olg.JPG  We spent a quiet New Year’s Eve on the boat, still a little tired from our trip to Illinois.  I made a steak supper, and we dug out the New Year’s Eve party favors I had buried on the boat.  At midnight, we walked up to the marina restaurant, and enjoyed the music and fireworks.  The next day we woke up late and took the kids to downtown Ponce to visit the Our Lady of Guadalupe Cathedral.  This was a nice change to all the hype and shopping around Christmas.  The church, designated a cathedral in 1924, is built on the site of the original church that was built in the 1600′s.  That church was destroyed by fire and earthquakes and the current cathedral was built in 1931.  To say the church is magnificent is an understatement.  The church is painted blue and white inside, with soaring ceilings and beautiful statues of angels and saints.  A huge pipe organ is housed in the upper back of the church and it is such a soothing experience to sit and listen to the angelic music coming from the organ.  In moments, the entire world disappears.  The kids were in awe too, as they sat entranced, amazed at the gold on the altars and the beautiful stained glass windows.        our-lady-of-guadalupe.JPG        olg11.JPG         olg4.JPG          olg5.JPG      olg7.JPG

olg9.JPG 100_2787.JPG olg13.JPG                      100_27911.JPG     olg16.JPG olg18.JPG      olg55.JPG          It was so nice to sit, in the quiet, and just relax, and give thanks for all the blessings we’ve had this year. 

On the way out of the city, we took an unintentional tour of the “barrios”.   The streets in the barrios narrow  down to almost nothing.  We were looking for the Vigia Cross, and due to all the one way streets, we ended up on a sidestreet that at first glance one might think one wouldn’t want to be on.  I had no choice but to keep going as it got narrower and narrower.  This would have been a good time to be in the subcompact rental car, instead of the large Jeep Patriot that I was so glad to get.  As we headed down the very narrow street, with cars parked on one side, my way was blocked by a car parked on my side.  Well what to do now?  I don’t think I can make it through.  It’s too far to back up.  Dan is sure I can squeeze through but I don’t think I have a chance.  He has to get out and direct me, much to the delight of the guys sitting on the street corner.  I give them a smile and laugh with them, while Dan guides me through without so much as a scratch. 

Later I am still threading my way through one way streets.  Ponce is a great city, but it is hard to drive in sometimes due to the one way streets and lack of street signs.  I can’t count the number of times I started to go down a one way street and was stopped by the honking of another driver.  I am almost to the end of a one way street when a car turns onto the road heading toward me. This is a one way road then.  I am going the wrong way.  No problem.  He stops and waits for me to clear out.  At first he looks mad, then I mouth the words “I’m sorry”  while waving my hand in my patented “I’m sorry” wave.  The “I’m sorry” wave is my own.  It is almost like a regular wave, but instead of waving my hand back and forth, I move the whole arm and hand at kind of an angle, while saying ”I’m sorry” several times.  It seems to work for me. 

We are approaching the plaza in downtown Ponce, and as I emerge, again,  the wrong way from a one way street, a policeman standing on the corner, sees me.    He yells something to me, (conveniently I have my window up, therefore I cannot hear him), and starts walking toward the car.  I hesitate at first, then do the wave, saying I am sorry, and throwing in a “I know” and continue on my way.  Luckily he doesn’t follow me. 

We finished the day off by taking the kids to the park near the marina to play.  It is called the La Guancha recreational complex, and nearly every night, loud music is the norm.  But there is also a great boardwalk and several really nice playgrounds which get alot of use.  This is one of the many things I love about Puerto Rico, it is really a family place.  It seems they really love their children and spend alot of time with them.  Tristan and Tessa have made several friends on these playgrounds.  As it gets dark, we walk over to the boardwalk and pass through the crowds, some of them sitting in lawn chairs enjoying the music, others watching their kids trying out their new Christmas presents, such as remote control cars and ride-on Hummers and Jeeps.  The whole scene is contagious.  The music is loud, but infectious.  We walk along the water for awhile enjoying the warm evening, watching a few of the couples doing the merengue.  Dan finds a stand selling empanadillas,(meat filled pastries) and we find a relatively quiet corner to eat and enjoy being together in Puerto Rico. We don’t stay long as the long day has tired us all out.  We hop back in the car and make it back to the marina, without hitting any one way streets!