Friday, December 21, 2012

The Way We Get By

It's one week later. 

Since the horrific event in Connecticut last week, I've worked pretty hard to try to avoid learning more. I honestly just feel like I can't think about it. It kills me to imagine innocent children put into the situation they were put into. It kills me to think that the children who survived will have that memory forever. It kills me to think that school, a place that I loved as a child, could be scary for children. My mind can't process the terror of the situation or the pain of the parents who went to the fire station and didn't find their children. 

What a privilege it is for me to not have to think about the situation if I don't want to. How lucky I am to not have to mourn a child I loved.

It's a coping mechanism. If every day we thought about the struggles we and others face, we would be stuck in place, unable to move. Unable to progress. Unable to go on living our day to day lives.

I have friends who are in very difficult situations and sometimes I wonder how they can live every day with the pain or fear they carry around with them. But one of these friends told me "If I thought about it every day, I would just shut down. I have to keep going."

I'm not saying to forget the victims, in fact, I think that in living our day to day lives, we are remembering them. We are living lives they will never have the chance to live.

And this is what I wish for the families affected by the shooting. I hope that they will soon be able to keep going. That they will find the strength to continue living their day to day lives.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

A Little Honesty

Hello friends... I know I've been pretty quiet lately. I've neglected this here blog. But trust me, some wonderful things have been happening which I'm sure I'll tell you about at some point (spending more time with my husband, being really productive at work, cuddling with Bronx, and my two week vacation that started yesterday afternoon, to name a few).

My cuddle bug. Just a preview of what's to come!
But today I wanted to write honestly about something that's been on my mind and honestly has been part of the reason I haven't been blogging much lately. It's something my sister and I have been talking about quite a bit lately and my sister wrote a little about it in her blog as well.

Frankly, we've become a little disillusioned by the blog world of late.

So many giveaways. So many posts about sponsors. So many guest posts. So little of our actual voices and actual lives. Where's the authenticity? Where's the honesty?

When I started blogging last spring, I didn't do it so I could win a giveaway or so I could be pimped out by another blogger who honestly didn't care about me or my blog but had to pretend to because I paid $10 to have my button sit on the side of her blog.

Have I sponsored blogs before? Yes. And after one mistake, I vowed to only sponsor blogs written by people I truly believe in and truly respect. I've only sponsored one since then.

Have I been part of a giveaway before? Yes. In fact today, you will find me as part of a huge giveaway from Nicholl at The Chiffon Diary. But you know why I did that one? Because Nicholl reached out to me personally, even though I wasn't a sponsor of hers, because she likes my blog and wanted to help me reach more readers. She's using her (very large) platform to help the little guys like me. I can dig that.

My point is that instead of forging fake relationships with people simply for business reasons or to gain more followers, why don't we do more to develop new relationships with people who can relate to us and share with us and help us to grow?

And once we develop our own huge platforms of followers, why don't we help the little guys in a more organic, authentic way?

Let's work on reminding ourselves of all of the reasons we started blogging in the first place and all of the reasons we've continued. It wasn't for the number of followers (although I'm not saying it isn't nice to see that little number tick upwards), it wasn't for the amounts of giveaways we could win or host, it was for the community, for the creativity, for the outlet blogging provides.

Let's work on our authenticity. If that means a few less followers, so be it. And if it means meaningful connections, even better.

Monday, December 17, 2012

I love SH... part II

I know it's been weeks since I posted my first post about Shanghai, but I've been crazy since I got back from China. I've barely had time to breathe. In some ways it feels like Shanghai was just yesterday, but when I look at the calendar, I realize that it was almost a month ago that I returned from my amazing trip so it's about time I share with you the rest of my pictures!

My trip was divided into two parts. First, I was a co-leader for a site visit to our study center in Shanghai. This meant leading several study abroad advisors from all over the US around the city of Shanghai as well as where our students study, live, and take classes. When I left you last, I had mostly shown you the pictures from the first half of my trip. Most of the pictures below are also from that time because the second half of my trip was spent mostly in my second hotel, attending the conference that my company was hosting.

One of the days we spent at East China Normal University (when the word Normal is in the name, it's usually a college that is famous for teaching), where we have our study center. The campus is absolutely gorgeous.

This is a huuuuuuge Chairman Mao statue. There aren't too many of them left around Shanghai, but this was definitely the central part of campus.

