Fun in Puerto Rico

This was my first time ever to the caribbean, and it was very interesting. I think I’d like to come back for a vacation or when I can otherwise spend a bit more time…

So this marked my first trip to Puerto Rico and visit to the Amgen facility in Juncos. With all the hurricanes this year, I was initially a bit apprehensive, but the weather was sunny, hot and tropical every day. If I had known, I would have brought some shorts to wear. It certainly was different from CO and RI where it’s already showing signs of winter.

One of the best things is that my company has a deal with the Ritz Carlton hotel, and that’s where I stayed. It’s beautiful—located right on the beach in Isla Verde near the airport. It’s a bit of a drive to the office, but worth it. I would have loved to be able to spend more time there enjoying the resort services: maybe a massage at the spa, hang out by the pool or in my own hammock on the beach, maybe jet skiing, whatever. Unfortunately, there wasn’t time (and I’m in absolutely awful shape anyway). I definitely must plan for more time on my next visit. Here’s a photo:

Welcome to poolside at the Ritz Carlton San Juan

The classes at the office went fairly well, but I did have some technical issues in the end. Of course, with a huge time difference, there really wasn’t much I could do about it so I worked around. The people were really nice and everyone spoke English perfectly—way better than my ersatz-Spanish. The funny thing, though, is that I could really understand a lot of what I read and heard in Spanish. By the end of only three days, I feel like I could almost just start speaking Spanish at will. It really would be a very short leap for me to learn.

Again, there wasn’t much time at all for sightseeing. I’d originally intended to take a vacation day on Tuesday, but got some more sessions booked for then. After some fancy juggling, I managed to only have to go in in the late afternoon, so spent the morning visiting Old San Juan and especially the Spanish forts. WOW! They were truly amazing and totally reminded me of Pirates of the Caribbean—both the movie and the Disneyland ride. They even had the same damp, musty, dungeon-like smell. I pretty thoroughly explored both San Cristobál and El Morro and took lots of photos and videos. I only wish I’d had a couple more hours so that I could have wandered through the town of Old San Juan itself and look at the other buildings. Again, all the more reason to return someday. Here’s a photo:

Inside El Morro

Oh yeah—one more thing about Puerto Rico: driving. I’d been led to believe that PR was a veritable hell-on-earth when it comes to driving. Consequently, when I first arrived—at night, in a place I’d never been, not knowing how to get there—I was understandably paranoid. But once I’d successfully seen the world in the light of day and navigated the hour drive to the office, I actually realized it’s not so bad. To qualify that statement, they are indeed wild drivers and you can see all manner of goofiness. But, having said that, I kind of enjoyed the challenge. Being a native-born Los Angeleno, I know a thing or two about “assertive” driving and actually had fun. I did spend some time on the road laughing out loud at some of the things I saw, but I never saw an accident. It seems that if everybody’s applying machismo to their driving, at least they’re paying attention. So my estimation is that driving here is not for the faint of heart, but other places are worse (like, for example, Italy—at least as I remember it…)

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