Weekend escape to Paradise

This post has taken me forever to write so I’m hoping I haven’t forgotten loads already but in December, myself and the hubby and a couple of our friends here took a weekend to visit the Puerto Rican island of Culebra to celebrate Rob’s 30th birthday. He’s in the oldie group now!

It’s pretty close to the mainland but not easily accessible. There’s a ferry that runs daily from Fajardo but I’ve read so much about it being unreliable and not worth the hassle that we decided to fly. This was actually a great option. We flew with Vieques Air Link from Isla Grande which was so convenient. It was a small 8 passenger plane and scared the life out of me as a nervous flyer but it was an experience and fun too. It cost about $150 pp return and was so stress free. Except when instead of weighing our bags they weighed us individually at check in… If I had known that was happening I would have been dieting a bit more before hand!

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We rent a house called Villa Pelicano and to be honest I don’t have much good to say about it. It was over priced and just about adequate. The owner gave me a lot of grief for leaving a neutral review on trip advisor and made up random facts that never happened… for example when booking it he upped the price from the original quote and said it was due to demand. I said in my review that there was no one else staying at the villa so it couldn’t have been based on demand. He responded to the review stating that my husband had called him and upgraded us to a different apartment which is untrue! Anyway, if you come across this place maybe avoid for your own sanity. There are lots of nice accommodation options that are within walking distance to beach or the town and this villa isn’t in walking distance of anything. Think it was approximately $1,100 for two nights so much cheaper options available too.

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We rented a jeep for two days from Carlos’ Jeep Rental. Really convenient as they’re based in the airport. It’s mainly Jeep Wranglers available which is kind of cool to experience driving but if your accomodation is in the town then a golf buggy is also a good rental option to get around. The rental was $250 for two days.

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The morning we arrived we visited the highly popular Flamenco Beach. Here you will find lots of huts at the entrance with food and drink options. They only allow plastic glasses on the beach which is great and all in all it was really clean and sufficiently cared for. Lots of people swimming, enjoying themsleves and taking in the sun. It is consistently rated one of the most beautiful beaches in the world and I can see why.

We did some grocery shopping for supplies for the house and there is a really small store in the town and one at a petrol station just outside. Not a huge selection and priced the same as the mainland so if travelling by car on the Ferry I would recommend taking your supplies with you.

That night we dined in Zaco’s Tacos which was really nice. We then went to Dingy Dock for drinks and it was so cool seeing people arrive in their boats and dock up against the bar and go in for a drink. It’s a really small island so everything is pretty accessible.

The next morning we decided to visit Playa Brava. Slightly off the beaten track I would most definitely recommend this beach. It’s about a 20 minute hike through the woods but it’s worth it. There was a total of three other people on the beach when we arrived and they left soon afterwards so we had the entire place to ourselves. The waves were bigger here and the boys were keen to surf if equipment could have been rented on the island but it was very beautiful .

That night we ate in Dingy Dock and there was a wait for a table. The food was pretty average, drinks were good and the service was good but not worth the price tag on the food.

We really enjoyed getting off the mainland for the weekend. It’s a beautiful, scenic island and is probably close to what Puerto Rico was like 20 years ago. Rural and less spoiled. I was really taken back by the amount of Americans I met there that were working. Hearing there stories it seems like people fall in love with the island and end up staying! I can see why.

 

 

 

 

 

2017… Entering the unknown!

January is almost over and I haven’t had a chance to catch my breath. I’ve had visitors for five weeks from Ireland and as with anyone in your home there’s a lot of cooking and cleaning and running around. It was a lovely time though spent catching up with family and seeing parts of the island that we previously hadn’t explored.

But what’s next? I’m starting to think now about what this year will bring and I’ve no idea. It’s an odd sense of uncertainty as this time last year I knew that 2016 would be pretty steady in comparison to our big move in 2015!

A couple of things I’m pretty sure of…. 

