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 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: