Winter Break: Palm trees to frost heaves

by Adam, a Patriot Blogger

When I travel home to NH for the winter holidays (that tends to include Thanksgiving and depending on the year, Halloween) I prepare for cold temperatures, snow and a majority of time spent indoors. This break, however, I had the opportunity to escape the cold just after Christmas and spend the week of New Year’s in Puerto Rico.

My anticipation for this trip reached a climax when I was able, for the first time, to include a bathing suit in my suitcase of clothes to travel home with me this winter.

Before I left I did have the opportunity to spend time with my family during Christmas. This was a particularly momentous occasion for my nephew Oliver, who celebrated his first-ever Christmas holiday.

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Cute little guy, isn’t he? I think you’ll find that when you’re away at college, especially if you’re a far-away out-of-stater like myself,  that the holidays take on new meaning for you. It’s definitely something I’ve noticed since I started at Mason. I always look forward to coming home and seeing family I’ve missed, eating home-cooked food, and just relaxing for awhile.

After Christmas, a bit of back and forth travel to visit family and friends, and then it was time for me to head for the sunny sands of Puerto Rico. I was looking forward to this trip for more than just the tropical weather since I would be visiting a friend of mine who lives in San Juan and staying with him and his family. He’s actually a former student at Mason who I had met last year when I was a junior at Mason. When he had decided to move back to Puerto Rico, we had talked about me visiting and this summer I bought a plane ticket and made that happen.

After a hectic day of air travel which took me from Boston to Philadelphia to Charlotte to San Juan, I made it to Puerto Rico late last Wednesday, tired but excited for the week ahead.

One of the first full days we spent exploring Old San Juan and El Morro, the fortress that sits on the city port. Here’s a look at the wall that stretches around the limits of Old San Juan. Apparently, these walls have been formidable protection for the city over many years.

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Another day was spent on a catamaran, swimming and snorkeling on two off shore islands. This was definitely one of the highlights of the week for me. It’s hard to perfectly capture in a photo but the water was the clearest and bluest I had seen.

While snorkeling I saw a manta ray, and lots of tropical fish in the reefs along the shore. Unfortunately, it was the cloudiest day I spent in Puerto Rico but we didn’t really see any rain at all and I still managed a bit of a tan so I’d total it a success!

On the last day we visited El Yunque national rainforest. In addition to being the only rainforest in the U.S. National Forest system, it contains the most distinct plant species in any forest system in the Western hemisphere. It also contains a litany of “buena vistas” and awe-inspiring features like this waterfall.

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After our visit to El Yunque, we enjoyed a delicious finale dinner with my friend’s family at a seaside seafood restaurant. I have always been partial to New England seafood but this dinner was fantastic. A mix of fresh lobster, clam, conch, scallops and other fish in a butter garlic sauce poured over hot rice. Just the dinner alone would be worth a return trip!

After dinner we pulled an “all-nighter” watching Iowa caucus coverage since my flight was leaving at 4 a.m. Wednesday morning. As tired as I was during the latter part of my flight, I was actually happy that the early flight gave me the opportunity to watch the news coverage since the results were so close, Romney winning the Iowa caucus by a mere 8 votes. As a news guy, I find the primary race and political circus around it rather thrilling. Sorry if you don’t.

As it turns out, the primary season is following me to NH where my home state is set to hold it’s primary on Tuesday, January 10. Being home now, I’m a bit bummed that I’m not out covering town hall meetings and events. Hopefully by next primary season or maybe by the 2012 election I’ll have that opportunity!

For the remainder of my break I will be relaxing with family, fighting the biting cold that was all too eager to greet me when I returned home. As of January 23, 2012, I will be a second semester senior, taking my last run of courses as a college student at Mason. Where did the time go?

Happy New Year everybody!

……..

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