Monday, January 6, 2014

Snow Bound

Playa Combate, Puerto Rico

Snow bound in Puerto Rico? Yes, I am. My sister and her family live in Puerto Rico and after Christmas, I traveled home with them to celebrate the New Year. And then the snow and cold hit most of the mainland, stranding me here. I was to fly out yesterday, but will enjoy one more week of the sun as the airports can't recover from all of the weather moving through.

4 Kids and Boats: the name of the boat was meant to be 4 Kids and a Boat 
(my friend Ken named it), but it didn't translate well.
A year or so ago, my brother-in-law bought a boat from a marine biologist from the local university in Puerto Rico. In the past, we just motored over to a little island about 10 minutes away from the shore, but as they have gotten familiar with the waters and the boat, they've been venturing out to other locations. On the first day, we headed to Playa Combate with a boat full of family (cousins). I was nervous ... I've not a lot of experience on boats. And we are in the Caribbean Sea ... not a rinky
dink little resort lake in Michigan. What no one told me was that on the way to Playa Combate, we would have to cross a large bay. And for some reason because of the way the water moves in and out of that bay, we would encounter waves. Oh Lord! My niece sat next to me, and I held on to her so tight that I thought that I would break her little self in half. I swung a life-preserver around my neck, and said a prayer to God and Jesus. Naturally, the kids were all squealing as the boat slammed into the sea, rose, and fell hard again spraying everyone with buckets of salt water. That torture lasted for about 15 or 20 minutes before we arrived to safe waters and the playa. It was idyllic, and my sister and I enjoyed a relaxing afternoon on the white sand while the kids all took turns speeding around on various water sporting toys.

When everyone loaded for the return, I had no idea what was in store for me. Apparently with the tide coming in, the waves would be even greater. It was smooth enough until my niece whispered, 'here it comes.' I think that I've blacked out some of that experience, the sea was so rough. At one point, Qui Que, my brother-in-law's brother, had steered the boat parallel to the waves, and the boat began to pitch toward it bathing us in even more salt water. I heard my brother-in-law yell, 'go right into the wave. Fast.' Of course, that was all said in Spanish, but I got the gist of it as I clung to the boat as best that I could. My sunglasses were coated with salt, so visibility was very low. For the most part, my eyes were closed tight. I thought it best just to feel it happen; rather, look ahead, anticipate, and worry whether we'd clear the next wave. On one wave, my youngest niece flew off of the front cushion, and I imagined her bouncing out of the boat altogether, which I wasn't at all convinced that I could prevent as I was having a hard time finding my equilibrium.

Obviously, I survived. On the other side, everyone breathed a collective sign of relief. My sister had some words for her husband: Didn't you check the boat advisories? Apparently, the waves were at a point where they would suggest that small boats stay close to land and in calmer water. I was surprised to find that I had any nerves left after that carnival ride, but I did. When I stepped on to the dock, I nearly kissed the ground, but instead went to look for a big glass of wine.

Surf Lessons
The next day, we headed to Rincón so that the cousins could all take a surf lesson together. Rincón is the surferman's paradise in Puerto Rico. The guys who were on hand to give the lessons all lived in PR for only 6 months of the year, and 2 of the 3 were from the Midwest. The beach is beautiful, and the kids were successful even though it was the first time surfing. There's not much to tell here, but it definitely was something to see.

I've been visiting Puerto Rico for over 18 years now, and I have gone through Rincón as it is near to where my sister lives, but I haven't spent any real time there. The beach was beautiful. The waves good for a first time surfing: 2 to 3 feet. Afterward, we went up the mountain to a new breakfast restaurant: The English Rose. It looked out over a lovely valley toward the sea. I haven't ever been to a 'breakfast' restaurant in PR before ... we split up over 4 tables as the place was small, and I had a grand view of the scenery from a shaded balcony. Many Americans appear to camp out on this part of the island for the winter months. The town square was circled with beer pubs and the like. Now, as the kids get older, I imagine that I will spend more time checking this 'new' area for me out.

My niece also is a natural.
Later, at the beach as the sun set, the moon rose and spilled its shine across the sea. My youngest niece grabbed my hand to sit on the balcony to enjoy the view, wrote this:
My nephew gets right up.

The Dark Windy Night
By:  Caroline Ibañez

Those cold breezy nights
where you can see nothing
but dark water
and moon making
a white path
along the horizon.
You can’t hear anything
but the crashing waves
along the shore.
While the moon
is slightly shining
among the palm trees
you hear a silent breeze
in the air
while I sit here
with my sister and my aunt Carol
who look at this view and its beauty.

Not a bad place to be snow bound. School is closed for a second day, so I will only miss 3 days now. Today is 3 Kings, and the family is over at my sister's house. We had rice and meat, and my sister made a wonderful Chicago-style piñón ( a plantain-like lasagne). Tomorrow, we will go back to the beach, and I may just get on that boat again.

No comments:

Post a Comment