Food things

After a week+ of vacation dining, the fridge was empty and there was a desire for leafy greens and vegetables.

My latest go-to in this instance is a Power Bowl from Piada – grain blend, hummus, roasted sweet potatoes, sweet corn & tomato, roasted broccoli, cucumber salad, pickled red onions, yogurt harissa.

After lunch it was time to restock.

It’s very apparent after seeing a few vacation photos that I need to spend time and effort on physical well-being.

In this spirit, I chose none of the items from this section of the freezer at the grocery:

Freezer section of Kroger grocery with White Castle frozen burgers, corn dogs, Skyline chili, soft pretzels and Sumckers Uncrustables®
Section of the frozen aisle at Kroger

Paperwork

Started the day early getting some documents in order over in Kentucky. Drove back listening to the new Beyoncé album, daydreaming about dancing.

(Of note: it’s so humid my camera lens was fogged up.)

ATL > CVG

Had a cocktail before bed at the Renaissance in the (new to me) hotel area just a short train ride away from Atlanta’s airport. Last time I was at this lodging chain the logo was loopy and the vibe was nondescript. Now it’s all concrete ceilings and black and white art… but there was something a little… cheugy with some of the details.

No mind, we had mere hours to catch some zzzz’s.

Got through Atlanta airport screening five hours later and was confronted with a packed-like-sardines tram between concourses. Already sweaty, a bit out of breath from security, the N95 and generally freaked out by extreme density, I asked an airport agent if it was possible to walk instead.

It was possible! So I doubled-timed it and met up with Casey right when we were due to board.

Whew!

We were home in about an hour and yay.

Photos of hotel below, and snapshot of graphics behind the nearly empty tram station in Cincinnati above. (Delta needs to spread out their hubs again.)

Umpteen hours in the airport

Got to the Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport at 5am and to our gate with plenty of time to spare for the flight. Boarded and settled in only to have the captain come out and say there was a part being replaced and we’d shove off after everything checked out plus some paperwork.

Fast forward an hour and we’re ready to taxi when the captain reports that nope, we’re heading back to the gate to deplane. The part was faulty.

Every few hours the airline would shift departure by a few hours… the entire day. We camped in a remote corner of the terminal next to electrical outlets and would routinely weigh the options: wait it out and be available, or shift to a flight the following day.

Just as we were about to throw in the towel, we received notification for boarding at 7pm.

We didn’t make it home that night, but we at least got to Atlanta and grabbed a hotel for 5 hours before the final leg.

Last night in Puerto Rico

Today was all about doing as little as possible before an early flight. Books consumed. Sounds of waves. Floating in water. Ocean breezes. Dinner delivered.

And just as we were about to go to sleep, new neighbors at the hotel had a huge fight that lasted for many hours off and on while security kept coming up to mitigate. Pretty sure the door banging and name calling ended at 2am.

Lost and found

The beach was dense, denser than the snapshot above. Competing sound systems blasted reggaeton music from every direction. We were there to try and meet up with a woman that found my phone after I dropped it in a frenzy to exit a cab.

(Insert a period of hours, returning to hotel, putting phone in lost mode, and getting a call back to return to the area.)

We got there and somehow she heard the cellphone ring over the cacophony. Even with our broken Spanish she gleaned we were by the bar at the top of the beach.

Two women emerged through the crowds, waving a phone above their head. We rushed together and I pantomimed all the gratitude I could as Casey gave them a hug. I gave them the cash in my wallet as thanks and we parted ways. Mucho gracias on repeat.

(Mental note: Next time traveling, put a message in the local language on the lock screen in case of loss. Apple’s tools to communicate are limited and the requirement of two factor authentication makes using another device really tricky when trying to track it down.)

Aside from this hiccup and happy ending, we really enjoyed the meal that brought us to this local enclave of San Juan. El Nuevo Acuario had excellent cocktails and seafood and the wait staff helped out tremendously letting us use their phone as a wifi hotspot.

Isla Verde

I had “balcony facing ocean” on the wishlist, so we moved to a hotel close to the airport for the remaining days of the trip.

I finished Beach Read—a fluffy, sexless romance novel with repetitive descriptions of crooked smiles and glints in eyes. I’d still read a sequel.

A day at the beach

Spent the good part of an afternoon at Playa Ocean Park in the shade of a palm tree having some Medalla Light, reading a book and watching the kiteboarders.

Later that night I’d look up introduction to kiteboarding videos and then have a subsequent nightmare about the whole process. I’ll just stick to kites on land.

Old San Juan

Picked a heckuva day to visit Old San Juan. The city was hosting a weekend of celebrations for 500 years of existence along with an opening ceremony for an international Regatta. Traffic was at a standstill, so after sitting in a rideshare for an hour we tipped the driver and got out and made a long walk to the first fort, Castillo San Cristóbal.

After that we threaded through the narrow streets in search of a Piña colada. Several places claim to be the inventor of this rum cocktail with pineapple and coconut. We chose the patio of Barrachina. The drink was fine, the food was aight.

There’s a vibe throughout the old city that feels polished for cruise ship folks with a few hours to spare at port.

Closed out the the afternoon exploring Fort San Felipe del Morro and then making the trek back out of the crowds forming in the city, beyond the lines of stuck traffic to hail a cab for the rest of the journey back.

Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Puerto Rico

Traveling is a muscle that benefits from exercise.

I’m often lucky to rely on my friend Chris Pratt (not that one) for joyful travel. The expeditions he’s planned over the many years I’ve known him—Europe, Southeast Asia, Ukraine, South Africa, a hike across Japan—were all incredible adventures with many moving parts, dense and memorable.

This trip to Puerto Rico is much smaller in scale than those experiences—a litmus test to navigate a world with COVID, check out an unknown place and honestly? Just chill the eff out.

My travel muscles weren’t so atrophied to know that a rainy day is a good for museums—so that’s what we did on day 3 in San Juan.

The Puerto Rico Contemporary Art Museum is small (3-4 galleries at any given point in time), but it scratches the itch and involved experiencing different parts of the city.

Felt good to exercise new perspectives.


Cüirtopia

The photos above are details from the Cüirtopia exhibition by Regner Ramos that filled one of the galleries. It was a mixed media experience that told the story of aliens and queer spaces in the Caribbean. Films combined with music, graphic design and these architectural pieces. All together? A really impressive and expansive thing. (That also has a companion website.)


The Museum of the Old Colony

Images below are part of Pablo Delano’s The Museum of the Old Colony, a collection of photographs with original captions that illustrate the colonial oppression imposed by the U.S. on Puerto Rican life. A powerful slice of a much larger collection that is spread out among many venues around the world.


(Re)conocer El Futuro

(Re)Know the Future – A Selection of Works of the Permanent Collection. This last gallery includes artists from Ukraine, Puerto Rico and South America.


Around the neighborhood