Friday was our first single workout day, a relief for us all. Singles allow us to continue training but allow us to recovery, preparing us for the next, harder cycle of training in the following three days. Single days also give us four extra hours to pretend like we’re natives enjoying the Rican life. With that said, the boys and I hit the beach to catch some waves (and sun), a regular activity for us all. The best part about the ‘gnar is what follows after the “party waves”: the luxurious hospitality from La Concha itself.
La Concha is a higher end hotel that plays a vital role in our recovery after getting pitted. Across the beach from the water, sits a small Infinite pool with the temperature just right—hot enough to feel relaxation setting in, but not so hot that you need to set yourself a time limit. If you aren’t satisfied with that, walking up to the main pool, another Infinite pool, with an upper and a lower level. On upper level, you’ll find yourself two sizzling jacuzzis. We make our way from the jacuzzi to the pool to cool off, leaning our arms or legs over the edge where water falls down, step after step into the lower pool. Its a great feeling after a hard workout just to chill the way we do, thanks to La Concha.
The next activity was corntoss. After today’s game, I’m beginning to think iwe’re just as competitive when we play this game as we are when we race. Tyler and I had a good run today, but Sandro and Flynn Flynned us. We’ll get them tomorrow.
Corntoss was followed by snorkeling and bridge jumping, my personal favorites. Me, Ryan, Sandro, Maginn, Owen, Hao and Hargrave walked to the bridge connecting our hotel strip to the mainland. Each of us threw our equipment down to the guy who jumped before us, and then threw ourselves down into the clear blue water. Russ mentioned he saw a lobster somewhere by the bridge, and we were determined to find it. This is perhaps, the only time we have ever, or will ever, voluntarily swim extra because of Russ. We took off, covering as much water as we could, bridge far behind us, the Hilton across the water to our left, El Condado (our Hotel) to our right, and a few gnarly shed rocks protruding from the water, separating us from the great big blue straight ahead. This rocks marked the coral reef. So off we went.
We approached the reef, a place i had never ventured to last year, and the seven of us were met by schools of fish, colored an even more beautiful blue than the water of the tropics you see on the front of magazines. those of us who didn’t have snorkels would come up for air, shouting over to our nearby pals to tell them, “Dude! Come here! check this out!” excited about the exotic creatures below. I remember being underwater, following the school of blue fish, keeping far enough behind not scare or send the school darting in all different directions. When they went where i couldn’t, I turned my attention to the brain-like coral on the surface of the reef, or the fin-like coral swaying from side to side from the current.
Hao, a fish himself, found Mr. Crabs, the legendary lobster Russ told us about. He was hiding beneath some coral at the bottom of the ocean floor, too far for me to swim down. I could see Hao descend to meet the floor, placing his hands on the coral to keep himself from floating back up. Reaching is other hand into the hole where Mr. Crabs hid i could see his hand wrestling with the lobster. I went up for air and up came Hao, antennae in hand. Sorry Mr. Crabs. We gave up the fight and went back to the hotel. Im definitely going back to say goodbye to the fish and the reef before I leave again.
That night the boys minus a few took the bus to Old San Juan for dinner and exploration. We came to the cobblestone-like city with narrow roads and small shops selling beautiful art and clothing and jewelry. Sandro, myself and Owen found dashikis. We ate at a small restaurant, the most popular dinner being the mofongo. The city was poppin’. Music could be heard on each street, whether it was coming from a saxophonist on the street corner, a shop trying to attract customers, or the live act that was put on in the city center, a courtyard like area. We made our way from the restaurant to the Castillo San Felipe del Morro. Sandro and Owen and I ventured down to where the lookout towers were, where you could lookout through the hole and see attacking ships, if there had been any. It was a creepy, but at the same time comforting feeling, being in the tower alone and listening to the waves crash upon the rocks sixty feet below. Looking out into a sea of darkness, I wouldn’t haven been able to tell where the water met the sky if it hadn’t been for the full moon. I left the lookout tower and joined my bothers, exploring the castle rock and architecture. I explored a little too far when I went to join Owen standing on the edge of the castle. Before I could jump up on the ledge, my face was covered with ocean spray from a combination of the crashing waves below and the gusty wind.
The castle expedition concluded our day’s events and we caught the last bus back to the hotel. It was an eventful day to say the least. Writing this two days later, now the fourth of January, myself and the other men have our second single to look forward to tomorrow, a practice designed to celebrate Three Kings Day, and a drive to and walk through the rainforest after!