You should probably catch up on the other wedding posts to get the full story, before diving into this one!
With the most phenomenal wedding under our belts, the Sobels were ready to take on Puerto Rico. When we originally started talking honeymoon plans the idea of Hawaii was thrown out. It was discussed, semi priced out, and then I remembered I have to take enough drugs to sedate a small horse when I fly to places as close as NYC, so we changed gears and opted for a closer, almost as tropical locale. Puerto Rico!
Because we weren’t flying to the other side of the planet, we also had the budget to splurge on a really nice hotel, so we booked the Ritz. As SLS says, if you’re gonna be a bear be a grizzly.
We had the added treat of running into some of my cousins at the airport as they were making their way back to NY, so we debriefed about wedding stuff and then I started my flight pharmaceutical regimen. It consists of a xanax for anxiety, a zofran for nausea (yep – I’m a puker and Dramamine is for amateurs) and those drug store wrist bands that supposedly hit pressure points and do something magical.
The last time I tried this cocktail was on a work trip to San Fran. I was ok until the plane’s largest (and smelliest passenger) was of course seated next to me and opened with, “You know…I don’t get how these things actually stay in the air, I mean it just doesn’t make sense.” He was like the male version hot mess from Bridesmaids and I was like Kristin Wiig.
But everything is magically calmer with SLS by my side so I was optimistic. And it was a success. And apparently entertaining to SLS, who said I was basically speaking in slow motion when the meds kicked in. We were also both pretty stoked about the massive amount of really good snacks we procured for the flight.
We landed, made our way to the hotel, and within minutes were staring at the beach with a glass of wine in hand.
I am SUPER type A and I like a plan. But before the honeymoon I told SLS that I didn’t want to be in charge and wanted him to just book stuff. He was on the phone/email like 30 seconds later. That man mobilizes like a mofo.
This is where the issues with the Ritz began. It was the age-old game of them promising to send info on excursions, spa services etc. but never doing it. I’m not going to drag it out by getting into details, but it got so bad that the manager got involved, was apologetic and promised to make it better. The whole stay was an ongoing theme of apologetic gestures like sending up a bottle of wine, or champagne. Basically, the Ritz there was like an asshole boyfriend who keeps effing up and bringing you flowers when all you really want is for him to be a good boyfriend. Did we have a great time? Sure! But as SLS put it, the level of customer service we had was what you’d expect at a Courtyard Marriott. We did tell them everything throughout our stay, and they did trim a little off the bill at the end (that barely makes a dent in the small fortune we spent to stay there especially when they knowingly booked us in a more expensive ocean view room with no ocean view because of palm trees they “just got permission to cut”). So, if you’re listening Ritz Carlton folks, feel free to woo me with some make-up stuff to change my opinion, but as of now, we’d stay somewhere else. Maybe even the Courtyard Marriott.
Day 2 was our first off-property excursion – ziplining. We were the last to get picked up by the van and therefore had the backseat. As if that wasn’t bad enough, there was the bitch of all bitches sitting in front of us complaining that she didn’t want the air on because she was really cold. We’re in Puerto Rico, not the North Pole, you jerk. If you’re cold in a packed van in a tropical climate, I suggest you seek medical attention immediately if not sooner. SLS looked at me, saw my forehead vein bulging and said, “Babe, don’t get into a fight.”
It was really hard, but I didn’t.
It was also really hard not to punch the same chick in the neck while she was reviewing the release form and asking “what infrastructure they had in place”. It took everything in me not to yell, “Infrastructure? The effing infrastructure is a bunch of zip lines tied to trees. Sign it before I kick you and shove it down your throat, or sit in the van and freeze to death.”
I’m no stranger to a zipline having worked at a camp for well over a decade of my life. It was the crown jewel of the lake. The zipline in Puerto Rico was just slightly different in the sense that you could die if something went awry. We did eight separate ones before getting to “La Bestia” – The Beast. These ziplines were HIGH, like stupid high, in the mountains and no joke.
Well, I got stuck on one of the ziplines leading up to La Bestia because I didn’t weigh enough. I didn’t weigh enough to make it go all the way. It stopped in the middle because I was too light. (I’m just trying to get steam out of this one and will tell the story about how my skinnyness was a barrier to successfully completing the ziplines in Puerto Rico because it’s a GOOD problem that any red-blooded woman would want and I wish I had issues with it more often in everyday life.)
I had to be saved, not by Jesus, but by a random Puerto Rican, who clearly enjoyed effing with me before executing the actual rescue. and let the record show that I have NEVER been happier to be straddled by a strange Puerto Rican.
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So, as a result of being too little to make it across (did I mention that?), when it was time for The Beast, after I heard one of the guides refer to me as something like Flacita (I know you’re calling me skinny, ese…I grew up in South Florida where Spanish is basically the 1st language) I was told I would not be going alone. So, laying facedown, ready to fly…literally (but warned not to put your arms out like the picture because that was just “marketing” and you will stop in mid-air, I had a guide sitting on my back to ensure I didn’t get stuck like chuck, again.
