Monday, October 20, 2008

Let's See the WHOLE Island in one day...

So today was AMAZING! We leave on Wednesday we only have a few more days to do any last minute things we want to do while we are here in Puerto Rico. So today we planned to basically see the whole island...okay not really but we did end up seeing a good chunk of it today, and had a BLAST doing it.

Before I go more into today I have to get this side story down on paper, because it has really effected our vacation here in the PR.

So this story is kind of bitter sweet, but I'm just going to tell it straight. Jarom lost his Nintendo DS somewhere between Florida and Puerto Rico. It was his birthday present (that we gave to him early so he could have it before this trip) and unfortunately the much anticipated DS was lost before he even hit the be NINE. It was very sad because we didn't realize it was missing until we got to airport security in Florida, and we couldn't go back to the hotel and didn't have the number for the cab who took us there. We were already cutting it a bit close on time to make the flight so all we could do was call the hotel and hope they found it when they cleaned our room. So far nothing has turned up.

It's an expensive thing to lose that is for sure, but as a result we've had the best time playing interactive games, reading, and talking together on our many journeys this past week versus having the kids consumed with the DS games. So in a weird sort of way I'm happy we were DS-less this vacation. Its opened our minds and encouraged us to hang out the old fashion way without the DS-distraction.

Okay back to today.
We had a bit of a late start...for some reason we didn't hear Scott's phone's alarm. Oh well. We ended up getting out the door around 9:30ish and plugged our first destination of the day Adjutas into the GPS. It is a small city in the center of the island that has a really amazing natural lake right by it. I'd seen a picture of it in a magazine and thought it would be great to check it out. So off we went.

Detour One:
On our way to Adjutas we realized we were going to be driving through Ponce a city I'd read about that was suppose to be scenic and nostalgic. So we decided to veer off the highway, and make a quick stop in Ponce. It was getting close to 11:30 so we thought it would be nice to have a little lunch before we continued on anyway.

Just like most cities Ponce's city center was busy and parking was hard to come by. After circling around for 10 or 15 minutes we got ourselves parked and set out for a quick self guided tour of Ponce. The central square was nice...not quite as impressive as I thought it would be. But we did find a bathroom to use, ate lunch at a great little local joint we found out about, and I was able to get some new sunglasses (the pair I brought is MIA). So over all it was a success! The craziest part of Ponce was getting lost on some one way streets in a near by neighborhood. The homes were more run down than I thought they would be, but it was a learning experience to see what kind of circumstances they live in. Makes me grateful for my home back in the QC.

Here we are in Ponce's city center.

Finally we did find our way out and were off on our way to Adjutas and the mysterious lake. The drive to Adjutas was AMAZING!!! I couldn't believe how green everything was in the center of the island. WOW!! As we drove on the highway we all felt like we were seeing something right out of a movie or fairytale. The thick green trees on each side of the road framed us in as we looked out onto small towns. Thin wispy clouds were rising out of the mountains, and everything about it felt like a fairytale. For a half our or so we found ourselves in the middle of a heavy thunderstorm and rolled the windows down to enjoy the warm rain. I LOVE LOVE family drives and our middle of the island drive in Puerto Rico is now one of my all time favorites. Not only was the scenery to die for, but the company was outstanding. We chatted it up, laughed, and simply enjoyed each others company. One of my favorite things was how nice Jarom and Megan were to each other. I loved how they sang and played together all day in the back seat of our car. What a perfect day!!

Scheduled Stop One:
It only took about 25 minutes to get to Adjutas from only took another 20 minutes once we reached Adjutas to get to the first lake stop...and it only took another 30 or 45 minutes after this picture was taken before we reached the middle of the jungle. Which was so beautiful.

Everything about this island is picture perfect. Unfortunatly I don't yet posses mad picture taking skills so this picture of Scott and the kids standing in front of the lake doesn't really do it justice. Oh well! It does look a bit better when you see the bigger version of this picture, but I think you really had to see it in person to experience how amazing the landscape was.

Detour Two:
So right after we took the picture above we looked at the GPS and it told us we still had one mile to reach our destination. That should have been a red flag seeing how we were already at the lake. But in the picture of the lake in the magazine it had showed a foot bridge crossing the lake and I figured the GPS was taking us to another side of the lake so we could cross that bridge. I had visualized in my mind what it would look and feel like to have us all cross the footbridge, and it was pretty onward we went and the real adventure of the day began.