Michael will start Pre Pre Kindergarten in August here in Tasis, the international school here in Dorado. My heart is slightly broken that my little boy will be heading to school but being an only child I think it’s time for him to be around other kids and Tasis is the best option. He will be starting with some of his little buddies and I know there will be a few teary mothers that day.

We will be going home to Ireland for about a month this summer. I have booked a house in Co. Clare to go away with some family for a week and Rob’s sister is getting married in Galway the end of July. Throw in a day or two at the races, catch up’s with friends and it’ll be a busy but fun trip home!

I’ll continue on the never ending fitness journey with a 10k scheduled for the end of February and continuing to train with my trainer three times a week.

We will do some more exploring and are plotting a trip to Vieques and potentially a cruise or trip to Miami. Exciting things!

A couple of things that may happen… 

We came to Puerto Rico for two years and are committed currently to be here for three. Will we stay longer? Will we find out this year if there is another assignment or will we be going back to Ireland after Puerto Rico. I at this point have no clue and I’m open to everything once Rob and Michael are happy. The adventure continues…. I would love to know though by the end of the year where the next adventure will be!

Saying goodbye to friends… I haven’t had to do too much of this yet but it’s inevitable here in such a community. There will come a point this year I’m sure where someone from my close network will leave and it will be hard. The friend bond here with those close to us is very strong. When you don’t have family near they become a substitute and I’m dreading the day that we will have to do this.

I may finally get off my butt and learn to swim. Unlikely.

A couple of things I would like to happen…

I need to start thinking about me and what I will do when Michael goes to school. Starting with the updating of some skills including web design and analytics.

Write more. Blog more. Capture our travels.

Saviour each and every moment and day.

Lose three stone and win the euromillions.

Save more and stop with the shopping addiction.

End 2017 with all of my family and friends healthy and happy.

Here’s to 2017!!! 

 

 

 

 

Do you have to be homesick to miss home?

We have been here for 20 months now and it’s just dawning on me that even though I am two flights and a minimum of 20 hours travel time from home that I have never been homesick in the time here.

It’s not that I don’t miss home. I miss my family and friends. I’ve missed weddings, christenings and huge life events to some of my nearest and on those days I’ve felt a knot in my gut wishing I could be there. Being here has made me aware of being Irish and the traits that make us the nation of people that we are. While we may be a country full of begrudgers and complainers, we are also people who get up and get on with things when we have to. We generally are pretty positive and even when things are wrong with us we laugh it off and say, “sure it’ll be grand! Isn’t life too short for complaining.”

We can problem solve, overcome obstacles, see solutions and are free thinking people. This is something that I definitely took for granted. Not every culture embraces these traits. Especially where so called island living is concerned or you are dealing with those who being honest have never had to do much for themselves.

We are embracing the culture here and will be having a traditional thanksgiving dinner this coming week with some Irish friends. I’ve been mulling why I haven’t been homesick and realistically it’s because we have Irish friends here and your friends on an expat journey become your family. I spend more time with those families that I would with my own if I was back in Ireland and I’m very close to my family! I have people that I can rely on, people that I can call on in an emergency and know that you’re not inconveniencing them if you need to drop your kid to them for an hour. People who get our sense of humour, enjoy a drink and the craic and make us feel like we could be in a pub in Dublin despite the tropical surroundings and reggae music playing in the background.

We have had lots of friends and family visit over the past year and a half and we have also been home three times. Puerto Rico’s landscaping is very green and most of our visitors are surprised as the similarities to the Emerald Isle (minus the rain of course). Of course there’s nothing quite like stepping onto Irish soil and having a cup of Barry’s when you walk in the door at home and a fry up waiting for you. There are things that just aren’t the same here. There are things about home that I miss a lot but probably the thing I miss the most is the temperament of the Irish people. Sure, it’s not all roses but being away has made me realise why Irish people are respected all over the world for their attitude.

But we are very happy here. This has been a good move. One that we will look upon in years to come as one of the best things we have done.

Turns out missing home doesn’t have to mean you’re homesick.

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The reality of being a trailing spouse…

I’ve spoken before about the trailing spouse in the expat world. It’s not easy.