I was the first to go so there’s no vid but here’s the one of SLS so you can see what goes down. My mom thought, his flailing arms at the end were some sort of celebratory move, ‘Like Rocky”, but it was him forgetting you had to move a rope so that you didn’t get decapitated.[vimeo 127100063 w=500 h=888] <p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/127100063″>Untitled</a> from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/user39626820″>Rachel Sobel</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a>.</p>
I think a good honeymoon is all about striking a balance between activities, relaxing, eating and drinking. So in order to keep that balance we spent the next day doing a VIP tour of the Bacardi factory. Because of SLS and his job, we kind of got the red carpet rolled out and spent the day tasting rum (I’m not even a rum person, but When in
Rome Puerto Rico). Kicking off the day with cocktails at like 11am is the first stepping stone to White Girl Wasted.
That night we had BIG plans. My friend, Dawn, saw we were going to Puerto Rico and mentioned she had good friends who were locals and said we HAD to go to this restaurant. Only problem was, the one night we had free, they were having a special invite-only event. My friend is the queen of foodies and if she tells you to eat somewhere you do not question it. Because she’s awesome (and has a hefty PR/Marketing background that has amped up her persuasiveness) she got us in.
We got there and quickly realized two things immediately: 1) nobody else was speaking english…not a single word and 2) we were clearly the only ones without some kind of personal connection to the chef.
They passed around apps, they were delicious and we were excited about the meal – which we had no control in ordering – it was a tasting menu with rum pairings. Rum in Puerto Rico is like female armpit hair at Lilith Fair…it’s everywhere.
So we walk into the room and there are a handful of little tables, each set with a couple of snifters of rum, a white spoon with a dark droplet of liquid and a black blindfold.
We were scared.
The first thought that went through my head was, “Oh shit…I have no idea how you say ‘take off your blindfold’ in spanish. We’re effed!”
A gorgeous woman, with a sick body and perfect hair (Puerto Rico is infested with this species), took the mike and started to give her spiel about the rum. We watched everyone else to get cues on what we should be doing, fake laughed when everyone else laughed, not understanding a single word that was being said. Then everyone put their blindfolds on (I should have brought a xanax). They’re waving familiar scents under our noses – all notes from the rums. And I’m trying to pick up on any rustling so I know when to take off the blindfold because I’m having visions of SLS and I sitting there blindfolded while everyone else stares at us, amused. And that’s kind of what happened. I noticed some movement, slowly picked up my blindfold and saw everyone was taking them off. But, I couldn’t get SLS’s attention and he still had his on. It was too quiet for me to yell across the table and it took at least 45 seconds to get him to get his off. My only regret was not having my camera out to get a photo.
Now comes the food. We are starving. We are foodies. But not adventurous, Anthony Bourdain-ish foodies. SLS is better than me at trying things but even calling him adventurous is a stretch.
Course 1 comes out and all I needed to see was a femur on the plate and I was petrified.
It was bone marrow, which I know is a delicacy, but I can’t do it. I’m sweating, panicking. My friend and her friend finagled us in here and I HAVE to at least take a bite. So I did out of respect.
All I’m thinking is, it can’t get worse for me, It just can’t.
But then came Course 2. A plate with something fried and a few sauces. The colors were beautiful. The presentation was stunning. And then the server, realizing we don’t speak Spanish takes pity on us and speaks to us in English to tell us what we’re eating.
“These are sweetbreads with octopus and beets.”
I’m going to pass out. Sweetbreads!?!?!? I know it’s a part of the cow I do NOT want and I’m not going into detail of what it is – Google it. But again, SLS is playing diplomat and tells me I have to take a bite. “It kind of tastes like chicken,” he says. Well guess what, I HATE chicken. HATE it, so that does not help me (I should have brought a xanax). I suck it up, take a bite, leave my body, and put my fork down. I eat the lesser of the two evils – the octopus – and wave my white flag.
At this point, I’m praying for an effing piece of chicken.
Course 3 was a soup with mussels, dumplings and dehydrated duck pastrami with duck broth. Praise the Baby Jesus.
SLS says, “Look babe! It’s bone broth. Totally up your alley!” He thinks he’s funny.
It was delicious. All of it. Even the duck pastrami which tasted kind of like bacon and was a welcome addition after the femur and the sweetbreads (which btw is the worst, most deceptive name ever).
I’m encouraged, Things are looking up.
I see Course 4 in the window and it’s some kind of protein. SLS thinks it might be fish and I am doing the cabbage patch in my head.
The server puts it down in front of us and says, “Cochinillo”. Allow me to translate – Suckling Pig.
SLS is stoked because he loves pork and this sucker is cooked for like 22 hours. The extent of my pork consumption is severely charred bacon. I take a few bites, SLS devours his.
I housed Course 5 which was a coconut flan and it was amazing.
