Do you remember the film EDtv with Matthew McConaughey? It is not the greatest film of all times but there is this joke about what you would get if FedEx and UPS merged – Fed Up 😀
Well, on Saturday we had a great time thanks to these two shipment companies – and all the activities were for free! It felt a little strange to be invited to this kind of company event as I have never worked in the corporate business but apparently it is quite common in this part of the world (world as in both the geographic & private sector)?!
View over Fajardo and El Yunque (the rainforest – hence the clouds) in the background
We were probably around 50 guests who gathered at the marina of El Conquistador (Wyndham Hotel Resort) in Fajardo on Saturday morning – O and I were just a tad stressed as we left home late and once we arrived to Fajardo were deviated because of tree cutting… arrrggghhh! Fortunately Puerto Ricans are like the Spanish, i.e not too strict on time-keeping! The theme for the excursion was Pirates (of course, we are after all in the Caribbean!) and we got some props for dressing up (pirate bandana, plastic earrings and a plastic sword) – for the group picture! I actually kept the bandana on during the whole day to keep my head cool (don’t know if I looked that cool though, ha ha).
The catamaran took off around 10.30 – we were heading to the island of Icacos, one of three archipelago islands called La Cordillera off the coast of Fajardo. I had been a little worried that the boat ride would be as rough as some of our crossings to Culebra but it was quite ok. As probably is very common with these “free-alcohol-events”, regardless of where you are in the world (Sweden, Belgium, Puerto Rico…), people started drinking immediately! The beer and piña coladas were flowing but I took it easy, considering that it was 1) before midday; 2) we were on a boat and 3) the day was going to be spent under the hot sun!
Icacos is not very far from the main island and our catamaran moored just a few metres from the beach, next to several other boats full of sunbathers. We put on lots of sunscreen and jumped into the water – it was actually not that warm! Well, everything is relative – it was warmer than the Baltic… but it was obvious that we were out at sea. Nevertheless, I think we spent more than 2 hours in the water chatting to one of O’s colleagues, his girlfriend and two other women. It was really nice to just float around in the water, drink (mostly water) and try to follow the conversation in Spanish! One of the women has a tea import company, which is very interesting since I have found that it is quite impossible to find [black] tea in this country* and she did admit that the Puerto Rican tea market is small, people prefer coffee or cold drinks.
At one point I discovered that O’s palms were completely wrinkly from being in the water so he needed a de-wrinkle session 😉 and we relaxed on the boat deck in the sun. Looking out on the sea, I said to O that this is how I imagined Caribbean life – and I am sure that it is how people at home think that we live everyday**… A simple buffet lunch was served on the boat – we recognised the Costco shrimp and dip platter, as it is ever present at parties here!
The marina at El Conquistador Resort
On our way back to the shore a raffle was held and while we didn’t win any of the UPS merchandise prizes (we were not disappointed!) it was definitely a great excursion and we thoroughly enjoyed our day out at sea. However, the day was not over – we had a few drinks in the marina, while looking at the tourists who had been to the private (or semi-private??) island of Palomino getting off the resort catamarans and then we took the special cable-car up to the actual hotel complex which is huge with beautiful views over the Sonda de Vieques (the islands of Culebra and Vieques, as well as La Cordillera islands can be seen from the hill top where the hotel is located).
View from the cable car going up to the actual resort
The resort was hosting some sort of transport / shipment convention, which is why we had been invited on the catamaran excursion, and later on we had free dinner & drinks thanks to FedEx. But first we needed to freshen up and fortunately O’s colleague had a friend who was staying at the hotel so we could borrow his hotel room. Fresh and with clean clothes we headed for dinner – another buffet meal and even if O complained that it is always rice (no beans for once), churrasco, Pasta Alfredo, and Caesar’s Salad… it was very yummy, especially the churrasco! The atmosphere was great, people were dancing merengue and salsa to typical Puerto Rican music… Needless to say, we stayed off the dance floor 😀 but it was fun to watch the local experts sway their hips!
View over Sonda de Vieques from El Conquistador Resort in Fajardo
It was not very late when we headed home to San Juan but it had been a long day, with lots of new acquaintances, practising of Spanish (for me) and for once we could say that we had been living the Caribbean life…
*) I refuse to drink Lipton Yellow Label which is the only tea sold in the supermarkets.
**) Nina in Costa Rica had a funny post (in Swedish) of how un-exotic life is most of the time…