I never thought that I would be a stay at home parent. Especially before I had turned 30 years of age. I thought I was very career driven, I had so many plans and goals that I wanted to achieve. While pregnant I didn’t want to finish up working even though I was unwell and probably not able to keep going. I thought I wasn’t cut out to be at home and would be dying to get back to work.

When we agreed to start an expat rotation I had to give up my new job. I did that only partially because I was missing my son as I was back in work. A huge part of me wanted to do this because it was an adventure, an opportunity to live somewhere in a warmer climate… to meet new people, experience new things and see the world. Of course I wanted to support my husband and his career but I wanted to be selfish and travel too.

Now we’re here. We have been living here for almost 20 months. I haven’t worked more than a few freelance jobs here and there. I miss work. I miss my financial independence, I miss the feeling of completing a project and being happy with the results. I miss running successful events. I miss having my opinion valued in a professional setting.

The longer I don’t work the more unemployable I become. The more difficult it will be to start at the beginning. I’m beginning to question where I’m going and if I’ll ever work again. Will I be at the bottom of the marketing career ladder when I’m in my late 30s? Will my experience and skills be so outdated and irrelevant that everyone else will know more than me?

Yet the longer I don’t work the harder it is to contemplate undertaking further education or more freelance work. Not only am I in a routine that allows me freedom to relax more and meet new people but I’m enjoying the time with my son and it’s hard to give that up. He’s only small for such a short time.

However, I know that this is partially an excuse. I’ve lost my confidence. Being the trailing spouse has meant that while I know my role here in our family is important, it’s diminished my self belief that I could be anything outside that role. I’m feeling lost.

Who knows where our next rotation will be or if we will be going home to Ireland after our time here in Puerto Rico. I feel like I can’t plan any further than a few months ahead at a time.

As much as people believe that a huge part of my time here is spent by the pool with a pina colada that isn’t the case… But I fear if I don’t start to apply myself better in the coming months then I’m about to become the stereotype. If that happens I’ve no idea where to go from there.

 

Learning to be me….

So this August I turned 30. I know that this shouldn’t seem like a big deal to someone who has been married for four years and has a two year old but it had been playing on my mind for months Screen Shot 2016-09-13 at 3.28.06 p.m..png– there is no denying that you’re an adult when you’re 30.

I started reminiscing about my 20s and how much fun they were. University in Limerick and in Dublin, the nights out, the holidays, the craic, the going to Coppers and staying out until dawn. It didn’t matter that I got married or became a mother…  I could still do those things because I was in my 20s. Turning 30 just seemed to make me feel like I was past these things.

So I started to process this and I came to the realisation that well, I am past these things – lots of them anyway and that it’s got absolutely nothing to do with my age. I’ve always been mature for my age having so many older sisters. It’s more to do with the fact that I’m now in a different stage in my life than most 30 year olds. And do you know what? It’s wonderful!!

I’ve reflected so much on what I’ve done in my 20s and they were amazing. I’ve lived in Italy, Ireland and now the Caribbean. I got my degree and my post grad. I learned to drive, gained my independence and traveled the length and breath of the country. I travelled the world – all over Europe, to Asia and Egypt. I got my dream job straight out of college based on an internship… I take great pride in that because I got that job based on how I worked rather than statistics on a CV. Ive been headhunted in my career. I’ve walked part of the camino, skydived, been in a hot air balloon, abseiled down stadiums, climbed mountains, ran a half marathon and so much more. I’ve worked hard on a wonderful relationship that has turned into an amazing marriage and partnership and most importantly granted us both with our son, the joy in our lives and the reason for most of our belly laughs. I’ve been blessed with an amazing family. I have the best friends, ones that I will have until the end of my days on earth because for 15 years they’ve been a constant in my life and carried me through the darker times. I’ve lost my mom and my nephew and other family members in my 20s. I’ve learnt so much from their passing and will always admire their dignity and pose while being sick – something I try to remind myself of constantly. I’ve grown from those dark times.