We also visited a dorm room where I saw these awesome bootleg Nike sandals.
Close enough...
I also saw these great signs:
To me, this one said you can't play your trombone in the rotary, but LoLo pointed out that it probably means you can't honk your horn. Well come on! That's no fun! I like the trombone interpretation better.

Another favorite sign of mine. I don't even know what to make of this one. I'm not quite sure how you carefully scald boiling water, but I enjoy the sentiment.

We also had some time to do some more cultural things. Here's me in the Yu Garden which was gorgeous.

And this is the table at a tea ceremony we attended with some of our students. This was in a market full of stalls where they would have tea ceremonies and sold hundreds of types of tea. This table was made of a tree stump.

Finally, we went to see an amazing performance that is a very typical Chinese art. This performance is called Face Changing. Basically, the man is wearing a costume that with very slight movements and without actually touching his face, he changes the mask. I took this picture of one of his masks:

When I was trying to explain the performance to my family, I showed them this video. I wouldn't recommend you show it around children because to me, it's a little creepy!!

So there you have it, my trip to Shanghai! I seriously was bitten by the travel bug after this trip. When I found out I was going to China, I wasn't super excited, but after getting there, I couldn't believe it was real. I learned so much and had so much fun. I can't wait for my next trip!

Oh and p.s. At the end of our conference, my company announced that in 2015, the conference will be in RIO DE JANEIRO!!! I can't wait!!

Monday, December 10, 2012

New York, New York

Last week on my facebook page, I wrote that I was missing New York. Something about this past week has made me miss it.

Then I heard the song, "New York, New York" and it made it worse at first.

See, I have a funny history with that song. I used to hate it because they play it at the end of every Yankees game and I'm a huge Red Sox fan.

Now I actually love it. New York was my first "adult" home. New York was where I challenged myself and became someone I was/am really proud of. New York was the place where I met my husband.

And since it was the place I met my husband, I made "New York, New York" the last song at our wedding reception. When the song came on, people gathered in a circle with us and with arms around each other, we all did the chorus line kicks and sang our hearts out.

If you know me, you know I hate corny dances (the macarena, electric slide, cupid shuffle, etc. were all banned at my wedding), but because this happened naturally, I loved it.

I felt so much love in that circle and I'll never forget it. So when I'm sad about missing New York, sometimes I just play this song and remember the love.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

A Word from the Grinch

I have a confession: I'm a total grinch.

I hate Christmas. I hate the music. I hate the lights. I hate the trees. I hate the decorations.

I don't know when I developed the hatred for Christmas, but I do have a theory for why: the stress. I hate that a time that is supposed to be happy has turned into being all about stress.

And the music...ohhhhh the music. I hate little jingling bells. I hate really high pitched chipmunk voices singing in unison. And most of all, I hate songs about kissing Santa Claus. In general, I'm not a fan of the elderly kissing at all.

The lights... annoying. One of them goes out and it's all over. Blinking lights, flashing lights, singing lights, colorful lights...ANNOYING! It all just seems kind of tacky to me. Check out this house that was in our neighborhood in the Bronx.

COME ON!! This is out of control. They play music too. People used to pass by the house and throw money over the fence to help them pay their electric bills. This is the height of Christmas annoying.

And finally, the idea of black Friday. I think this ecard says it all:

I hate shopping with other people and I hate shopping when there are crowds. So basically, I hate shopping from Black Friday until after New Years. I also hate feeling guilty that I might buy myself something (come on, there are some great deals out there!) because I should be buying things for everyone I ever met. And it's all Christmas's fault.

If there were a fast forward button in life I would push it until I got to December 25 because I happen to love my family's new tradition of eating crepes (our version of crepes is really thick fried dough) on Christmas and then being lazy all day.

I'm also really on board with the week I get off between Christmas and New Years, so that can stay.

The 25th also signals the end of annoyingness related to chipmunk voices and fat elderly men kissing people's mothers. And that's something I can look forward to.

Monday, November 26, 2012

I Love SH... part 1

Now that the craziness of jet lag and Thanksgiving are behind me, I can finally dedicate some time to this little blog. This week, I'll present a little overview of my trip and show you lots of pictures of Shanghai.

For the first 3.5 days of my trip, I was a co-leader for a pre-conference site visit. My friend Rachel and I lead a group of study abroad advisors from colleges and universities across the US. We got to do lots of typical tourist activities, but also we got to help our Shanghai staff show off our study center there. I work with some amazing people who pour their hearts and souls into their work. Throughout the visit, I felt so happy and proud to work for my company.

