Bonus pics from Puerto Rico

As you may already know, I recently attended all three games of the Mets/Marlins “San Juan Series” at Hiram Bithorn Stadium. My girlfriend Jona joined me for two of those games, and believe it or not, we actually found some time on our trip to do other things that had nothing to do with baseball. Here’s the photographic evidence…

The trip began with a JetBlue flight out of JFK airport. Note the “90% humidity” forecast on the boarding sign before we got on the plane:

The first night in Puerto Rico was uneventful.
(Jona is sitting next to me as I write this, and as soon as she read that last line, she yelled, “Hey! We went to that restaurant and had beans and rice.” See what I mean? Uneventful. “Hey!” she just yelled again, this time whacking me on the left side of my head. Listen, baby, the beans and rice were lovely — we also had some delicious sweet plantains — and it was great to be away with you on a trip, but let’s face it: wandering around the hotel and eating that meal and watching the last inning of Sunday Night Baseball and passing out early wasn’t exactly life-changing. Okay? Can we move on, please? “Whatever,” she just said.)
The real action (at least as far as my camera was concerned) began the next day. First, here’s a look at the view from our hotel room:
It was half-nice and half-sucky because of those rooftops right below us, but whatever, no big deal. We weren’t in Puerto Rico to sit around and look out the window all day. No siree! We were in Puerto Rico to eat. Check out our exquisite Day 1 breakfast:
(This is why Jona is healthy and why I’ve gained ten pounds since last year.)
Now, this may look like any ordinary breakfast from The States, so allow me to point out a couple things. Jona had four slices of starfruit on her plate, and my omelet contained chorizo. So there.
After breakfast, we set out on a 15-minute walk to a gigantic public beach. This is what the street/neighborhood looked like outside our hotel:
There were a few nice restaurants, but overall, it was shockingly run down and desolate.
Here I am standing near a crappy little beach that we passed along the way:
You can tell it’s crappy because there wasn’t anyone else there, and by the way, I was wearing my hoodie for extra protection from the sun.
We kept walking…
We passed an abandoned building with graffiti all over.
We passed a construction site with trash strewn all about.
I asked Jona, “What do you think of this area?”
This was her reaction:
Then things got better. We made it to The Almighty Beach:
We swam.
We played chicken with the waves.
We frolicked in the sand.
(“I don’t think I’d ever frolicked before,” Jona just said.)
That was it for Day 1. We headed to the game after that.
Day 2 started off with brunch in a nearby restaurant. The entire staff was glued to the World Cup on a rinky-dink TV…
…while Jona and I faced the other way and saw this…
…but here’s the best view of all:
(“What’s that white stuff on it — that’s cheese?” Jona just asked. These are the questions one gets when dating someone who was a vegan for 20 years. I mean, yes, that’s cheese. “It’s funny how you’re answering me without telling me,” said Jona, “so I have to look and see what you’re writing.” Yeah? Well, it’s funny that you don’t know cheese when you see it. No wait, it’s not funny. It’s sad. Even though I’m laughing as I type this, I am deeply saddened by your lack of knowledge of dairy products.)
My meal, by the way, consisted of chicken enchiladas and rice and guacamole and salsa and chips and CHEESE!!!
(“How come you didn’t get a picture of my meal?” asked Jona. Because who wants to see a photo of beans and rice?)
Back at the hotel…
…Jona and I found some chairs in the shade, and I got started on my first blog entry:
Do you see the effort I make to bring you such quality ballhawking reports?
Anyway, that was it for Day 2. I headed to the game after that, and by the time I got back, Jona had informed that she had gotten us switched to a better room with an ocean view — for free! Of course, it was dark when I returned, so I waited until the morning of Day 3 to photograph the view.
Check it out:
(Jona is no longer sitting next to me. She’s getting ready to go jogging. I will not be jogging because as soon as this entry is done, I need to get back to work on the book. I don’t even want to spend half an hour doing something healthy if it pulls me away from the book. Isn’t that sad? Deadlines are awful. Don’t ever write a book, or if you do, make sure to ask for twice as much time as the publisher initially wants to give you. If they say they want it done in a year, ask for two — and then demand twice as much money. Just a little piece of advice.)
Jona and I took a cab to Old San Juan. We didn’t have time to do much sightseeing (and we didn’t really want to anyway), so while we were in the car, I took a photo of some old fort that the driver pointed out on top of a hill…
and got a shot of the capitol building as we whizzed by:
Jona had done some research and found the restaurant of her dreams, so that’s where the cab dropped us off. Inside the restaurant, Jona found the man of her dreams: 
My charms were no match against the old, toothless, 4-foot-11 street musician, who had wandered inside and started playing “Guantanamera.” I gave him two bucks to leave, but played it off like I was rewarding him for his outstanding talent.
During the meal, I noticed a family of three (with a teenaged boy) staring at me from a nearby table. They were trying to be subtle, but it was painfully obvious that they were talking about me. Was is the stupid pink shirt that I was wearing (in preparation for being spotted on TV at the stadium)? No, it wasn’t that. I knew what it was, and I went along with it, eating my meal, and minding my own business. When I finally got up to use the bathroom, the father walked over and said, “I’m sorry to bother you, but are you the guy who catches all the baseballs?”
I told him I was.
He told me his son had recognized me and was hoping to get a photo with me…and here it is:
I don’t often get recognized outside of baseball stadiums, but when it does happen, I’m usually not too far from home, so this came as a real surprise. Thank you, Matt from Plainview, for spotting me and making me feel famous for five minutes.
After the meal, Jona and I got a fellow tourist to take this photo of us just around the corner…
…and then we wandered around the city:
That was pretty much it. At around 3:30pm, we jumped in a cab and headed right to the stadium for the third and final game (during which there were NO home runs; yes, I’m still upset about it).
Before we checked out and headed to the airport the following morning, Jona took this photo of the hotel lobby…
…and this photo of the deck out back, where we sat and ate our final meal:


