We got up to check out at 10am. Leaving the room, we met another couple from Delaware who was standing and waiting for the elevator. They said they’d been there quite a while.
We’d have taken the stairs, but there was no way we were getting those monstrous suitcases down from the 3rd floor. When the elevator finally arrived, the four of us packed our bags inside like a Tetris game, and the tiny lady squeezed in with them while the rest of us took the stairs. We beat her by a lot.
We rolled the bags to the car, stopped at Starbucks, and then headed toward San Cristobal. It seemed a lot hotter than it’d been the last time we were in San Juan during the day. I was sweating my ass off, and all the hill-climbing didn’t help.
We paid our $3 admission and set off on a tour of San Cristobal. First up was the dungeon, which proved that people at all times have been pretty much the same (the graffiti says ‘shit’):
The views from the top were amazing. The above photo is looking east, toward Condado (that’s the capitol building with the dome). Below is the view to the west, with La Perla, the cemetery, and El Morro.
We saw the oldest guardhouse in San Juan, well below the current fort:
These are the tres banderas:
I was so hot that sweat was soaking the fronts of my pants below my knees. Also, I filled up the 4gb card on my camera, and of course the spare one was in the car. I had to go back through hundreds of photos and delete the duplicates! It’s not like I was going to stop taking photos.
We stopped for lunch at a little food court that advertised pina coladas in yards. We chose to have a Sol instead, and went to the Caribbean food counter in the back. I ordered vegetable mofongo and tostones. Matt got pastelon (plantain and beef pie) with cassava marinated in garlic and onion. It also came with about 6 pounds of rice and peas.
His came up right away, but the lady told me mine would take a little bit because they had to make it special. A little bit seemed to last 2 hours, but I finally got my food. It was enough for a week.
We took the tostones to go, because we had to hurry at that point. We did some last-minute souvenir shopping (including the Best Souvenir Shop in San Juan), then got the car and headed back to Thrifty Rent-A-Car at the airport. We only got lost once!
We shuttled to the airport, and found the check-in area so packed that we couldn’t roll our suitcases around. We walked up and down and couldn’t find the Delta counter at all. Finally, we found it in the back, and were overjoyed to see that there was barely a line. The check-in people told us we had to go through USDA inspection first, which seemed to consist of a scanner that may or may not have detected anything, and a man putting stickers on bags. When we got back, Matt sent his bag off, and then mine came up 9 pounds overweight. Of course.
The cost for a 59-pound bag? $90. What the hell, Delta? The other option was to check a third bag for $25, so we opted for that. The lady at the counter was actually very friendly, and helped us drag the bags over to a place where we could do the big switch. Matt still had his big leather carry-on, so we wrapped everything as well as possible (I was very nervous about putting glass rum bottles in that bag, but that was most of the weight), paid the extra money, and were on our way to security. They sent us through the ‘professional traveler’ line, probably because we only had one carry-on at that point. The best part was when they took my giant package of Go Ahead out and asked me what it was. If Go Ahead is contraband, I don’t want to go on living.
We stopped at the duty free shop for two bottles of Ron de Barrilitos (three star, of course – the bartenders at El Batey had taught us well), and got a free rum carrier that would serve as Matt’s carry-on bag. How perfect is that, really? We then saw a sign for an airport bar’s happy hour, so we took advantage of $3 caipirinhas and sports on TV. We both called home to say we were on our way, and then it was time to board the plane for Detroit.
Around the time we hit the continental US, there was all this frantic activity on the plane. Apparently an old lady up front was having a medical emergency, and the flight attendants were preparing for an emergency landing just in case. Thankfully, there was a nurse on the plane, and he was able to get the lady stabilized so we could continue. We landed in Detroit without incident, and an ambulance met her at the gate. Thanks, nameless nurse guy! You’re awesome.
We had dinner in the Detroit airport and learned that our flight was delayed like crazy coming from Philadelphia. The east coast had been experiencing horrible snowstorms, and they were still having trouble with that. We finally managed to board an hour and half late, and arrived in Minneapolis around midnight. Because it was so late, we told my parents to not bother picking us up, and got a cab instead.
Personally, I can’t believe we made it to work the next day.
Here are the spoils from our trip!!