For the first 4 nights of the trip, I stayed in this amazing hotel, the Moller Villa

My first day in Shanghai was a free day until dinner. I spent the day walking around the neighborhood and trying to orient myself. Of course, when I was feeling super overwhelmed, I found one familiar place.

The next day we spent touring the city, having a lecture with one of our professors in a traditional tea house, eating more food than I could have imagined, and ending the day with a boat ride along the river.

Market near the Tea House

Entrance to the Pearl Tower
View of the City from the Pearl Tower
View of Pudong from River Boat Ride... I <3 Shanghai.
Pearl Tower and on the right, the Shangri-La, my hotel
View of the Puxie side of the river
And one of the biggest surprises about being in China was seeing my last name all over the city. China was the last place I expected to see a Spanish last name! First, I saw it in the museum at the bottom of the Pearl Tower. Then, I saw it everywhere!

Most of the cabs in Shanghai are Volkswagen Santanas. 

And because you all know I love a good sign, here's the decal that was on the toilet in my hotel.

Now to me, this says don't weigh your luggage on your toilet. I mean, I know the technology in China is pretty advanced, but I didn't realize they had made a toilet that could weigh things... especially luggage. Apparently though in Chinese it says "Don't put heavy weight on the toilet seat cover" or something like that.

This is just the beginning of my million pictures from Shanghai! Tune in the rest of the week for more pictures of my exciting trip!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The Silver Lining

So I think I've finally recovered from my jetlag and life is finally feeling like it's back to normal after my amazing trip to China. Of course I'll fill you in on my trip and show you all the pics I took, but that will have to wait for next week. This week, I'm busy enjoying being home, sleeping in my own bed next to LoLo, cuddling with Bronx, and seeing my family.

Right before I left for China, I wrote a post about my decision not to go to the Philippines and instead to come home right after the conference. It was a tough choice and I felt sad about it for a while (and still do when it's 40 degrees here in Maine and it's 80 in Manila!), but I know it was the right choice.

When I wrote the post, the wounds were fresh and I was feeling really disappointed that I wouldn't be going on the trip. I felt frustrated with myself for trusting my friend and for letting myself be let down. I wrote that I should have known not to trust anyone.

When my Aunt Marta read the post, she immediately wrote back to me on Facebook and said, "So happy you will be home for Thanksgiving with your family...who can ALWAYS trust, so on your leisurely flight aroung the world, you go on back to your blog, and put a big line thru the statement "I should have known not to trust anyone"."

And she was so right. I can always trust my family. They have been there for me through all of my mistakes, all of my triumphs, and through all of my tough choices. 

So this Thanksgiving, like the others before, I'm thankful for them. I'm thankful for being home with them to laugh and eat. I'm thankful to be home with my husband so we can cook our part of the Thanksgiving meal, a pastelon de yuca, together. 

And speaking of my husband, I'm thankful for his thoughtfulness and his creativity. 

When I got home on Monday after many, many hours of traveling (including about 9 hours at LoLo's mom's house before my flight to Portland), I walked up the stairs to find this: 

Along with a note that said to pour myself a cup of coffee in my zodiac sign mug (he had set the timer to brew the coffee right before I got home)

And to cut myself a slice of the cake he had made for me (which by the way is so tasty! It's banana cake with a layer of chocolate hazelnut spread (nutella basically) inside).

So to all of my friends reading this, Happy Thanksgiving. I'm thankful that things happen for a reason and that I will be sitting at a table with my family and my amazing husband tomorrow instead of all alone in a city that I don't know. 

Friday, November 16, 2012

Ni Hao

Ni hao from China!!

I'm just checking in to say hi and to let you all know I'm still alive. Google and all Google products were blocked here in China all week until today because as you may know, there was a transition of power here. I had hoped to blog a little while I was here, but when I couldn't even get to blogger, I decided it was a sign that I needed to just enjoy my time here and worry about writing about it later after I'd experienced it.

I'm having an amazing time and making some great new friends. Most of them are people who work for my company around the world. I've gotten to work with most of them in the past so it has been so much fun putting faces to names and getting to hang out with them. Two of these colleagues/friends have told me that I have been their sunshine this week and that they always see me smiling. I feel so happy to be here and to explore a culture so different from my own and to meet people who are so amazing and passionate and friendly.

I'll be back home Monday and will spend the week recovering from jet lag and my packed week. Next week though you can look forward to lots of pictures, lots of stories, and lots of Shanghai.