Pretty soon after we started driving we were all blown away by the scenery and couldn't really focus on anything else. The GPS kept telling us we were a mile away so we kept driving. We drove by lots of tiny houses on hills. Found wild wondering chickens everywhere we looked. Saw plenty of grandmas sitting on porches enjoying the afternoon breeze. But we never again found the lake. We drove through the most densely covered roads with thick trees and ground cover...took lots of pictures...oh and continued to be a mile away from the lake. After about 30 or 45 minutes of driving we began to realize that the GPS couldn't figure out where we were going when it started to tell us to turn and look for 'unpaved' roads that didn't exist.

We were an hour (so we thought) from where our next stop was and pretty soon realized we weren't going to make it even if we did find a marked road soon and were able to get back on the highway. About this time I kind of started to panic. We were totally lost in Puerto Rico, there weren't any homes or people in site, and the GPS which should have been our life line in a situation like this couldn't figure out where we were or how to get us to a real road. Scott thank goodness took control and suggested we say a prayer. After the prayer we reset the GPS and within 10 minutes were on a real road and actually knew where we were going. Whew...what a relief and answer to a very heartfelt prayer. I am so glad the kids were there with us during this experience. Megan pipped up after we were headed in the right direction and said 'I'm so glad we said a prayer. It helped us find our way.' How right she was, and how thankful I am for her faith. I need to have more faith like her!

Scheduled Stop Two:
Even though the GPS knew where we were again, my faith in that little gadget had been shattered and I was skeptical that it would know how to get us off the little back roads and onto the highway we needed to get onto to make it to our beach horse back riding excursion. Eventually I began to trust it again, and finally an hour and a half later we finally made it to Tropical Trail Rides. Scott had called them on our way there to tell them of our situation. We ended up being an hour and a half late, but they were so wonderful and brought in another trail guide who took us on our own private Martineau Family horse ride. It was wonderful! Grace our trail guide was so impressed with the kid's confidence and riding skills that she let us trot and canter with the horses. Which she said wouldn't have probably happened on the earliear trail ride. So it was a blessing in disguise that we were late. During and after we all couldn't help but smile constantly and all of us kept saying over and over again that the entire day had been a BLAST!

Okay one last story...
before I hit the pun intended. Megan and Jarom have been taking lessons for a few months now and the horses they've been riding are trained in the English style of riding and respond to physical and some verbal cues. The horses we were on were today were trained in the Western style of riding and didn't respond to verbal cues. Anyway, Jarom didn't really believe us and was convinced that every time he told his horse to 'canter' it actually responded to his cue vs the fact that the horse in front of him was cantering. Megan heard Jarom and too believed that the horses knew verbal cues. Megan was riding behind me at the time when and I heard her say over and over again the verbal command 'canter.' After about twenty times of saying it she was a bit frustrated that the horse wasn't responded. Scott heard her frustrated little voice, and told her not to be frustrated. He tried to explain to her that the horse responded to other physical cues such as tapping the horse's belly with your heels. He told her the horse didn't understand English and that was why he wasn't responding to her saying 'canter.' She sighed and with a sad voice said. 'Oh Duke (the horse) doesn't speak English. Well Dad its just that I don't know how to say canter in Spanish.' We all got a good laugh out of that. She figured since the horse didn't know English it must speak Spanish, and that was why it wasn't listening to her. So CUTE!

Megan and Jarom were both amazing on the ride, and they kept telling me that they can't wait to tell Cori their horseback riding teacher about their ride on the beach. Megan even accidentally got her horse to break into a gallop and is excited to tell her teacher all about that experience. She was giggling up a storm as she gallped passed us all...she wasn't scared at all. I have to admit I was a little frightened to see her going that fast on a horse, but she held her own and did great.

All the way home we talked about horses, and the possibility of getting horses of our own one day. It was so fun to see the kids trying to think of ways to make that work for our family. Megan and Jarom were inspired and so were we!

It was an amazing day!


Jod Jas Curtis said...

Oh My Gosh- what a fun Family Trip! What are you guys doing over there- just vacation?? I love to read about your fun learning/ teaching skills with your family... gives me some motivation. You are amazing Ande, what a great inspiration.
Love all the pictures.

Dan and Alli Ralphs said...

Love the pictures and the stories!! I love hearing about your life!! I miss you and am so excited to see you next week!!