  1. jskool81

    Cool pics. In some of them, San Juan looks awesome, and in others, it looks blah. What was your overall impression? Also, the enchilada plate with the cheese looks ridiculously artery clogging and delicious!

  2. 5280grl

    I’m with tornotoblogjays…the food looked super awesome and triple bypass inducing (that’s my kind of food…though I’d be down with sampling some starfruit too!). The ocean looked like an extremely good time. Was it fairly clear?

  3. padreleigh

    Hey Zack….

    Very cool bonus pics. Your hotel didn’t look too bad at all. Being in the hotel business, we have a name for people like your girlfriend that complain to get a better room. Ha ha. The food looks great over there. It is kind of weird being recognized at other ballparks. It’s even happened to me a couple of times. Places like Spring Training, Anaheim, and this recent trip to Florida. People that have seen me on and even from posting on your blog. I think it’s kind of funny, but my girlfriend hates it. Anyway, keep on trucking with your book. Don’t let the complainer distract you. You said frolicked…..haha.


  4. philsrock5

    Thats a big breakfest! San Juan is amazing! The hotel look nice and looks like it was right next to the beach! Are you going to be at the Home Run Derby or All Star game? Just wondering. And the ballpark in the other post were like spring traning but better. Nice pics!

  5. zackhample

    I didn’t see enough of Puerto Rico to give an official/accurate assessment, but based on the little bit that I experienced, it was really nice, and everyone was incredibly friendly.

    The water was perfectly clear.

    Here’s a direct response from Jona: “I didn’t ‘complain’ to the concierge to get a different room. I simply asked how much it would cost to get a room overlooking the ocean. He said it would cost $50 more a night. I said, ‘Okay, let’s do it,’ and then HE decided not to charge me. No need to now refer to me as the ‘complainer.’ Thanks.”

    No All-Star stuff for me this season. I have too much work, and the travel/tickets are too expensive.

  6. padreleigh


    Ha ha. Ok, ok. You are officially NOT a complainer. Lucky you on the free upgrade. Out here in Cali, NOTHING is free. It’s really sad. It’s mostly about you get what you pay for. I just had a picture of you in my head at the front desk. I deal with stuff like this every day and people come up with some pretty elaborate schemes to get stuff for free. Just tell the truth! Ha ha. Time for YOU to catch a game home run by the way.


    Get back to work on the book! Frolicker.



    Yes, Zack (and fellow followers), “Real Men” really do wear pink– currently, i have a pair of pink panties on my head and, as always, i miss you.

  8. zackhample

    I miss you more. (Thank you for this comment. It made me “EL OH EL,” as they say.)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s