But in the meantime, go check out my hotel. It's pretty unbelievable.

See you next week!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Costly Mistakes

Good morning, friends. I write to you at 5:52am from Boston's Logan Airport. Because of this crazy Nor'easter, my flight that was scheduled for this morning from Portland (Maine) to LaGuardia was cancelled last night around 9pm. Around 10:30pm, I was finally rebooked on a flight from Boston to Detroit to Shanghai. The flight from Boston leaves at 7:05 am so I needed to be at the airport by 5am...which meant I had to leave my house around 2:45 so you can imagine how I'm feeling right now. I don't even dare take a picture for you.

Some of you may have read my tweet last night that I decided to cancel the Manila portion of my trip. I was really excited to visit Manila, but mostly to visit a friend from college who now lives there and is actually pretty famous there.

Back in August when I was booking my flights to China, I thought to myself, "If I'm going to be that far away from home, I might as well see as much as I can." So I contacted my friend who had been bugging me to go visit her and she was really excited to have me come and to host me. I booked my flight to Manila from Shanghai.

We exchanged emails about the trip and talked about how much fun it would be to see each other after almost 10 years. As the days drew closer to November, I started hearing from her less and less.

During October, I wrote to her several times and even stalked her on Twitter to try to get some details of my trip. She wrote back twice but never gave me any information about picking me up from the airport or where she lived so that I could take a cab there.

This past week, I have written to her at least 5 times (through email and Twitter), but barely heard a word. Then yesterday, I got an email from her saying that she was dealing with some things and she was really sorry.

But she never said "I'm still looking forward to you coming. Here's my address or I'll be at the airport for you."

At first, I thought I would just book a hotel and visit Manila alone. Then I ran the idea by LoLo and my mom and they were both really worried. Then I checked the American Embassy's website and saw a travel warning that said "Threat Against American Travelers". That was the last straw.

I called Delta and rebooked my flight to leave directly from Shanghai. A flood of relief came over me immediately.

Between being totally overwhelmed about a trip to a place completely foreign to me, I just wasn't feeling comfortable with being somewhere that I knew no one and knew nothing about. Now I could focus on the amazing conference that I would be attending and really get excited about it.

I cried last night because I felt like I should have seen it coming. I was so mad at myself.

I should have known not to trust anyone.

I'm seeing the silver lining though. I am going to Shanghai and I can just enjoy the conference instead of worrying about my plans afterwards. At the conference, I'm going to meet a bunch of people from all around the world who work for my company and who I have been working closely with.

And the best part: I'm going to be home for Thanksgiving with my family and with LoLo and with Bronx. And that's something I can be thankful matter the cost.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Ain't Too Proud to Beg

Today I write to beg you to vote. If you have the right to vote, please use it. Please.

Today I will be voting with some of my favorite people in mind. Friends who just want to have their love recognized. Friends and students who just want to live and work without having to watch their backs constantly, despite the fact that they are wonderful, talented, educated, people without criminal records who would be nothing but an asset to our country.

Despite the fact that I am fiscally conservative, this election means more to me than just money. Somewhere on Facebook, one of my friends posted a quote that basically asked if fiscal policy was truly more important than fundamental rights of equality.

I live in Maine, one of the four states with gay marriage on the ballot. I am not afraid, in fact, I am proud to say that I will be voting for equality today. With all of the issues that we could be debating and arguing about, why are we spending time arguing about whether two people can love each other and have that love recognized by the government, hospitals, insurance companies, and other places that could give rights to married couples?

To me, this election is about more than just who wins or loses. It's about the lives that will change depending on the outcomes.

I think it's important that people understand the human element of this election. Lives will change. Maybe not yours, but maybe your neighbor's or your teacher's or your mechanic's or your student's or maybe someone you don't even know.

There are people in my life whose lives will change drastically depending on who wins this election. This is the first time that an election has a direct impact on someone I care deeply about. One of my close friends is affected every day by a policy that, should Obama be elected, could possibly be changed and her life would be a whole lot easier. If Romney is elected, she and her partner would most likely have to move to her partner's country of birth, possibly for the rest of their lives.

So I beg you: please vote. Vote for love. Vote for justice. Vote as if your life could change depending on who wins.

Monday, November 5, 2012

One Month Later

It's been a little over a month since LoLo packed up the cable boxes and returned them to Time Warner Cable and we haven't looked back.

