Monday, February 27, 2017

Fresh Start

I started writing this post over a year ago. It was supposed to be a good-bye letter to the blog and to you, my faithful readers (are there any left?).  However, the more I thought about it the more hesitant I grew about saying good-bye to my little corner in the web. I just couldn't call it quits.

It all started seven years ago when I decided to jump head first into the blogging world.
Through the years, this blog has grown alongside with me as I made my way through life's many stages... life as a college student, my first real job in my field, my first apartment, and the details of our wedding planning.  I have now reached a point in my life where I don't feel the need to be defined by any of those things.  It has taken me a long time to figure out what exactly I wanted this little place of mine to be...  I think I know now.

After a lot of work I am excited to announce that Mariel's Window has a NEW HOME.

This new place will serve as a photo-journal to my everyday moments and once-in-a-lifetime adventures.  A place for me to share my passions (photography and travel) as well as my favorite memories alongside the ones I love most.

I will be shutting this space down eventually but I just don't have the heart to do it just yet... too many memories attached to it.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

    To conclude our road trip around the island we decided to pay Icacos Island a visit.  Our visit to this little island off the coast of Fajardo was actually a first for both of us. You see, my family's go-to island off of Fajardo has always been Culebra (which is, hands down, my favorite place in the world). However, we were unable to find a spot on the ferry that morning. A local fisherman heard us talking to the ferry terminal officer and mentioned that he was actually heading to Icacos in about an hour with some friends and he had space in his boat for two more. Now, we normally don't accept "rides" from strangers but in the spontaneous spirit of adventure we said yes.   After grabbing a quick breakfast at the bakery down the street, we met up with Alexis and his friends at Las Croabas,  paid about $20 to help with fuel, and off we went.
    As soon as we spotted Icacos from our little boat we knew we had made the right choice... it was paradise.   Definitely an island I wouldn't mind getting marooned in.  Our friend, the fisherman, dropped all of us off on the shore (there is no dock so you have to jump right in) and off he went. We knew we had about five hours before he came back for us so we split ways, his friends off to go spear fishing and Sean and I in search of the nearest shade to leave our stuff and jump back in the water.
    Since this was sort of our farewell to our amazing adventure we just took it all in.  Swam and played in the ocean till out fingers and toes were all wrinkly, napped under the palm trees, relaxed in the tide pools, and walked around the island exploring its many beaches.  It was the most perfect way to conclude the most amazing adventure. 
We'll be back.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

    Our south coast adventures consisted of a trip to Gilligan Island while we were staying in Isabela and then a one night stop in Ponce as part of our road trip around the island.  There was a lot more we wanted to see and explore while in the southern coast of Puerto Rico.  Unfortunately, due to our tight schedule, weather, and the off-season we had to put those things on hold for next time (Isla Caja de Muertos, we are coming for you). 


     We woke up at sunrise in preparation for this trip, packed the car with a lunch, snorkeling gear, and off we went. This little mangrove island (officially known as Cayo Aurora) is located just a mile off the coast of Guanica so the original plan was to kayak our way there.  Unfortunately, the tide was a bit rough that morning and they weren't renting any out. We managed to buy some last minute tickets on a small fishing boat and arrived to this little piece of heaven a little before noon.  The rest of the day was spent lounging in the water and napping on the sand. We didn't get to do any snorkeling since we had to leave our gear behind due to lack of room on the little boat but it was alright. After all, it felt like a thousand spa days put in one.  
Our very own little beach
Waiting for the boat to take us back... I think we both could've stayed forever.


We actually made our way to La Ciudad Señorial (The Noble, or Lordly, City) right after Cabo Rojo. Still wet, sandy, and a bit sunburned from our time at the beach, the cool shower at the hotel was our first stop. After, we picked up some take out from down the street and came back to the room for dinner on the our balcony.  The next morning consisted of exploring the town before packing up and heading east.
Gorgeous hotel floors / breakfast
Next stop... East coast!

Friday, February 5, 2016

      After our time in Old San Juan we headed west to spend Three Kings Day with family and to show Sean around my old stomping grounds. The west coast of Puerto Rico is the place I called home for the first 12 years of my life so it holds a very special place in my heart.  I should warn you though, this is a VERY picture-heavy post.  


     We decided to make Isabela our base camp during our time in the west coast because of its convenient location.  Perfectly located within the same distance to both grandparents' houses it became our "home" at night and for the few hours during the day we weren't at their place.  I think  for our next visit I want to stay here longer to truly enjoy and explore the area since this time around our schedule was so tight.  Hopefully the waves will be less rough next time around so that we can check surfing off our vacation to-do list. 
Grandma's beautiful orchids     /     Place you were most likely to find me EVERY morning before breakfast


        Showing Sean my hometown's plaza was the highlight of this trip. You see, almost every Saturday evening of my childhood consisted of dad taking me and my sisters to the plaza for ice cream on a warm summer night and to admire the beautiful Christmas lights during the holidays.  I got to do all those things again but this time with Sean. It was so special to me and I couldn't help but imagine sharing the same experience with my babies one day. 


   There isn't much photographic record of this day except for these low light/blurry pictures.  After all, most of my day consisted of nonstop cooking, baking, and eating while also indulging in the fact that for the first time in thirteen years most of the family was home for the holidays.  It felt so good to be back.  


    The day after Reyes we said goodbye to the family, promised to be back soon, and headed to our last stop in the west coast... Cabo Rojo.  We checked into the cutest little motel by the beach and called it a night shortly after.  Early the next morning, after a quick morning swim, we packed our things and headed out to explore the town.  We came across a bakery/market where we got breakfast, a delicious cup of coffee, and some essentials for a picnic lunch at the beach, and off to my favorite lighthouse we went. 
Like I said... essentials.
... and we're out! 

Next stop: Ponce

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

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Puerto Rico: Old San Juan

    A little over a month ago Sean and I returned to Puerto Rico to celebrate our anniversary and enjoy the Christmas season the island way.  Even though we landed on December 29th we were in no danger of missing out on the holiday celebrations.  They were actually at their peak since NYE was right around the corner and Three Kings Day was still over a week away (On the island we literally celebrate the longest Christmas season in the world.  It all starts on Thanksgiving day and ends well into January... "Las Octavitas").
    We decided to spend the first three nights in Old San Juan and welcome the new year in one of the oldest cities in the Caribbean and my personal favorite in the whole world.  As soon as we landed we took a cab the apartment and got ready right away for our anniversary dinner at La Mallorquina (the oldest restaurant in the Americas).  Lucky for us, the restaurant was just quick walk away so we made it in just in time.  After stuffing ourselves with mofongo, bacalaitos, and passion fruit frapes we thought we were ready to call it a night but then I heard music coming from the plaza... Game over. Off we went to dance the night away.
    New Years Eve arrived a couple days later. That morning we randomly bumped into my parents and sisters as we were walking out of the coffee shop down the street(we knew they were in Puerto Rico but didn't think we would all see each other till Three Kings Day) .  After a lot of hugging, kissing, and jumping up and down we all headed out to explore the city for the 1000x... it never gets old.  After a family dinner back at our place mom, dad, and the girls left.  Sean and I then left to meet up with some locals down by the bay to watch the fireworks and welcome the new year. An absolutely perfect day with those I love most.
Heading out to dinner on our first night "home"
"El Palomar"... the beautiful apartment we got to call home during those four days. 
Starting ALL our mornings with a delicious little cup of coffee from the mountains of Yauco.
Getting my dose of Mavi
Live music and dancing at the plaza every night.
Blurry but my favorite one... NYE kiss.

... Follow our adventures in this Friday's post!
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