One year ago this week, I brought my beloved husband back to my very favorite Caribbean island, Puerto Rico, to enjoy a 25th anniversary return to la isla del encanto. I had retired at the end of 2019, and Spouse and I planned lots of travel during 2020 with the new free time I was going to have.
Back in the 80s, 90s, and 2000s, I traveled a LOT to this island for…
…work. My line of work had a national scope of interest for public service.
I learned the language by immersion. The locals were (and are) very friendly and encouraging of me to learn their Spanish. I learn well that way, and soon I was understanding them, and later, more able to speak the language rather well. Or at least that’s what my new friends told me.
In February, 1995, I had scheduled another trip to conduct a week of training. I left on Sunday February 5 with training to begin on Monday for the rest of the week.
On Friday, February 10, my beloved man flew to San Juan. I met him at the airport when he arrived that afternoon. I had rented a car, and drove us to the southwestern end of the island where we stayed in a Parador — a local tourist hotel.
We explored the sunny and warm coastline, and relaxed on secluded beaches.
On Monday, February 13, I drove us back to San Juan and checked us in to a really nice, high-class hotel in the Condado, which is a subbarrio of the barrio of Santurce — essentially a neighborhood within the large metropolitan city of San Juan.
That day we toured the El Morro national park in Old San Juan. This is about the most touristy site on the island, and a must-see (once) for people who have not been there to learn the history of “rich port” aka Puerto Rico.
We had a lovely day walking on the cobblestone streets and enjoying the vitality and hospitality of the locals. They were thrilled that I spoke the language, and extended their warm appreciation in the form of special foods we had for dinner.
On Valentine’s Day, we spent the day on the beach that adjoined our hotel. Then that evening, we dressed nicely and walked to a very special restaurant where some local friends had made reservations for us a month previous, because was very hard to get a table at this restaurant, especially on a holiday for lovers.
As I recall, we were treated very well — no difference that we were a couple of men (we were concerned about that. Turned out not to be an issue.)
On Wednesday, we began our return home.
That was a very special Valentine’s Day for us. On return, then, this week one year ago, I wanted to share a special Valentine’s Day dinner with my love once again.
This time, we were staying on the west coast of the island. I had learned how very special the western part of the island is.
Well away from the metropolitan city of San Juan, the west coast is a more authentic representation of the island with which I fell in love.
Being “more authentic” means that few people speak English. But with my long-learned Puerto Rican Spanish, I got along very well.
My husband and I spent the week exploring again, and had a great time. My post on this blog one year ago explains much more of our joyful and fun visit. We especially enjoyed a nice meal at a restaurant on the coast so we could watch a glorious sunset. It was perfect. (Photos of our 2020 trip here.)
As a dear friend from Puerto Rico said to me recently, “I am so glad you came and had such a wonderful time here. Little did we ever think, imagine….”
Yes, little did we know then what 2020 would become and how our world as we knew it would be turned upside down.
However, I cherish these rich memories of joy, love, and togetherness that I will hold in my heart forever.
Life is short: show those you love how you love them.