At 30 I’ve come to realisation that I’m not perfect. I’m never going to be. I’ll probably never be C.E.O of a communications company or change the world. There’s very little that I’ll ever be able to do to change the situation in Syria or help those that need our help the most. I’ll probably never be happy with my body, hair or image. But you know what? I’m the most comfortable I’ve ever been in my own skin. I’ve stopped looking to the outside for self assurance and love. I try to only concern myself with being a good person and thinking positive thoughts for myself and about others. Negativity is something that I try to block from my world – women putting down other women, mothers dissing other mothers. If I can be a good person and surround myself with good people who care for others rather than putting them down then my world will be a happier place.

I know who I am.. I talk too much, laugh too loud, I am stubborn as hell and more opinionated than I should be. But I’m me.

My 30’s are just starting and if they’re half as eventful and fun as my 20’s then there is only good times to embrace. I’m so very lucky. There’s no need to be resentful about the things I didn’t get to do; the things I did more than make up for them and have led me to here.

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One year in….

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So we have been in Puerto Rico for just over a year now. I can’t comprehend just how quickly that time has gone – particularly the last seven months since we were home in Ireland. It’s been a whirlwind and an adventure at the same time.

I think it’s normal with any expat journey to have some challenging experiences when trying to settle into a new country. I’m so settled here now that I think of Puerto Rico as our home. We have a routine and have adjusted to making life work here. And it’s wonderful. I have to pinch myself at times to remind me just how lucky we are to live in such a beautiful country. The beaches, the weather, the friends that we have made here. We have been so lucky to have so many great friends here for support and to have so many laughs with. To be honest without those people our experience would be a lot different and Puerto Rico would be more of a stop gap rather than our home for the next two years.

When thinking back over what we have been through to get to this point of our expat journey there is a number of things that I wish I had known before we started. So here’s my top 10 notes of advice for anyone considering an expat assignment in Puerto Rico but which I’m sure apply to all countries.

  1. Relocation companies suck. Do not rely on them for support or even to know the basics of what they’re doing. Google the hell our of where you’re going and have a back up plan for what you need to do if the company doesn’t deliver on their promises.
  2. Don’t go into any assignment with a set amount of time in your head. They always change. Just be open to the time frame and then there’s no disappointment if it’s shorter or longer.
  3. Make contact where possible with someone who has done a similar move and ask all the questions in the world – forewarned is forearmed.
  4. Do come on a reki – I didn’t and I really wish I had. I just got on a plane and moved and while that added to the excitement it also added to the stress. Take a week to visit and get your bearings. Particularly as a trailing spouse – most likely your partner goes to work after a day and you’re left at home. A week before to find your way around will ease the transition into calling your new location home.
  5. Don’t rush into your long term home or accommodation. We were stressing over not being able to find anywhere to live that we liked due to the incompetent and greedy realtors. The best move we made was booking a house rather than a hotel as our temporary accommodation that we could extend if needed. It allowed us time to get to know the area, seek advice and to find the house that we loved. Best thing we did. We love our house and area.
  6. Relax – it took me a long time to get this one. I was stressed over finding somewhere to live, setting up home, buying everything we needed. Particularly here in Puerto Rico where it’s difficult to get anything done fast. Everything takes time but you’ll get there in the end and guess what? You’ll grow and learn so much about yourself in the process.
  7. Routine – this is the most important one. Short term assignment or long term expat you need to make this new strange location your home. Routine is the only way to do that. Get out there, make plans, particularly if you have kids. All those play dates and coffee dates are now your access to the community around you. For me routine involves working out and having part time childcare in the form of a nanny. Without either of these things I wouldn’t be as happy as I am here. I’m often approached by ladies in the gym looking for a chat – its a great resource for meeting people and the exercise helps with stress relief.
  8. Ship what you can. We decided to just basically come with our suitcases and I miss having our  personal belongings and all my own kitchen items. Making your house feel like your home is an important part of settling into life here.
  9. Take some time out as a couple – plan a night away or date nights after your first month. Most likely your spouse will have been adjusting to a new job and possibly new culture and language and you will have been trying to adjust your entire family and keep it all together. You’ll have been so busy that you won’t have had time to catch your breathe and take stock of where you’re at. Lean on one another for support and talk about what you can do to help the transition for the other one.
  10. Last but not least – Travel. You’re here because you wanted to see more of the world. Because you wanted your kids to experience something new, to see something different. You can’t do that if you stay in one place. Here in Puerto Rico, and especially in Dorado it’s so easy to just stay in our little gated communities where everyone speaks English. That’s a great convenience for every day life but it’s not what you came here to do. Get out, go on day trips, visit other islands. See everything that your new home has to offer. Your time will go quickly once you establish a routine and before you know where you are you’ll be planning your move home or your next assignment. Make sure that you’ll really experienced the place that you’ve been living in.