Peace out, cable!
I'm not the type of girl who will preach that cable is the devil or that television is making us all dumber. We got rid of cable not for philosophical reasons, but for financial reasons. I just couldn't justify spending over $100 a month for television.

Since cancelling our cable, I've started watching a novela (soap opera) from Mexico on Hulu+. And don't tell LoLo I told you this, but he has actually gotten into it too. One night, we were lying in bed and I was watching on my iPad. I didn't want to bother LoLo so I put on my headphones. But then he said "Hey! Turn up the volume! Don't you think I want to know what happens?"

LoLo and I almost never agree on what to watch. It has been so much fun to finally get to watch something together and both enjoy it (even though one of us would never admit it!). It's also been really nice to hear Spanish. Since moving to Maine, as you can imagine, we don't hear much Spanish anymore.
Whoever would have thought that a novela would bring me and my husband closer? 
And now that I've made it a whole month, I've decided to write a letter along with the pink slip I'm giving cable. 
Dear Cable,
You're fired. I'm done with you. I don't have time for your foolishness. I'm too busy watching a very attractive Mexican man dress like a woman to try to win back the love of his life with my husband. Good riddance. Don't try to win me back. LoLo and I are on to you and your honey boo boos and Kardashians and monsters that live inside people. 

Lots of No love to you,
Erin (and LoLo) 

Also: I have no idea why the font is smaller below the picture. I have changed it a million times and it looks like it's the same size where I'm writing in blogger...oh well.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Blending In

This time next week, I will be headed to Shanghai, China to attend a conference that my company puts on each year in a different location. After the conference, I will be headed to Manila, The Philippines to visit a friend from college. I am really excited to be going both places, but at the same time, I'm a little nervous.
Shanghai, China via
Manila, Philippines via
I've only ever traveled to Latin America. I've been to Mexico, Puerto Rico, and the Dominican Republic, all multiple times. And here's why I'm really nervous: I've only ever gone places where I had no trouble blending in.

When I go to Mexico, people automatically assume I'm Mexican (from Mexico, not Mexican-American like I am). When I go to Puerto Rico, people assume I'm Puerto Rican. When I go to the Dominican Republic, people assume I'm Dominican. In general, my look is pretty adaptable. Wherever I go, people think I'm a different ethnicity.

No one's going to think I'm Chinese.

When I've traveled in the past, I've always spoken the native language and could get around without needing much help. People didn't try to scam me and people never treated me like a tourist. I'm so excited to go out and see a part of the world that I never imagined I'd see, but I'm scared to be so dependent on others.

You've probably noticed that's a theme for me. I'm very independent and like to do my own thing most times. But this time, that's not possible.

Travel for me is all about figuring out where I fit in the world. Seeing someone elses' daily life and culture helps me to understand my own. I know that going somewhere I am totally unfamiliar with where I definitely won't fit in will force me to learn even more about myself. I can't wait to share my experiences in Shanghai and Manila with you. I also can't wait to tell you about the challenges I face and the things I learn.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Little Pumpkins

This past weekend, LoLo and I decided to head down to New York to see our family since I will be in China over Thanksgiving and LoLo will most likely have to work. We had a really great visit and it feels weird that we were just there and now much of the city has been devastated by Sandy. I've said it before and I'll say it again: I love New York. They will make it through this storm just like they made it through many other tragedies.

So for now, I will leave you with some of my pictures from a really fun weekend in my favorite city.

Saturday morning, my sister in law Luisana dressed up the girls in little Halloween outfits so we could take them into Central Park to take some pictures and walk around and enjoy the day. Check out my favorite little pumpkins!

After we came back to Queens from the park, we decided to go to one of our favorite restaurants, Basurero, on Steinway Street.

And finally, a picture of my husband that I am not necessarily proud of, but still think it's kind of funny.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Girl Talk

Wednesday night I stayed up a little too late because I was having a little too much fun with some ladies you might know (and if you don't know them, you should get to know them for sure).

My sister, Lacey, Alix, and I had our second video chat date Wednesday night and it was just as much fun as our first one a month ago. I felt like a teenager again, but this time, with girl friends who were in three different time zones. Anyone remember the game Girl Talk?

Blondie had the bump it before it was even in style! via
It was just like that. Permed hair and all. Nobutseriously. It felt like that.

