like someone switched on a blender kind of feeling you get in California. We were swaying like rough waves going from port to starboard on a cruise ship. What was freaky about this particular quake was that it occurred on the 90th anniversary of the 1918 quake that killed 118 people in Puerto Rico. I also went to the seismic activity website and posted a report of the quake.

Aside from that excitement, I had a really good mini-vacation. I arrived on Wed., October 8, 2008. My status surprisingly had me upgraded to first for both segments which was a nice addition to vacation mode. I had one of those fully-reclinable seats in first that had like 14 freakin' buttons to control the seat. I hated these seats folks. Upright was not really upright. The upright position held you at an odd angle with your back unsupported, which for my back pain lately, was not a good thing. I felt like an adult laying in a baby carrier. It was that kind of angle so be forewarned if you have a bad back and have to sit in those seats. Grab yourself some pillows for extra lumbar support.

I was picked up and brought to the hotel about 2ish. The first thing I do is run smack into Toby Ellis, a bartending, flair, mixologist rockstar in my book on the way to our room. The International Bartender Association was having their annual meeting at the hotel so the place was h.o.p.p.i.n.g. I hit the on-site Starbucks for a quad-shot (yes I really was that tired), fired up the computer to work for the rest of the afternoon while my friend finished monitoring at her doctor's site, and sat out on the balcony for a few minutes. This was my view from the 16th floor, an old Spanish fort at the ocean's edge.

Here is the view of some of the high rise hotels on the beach in San Juan.

That evening the first order of business was to get myself a nice chilled mojito. We went downstairs to the bar before you walk out to the pools and met our mojito man, Jose. People, he makes the best mojitos I've ever had in my life. Hands down. We then went to an Asian fusion restaurant on property surrounded by banion trees, peacocks and koi ponds. The place was called Lemongrass and we had food that mixed puerto rican flavors with asian. It was damn good too. We had another mojito back at the Oasis bar and took in a local 8-piece Puerto Rican salsa band.

On Thursday, I worked up in my hotel room on the balcony, not a bad deal at all, and my friend monitored her other site during the day. For dinner, we returned our rental car to the airport that we no longer needed and met up with Wendy's local friend who took us to Old San Juan for some authentic Puerto Rican cuisine at a place called Raices. The waitstaff were all in traditional Puerto Rican dress.

This is mofongo. It doesn't get anymore Puerto Rican than this as far as home-style, stick-to-your-ribs, Puerto Rican comfort food. That yellow thing is a crispy plantain chip, which I love to begin with. Mofongo is served in a mortar/pestle style bowl. The plantains are mashed to form a bowl of sorts on the inside. In the middle, you can order different things. I had marinated skirt steak with chimichurri sauce. Our friend had the traditional pork ribs and Wendy had garlic chicken. People, I will just say YUM and leave it at that. To wet the whistle? Homemade sangria, of course, in super-chilled, peasant-style tin cups. What a yummy night. Vacation has officially started.

After getting back to the hotel, we go back to the Oasis bar to acquire some more mojitos and people-watch, which is like a freaking sport. The bar was virtually empty and Jose was off for the night so we were introduced to Rafael and Aventi. We go find two seats on the backside of the bar that faced out to the rest of the semi-open air venue and watched the activity. Tonight was the last night of the bartender conference and their gala black-tie event was just about over at 10PM. We figured the place will be hopping shortly.

Mojitos in hand, we start chatting. You know when you can feel someone staring at you, like eyes burning through you? Yes, we had noticed we were being pervertedly stared and smiled at by two older gentlemen in suits. I use the term "gentlemen" VERY loosely here. We ignore it and go back to our conversation when one of the younger bartenders, Aventi approaches us. He leans in with this apologetic expression on his face and says, "Ladies, the two guys over there told me to tell you that you are......goddesses." He shrinks back as though one of us would smack him. We looked at him like two deer in headlights. Wha? As if in slow motion, we look over at the two men, who then smile, drunkenly tip their glasses, and say "you are so beau-ti-ful with distinct PR accents. We nod thanking them for the compliment and quickly turn away. Aventi comes back again. "Um, they want to buy the drinks you just ordered." We told him we already paid Rafael and nod with gratitude to the men for the offer. Not wanting to really speak with the men who were already two sheets to the wind, we resume our conversation again. Suddenly, I noticed the men were no longer there and stiffened. A hand was on my back. I turn to Wendy and one man was near Wendy's back and the other was positioned between our two stools. So after dribbling about how we are goddesses (please, whatever drunks!) then start the small talk and we politely and cautiously oblige. Son of a ..grrrrr!. They both worked for pharmaceutical companies local to me which means the odds of me seeing them again are pretty high. So after they finish chatting us up and obnoxiously flirting with women at least 25 years their junior, they mosey back to their seats.

Meanwhile, some more people watching opportunities have established themselves around the bar. There was a wasted radiologist who starts to kiss the face off of a man she doesn't know and then smacks him. I mean, priceless and wildly entertaining. The bar is hopping with bartenders prepared to party it up on their last night in town. Germany, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Australia, UK, Finland....all kinds of countries represented. Fun conversations, the music is playing and the perverts return....crud.

