Friday, September 25, 2009

Friday Afternoon Fruit Basket 9/25/09

What a week! It has been crazy. After several months of triple digits we get this cold front that comes in with rain for several days. Don't get me wrong I love the cool rainy weather, just not all at once. It is also great college football weather. Don't worry, be happy! The biz has gone ok this week. I am still networking and marketing like crazy. I have been getting things ready for October 14th. This day is deemed as WLCN. In the cruise industry it is the World's Largest Cruise Night. All cruise lines have super duper specials for those who book a cruise on that night. At Cruise Planners we do things a whole lot bigger. We have taken it to another level and are having a WLCE. Did you get it right? We are having the World's Largest Cruise Event. It will start October 12th and last the full week. Not only will I have the cruise lines specials, I will also have exclusive specials only from Cruise Planners. I will be hosting a virtual cruise night on the 14th. Cruise Planners will be giving away 3 FREE cruises. Stay tuned for more information on the Six Degrees of Cruisitude, October 12th - 19th! Now that the business news is out of the way, let's go have some fun. Since we are going to a party why not take a Fruit Basket! Here is what is in our Fruit Basket. We have 3 parts Crème de Banana, 2 parts Coconut rum (Parrot Bay) 1 part Triple sec, 1 part Blackberry brandy, 3 parts Orange juice, 2 parts Pineapple juice and 1 part Apple Juice. Mix all of this in a pitcher or fish bowl. Pour in to your favorite glass with your preferred type of ice. Garnish with any fruit that you have on hand and enjoy. Now that is one heck of a Fruit Basket. As I stated earlier we are going to a party. Since we are from Texas and we are in Puerto Rico why not have a Texarican Bash. Each family was responsible for making a dish and our dish of choice was grilled chicken wings several different ways. We named our cooking team "Team Lime in the Coconuts" We even made team shirts. The day started off with a trip to the local Wal-Mart to get our supplies. I know we have a lot of people coming to eat, but we filled up the back of the van with Wal-Mart bags. It was quite a funny site. We had one grill and Capt. Charlie would tackle putting a second grill together. For some reason it took a long time to put it together. He must have been missing some parts. HaHa! The cooking would commence inside and out. The ladies were making all kinds of goodies inside. First Mate Annie made these amazing salt cod fritters. It is a lengthy process and so worth the wait. Pea and Pod would eat most of these before they would come out of the kitchen. They are so good! Annie & Annie also made these cigar shaped corn bread and cheese things called Surullitos. They were awesome! The wings were marinating and the fire was getting hot. Homemade Pina Coladas are flowing and the wine is chilling. Let's start the grilling. I filled the grill completely and still have more to cook. I guess we will have to eat as we go. I know this group all too well and there will not be much food left. Ricardo (Annie's Uncle) would be my taste tester. It was a blast cooking cooking with him! We had a great day of food and just spending time with family. Manatí is such an awesome place. We cannot thank Capt. Charlie and First Mate Annie for opening up their home to us. Tomorrow is going to be a Sea Day. Swimming with the sharks! We are going to take a catamaran out of Fajardo. It will be fun to watch Capt. Charlie. He will have to be a passenger on this trip. I bet he sails her for a bit though. Fajardo (fah-HAHR-do) is the hub of the majority of recreational boating in Puerto Rico and a popular launching port to Culebra, Vieques, and the American and British Virgin Islands. It is also the home to the largest Marina in the Caribbean, called Puerto del Rey. We meet up with the rest of our party and get signed in with the Captain and crew. It looks like it is going to be a great day. The sailing will last about 5 to 6 hours and all of our food and adult beverages are included. We plan on doing some snorkeling once we get out in the deep blue yonder. Our ships name is the Barefoot IV. She is a 48' Hatteras. I guess that is because our Captain sails her with his bare feet. This is going to be like the Pirates of the Caribbean. I wonder what treasure we will find? It's time to board, the music is pumping and the open water is waiting for us. As we head out of the marina we get to see all of the other boats and some of the hotels up on the cliffs. It was just beautiful. We are headed for the small uninhabited Icacos Island. We will throw anchor here, swim and chow down on some food. The crew prepares different types of food while we are sailing and of course it is unlimited adult beverages. I will never forget Pea's face when he took a sip of his rum with a splash of coke. It was a Kodak moment! The catamaran has steps that drop down at the end of the boat into the water. This is how you get in and out of the water. It’s called swim out and swim in. The water is crystal clear and so far there is not a shark in sight. After a swim and a trek around this very small island we board the boat and feast on the food that the crew has prepared. We had salads, sandwich stuff, local fruits, an awesome tuna salad and a few other island specialties. An open bar and make your own drink thing was very nice. They did make several batches of Pina Coladas for everyone during our lunch. The anchor is lifted and we head out to the open waters. After about 30 minutes of sailing around they drop anchor in the middle of the Atlantic. It is snorkeling time. I had an underwater camera and I hope I could get some good photos of Pea & Pod underwater. The fish where very colorful and the coral was very wild looking. Pea & Pod were crazy as they would dive down about 30 feet and look up to the top. Then it started raining, but when you are already wet what difference does it make? I got some great pictures and had an awesome time with my family. We load back up and fill our drink glasses with our favorite rum. It's smooth sailing back into Fajardo. What a great adventure this day has been. The day is still young and we are going to go to Ricardo & “Pichi’s” condo in San Juan. They live here part of the year and have invited us to their home for dinner. Their condo is beautiful. We had more adult beverages and an awesome meal which consisted of these awesome appetizers, yautia soup, salad and filet of beef. Our family thanks you so much Ricardo & "Pichi" for being such gracious hosts. What a blast it has been so far. I am in love with Puerto Rico. Tomorrow we will leave Puerto Rico and head to the island of Vieques. You don't want to miss the next few issues as I will run into my worst nightmare. Our journey will end here for now. I hope you have enjoyed this ride with me in Puerto Rico so far. I truly appreciate all of you who are reading and following. Please leave me a comment sometime so I know who is reading. I would be honored if you share this with a friend. You really are going to be surprised what happens next. Hang on for the wild ride. Until we unite again remember to always love your Travel Agent. He needs lots of love. Keep your Cruisitude in check and most important is to Travel Your Way!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Sunday Afternoon San Juan Cooler 9/13/09

Sometimes it takes forever to catch up. My goal is to write once a week. I did not achieve this last week. I was still putting my pieces back together from my road trip to see Pod play at Auburn in his first college football game. I promise to get back on track. One real good thing that has happened over the last few days is "Rain" It has actually rained for the last 3 days. I think my plants and grass are still in shock and they are not sure if they should grow or not. The business has been ok, but could be better. Marketing and networking is fast and furious and as always I keep my Cruisitude and Traveltude at the highest levels. How is yours? Let's get started! It’s Sunday afternoon in Puerto Rico, so why not start off with a San Juan Cooler. Here is the skinny. Take 3 oz Dark Rum (Bacardi), 3/4 oz Dry Vermouth and Pineapple Juice. Fill your favorite drinking glass with your ice of choice, add Bacardi Rum and dry vermouth, then fill with pineapple juice and serve. Stir and add a squeeze of lime and you are all set. Now that is one heck of a cooler. Let's go travel. Our day will start off with a trip to the El Yunque National Forest. We hope to hike one of the trails in the El Yunque rain forest. Here is a little history on El Yunque. El Yunque National Forest, formerly known as the Luquillo National Forest and the Caribbean National Forest, is located on the island of Puerto Rico. It is commonly known as only El Yunque, a Spanish approximation of the aboriginal Taino word "Yu-ke", thought by scholars to mean "White Lands". However the lightning storms that occur there was to the Spaniards the sound of a giant hammer hitting an anvil (yunque in Spanish). It is also the name of the second highest mountain peak in the Forest. El Yunque is the only tropical rain forest in the United States National Forest system. We stopped at this combo store/grilling meats place. It was painted with many colors and the guard dog was hanging out on the roof. We all got various meats on a stick. We needed to fill our bellies before we took our multiple mile hike into the rain forest. As we made our way into the National Park we decided to stop at the visitor’s center and check things out. We watched a quick movie and looked at the many exhibits about the park. This National Forest has so much history. It's time to hit the trails. We load up and head to one of the many trails in the park. We pick La Mina trail. Our goal is to get to La Mina falls. It will take us about 30 to 45 minutes to get to the falls with about a 1/2 mile drop in elevation. That will make