We even went old school seventh grade sleepover style and made a prank call. Lacey called LoLo and pretended to be this cougar woman from New York. Back in New York, he worked at a fireplace building/cleaning company and this cougar woman had hit on him hard core and even called his company to ask for him to come back to her apartment the next day. Lacey pretended to be the cougar and it was hilarious. He kept saying "Why are you calling me? I don't even live in New York anymore! I'm sorry, I can't help you with your fireplace!" I couldn't stop laughing and even though I tried to hold it in, LoLo said he could hear us all laughing over the phone. As soon as she called him a second time, he came running up the stairs and said, "Erin! Don't play with me! I don't play childish games!"

Luckily for me, he totally passed the test. He was respectful but also didn't bite when she asked him to call her back when he came back to New York. Also lucky for me, his new job keeps him in good spirits and he laughed it off.

Maybe someday I can get him to tell the story about the cougar in a vlog because seriously, everyone who hears him tell the story asks to hear it again because it's so funny.

I'm so happy my sister begged me to get into blogging. Not only has it been a great outlet for me, it's also allowed me to meet some amazing friends who I feel like I've known forever. Sometimes I even forget I haven't actually met them in person!

I'm off to New York this weekend to snuggle with my little nieces and laugh with the rest of our family there. Rumor has it we might be making a music video on their rooftop terrace. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Evolution of Friendship

A couple of weeks ago, I saw this quote twice in one day:

During much of the time that I lived in New York, I had a group of friends that I had made during college. Fast forward about, oh, three years to the present day and I am minus several of those friends. I won't get into the whole story here, but suffice it to say I learned who my real friends were around a pretty significant event in my life.

Coming home to Maine was a decision my husband and I made because we were ready to settle down and feel more financially stable. What we didn't expect was that coming home to Maine would help us to examine some of our friendships and realize who was really worthy of our time.

In another post, I talked about how I think that sometimes New Yorkers are selfish out of necessity. When I look at those "friendships" that I've since lost, I realize that those people were selfish by nature and selfish out of necessity. I'm not saying they were mean on purpose (or at least some of them weren't) or that their selfishness was also malicious, but what I'm saying is that they were people who had lived lives that led them to think of themselves first because previously, they had been in survival mode.

I think during college, I was drawn to these people in particular because we shared feelings of not fitting in. We shared stories of struggling to assert our identities in a place where we were different from most of the other students. And even though I hadn't really had to be in survival mode like some of them, I felt like I fit with them more than anyone else at school.

As I've gotten older, I've come to realize that there are others who can relate to my struggle to find my identity and who are passionate about the same issues I am passionate about, yet have values much closer to mine. My parents taught me to care for others, to be considerate of others, and to always think about how my actions could affect others.

Marriage, work, family, and taking care of a puppy leaves little time for friends. And this is one place where I am selfish. I only share my limited free time with people who deserve it; people who support me and care for me, and who see friendship as a two way street.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Sights of Puerto Rico

As you know, I spent last week working in Puerto Rico at a conference. This was my third time going to San Juan and I absolutely love it there. To me, it's the perfect mix of Latin America and the United States.

Let's start with the food! On my first night, I ate with some of my coworkers at a really fun place called "Aguaviva". I ordered coconut shrimp and tostones (fried green plantains). YUM!

The next day, my co-worker/friend Elaine and I ate at The Parrot Club which is owned by the same people who run Aguaviva. Another amazing meal!

This is a chicken sandwich and a log cabin of yuca frita (yuca/cassava fries) seasoned with cilantro and olive oil.

After lunch, I hung out by the pool for a few minutes before I had to go to the conference center. This is the view from the rooftop pool. 

This was also a view from the rooftop pool. It was so nice and sunny over the pool but right across the water, I could see this storm coming.
I put my conference table together on Monday afternoon and felt like my brochures really fit in with the caribbean feel of Puerto Rico.

For most of my time there, I was working, but on my last day, I had some free time before my flight and I walked (and walked and walked) around Viejo San Juan and took some pictures.
This building is the Antiguo Casino de Puerto Rico. The closing reception for the conference was held here. It is an absolutely amazing space.
I also saw some interesting sights... like a pimped out bus...
And the perfect bench for a short person like me...with a foot/leg rest!
And a new friend on another bench...
And yet another friend...his name was Luis. I like his hat.
And I will leave you with my favorite sign I saw on my trip. All I have to say is "Whoop Whoop!!"

I had so much fun on my trip to Puerto Rico. I definitely recommend Puerto Rico if you need a little fun in the sun!