Depart for Puerto Rico

Trip Start Oct 17, 2006
Trip End Oct 23, 2006

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Where I stayed
Water Club Hotel

Flag of United States  , Georgia
Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Somewhere between unpacking snow boots from our ski trip to Steamboat Springs, Colorado in January and searching for swim trunks for our trip to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in April, I planned this trip to San Juan, Puerto Rico. My plan is to travel someplace every three to four months; and so far this year, we've done that.

After Rio, it was Barbados in July. Then I was off to New Orleans, Louisiana to visit my family and to see how my hometown is recovering after last year's hurricane. Two days after returning from there, we were off to Hilton Head, South Carolina for a conference with Anita's job. We couldn't resist a quick trip over to Savannah, Georgia for a few days of antique shopping and sight seeing, and then we were back in Atlanta. That was just two days ago; and here we are again off on another trip. I could really get used to this life! Many have asked me how do I do it, I just say it's hard life but I'm getting use to it.

With an early morning wake-up for our long drive to the airport through freeways jam-packed with grouchy workers trapped in the "rat race," we inched our way through the traffic with thoughts of sandy beaches, spicy Latin food, and a million questions from Anita about what our hotel would be like. She didn't have a clue about the boutique hotel I had booked for our stay in San Juan; and I wasn't about to give away any of the details. I love a good secret.

A stopover in Orlando to change planes and airlines, and then we were on our way for the 2 -hour flight to San Juan. Upon arrival, we were greeted by a group of musicians banging drum-like percussion instruments, blowing trombones and singing a lively tune that we were sure was intended especially for the Globetrotters. We needed that little welcome, because this next surprise was more of a shock.

A brief conversation with the helpful young hostess at the visitor information booth revealed something we hadn't, and couldn't' have, planned for. All we wanted was a taxi to our hotel. Who could have guessed that just three hours before our flight arrived that all taxi drivers in the city of San Juan would go on strike! Perfect timing; and a perfect opportunity for the Globetrotters to go into "Plan B" mode.

Some people might have decided to rent a car or hire a private driver; but not us. We decided to do what any adventurous globetrotter would do in this situation - we would take the city bus. Rolling our luggage to the upper level of the airport, we found the bus stop, asked a guy which bus we should take, and we waited, and waited, and waited. Finally, a bus appeared in the distance. Yes, it's the #40, just what we want. Here it comes, we gather our bags and ready ourselves to board what we anticipate is an air-conditioned vehicle. But the driver zooms right past us. What's up with that?

Undaunted, we head to a different bus stop with more people so the next bus can't possibly miss us. After chatting with a few other disappointed travelers, a man makes an announcement that the taxi strike is over for now. Good news. Just as the announcement is concluded, a taxi seems to appear right before us. "The Water Club on Isla Verde," I instruct the driver as we hop into the taxi. And we're off on the 10-minute ride.

Anita couldn't wait to get out of the taxi and walk through the etched glass doors of The Water Club Hotel, into the stark white lobby with sandstone tile floors, ambient music that was a mix of trendy Latin funk and techno-hip, and a glass enclosed water wall that gave the illusion of being on one side of a waterfall. The lobby alone was great, but our room really topped that. Exiting the elevator on the seventh floor, we walked into a small, but impressive room with the king-sized bed in the center facing an awesome view of the Atlantic Ocean. It don't get no betta!

Trendy furniture of polished chrome and wood accented the space, and the fluorescent blue lights that crease the wall/ceiling along the wall opposite the picture window illuminated a mysterious haze from behind sheer white curtains and gave the impression of ... what else .... Water.

If you've been keeping up with the Globetrotters, you know that we like surprises. One of the surprises on this trip was to visit Anita's niece, Kristin, who is attending the University of Puerto Rico (UPR). She has no idea we're coming. From atop the terrace of The Water Club, sitting by the pool overlooking the ocean, Anita calls Kristin. After a round-about explanation of having met a young man today named Miguel who had recently graduated from UPR (this is true; Miguel works at the front desk of our hotel); Kristin asked how in the world could we have met someone from UPR, who currently works at a hotel in San Juan. Then Anita said, "I met him here, in San Juan," I could hear Kristin screaming on the other end of the line. "You're in San Juan! Oh my gosh!" She was ecstatic. "Is Michael with you?" she asked. And then Anita handed the phone over to me. Needless to say, Kristin was overjoyed that we were there for a brief visit. We agreed to hook up with her tomorrow after her classes.

We decided to get the lay of the land surrounding our hotel, so we headed off walking down Isla Verda past the Intercontinental Hotel, El San Juan Hotel and the Ritz Carlton. No doubt, we're in good company around here. After our dinner of Caesar salad and chicken fajitas at Lupi's Restaurant, we decided to drop a few coins in the slot machines at the El San Juan Casino. The first machine we stopped at looked like a winner, so I slipped in a $5 bill, hit the button a few times and in no time the machine paid off with $37! Definitely not a big win, but enough to cover the cost of dinner. Now that's what I'm talking about. Anita thought she was feeling lucky too, so she slipped in a $20 and came up empty-handed. Oh well, that's the way it goes sometimes. We'll see what treasures and pleasures tomorrow brings.
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