 

 

Guilt for grieving…

I’m beginning to think that maybe this blog should be titled highs and lows of being a parent rather than expat life. I feel like once you have kids you can never make your own decision again based on what you or your partner want – everything revolves around the boy. Your mindset and thinking changes completely and in so many ways you understand your own parents and their decisions better.

I’ve written about the loss of my mum before here and I don’t want to be a broken record. I don’t know if it was because I gave birth two weeks before she passed or if I would feel the same way if Michael had been older but my grieving seems to be taking longer than I expected. She will be two years gone in August and I still miss her desperately at times.

 

It will hit me out of nowhere. I will just be driving down the street or doing my grocery shopping and something will trigger it. A song, a smell, an item of food and I will struggle to catch my breath. There’s a lump at the back of my throat that I can’t swallow and my legs go weak. It seems silly – death is something that everybody experiences. I feel like I should be able to control the situation better, deal with things in a more mindful way and focus on the positives. But the truth is, I miss her. I feel like I need her more than ever now that I’m a Mom. I feel hard done by at times and envious of those that still have their parents for advice. So many times I want to pick up the phone to call her and ask about a cough or a fever, how to get him to eat, tell her his new words and the funny stories. It makes me sad to think about everything that he will miss out on by not ever having her in his life. I know I’m blessed that she hung on to life to meet him and held him as he was baptised but when I close my image that mental image doesn’t always bring me to the best place. Even telling her I was pregnant makes me swallow hard when I recall it. Her tears. The realisation that she probably wasn’t going to be around for this grandchild. Her happiness that this has happened for myself and Rob and that anxiety over our ability to have children could be put to rest for the time being. It can at times just bring a sadness to my heart and mind that makes it difficult to lift.

I’ve had to grief before. I thought I knew what it meant. It looks like this time its harder and longer because I’m now a mother myself. I love my little boy more than anything, he brings unbelievable joy to my life. I love how when I pick him up in the morning and he says “Mammy,”at the top of his lungs excitedly and leans in to hug me and blow me a kiss before escaping out of my arms to run for his toys. I’m happy. I just never realised how missing someone so much can overshadow the greatest happiness I’ve ever  experienced.

 

Being the trailing spouse….

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I had never heard the expression trailing spouse until this time last year. It’s a phrase I’ve heard over and over again. It refers to the non expat spouse – the one who trails behind with the kids while the expat is one who works. I’ve learnt that trailing means you’re the one that’s usually left to pick up the bits and pieces and organise your lives in both countries – the one you’ve left behind and the one you’re trying to make home.

In most cases and which was true in ours there isn’t really a transition period to settle in before the working spouse starts their new job. In Ireland both of us finished work on a Friday, flew out the Saturday morning, arrived in the middle of the night and Rob started his new job on the Monday. I unpacked the suitcases and boxes and looked after the child. I do understand that this is my role in this journey, to be the home maker per say – but I feel there isn’t enough consideration given to this role when people talk about expat life in general.

The working spouse usually works long hours and this has at times left me lonely with a child and missing my husband. I miss having a purpose outside the home and my own career. I do get to spend so much precious time with our son and we have been unbelievably blessed with the friends that we have made here that it is easier than if we were secluded but being the trailing spouse has also made me an irrational human being.

