Good Times in PR 2: In Which Your Girl Eats Half The Island Before Heading Home

My lovely week in Puerto Rico is over.  I managed to leave without sobbing like an Italian mafia widow at the airport but I did get the requisite amount of subtle tears (two) out on the plane as we took off, my take-off delayed by the presence of a five foot long iguana on the runway, which being endangered species in PR had to be shooed off by three security guards.

I cannot believe how much more familiar and homey PR feels than it did when I was young.  What’s most familiar, perhaps, is the way that people are, and that’s probably because I’ve finally realized that, even though I may not have the same slang or be into the same things that I always assumed people there were into, it doesn’t matter in the least—I drop the s off the end of my words, just like everyone else, and I can eat a medianoche (Cuban pork, ham, and swiss cheese sandwich on soft, slightly sweet yellow bread) at midnight and not die of indigestion (much less  be put off by the idea of eating it at that time), and my cousin’s cousin is my cousin and my uncle’s colleague friend is my uncle, and I know who needs to be asked about, and I know that you never say no to any relative’s  food offerings, no matter how full you are.  And, when the temps go down to 75, I shiver just like my peoples and complain about the cold.

THAT is what matters.

So let’s get back to business and talk about the rest of my time there, shall we?

Wednesday:

We woke up to some tentatively sunny skies and went to Ocean Park beach in hopes that the sun wouldn’t disappear.  It didn’t!

After a couple of hours of beachery, we made our sandy way to my uncle’s house, where my uncle, cousins, pool, cold beer, rice with onions and bacon, and churrasco were waiting:

As were a set of masks bought for my uncle’s gradnson’s party last month.  What can I say?  Give us masks and we’ll wear them:

After more than enough fun, I was deposited back at my aunt’s house, ready for some good sleep.

Thursday:

I started the day off the way every day should be started off, with mallorca bread, coffee and juice:

We then rushed off to do a bit of last-minute touristy shopping in Old San Juan (and some unavoidable sandal shopping at the Old San Juan Marshall’s–it may sound like a lame thing to do, but they have the best shoe selection of any shop in PR, as far as me and my well-dressed female relatives contingent are concerned).  We then met with my aunt and took the ferry to Catano, a small town on the other side of the lagoon from San Juan, with the sole purpose of finding ourselves some great mofongo:

For the uninitiated, mofongo is a dish made from fried plantain slices that are mashed up with garlic into a ball with an indent or hole in the center, into which a variety of fillings can be added.  The most traditional is bacon or fried bits of pork, but I couldn’t contain my excitement when I saw that they had garlic prawn mofongo on the menu, so that’s what I had:

It was the size of my head.  I heroically ate about half, and sampled some of Linz’s (made with garlicky chicken and sweet plantain):

And my aunt’s, which was the more traditional pork-filled mofongo:

Stuffed much?  Plenty–and we still had to manage a pizza dinner at my grandfather’s that night.  I am almost ashamed to admit it, but a few hours later, I managed to make a dent in the pizza just fine:

Magno's is THE longtime family-frequented pizza joint

The Panamerican pizza--white sauce, sliced tomatoes, ham, onion, cheese

I can honestly say that Thursday’s eatings were beyond too tasty and too much–there will be plenty of brothy soups and fresh salads after the fried-and-cheesy-fest.

Friday:

My last day in PR rolled in way too quickly.  I finished my packing, savored a last breakfast at my aunt Annie’s house (mallorca bread and coffee again–when in Rome, right?), and said my goodbyes to my favorites of her seven cats:

Victoria, the latest arrivee

Leonardo, the gentlest of the cats

A rare calm moment with Cheese Treat, one of the wild ones

We then went to my grandmother’s house for some goodbyes, and being a good Puerto Rican family, that just couldn’t happen without a veritable parade of fried goodies appearing out of thin air from my grandmother’s kitchen:

Baby Bel and Lindz chomping on some empanadillas (guava-cheese, guava, and corned beef), plus surullitos (corn and cheese fritter sticks, to be dipped into a garlicky mayonnaise-ketchup mix)

And then, before I knew it, my uncle arrived to give me a lift to the airport and it was time to go, sniff sniff….

