Why do vacations have to end?  I mean, it is the weekend, but there is so much back log on my to-do list, it doesn’t really feel that way.  All right, before I get too down on myself, let’s take a peek at our marvelous days on the sunny island of Puerto Rico.

The view from the apartment in Luquillo

We arrived Friday night (11/30), got our rental car at the airport, and braved the dark streets of San Juan to get to the house of Bella, my semi-adopted grandmother, who lives in Guaynabo, a town southwest of the capitol.  She had dinner waiting for us. Man, were we tired, but it was delicious.

Bella’s rice & beans and beef stew. Best food we had on the island.

The next day, we headed into San Juan to be touristy a.k.a visit El Morro, the old Spanish fort.

View of San Juan from atop El Morro

I love the streets and door fronts of San Juan.  They’re so vibrant.

Street in San Juan

Then we wandered around in search of Puerto Rican trinkets.  This little guy welcomed us into one shop.

That afternoon we drove east, to the apartment where we stayed for the rest of the visit, minus one night.  The apartment is right on the beach.  I do believe it’s quite pretty.

There’s the apartment building!

Side note: I am obsessed with guava paste and all things made with it.  Here’s a crepe with sweetened cream cheese and guava paste.  AMAZING!

On Sunday, we went on a horseback riding tour through Puerto Rico’s rainforest, El Yunque.  Part of our tour allowed for us to take a dip in the Mameyes River.  It was gorgeous and refreshing, even if little fishes nibbled at my legs.

The idyllic river.

And our horses. Luke’s at the far left was named Bob. He always liked to be the leader. Mine is on the far right. His name is Pinky.

Monday we took a ferry from Puerto Rico to Vieques, a small island that lies off the east coast.  We checked in at our hotel, which had an amazing view.

Then we walked into town, accompanied by our very our guide dog.  ADORABLE!

Fun fact: There are no traffic lights on Vieques

He even waited while we went inside stores.

We spent the day putzing around buying gifts for family, but the real reason we were there happened at night.

Pretty water in the day time

We had an early dinner because we had to meet our guides around 6.  This salad included churrasco (grilled skirt steak) and plantain chutney.  OMG. So.  good.

 

That evening, we went on a kayak tour of Mosquito Bay, which is the only bioluminescent bay in the world.  There is an immensely high concentration of tiny dinoflagellates (tiny plankton) that contain the same chemical components as fireflies.  When the water is disturbed, the little guys light up as a defense mechanism.  There is no swimming allowed in the bay, but each time we put our kayak paddle in the water, it shimmered.  As fish swam through the water, they too disturbed the plankton, illuminating the bodies of the sea critters for those of us floating above to see.  It was incredible.  Even if it did start pouring while we were out on the water.

Coastline of Vieques

On Tuesday we took the ferry back to the “big island” and just relaxed.  And ate some great food.

My arroz de bacalao (rice with codfish)

Luke’s mofongo. Mofongo is mashed green plantains that are fried and stuffed with meat.

Wednesday we packed up, headed back to Guaynabo to say goodbye to Bella, and all too soon were on our way back to cloudy, dreary Massachusetts.  It was a lovely vacation, though now that I’m back, it actually feels like December.

Which means Christmas is coming.  Which means I better bust out a cookie recipe.  This particular one was a favorite of my great-grandfather (or so my mother tells me).

It’s a deeply flavored soft molasses sugar cookie that would be just perfect for your Christmas cookie plate.

Or dunked in a glass of eggnog.

One Year Ago: Chocolate Strawberry Cupcakes

Molasses Spice Cookies and a vacation recap
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
 
Ingredients
  • ¾ cup (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ¼ cup molasses
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp ground cloves
  • ½ tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp salt
  • extra sugar for rolling
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with silicone mats or parchment paper, or grease with cooking spray and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together butter, sugar, molasses and egg. Sift in flour, baking soda, spices and salt and stir to combine.
  3. Form into 1” balls and roll in sugar, making sure to coat all sides. Place on prepared cookie sheets spaced about 2” apart.
  4. Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until just set. Be careful not to over bake, or the cookies will be hard and brittle.
Notes
Makes about 2 dozen cookies

 

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