At this point, they are becoming more of an annoyance having dealt with the looks, drunken glass tipping, and smiles for the last two hours. Now this time, it's just the mustached pharmacist guy that kind of stared at us in a creepy, pedophile kind of way. He starts rubbing her back and trying to tickle her while conversing to which she quickly addresses him in a more curt manner than previously polite. He apologizes and then moves on to me. I ignored him until he blatantly put his hand on my right cheek through the back of the chair. I lurched forward, roughly grabbed his hand and addressed him. He apologizes again. Now I am feeling very annoyed and a little threatened. The bartenders had been watching them all night and would give us the eye if we felt they were being aggressive or troublesome, in a protective dad kind of way. Little had I noticed, but the 3 gentlemen next to me had also noticed the in appropriate behavior and caught Wendy's eye. By the time, the mustached pervert stuck his knee through the back of my chair and tried rubbing my butt with it saying something about "if the scenario were different". That was it. It's on beotch. This guy was about to get decked, but I wanted to keep my composure. Wendy addressed him abruptly on my behalf and he finally left. By the time, I felt the next hand on my back, Wendy was like no- no, it's ok it's not him since she saw me stiffen and be on my ready to slug the guy or lay out the law, totally out of character for me. Turns out the 3 guys next to us came over and asked us if we were ok. Once the perverts left the building the whole mood changed and we chatted with our new bodyguards, Icelandic bartenders, and Oasis bartenders for the rest of the night. I think it was 3 AM when our heads finally hit the pillow after all of the fun chatting.

Friday was the first official vacation day. We started the day with a fantastic double rainbow.

That is a smug "I'm on vacation look" if I've ever seen one, huh? So we started the day by heading out to Old San Juan again for some shopping and dining options.

Friday night we ended up eating at a Middle Eastern restaurant at outside tables. We had kibbeh, hummous, falafal, marinated olives, bread, baba ganoush and pistachio flan. Of course, more sangria was in order. Two Arabic gentlemen started a conversation with us and we chatted for a little while. We bid them good evening and got a cab back to the resort.

After the earthquake experience on Saturday morning and a few thunderstorms that rolled through, we hung at the resort and explored some more.
Here is the koi pond outside of the Asian restaurant I was talking about earlier.
They followed us all around as if to say, "Feeeeed me Seymour!"

A pair of black and white swans, who were extremely friendly, mingled with the fish, along with the colored and albino peacocks.

Saturday night was our last night in town. We decided to eat at the Spanish tapas restaurant on -site. We chatted with some folks in the restaurant and ate at the bar. We tried a red and white wine to go along with the tapas which were very tasty. After that, we headed over to the Oasis bar for one last mojito and bid our bartender friends good-bye. I am seriously not a lush. I really don't drink alot. I love mojitos though. It's my drink of choice next to Guinness if I am on vacation. Just like Guinness tasting like crap outside of being in Ireland, mojitos are a latin art form, eventhough the drink is really Cuban, but I digress. I get my fill since I know I won't have any for another year until I go back.
This is Willie. I finally got him to crack a smile. He's a little shy you see.
There was another salsa band and our bartender, Jose, would dance around the bar. He was such a friendly, nice man. He spoke to us as though we were his daughters.

We took one last picture with Jose before bidding him goodnight. Maybe next time, Wendy and I won't be so shy to take him up on that Salsa lesson. Thanks Jose!

Next up: RHINEBECK AND RAVELRY PARTIES! Where my stitches at yo???


At 6:49 AM, Blogger Bea said...

Other then the whole earthquake thing (which by the way I'm glad you are all right) this sounds like a good mini vacation.

At 7:45 AM, Blogger KubusKrafts said...

Awesome rainbow! Your view looked great. Glad you had a good time.

At 10:58 AM, Blogger Kim said...

You are a Goddess! I kinda felt bad for you with the old perverts and all but it makes for a funny story. I am confiudent you could've kicked their asses if need be. The earthquake thing would've freaked me out and sent me running out of the hotel. Only a few more days until Rhinebeck!!!

At 1:29 PM, Blogger Edna said...

Sounds like you had a great time except for the earthquake and perverts.

At 8:08 PM, Blogger Shelley said...

I feel bad for the pervs, underestimated your goddess-ity and all. Shoulda known better...

At 11:16 AM, Blogger Robin said...

OMG on the old pervs!! I really hate that - they sound like they were over the top with the butt-rubbing through the chair - EW!

Great vacation pictures though and it looks like a lot of fun, despite the pervs and the earthquake (LOL).

At 11:22 AM, Blogger Jessica said...

Looks like a beautiful vacation if not eventful. I'm so glad the quake wasn't worse! That had to be scary. And creeps are creeps. That's for sure. Glad their were decent people around to back you up if you needed it.

Bring On Rhinebeck!!!

At 10:16 AM, Blogger The Kelly Green Rogue said...

oh my gosh! It's sounds so wonderful! and pretty! and delicious! glad you were able to get a vacation in.

At 1:47 PM, Blogger R a i n said...

Hey babe...glad you're having a great time. The pics are fantastic!

Glad you're safe too. And boo to those sleazeballs!

At 8:23 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The earthquake would have freaked me out-BIG TIME. But it looks like fun otherwise and that shot of you with the rainbow over your head totally rocks!


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