Monday, January 30, 2012

Back to the Caribe Hilton

About thirty eight years ago (gasp) Dad/Richard and I took our first real weekend vacation. We had been married for four years and even though we were having fun it was also a keep-your-nose-to-the grindstone grueling life in the trenches. With the abundance of having two pre-schoolers and Dad being gone sometimes four days a week which was hard on both of us, we were pretty strung out.

Straight out of the Harvard Business School Richard accepted a job and helped to found a premier political consulting firm in Washington D.C. called Bailey, Deardourff and Eyre. While he was off with the candidates running for Senate, Congress and Governorships, I was into the life of exploding diapers, permanent black magic marker all over the walls and kids who wouldn’t stay in bed at night.

All that said to set the stage for the euphoria I felt when we were 30,000 miles above the earth flying to Puerto Rico without the kids.  Richard was running a re-election campaign for Carlos Romero Barcelo who was the major of San Juan (he won and later ran for Governor with Richard’s firm and won again).

Checking into the Caribe Hilton was a like walking into heaven. There were lots of firsts: A divine vine-ripened pineapple in our room, a virgin pina colada and authentic Caribbean black bean soup, complete with the traditional toppings which included sour cream, fresh onions, rice and hard boiled eggs.

It was a dreamy weekend which included two whole nights of uninterrupted sleep, white sand beaches and brilliant aqua water washing up on the shore. It was like finding an oasis after months of walking across the Gobi Desert without  food or water.

In addition I got to meet some of the people Richard had been working with at a town meeting that night which was scheduled for 7:00. Nobody showed up until 8:30 which apparently was the norm. No apologies. A lovely party at the Barcelo home the next night opened my eyes to a new world, even though I could hardly understand a word that was said.

I smile when I think about that weekend. Was it really that good? Or was I just desperate. Whatever it was, it always brings back great memories. SO there we were in Puerto Rico where we picked up the cruise and we just couldn’t resist. We checked in for a day and night at the good ol’ Caribe Hilton. The main building looked just about exactly as it did all those years ago. But urban sprawl had set in and there were enormous extensions out every direction.


Luckily the beach and the water don’t age. It is exactly as we remembered it!



We immediately found the maitre di and at the restaurant and told him about our memories of black bean soup.  At first he said they didn’t have black bean soup on the menu for the day but when Dad/Rick pleaded our case, he called the kitchen and persuaded the chef to make some soup just for us. In an hour and a half the delectable soup was sitting before us, almost exactly as we remembered it….sans the egg. Mmmmm. Yum!


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The fabulous pina collates were to die for! The real deal!

Even though we had to giggle at ourselves about the innocence of our youth (we’ve seen a lot of great hotels since then) it was kind of like finding the pot of gold at the end of a rainbow after all those years. Great memories!


P.S. With almost no Internet service on the ship, these posts pile up. Being without a computer for a week is a great learning experience!


charity eyre wright said...

wow mom, great post! I didn't know about that trip! of course dad got them to make the soup. I love you and can't wait to see you!!

bostonshumways said...

love this mom. i can totally relate. I love thinking of you and dad doing the same craziness that we're doign right now. I know you get it, and that means so much.

and i love it even more that you have been able to stay in so many amazing hotels since then..... you deserve it!