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Monday, January 23, 2012

Just What I Needed

I famously loathe cold weather...and that's why my weekend trip to San Juan was SO AWESOME. Through the marvel of modern travel, it always amazes me how easily we can go from being freezing cold in the morning to being in shorts with our toes in the sand in the afternoon (although sometimes with the hassles that come with flying). Well, it's an easy adjustment for me, anyway! In a nutshell, San Juan was absolutely beautiful, weather-wise, accommodations-wise, and people-wise. It rained every night and was sunny and warm everyday, and the hotel was just steps away from the beach. How alive we all felt in the warm sunshine!!

The meeting itself, which was all day Saturday and part of Sunday, was very productive.  It worked out pretty well as a meeting place since most of the board members were already there as they had attended the Advanced Winter Institute for their colleges, so only a few of us had to fly in for the actual meeting. I'm always amazed by my NAGAP colleagues, who I'm so proud to call my friends. They have so many great ideas and demonstrate so much dedication to our association! It's a great group whose composition will change in July when a new executive board takes over the reigns, and I hope to be asked back to continue our great work!

Even though we were tied up for a lot of the weekend, we had a couple of wonderful meals (and walks) together. Many of us tried to eat seafood as often as we could, and one night, not being super hungry, I got an appetizer called the "Neptune Platter," expecting it to be delicacies with which I'm already familiar. It wasn't. On my plate was a strange array of treasures from the sea, most of which I did not recognize.
On the plus side:  I ate the octopus drenched in garlic and butter, as well as the single piece of shrimp.
On the minus side: I had no idea what the other two types of fish were. I think one was cuttlefish which looked a little too dark-meated for me, and I think the other was - I'M NOT SURE WHAT...SOMETHING WHITE WITH TUBES.
A regret: I didn't know what paella was and that this particular offering of paella involved a huge tail of lobster. Now I know. Regrets, I've had a few...
While the hotel and beach were beautiful, I found San Juan itself to be pretty run down with lots of abandoned buildings, graffiti, litter everywhere, and shady characters abounding. You even had to be "buzzed"into the small shops around the hotel, which was kind of weird. I spent Sunday afternoon wandering around Old San Juan and at one point I realized I had wandered down some streets where there was no one around and there were no more shops. All alone. My woman's intuition kicked in and I quickly hightailed it back to the more populated areas with all the other tourists. Safety in numbers, I guess.

Also in Old San Juan I wanted to see the two main historic sites: The Castillo de San Crisobal and the Castillo San Felipe del Moro. Due to an unreliable trolley schedule, I was only able to make it to Castillo de San Crisobal. I'm hoping I'll make it to Castillo San Felipe del Morro another time.

While I missed everyone back home (and wish they had come with me!), it was hard to leave such beautiful weather and surroundings. I'm really blessed and lucky to have had the opportunity for such an awesome winter break. It gives me the strength to carry on through the cold, dark days that remain in this winter. Another thought that gets me through: Groundhog's Day is just 10 short days away!!

The Beach - just steps from the hotel 
On a walk
Old San Juan
Narrow Streets of Old San Juan
Old San Juan 
Castillo de San Cristóbal  
Castillo de San Cristóbal 

A little friend

Our hotel

Cammie's Sardines

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