I read a piece on this recently where it described the trailing spouse as a character ready to blow at the minute. It was a comedy piece but it’s scarily accurate also. Consistency isn’t Puerto Rico’s strong point and at times it can be excruciatingly difficult to do simple things. The irrational trailing spouse blames the working spouse; it’s their fault as they’re the reason that you’re here in the first place. You’ve given up your friends, family and job for them and in that moment of complete despair where you’re thinking how much easier this would be at home you blame them. My poor hubby has been on the recieving end of irrational trailing spouse more than once and I’m surprised at times that he hasn’t booked me a one way ticket home just to shut me up!

I have to keep reminding myself that this is a beautiful island, that my role in our lives here is appreciated, that this is time with my son that money simply can’t buy and that eventually when I go back to work that my career will fall into place and I won’t have to start at the bottom of the ladder again. The irrational trailing spouse in me then counter offers with the fact that we don’t know how long we will be here or where we may possibly end up next and who knows when it will be possible for me to go back to work. And that whenever the move does happen that I will probably be organising it with very little help.  I’ll never regret this time.. I know that for sure…. But it’s not always fun in the sun.

 

 

The most eventful March of my life…..

Do you remember when you were a kid and time would just crawl? Waiting for Christmas and birthdays and all the exciting moments in-between meant that everything seemed to drag. There comes a point when everything seems to go by so quickly that you really wish time would slow down. I can’t believe that as I type this we are three weeks short of being in Puerto Rico a year. It seems like a month ago that we flew back here after Christmas at home. And I really wish I could make it all stand still for a moment so that I have time to take it in.

March was a pretty good month for us. Rob started a new role within his company in Operations and has settled really well. I’m so proud of how hard he works and his dedication. I am most definitely biased but I’m in awe of how he adapts to situations – no complaining about being tired or not getting enough sleep. He’s so easy going and enjoys his job. He seems to find such a good balance on the right amount of stress that you should have. The fact that he works so hard has given me a wonderful opportunity to not have to work for a little while – I get to enjoy so many moments with Michael and while I do miss working at times, that time spent with him is something I’ll never regret.

March just flew. We had visitors staying with us for a lot of it and it was just so lovely to have friends here. My best friend flew all the way from Daegu in South Korea and spent three lovely weeks catching up. She had to put up with a lot of drama her first week here and I’m eternally grateful to her for being there for me. But more about that later. Then on the 18th our friends Steph & Vinny arrived for two weeks. We managed to fit so much into that few weeks that I wanted to catalogue it here so I can remember in the future.

So Siobhan arrived and the first week was a lot of running around. Two of the Irish ladies here in Dorado and myself were organising a St. Patricks Day party for our friends and some work colleagues of the boys. It was a busy week planning, decorating, organising catering, a bar, music etc. In the middle of the week I was having issues with the renewal of my marbete (local tax/NCT/third party insurance). It’s compulsory to have one and very difficult to organise when you don’t speak Spanish. So we employed someone to do it for us. So many problems. Firstly the dealer that I purchased my Mitsubishi from had never sent me the Title and registration. So Miguel followed up with them and we discovered that the dealer had closed down and no one knew where the documents were. Eventually he managed to track them down but we discovered then that there were some outstanding tickets on the car from a previous owner. We then discovered that we couldn’t get insurance because of all these issues. Eventually we did get the Marbete but it cost in the region of $500 which is five times more than it should have. We got it on the 17th and on the morning of the 18th I emailed the documents to Rob and told him to ring the insurance company to organise insurance. Anyway, that day I was decorating for the party on the 19th. I had brought Michael for vaccinations that morning and he wasn’t feeling the best after so he stayed with a friend while I ran to the shops for some last minute things. We had received some worrying news the day before about a family member and I guess I was distracted with everything going on and in a hurry to get back to Michael when I was the cause of an accident. A car, two cars ahead of me braked with no brake lights and the car in front of me barely managed to stop. Unfortunately I was just going to fast and I didn’t see her stop and I drove into her and drove her into the car in front. When we got out of the car I was so upset to see that it was my good friend that I had crashed into and instantly started crying as she has a little girl the same age as Michael. I was worried the baby was in the car. Thankfully everyone was ok but there was a lot of damage. My car was towed away. Rob hadn’t had time to call the insurance company. I’m so glad no one was injured. The money, while significant at over $10,000 is just money. I would never have forgiven myself if anyone had been injured and not only did it leave me with whiplash and back pain for a couple of weeks, it also left me very nervous and questioning my driving capabilities. Anyway, what’s done is done now and once everyone is ok.. I’ll move on!

