Wednesday, October 18, 2006

The Love Boat, Day 3

Awoke/hid under covers/in the bathroom/received breakfast. Day Three was under way.

As My Fair Lady groomed herself I flipped through the tv channels available. Apparently '70's programming remains a big draw south of the border because there was plenty of Dallas, The Mod Squad, and The Partridge Family to choose from. I also came across Beverly Hills Cop 3 which I haven't seen in years. It took me all of 10 minutes before I remembered why I have voluntarily not seen it in years.

Breakfast good. Beverly Hills Cop 3 not so much.

Right about then I noticed how scratchy my throat felt. You know that feeling when your body isn't quite sick but that in the next 12 hours it's going to try like mad to make your life hell? I have that feeling then which is reinforced about 10 seconds later when my sinuses start attacking. Naturally I'm puzzled by this since we're IN THE MIDDLE OF THE FRICKIN' OCEAN and my sinuses have nothing to affect them. Of course, what medicine did I intentionally leave at Casa de Skim?

My DayQuill.

My Fair Lady comes in and grabs me to take me out on the rest of the ship and we go around exploring some more. We even wound up sitting up on the deck for a while just people watching. I'd realized before this point how a lot of the people on board, not all but a lot, resembled lobsters who ate too much. As previously noted, the goal of going on a cruise is to shop/eat/tan thineself and if you're not into doing any of these three (or all of them as we were) you start running out of things to do pretty quickly.

We did, however, have one thing to do before departing the ship. My Fair Lady found on the schedule an 11 a.m. world geography trivia challenge in one of the lounges so forthwith we strode with the utmost confidence in our geographic knowledge. We made our way to the lounge and found seating close to where the speaker would be and others soon poured in. When the speaker stepped up and opened his mouth I immediately dubbed him Cabana Boy. If any of you have ever played the truly inspired The Curse of Monkey Island there's a character you encounter who's known only as Saucy Cabana Boy. So it was with this guy and the description was spot-on. His questions though left us stymied as we knew not quite a few of the places he spoke of. We managed to get a few correct but the family near Cabana Boy's podium scored the majority of points and were declared the winner. So, knowing we were geographic failures, we decided to grab something to eat and hit the room.

We made it through lunch in the cafe and then ran back to our room to make sure we had everything prior to disembarking at San Juan, Puerto Rico. We get back and walk out on the balcony to see the island as we pull in. The camera was whipped out and many shots were taken.


Should I ever get around to understanding Flickr then I may upload a few and post a slideshow. We rushed back out the door, flew down the stairs...

And came to a dead stop with about three flights to go. Apparently everyone not named "us" wanted off the ship as well so the line stacked waaaaay up. We wait and wait and just for kicks waited some more when finally the announcement came over the PA that we could disembark. The mad scramble began as everyone started pushing forward. I figured that with so many people in such a crowded spot that we could easily crowd surf our way past everyone.

Note to self: Do not attempt crowd surfing when the ceiling of a ship is barely a foot taller than you.

Once off the ship we took in the sights of Old San Juan. We looked at our clocks and knew we had roughly five hours before we had to return to the ship. It was at this exact minute My Fair Lady and I realized why cruising may not be for us. When we go somewhere new, we dive into the culture and world whole heartedly. We get our hands in it and live as close to the "natives" as it's possible for a couple of whitebread low-key Texans to manage. We explore in as great a detail as possible, yet with the clock running there was no way to explore the entirety of the island. So we settled with hiking about Old San Juan.

That being said we enjoyed the sights. Along the coastline are a couple of Spanish forts so we immediately headed inland towards the first one we saw. If you've never been on an island then be aware that hiking boots/shoes are your best friend. It doesn't matter how hilly they are, the roads built on an island conform to the terrain not the other way around. In the US, we'll blast a hole through a mountain to allow a road to go straight through. On an island, the road will wind and wander around and up and over the mountain before rapidly descending to the other side.

Now apply that principle of road and sidewalk building to any city on an island anywhere and you have a good idea what it's like. So if you're into walking and getting some exercise then it's highly recommended you strap on your boots and hit the nearest island. When we walked into the main city we immediately saw a Starbucks.

Of course, My Fair Lady was going through withdrawals by this point so we headed inside. She was able to mask her twitching long enough to get the order placed without anyone freaking out. Although I think the waitress behind the counter must have seen and recognized the look of pure "COFFEEEEEE!!!" in My Fair Lady's eyes as her beverage was delivered directly.

Once the coffee demon's thirst was slaked we hiked towards the fort on the mountain side. When we walked up to the side we spotted some graffiti across from it that wished death to the policia and the FBI. My Fair Lady was disturbed by this considering her father is retired FBI.

"But why would they want that?" she asked.

"Hey, look over there! A Spanish fort where people were tortured! Follow me!" I shouted. Dragging her into the fort we continued our exploration and discovered just how short people were only a few hundred years ago. I'm 6'1" and my head was almost scraping the tops of some archways inside the fort. The preservation society should be commended though because of their recent edict that all plastering and maintenance performed on the fort should conform to the exact standards used by the original builders. I thought that was quite cool. We walked all over the fort and took many great pictures of the admirable view.

Not to mention My Fair Lady took a shot of me next to a smelted stack of cannonballs. Never let it be said that Yours Truly lacks for balls. I now have the picture to prove it.

We left the fort and continued our wanderings through Old San Juan and again I was grateful for playing video games for the past 15+ years. Why is that, you ask? Because in about two minutes I can break down and decipher any map handed to me and immediately figure out how to navigate a city. If Grand Theft Auto had taught me nothing else, at least it taught me how to read a map while on the run from the Feds. Mere words aren't enough to qualify the gratitude I feel towards developer Rockstar.

Several of the city streets reminded us of New Orleans because of how huge and overgrown the trees were, and how narrow and steep the roads were. Again, island-based construction will conform to the land not vice versa so steep roads are the norm nor the exception. We did some shopping among the street vendors in the central marketplace (things like this are about the only sort of shopping I enjoy) and My Fair Lady picked up a nifty handmade ring that she really digs. We also hit the local Walgreens and grabbed some deodorant for me, though they were lacking in DayQuill.

At least other people would suffer no longer. "Considerate" remains my middle *achoo* name.

Around this time we needed to at least be in the vicinity of the wharfs so we headed back to the main drag where we bobbed and weaved in and out of various stores. We started to get hungry (and by "we" I mean "me") so we looked at the various restaurants and decided on a place called Lupi's. Apparently it's a Puerto Rican sports bar and we were pretty much the only patrons in it. One hopes it was more popular during the lunch shift, but it was still nifty to go in and check it out. We ordered up some insanely spicy, but oh so good, nachos that kicked our butts. then the enchiladas came and we made the mental note that the guys running the place must either love cheese or have an excess of it. The food was good overall, and it was fun looking at an autographed poster of Mike Tyson the whole time.

We headed out after dinner and waddled around the shops some more trying to let our food digest. After perusing more stores we finally made our way to the docks and back on board the ship. From what I recall we pretty much passed out that night considering those enchiladas felt like lead weights in our guts. So we slept with the hope that additional islands wouldn't be so shopping-centric. It felt so much better to have our sealegs back on land though and this truly made up for the previous day. Next up was the island of St. Thomas.

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