Impressions of Puerto Rico (Part I)

I have a post started about Puerto Rico and why Tom was there and the state of health care, etc. But instead of finishing that post, it’s much more fun to make a list of my impressions of Puerto Rico. Now, I’ve been before a few times. Tom and I went once or twice by ourselves and stayed with his dad and step-mom in their condo. I can’t remember for sure if this was one trip or two trips that have gotten mixed together in my (really bad) memory. We ate coffee ice cream on their balcony, watched movies, and had a good time. I remember going to El Yunque, to Old San Juan, to Ponce to spread the ashes of Tom’s Granny in the Caribbean, and to lots of dinners. I remember Tom’s step-mom picking up breadfruit at a road-side stand and making tostones with that and platano.

The next trip I remember was also a long time ago. We went to Puerto Rico, along with Tom’s mom and uncle, because his Grandma Jane was dying of cancer. We all stayed together in a hotel in the Condado area. It was nice because we could walk all over the place: to the beach, to restaurants, bars, etc. Despite going for such a sad reason, we had a lot of fun. I remember Tom’s uncle having “heterosexual moments” as he called them. The women in Puerto Rico really get dressed up to go out on the town, let me tell you. I remember going out for Cuban food, going in the ocean in a rocky area and getting thrashed by the waves (and then Tom’s step-mom making some comment about my weight and how that was somehow to blame?).

I remember her not being all that kind to me before we had kids, but perhaps it was, at times, a miscommunication, despite the fact that her English was very good and 1000 times better than my Spanish! I’m not sure how she felt about me, but I cannot complain because she was always 100% terrific with the kids. She was fun and talked to them and played with them, until the last trip they made to Phoenix when she was not as spry. Still, she did as much as she could on that trip. Anyway, I remember being mad at her on that trip to Puerto Rico, but I also remember having a lot of fun.

The visit before last was when Aidan was about 8 or 9 months old. I remember sitting on the back patio of Tom’s dad and step-mom’s house, listening to the coquis and helping Aidan cruise around the table they had on the patio. I remember the loud window air conditioner in the guest bedroom and the rooster that one of their neighbors had. We found it annoying. How funny is it that now, more than 5 years later, we have our own roosters? I remember seeing Tom’s uncle’s long-time girlfriend (there really should be a better way to say that… significant other? partner?). We visited her house, listened to music, and she gave us a picture of Tom’s uncle. I remember having lunch with Viola, who is Tom’s grandfather’s second wife. At this point, both of Tom’s grandparents, as well as his two uncles, had passed away. I remember that it rained every day we were there, except the last day. That was when we went to Old San Juan. I remember carrying Aidan in a sling and walking all over Old San Juan. Old San Juan, by the way, is quite hilly. It was a workout, that’s for sure. And I was not in nearly as good a shape as I am now. We had lunch there and also did some quick pictures of us with Aidan standing by El Morro.

This is a picture of a street in Old San Juan. I think Moira took the picture, or maybe it was Tim.
puerto pico 288

This most recent trip was really fun, despite Tom’s dad being in the hospital. We stayed at a nice hotel resort, where we got a discount because Tom’s step-cousin (his step-mom’s nephew) works there. We saw some sites, but mostly we went to the beach and played in the ocean and with the sand. For Tim, the kids, and me it was more vacation than anything else. We went there to see Tom’s dad in the hospital, but the kids could not see him (no kids under 12 are allowed to visit). We went there to support Tom, who was very lonely and overwhelmed. We went so the kids could see their dad and see part of their own heritage and ethnicity. It’s the first time they realized that they are Puerto Rican. They knew that Ito (that’s what they call Tom’s dad) and Tita (what they called Tom’s step-mom) lived there. They knew Ito and Tita spoke Spanish. They knew their dad spoke Spanish, but hadn’t really heard him speaking it conversationally. I think the trip was an eye-opener for them, and that’s good. My only regret is that we had not visited in the last 5+ years. I vow that we will definitely go more often, and not just for the good food.


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