While the focus of the trip was a trade show, conference and business meetings, there was also re-connecting with many of my colleagues in general, many I had not seen in years and making new contacts. This, of course, was the reason for my attendance and learning more about the destination. As I have stated earlier, Europe is a major part of my business and what you all know me for, but I also am able to handle other destinations and Puerto Rico is one, among many. It has an amazing wealth of history and culture, food, and nature. All of which make this destination, one where you do not need a passport as a US citizen, one to consider and the weather is consistent is all year long and while there is still damage left by the earthquakes and hurricanes that have impacted this island, the heart and soul of Puerto Rico are its people and everywhere I went, starting from my driver from the airport, to the people in the hotel, the restaurants, the guides and everyone along the way, was the warmth I felt with every exchange.
As I noted, this was for business, but for me to know the destination better, it is more than conferences and meetings and seminars. It is getting out of the hotel and the convention center, so three of the days I was there, I did day trips or half day trips to explore parts of the island. Distances are not far, but the roads are not the best and, while I was not driving, it is certainly a place outside of San Juan, it certainly can be a self – drive destination. After relaxing on the arrival day, last Sunday, I opted for a nice walking tour of Old San Juan. Yes, I had been there before, but I did not recall much from years ago, and our guide was quite good. Apparently, before she took up guiding, she had been a clinical psychologist and she had a very good sense of humor. The walking tour was about 4 ½ hours roughly and we pretty much explored without too much difficulty. Of course, I had to ask her about the people and whether they wanted statehood or to continue the status quo or possibly independence, and she said 50% wanted statehood and a mix of the rest of the options. In the end, I think it will be the status quo, but others had different opinions. Age is a big part of the attitude of which direction the people want. We will see, as time moves on.
The second full day there, I took what was supposed to be a half day tour to El Yunque, which ended up being longer, close to 6 hours, but the vistas were spectacular and the hike down to the river was a bit of a challenge, but in the end, seeing the river, the waterfalls and all the beauty that nature offers is wonderful. We need the rain forests and while the hurricanes damaged much of it, nature came back with a bang and regrew, so let’s keep that in mind for our planet. I am not being political, but what the rainforests provide us and other nature, is extremely important. I had not been to El Yunque, my first go around, so it was a very nice experience and lunch afterwards was very enjoyable. We did return to San Juan in time for the opening event of the conference, so in the end, everything worked out.
The last place I went outside of San Juan, just this last Friday was Ponce. Again, distances are not far in Puerto Rico, and I had been there years ago, but I remember, from the last time was very little. Our guide and driver were excellent in sharing with us the core and history of Ponce and I am glad I joined this tour. Truth be known, I had an ulterior motive to go and yes, Ponce has a Hard Rock, which turns out to be inside an Aloft Hotel. I was not sure if I would be able to get there as the group had to stick to a schedule, but as it turned out, the driver, Carlos is his name, said he would drive me there as it was quite close to where we had had a wonderful walking tour and lunch. It turns out that one of colleagues joined me and she was from Brooklyn, he had spent much of his life in the Bronx and I, of course, am originally from Queens, so we left to go there when it was time for “shopping” right after lunch. Yes, it was to take about 10 minutes and yes, we had GPS, but twice, we circled, and the third time was the charm. I went in, bought the pin and the t-shirts, acknowledged the Unity number and yes, mission accomplished, number 90, but again, seeing Ponce and getting this done, made for a very good day and we returned by 3:30 pm, which was before our scheduled time, so everything worked out in the end. Thank you again Carlos for your hospitality and letting me go to the Hard Rock in Ponce. San Juan used to have one in Old San Juan, but it closed long ago, and honestly, when I was there in San Juan, years and years ago, the Hard Rocks were not on my radar.
So, my time in Puerto Rico was a success from both a professional and personal standpoint and want to thank everyone I encountered for their warmth and hospitality. As always, stay safe, stay healthy and always look for the best in a situation and be patient as the best things in life are worth waiting for. Thank you as always for your support of my crazy little world and my small business. As always, I look forward to your comments, questions, concerns and continuing the discourse through whichever means you read my posts!!!
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Weathering the Storm with the Wandering Puffin