My daughter, Julie, and I took our third annual mother-daughter tripâ€”this time to Puerto Rico in 2008.Â We visited a rain forest, gorgeous beaches, a light house built in Spanish times, went snorkeling (and got a terrific sunburn) near the island of Culebra where we saw many colorful fish swimming around among the coral, and stayed in a country inn surrounded by the sounds of the Coqui, a very small and loud frog.Â We had bananas for breakfast from the back yard of the inn, papaya, grapefruit, and orangesâ€”very fresh and lovely.
In Viejo San Juan (Old San Juan), we visited El Morro, a large fort built in 1539 to protect the city from invaders by sea and FortSan Cristobal built in 1793 to protect the city from invasions by land.Â We went to Mass in the Cathedral of San Juan, the second oldest cathedral in the Western Hemisphere; construction began in 1521.Â Ponce de Leon is buried in it. There are very upscale stores in the city (Gucci, Cartier, Ferragamo, etc.) as well as McDonalds, Burger King, and KFC.Â We ate in interesting restaurants, drove through a number of small towns, visited the town squares where the church and mayorâ€™s office is located, and looked through souvenir shops.
We carried a Spanish dictionary and worked on our Spanish.Â At one stop, I went in to pay for parking and greeted the attendant with â€œBuenes tardes.â€Â In rapid Spanish, he then told me how much we owed.Â Then I had to tell him that I needed the amount in English since I couldnâ€™t understand what he said.Â He replied, â€œBuenes tardes, is it, huh?â€Â I had to admit that it was.
Since Puerto Rico is a semi-autonomous region of the United States, a passport is not necessary for those with U.S. passports, a U.S. driverâ€™s license is adequate identification, and U.S. currency is used.Â The speedometers in cars are in miles, but markers on highways are in kilometers.Â A number of the parks are run by the U.S. National Park Service, thus my Golden Age Passport would have been honored and my daughter and I admitted for free. Â Telephone calls to our cell phones from the U.S. were free; from Puerto Rico to the U.S. was 69 cents per minute.
The best part of this trip was spending time with my daughter who is 21 weeks pregnant with our first grandchild, a boy.Â So this was a doubly good mother/daughter and mother/son trip.