Friday, July 24, 2009

Puerto Rico - Rich Port

My life has been a bit crazy over the past couple of months. It started with training for a new computer system we were installing at work, which had me traveling to Tampa and Houston, as well as spending some time in Denver. While I was on a break in Denver, my boss called and asked if I was interested in a PMI (post merger integration) opportunity coming up. All he knew was that it would be somewhere in the Caribbean, it would start soon, last about 2 weeks, and he needed to know that day. Christine and I decided it was too cool to pass up so I gladly agreed. Little did I know that would be the beginning of uncertainty.

I received an email the next week from our Exec. VP informing me that I had been chosen as a member of a 3 person team heading to Puerto Rico and I would be leaving the following week. I decided to head down for the first week, get work stuff figured out and Christine would come the following week. We would have a couple days to tour the island afterwards.

The coming days brought more uncertainty than I could have imagined. I started seeing estimated project timelines ranging anywhere from 2 weeks to 3 months. It seemed that people weren't very interested in small details like time away from home. The task at hand was to identify cost saving opportunities that required little capital and could be implemented quickly.

My team and I dove into the project and soon found how different work could be away from the USA...yes, I know PR is a US territory. We began to see disconnects between management and the other employees and an array of possible projects. Good progress was made and we put together a nice report within the allotted time. We also soon learned that, other than extending our stay by a week, we would be back home after a total of 3 weeks.....not too bad after all.

The worst thing was that I had little time to spend with Christine, as I worked long hours and her flight left early on Sunday morning. That left only Saturday to really explore and enjoy. We made the most of it by heading to Rincon....a small surf town on the Northwest coast. We had coffee and bagels at a great place called Banana Dang. Owned by a coffee lover from California, this place served some of the best coffee I've tasted and could have been dropped easily in the middle of Boulder. With no surf in sight, we enjoyed swimming in the ocean and taking pictures of the scenery. Christine left bright and early the next morning from San Juan, after enjoying a nice dinner and room service of ice cream (we couldn't resist)!

I ended the trip with another week of work, a crazy taxi ride back to San Juan and some of the best paella you can imagine. Here are a few pictures that document the trip.

A view from the hotel - the weather was a mix of
sunny days and overcast skies. Not what I expected.

The town of Ponce in the background ,
which is where I spent most of my time.
Ponce is a city of 500,000 on the southern
coast of PR, full of industry.

Christine at Banana Dang on Sunday morning. My
hectic life of work and hotel living eased by miles
just having her around. I hated to see her leave.

What a mean latte. Did I just say latte? I meant!!

I went a little too far with iPhoto!

The coast of Rincon. The surf break below is called
steps, because an old set of concrete steps were left
on the beach. Who knows how long they have been
there...or why. The water was so calm, but we saw
pictures of 40 ft waves.

This was the craziest thing. As Christine and I were
driving, we saw this guy hop out of a car with a
longboard. We pulled over to watch him fly down
the hill. The picture doesn't do the steepness justice.

A view from half way up El Yunque (sounds like
yun-k) in the Yunque Rainforest. The mountains
were actually over 3000 ft asl. I went for a run up
the mountain and the locals thought I was crazy. I
got cheers, laughs, and downright dirty looks. What
a loco gringo!!

The view out of the window of the plane prior to
landing in home-sweet-home Colorado. We were
just above the cloud cover and it looked as though
I could step out of the plane onto this sea of white.
It gave me a strange peace after the storm of the earlier
weeks. As I always say, it's truly the small things
that make the biggest difference.

Con todo, estoy agradecido por el viaje. Aprendí mucho sobre mí misma y orar para que Dios me sigue con la aventura.

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