Sigh.  It’s not even worth saying, but I had a great time, and I can’t wait to go back next year–and hopefully stay for good sometime.

So life goes back to normal around here, in hot reassuring Trinidad.  I’ll be back tomorrow with the usual topics, including some new additions to the household goods department around here…

Earning My (Running) Stripes

I think I’ve crossed the ultimate aspiring running geek hurdle:  getting a good run in before X (insert good thing or event).  Sure, I can drag my rear out of bed when I know I’ll have a vexacious or hellacious day and know I’ll need the adrenaline to keep me from tantrums or bad behavior, but I’ve really become attached to those runs that mark good events, milestones, or occasions.

Proof:  I kicked off my birthday two months ago with a great morning run to set the morning runs into gear, I had an amazing final pre-carnival run that confirmed my endurance for the dancing and debauchery that came after, and this morning, I set off on my longest-ever run to get a good glow (and sense of virtue) before setting off for Puerto Rico tomorrow.

I was so excited about the run that I spent all day yesterday plotting a playlist (that came halfway through, no thanks to itunes–y’all know how I despise itunes) and obsessing, and I barely slept because I kept waking up and thinking I shouldn’t be taking sleeping breaks while running.  Utterly ridiculous, I know.

This morning, I woke up to less coldiness than yesterday and jumped out of bed to run.  Everything had been set up, right down to plugged-in Nike+ and headphones.  No problems, no excuses!  Off I went to whomp it.

And whomp it I did!  I was so focused on the new playlist and keeping an even pace that I was shocked when NikePlusLady informed me that I was at the mile point, and absolutely ecstatic when the two-mile point came and went.

At mile three, I still felt great (none of the usual nausea, probably because I wasn’t running for time and therefore speeding) and when I saw two squashed frogs and the morning chickens on their walk, I took both as good signs.  I didn’t need more than a quick thirty-second walk break and, despite the fact that the soles of my feet started feeling a little put-upon, I felt absolutely fine.  I was distracted by the sights of the extra mile loop:

  • plenty of sneaky illegal hose usage on the extra mile loop (water shortage, people?  Worst dry season on record? Bet you’ll regret it when you’re washing with juice and baby wipes in May)
  • a group of about fifteen Chinese construction workers clearly living in the house they have been building and which is half built (no doubt about it–they were showering under pipes in the back of the house and performing all other morning ablutions)
  • a kid playing with his very scary-looking dog–with the gate open, eek
  • a man in a full-length overalls and big headscarf getup–in the morning’s already-sweltering 85 F!–mowing the lawn while ostensibly on the telephone

So distracted, in fact, that when the 400 meter mark came up, I was shocked–and I kept going right to the end, at which point there may have been some loud excited expletive-yelling from me as I jumped up and down in excitement.  I was so good that Lance Armstrong congratulated me.  Really!  I felt like I’d crossed a very important line between being able to run a 5k runner and being a distance runner, a significant indicator that yes indeed, I really am a runner.

And, with March 1 having been my official “observed” runniversary and four races in four months, I think it was about time I realized it, I think.

Final stats:  4.03 miles, 40:38, 10:05 pace.  Combined with my trip to Puerto Rico tomorrow and the realization that baseball season is less than a month away, I am unbearably giddy as can be.

___________

Worn today, the last work outfit until March 15 and a recent favorite combo:

Charity shop shirt, Puerto Rico Marshalls skirt, Target boutique shoes, self-made smirk

Shirt detail--pardon the bad ironing job

As for the eating of champions, hunger got the best of me at breakfast and at lunch and there are no pictures of yet another bowl of banana oatmeal or of the reheated African sweet potato and vegetable peanut stew.  At least I remembered to snap before chomping at dinner-time:

Green bean, bok choy, garlic and sesame pasta

I’m off to finish packing!  Posting may be a bit sporadic for the next week but worry not–I’ll bring you as much Puerto Rico fun as I possibly can in between family gabfests, competitive eating, and lots of exploring.