So on the 19th we had our St. Patricks Day party. It was a great night. Good friends, food and drinks. Some dodgy paddy’s day photo props, everyone dressed in green, Irish music… an attempt at Irish dancing, a very bad attempt at Green Fields of France but all in all one of the best nights I’ve had in a long time. You know its good when you wake up the next morning on top of the bed wearing a tiara saying Irish Princess! We have been so lucky with the people that we have met here and it was lovely to see them all dressed in green enjoying a St. Patricks Day party. Just a little taste of home!!

 

It was Easter week then and Rob was taking a couple of days off to spend some time with our guests. It was my first time to leave Michael for more than a couple of hours in a year so it was really hard for me but I think good for all of us in the long run. The week started with a couple of trips to the local beaches and going for lunch here locally. On holy Thursday we headed for Luquillo. We had booked a house there and had some activities planned in the area for the weekend. We went to El Yungue that day and we were so disappointed to discover that the trails were closed due to the amount of people that were visiting the rain forest that day. We parked and walked some of the smaller ones and drove up the mountain a little and stopped at some of the sites. It was still a really nice day out but we hadn’t anticipated for how busy things would be.

 

We headed to Luquillo beach that evening to catch the last hour of daylight and the sunset. It was so much fun. Almost like being a student again. We had a cooler with some drinks, sat on the beach, messed around in the water and waited until it got dark. Luquillo has loads of little Kiosks to choose from for food and drinks and we had a gorgeous meal in a peruvian style restaurant called Ceviche. From there it was to a Karaoke bar where our friend Siobhan was the star of the show. I won’t share the videos but even the staff were taking videos and pictures. Standing ovation all around!

On Friday morning we headed to Fajardo for our second trip on Erin go Brath with Captain Dan. The weather was beautiful but unfortunately the sea was choppy. So mixed in with a few too many Mojitos for the ladies from the night before all three of us girls weren’t feeling the best by the time the boat reached the island where we were going snorkelling. We all attempted it but none of us were feeling too hot. A failed attempt at lunch to feel better, we all lay down at various parts of the boat to try and sleep it off and the boys headed out for the afternoon’s snorkelling session. It was still a lot of fun and I was a lot better after some sleep – but Siobhan was worse. In future I’ll be taking anti seasickness medication. Vinny did get to help steer and sail the boat though so he was happy!!  I’m not sure if we would do this trip again – we have done it twice now. But we would consider taking the boat to Vieques for a trip or using another private charter just for a change. Price was still the same – $130 pp without tax.

We headed back to Dorado the next day and the next few days were spent by the pool at our house, shopping and checking out local bars. We went to Alavarra on a Sunday afternoon for their live music session and really enjoyed it. The band are excellent and while I didn’t have the famous Lechon, the others did and said it was really good. Felt almost like a beer garden!

We tried a day trip to Arecibo on a Tuesday and it was just a disaster. The observatory is closed at the moment, one set of caves was closed (the window caves were open), it rained while we were at the beach, the guys were disappointed in the lighthouse and then when we tried to visit Casa Bavaria on the way home it too was closed. We did laugh an awful lot about the misfortune of it all but I mean come on!! I know it’s Puerto Rico but it’s Tuesday! You expect things to be open. The caves were pretty cool and good to see. However, there was almost 70 people in the group. It was very claustrophobic and a little concerning to have that many people at one time. I found people pushy trying to take pictures at the actual window and it was dangerous at times considering the drop on the other side.

