Today, we finally got to go on a catamaran trip. We had originally wanted to go on one when in Cuba, but with my cold and the weather, it didn’t work out. Salem’s work was paying for a choice of one out of a series of activities: golf, spa day, zip lining through the trees, catamaran or rhum factory tour. Catamaran please! I didn’t even really need to see the other choices.
We were up at 6 (our bus was leaving at 8). We both didn’t feel too great that morning – I was feeling nauseated (is this becoming a habit for me and bus trips), Salem wasn’t too hot either. Thank you Gravol for your help – it eventually passed. The scenery along the way was very similar to Cuba’s – lots of greenery and hills but I will admit that the houses and roads are in better shape, yet I noticed the majority of the houses had burglar bars on the doors and windows. Hmmm…
The bus ride took about an hour. We went to the Luquillo area, just past Fajardo to the Puerto del Rey Marina. Our trip was with East Island Excursions. I’d say the group was made up of about 60 people and the ship had 4-5 crew members.
The first leg of the sail took about 45-60 minutes, headed north-east to the Palominos/Palominitos islands. The ride was a bit turbulent and Salem doesn’t have sealegs. Just to reassure you, he didn’t end up getting sick on this trip, Alhamdulillah, but lots of Gravol was ingested and I think we came close to having a mess a few times. We were also trying to stay covered considering our sunburns. I looked like quite the weirdo, hiding under blankets in the heat!
We pulled up to the shore of one of the islands and stayed there for a little while (maybe 2 hours) for some snorkeling, beaching and lunch. While the beach was really nice, Salem and I didn’t see any fish, even after snorkeling for about 40 minutes. What was for lunch? A sandwich buffet: baguette, deli meats (they had turkey but it was on the same tray as the ham and salami), cheeses, veggies, pasta salad, chips, fruits (I got to try fresh tamarind!), virgin and not-so-virgin drinks. I made us a cheese sandwich and had some veggies, fruits and pasta salad. Salem has a few bites of the sandwich and some banana. Haram! 😦 He felt pretty crummy.
We had a second short sail (maybe 5-10 minutes) to a reef for some “deep snorkeling”. It was amazing! Salem and I were snorkeling for 1.5 hours straight! We could’ve easily stayed there all afternoon! You can do in and swim or bring a floater belt (which is nice when you want to relax to stay afloat). But it is nice to take it off once in a while and dive deeper – but watch for your ears! Holy pressure!
I could blab on and on about the fish and coral, but I’ll just let the pictures do the talking. Please keep in mind that these guys aren’t there to pose and this is only a tiny fraction of what we saw. Travelers note: It would seem fish like bread and bananas.
The ride back seemed faster and smoother (I was even falling asleep on Salem’s shoulder). We napped on the way back to the hotel in the bus. We knew we wouldn’t have time to nap before getting ready for dinner.
We were invited out to dinner by the Canadian GM to a restaurant nearby called El Livin. All in all, the food was very good, prices seemed decent (but we didn’t pay since we were invited out) but I know the appetizers were about $13 and mains mostly around $18-20. The service was very… odd. Some people in our group were finishing up their desserts and others were just getting their main course. And we were there from 7:30-10:00. Thankfully, we were spread amongst 4 different tables, but still. I guess their kitchen just wasn’t manned by enough people to serve everyone all at once – I can’t really fault them for that, we were a group of about 40-45 people.
What did we order? Appetizers were the fried mahi mahi nuggets with a black bean and corn hummous along with a ceviche in coconut milk next to some plantain fritters. It was to die for! The main course options were more limited because a lot of the things either had wine in the sauce, chorizo or ham in the rice or was straight up pork. We selected the skirt steak with mashed yuka. Puerto Ricans seem to really know their steaks. The sauce was really good too and the yuka was a welcome change from the usual potatoes.
We were too full for dessert and a bit pooped from our excursion (the sun will do that to you) so we left around 10. We went straight to our rooms and were surprised by a gift of a cheese platter, crackers and wine (we gave that last bit to away to someone). The cheese and crackers came in handy a few days later.