The meal was cooked with love, presented beautifully and if I were an open-minded eater I would have been licking my plate clean along with everyone else in there. I’m just a food wimp, I admit it.
We went back to the hotel and I polished off a bag of Cheetos.
The next day was our BIG excursion to hike El Yunque followed by a trip to BioBay.
El Yunque was AMAZING. The scenery was incredibly breathtaking and even despite slipping and falling on wet rocks every step of the way to get to the waterfall, it was worth every jammed toe. You know how they show gorgeous models standing in string bikinis under crazy waterfalls. That is so not what it looks like in real life. I’m slipping on every spot I step on, falling into fat strangers wading in the water, desperately holding onto my bathing suit so I don’t provide free entertainment, and trying not to lose a contact lens under the ridiculously violent water falling from the rocks above.
We stopped for lunch at a string of local “kiosks” which I can only compare to seedy boardwalky restaurants you would see along almost any beach. But they were not clean and the only people there seemed to be tourists. We were starving so we had to get something. So we all ate ecoli and got back on the van with raging heartburn.
And it was off to BioBay which I was most looking forward to. It was supposed to be super cool and apparently you can only do it in four places in the world. The sales pitch is – kayak out into the ocean where there is a super high concentration of plankton that literally illuminate the water when the sun goes down, and they are activated by motion.
Here’s what their marketing materials look like.
Now…here’s what REALLY happens.
The ONLY truth based on the above pic is that you are in fact in a tandem kayak.
The rest is bullshit.
You are one of a group of at least 10 other kayaks in your group…and there are like 10 other groups. So you basically row out into open water with dozens of kayaks. DOZENS. You’re navigating through narrow mangroves. Bumping into everyone. Everyone is trying to be polite and pretend they are not annoyed, but they are. And SLS is the captain because he’s in the back. God I love this man, but he’s shouting out wrong orders, making us bump into trees. I’m gritting my teeth and just start ignoring his directions and doing my own thing. He can tell I’m over it and is trying to be encouraging saying things like, “Babe, you’re doing great” and “Thanks for making up for my shortcomings.” But I am so done that I’m trying not to swat him with the oar and make it look like an accident. (I should have brought xanax) It was that stressful. And it was like over a mile to get our there – that’s about an hour just in case you’re wondering.
That water better effing glow real good.
Does it? Sure. Does it look like the pics? Not even a little. It looks like someone spilled highlighter ink in the water and yes it’s motion activated. But it’s not worth the shitshow to get out there. And now we have to go back through the mangroves, in the pitch black this time ,and navigate not only the kayaks we came out with, but DOZENS more taking advantage of the second leg of the excursion as well as effing boats. BOATS!
The guides start doing their thinly veiled “don’t forget to tip us” shtick and I’m a mangrove crash away from giving them some tips they might not like.
When we got back to land, I turned to SLS and said, “I love you. I couldn’t be happier to be married to you. But for the sanctity of our marriage we can NEVER do that again.” He wholeheartedly agreed. We went back to the hotel, washed the bio bullshit off our bodies and ate our faces off at Il Mulino and all was right in the world.
On our last day, we splurged and got massages at the hotel. They are NOT cheap but it was our honeymoon so we did it up.
We opted for a couples massage. I really like solo massages, but in the spirit of not being a bitch, I agreed to the couples massage.
Well, this made the number two on the list of things we can never do again.
As we settled in for our $400, 80 minute massages, I was ecstatic. I thought it was the perfect thing to get me zen and in flight mode. It was like the pre-party before my pre-flight cocktail.
You know what kills a couples massage faster than Kim Kardashian can take a selfie? When your husband snores like a trucker…the whole time…really loud. I have NEVER heard noises come out of him like that. I was so annoyed during the whole thing, and tense, that I surprised the masseuse didn’t comment on how unrelaxed I was. Plus it was a mediocre massage. For $400 I want you to put me into an effing trance where I don’t know my name and am drooling like a mental patient.
The sub par masseuses leave, and SLS looks over at me, arms stretching up in the air, eyes barely open and asks, “How was that?”
I said, “You can add that to position number two, under the kayak.”
He said he wasn’t sleeping at all, that he was really congested and couldn’t help the noises. So what you’re saying is you KNEW you were making those noises? And furthermore, if you were not asleep and were making those noises, we need to see a doctor, stat!
We collected our stuff and spent the remainder of our time in the concierge lounge killing time until if was time for the airport.
Sobelmoon was incredible (sans the kayaks and massage debacles). It was hard to leave paradise and get back to reality.
We had the best time filled with great food, scenic views, friendly locals, lots of alcohol and blindfolds. It was the perfect ending to begin our happily ever after.
P.S A bunch of people have asked who did out photos so here is a well-deserved plug for Devon McNanama from Wedding Girls Photography. She also did the blog photos and is amazeballs!
And, while I’m throwing out plugs, our video (which I will post some snippits from) was also fantastic and was done by Kevin Royale