Thursday, July 21, 2011

South Carribbean Vacay, Installment Two

 At the beginning of our journey, in San Juan, there was not much time or energy to do any sightseeing. We arrived around lunchtime, too early to check in, so we stashed our bags with the front desk and looked around for my Mom and Dad, my brother, Britton,  sister-in-law, Cathy, nephew Braedon and niece, McKenzie. They had all arrived in San Juan the day before. We did find everyone at the pool with a bucket of cervezas. We were all hungry, so we found a table for a quick lunch. Quesadillas, burgers and fish sandwiches were chosen by most.

I picked the most vegan item on the menu: guacamole, salsa and chips -- not health food, but vegan, as far as I could tell, and very, very delicious. The chips were plantain and root veggies, not tortillas. I regret I have no photo of the meal, which was very sustaining.

Once we got our room and our bags, we donned our bathing suits and took a dip in the Caribbean Sea! It was lovely, but after a full day of travel and a couple of beers I was ready to motivate for a little local flavor, None of us felt like venturing too far out, opting instead for a short walk from the hotel. The part of San Juan where our hotel was located reminded me very much of South Beach, Miami, so it felt comfortable and accessible by foot. We found a wonderful local restaurant which was able to handle our large group of 10 (I couldn't tell what the actual name of the place was, since advertisements for cerveza, entertainment and other things dominated the facade).

The specialty on the menu was Platanos Maduros -- mashed plantains roasted with your filling of choice. Most of us tried it, filled with beef, pork, chicken . . . mine was filled with veggies! The small, cup-sized molded concoction was unlike anything I had eaten before. The flavor was sublime, but the texture, rubbery, and the whole thing had plenty of oil, so it was instantly filling. I opted to eat about half of the oily plantain mixture and all of the veggies. Despite the meal being so filling, I was pleased with my choice for cultural reasons if nothing else. Later, at the end of the cruise, I ordered the same meal at the same restaurant (I asked for other suggestions, but there was really nothing else for a vegan except rice) and was surprised to find that it was much more palatable -- not in the molded timbale shape, fresher and more tender, less oily. I will feature the photo of that meal at the end of this series.

Here are some pics of us at dinner in San Juan, our first night. This is my son, Hans, and my Dad.

Here's my Mom with my nephew, Braedon. This is not the best photo for either -- they are much better-looking in real life, but I want them to be represented. They were tired. Stay tuned for more flattering pics of these two.

Below is my Dad with my husband, Andres. Have you ever travelled to a Latin country with a native speaker? It's fun! I used to speak Spanish many moons ago, but am only able to understand it now, and speak very little. My husband, who was born in Nicaragua and only learned English at the age of 6, was able to connect us with the locals.

Here is my brother, Britton, with my daughter, Wynne. This perfectly expresses the mood of this gathering -- tired, but so happy to be together! We only get to see my brother and his family once a year.

Here I am with my sister-in-law, Cathy.

Finally, here's niece, 'Kenzie, who slept through dinner. Nighty-nite 'til next time!

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