 

The next day we did the mixology tour in Casa Bacardi again and I have to say it really is a great thing to do. It’s so much fun. The guides both times have been excellent and have made the experience really enjoyable. Its well worth the $45pp. We laughed the entire way through the guided tour and the cocktails making class.

Since we got here we have really wanted to take a Biobay Tour. It was completely booked up for all of Easter due to the holidays and Spring break. I had been trying every company for weeks. Luckily at the last minute I just managed to get a cancellation but for just four of us. So Rob stayed at home while the rest of us headed back to Fajardo. Now, let me start this by saying that I can’t swim. I’m not a great lover of water and in general I don’t even like getting my face wet. Sharing a Kayak with my friend Siobhan who had never been in a Kayak before was never going to end well. For anyone. We were both nervous. And we had every right to be. Within three minutes we were well behind the group, couldn’t hear the instructions and were both freaking out. It was the blind leading the partially sighted. However, one of our very nice guides called Joe came and rescued in. He was awesome. He managed to get us to the bay in one piece and kept us calm the entire way there. We were hysterical with laughter  by the time the night ended. He sang Disney songs with us and just made the entire experience much better for two very scared Siobhan’s! The actual experience was pretty good. Of course the biobay isn’t like you see in the pictures but I think our expectations were pretty well managed before we went and knew that. The water glistens a kind of silver/gold colour when touched it was really cool to see. The guides knew their stuff and pointed out constellations and explaned the fauna of the area. We went with a company called Eco Adventures and it was $55 per person.

All in all we had a great month with our guests. Having visitors really makes us get out of the house and see what the island has to offer. Living here all the time you can take it for granted and not take it all in. We are so glad that we got to spend so much time with good friends. And while my liver is currently still recovering from just how good I can honeslty say I havent laughed as much in years!

Let it go….. Let it go….. Seriously, let it go!

I’m prone to over analyse things. Years of feeling like I didn’t quite fit in and was always on the outside of what was viewed as the norm has left me with an insurmountable need to not feel like that anymore. I just want to fit in. To be normal. To be a nice person who people would like to spend time with.

But what if that comes at a cost? Would you be willing to sacrifice parts of yourself that you believe to be the good parts to conform to others around you? I’ve decided that I’m not willing. I’m almost 30. I may not 100% know who I am, but I know who I’m not. I know that I have no desire to be surrounded by negativity or drama. I’ve always found that I get on better with men rather than women and this is one of the reasons – the lack of drama. Any drama or bad mouthing of others causes me significant anxiety. It’s one of the things I’m really working on at the moment. Being independent. Spending time with people that I want to spend time with – people who I have common goals and interests with. People, who like me for me. If you’re not being yourself then it’s exhausting. You’re merely keeping up a charade for others 24/7. And I’ve learnt that it will never be to your benefit.

I’m focused on looking after my mental health. It’s something that I’m taking control of not just for me, but those around me. Despite my 15 year old self who tells me that I need a 100 friends who include me their activities to be popular, 30 year old me knows different. I don’t want to be popular now – I want kind hearted people in my life that are friends. I want friends that I can rely on, that enjoy spending time with the real me.. People that will be ok if I’m a bit of a mess one day, that understand when I need a little extra help and people whom I want to spend time with and want to help. I’ve reached a point in my life where I have no desire to spend time with people that I’ve nothing in common with. People who speak badly of others or don’t take time to think of those around them. People  who have lots of friends but who would drop them in a heartbeat for someone better. People who are good time friends. I’m blessed to have some amazing friends – some of which have been in my life for many years. I’ve also been so lucky to make some great friends here on my expat journey. Good, kind, thoughtful people.

Letting go of negativity and the stress of surrounding yourself with people that you don’t want to be with is therapeutic. I may not know exactly where I’m headed but I feel lighter knowing who I have supporting me. Let go of any person in your life who causes negativity and you will find your world a much happier place.