our trip up a little bit longer. It is very cool walking down these trails. You have to be careful as everything is soaking wet and you are under all of the foliage. There are mushroom things growing on trees and little bitty creatures hanging out on the leaves. I hope we get to see the Little Frog called a Coqui. It is a very popular creature throughout the island and enlivens the evenings with its timid “ko-kee” from which it get its name. The Coquies begin to sing when the sun goes down at dusk, singing all night long until dawn. The male Coquí sings - not the female. There are a lot of streams along the way. It was very peaceful during our hike. Everyone was ready to jump in the cold water once we hit the falls. There was a huge water fall with little pools of water to sit and chill. It was really incredible. We just hung out in the water and did some people watching. Uphill we must go. I will admit that it was harder going up than coming down. After our hike uphill it was time for a nice cold cerveza. If you get to visit Puerto Rico, El Yunque is a must thing to do. Do not miss this very unique place. Our next journey is going to take us to the logo of the Bat. I would call it liquid gold. We are going to tour the Bacardi Rum factory. Hoo Ya! There is nothing like a little rum in the morning. Our tour will start off at Casa Bacardi. Where did this bat logo come from? It is a cool logo, but sort of strange on a bottle of rum. During our tour we found out where the bat came from. "With the development of the new Bacardi rum, in 1862 Bacardi purchased a tin roofed factory building in which he planned to start a distillery. In the roof of the building lived a family of fruit bats, considered to be a good luck omen in Cuban mythology. To this day, the official logo of the Bacardi Company bears the likeness of a fruit bat in flight." We watched a movie on the history of Bacardi. I was really amazing that Bacardi started. Starting with an idea in 1829 to where Bacardi is now is incredible. It has grown to become the single largest company in the alcoholic beverage industry. We got to see a demonstration of how a Mojito is made. They had several interactive areas including computers to use that you could video yourself and send an email to family or even yourself. We made our way to the gift shop. They had so many different rums that you could buy that are not sold in the states. We bought a couple to take back with us to Texas. Now it was time for the morning tasting. Rum in the morning will get your mind spinning. With our tour we all received a coupon for 2 tastings of any rum drink we wanted. I do not encourage drinking for under aged kids, but Pea was 18 and in Puerto Rico the drinking age is 18. I got to share my first adult beverage with Pea. He did make some very strange faces though. The Bacardi Rum Factory is a must see when you visit Puerto Rico. The day was still young and we had brought our suits with us. I think everyone was ready to chill around a pool somewhere. Since we were not staying at a hotel, this presented a challenge. We said what the heck, let's just act like we are staying at the hotel and we just came back from the beach. That is exactly what we did. We headed to the Embassy Suites in San Juan. We walked straight through the lobby directly to the pool. Just act like a tourist. We had no problem getting in. I know we are not the only group of people who have ever done this. Don't get mad at me. It was like going under cover. It was an awesome pool and they also had white sand beaches that the ocean waters rolled up to. We had the best of worlds, a swimming pool and salt water with white sand. The outdoor bar was very convenient to the pool. This made it easy to eat lunch and share several adult beverages with family and friends. As the late afternoon approaches we pack up our gear and head to our cars. Manati was in our future. Charlie & Annie would create some more Puerto Rican specialties for us. Sharing good wine and food with family and friends is always a wonderful thing. Nothing could be finer! As the night goes on, I reflect back on the things we have done and what we still had ahead of us. Puerto Rico is a country of such great history, and I get to sample so many new and unique foods. My journey will end here for now. We still have many places to visit and things to do. You do not want to miss our next few issues as I will journey to places that will scare the crap out of you and me. I hope you have enjoyed this ride with me in Puerto Rico so far. I truly appreciate all of you who are reading and following. Please leave me a comment sometime so I know who is reading. Tell me what you like and what you don’t like. I would be honored if you share this with a friend. You really are going to be surprised were our journey takes us next. Hang on for the next ride. Until we unite again remember to always love your Travel Agent. He needs lots of love. Keep your Cruisitude in check and most important is to Travel Your Way!