Rushville Republican


May 18, 2013

Stuart: From zippy to zapped in Old San Juan

RUSHVILLE — My family’s spring break vacation didn’t last nearly as long as it’s taking me to tell you about it in these columns. If it had, our cruise would be going into its fifth week. That would be, I don’t know, like sailing with Christopher Columbus in 1492. Imagine the weight his crews put on at their shipboard buffets; no wonder those boats traveled slow!

Incidentally, Columbus has a part to play in this week’s column, as I share our adventures in San Juan, Puerto Rico, which was our last port of call on our vacation.

If you’ve faithfully read the last few columns (and no, there is no way to get that precious time back), then you know that my kids developed a cruise-going habit of “wasting” as little as possible of the hours of darkness. They much preferred to sleep away the daylight hours. So once again, when we reached San Juan, my wife and I dragged three barely conscious teens off the ship at the ungodly hour of 8 a.m. to experience a zip-lining tour through the canopy of a forest near San Juan.

No. 5 son, age 12, who, the day before, had given in to his uncertainties and trepidations about a snorkeling adventure, and instead stayed aboard the catamaran flirting with a college-age cutie crew member, had no such luck worming out of the zip-lining, about which he was even more uncertain and, uh, trepidatious.

Our cause was aided, however, by our family being second to last in the line to glide through the trees. And a family with the 12-year-old girl, whose uncertainty and trepidatious-ness were at least 2.3x that of No. 5, was behind us. Thus, the cultural imperative for a boy to try to act “cool” in front of a girl triumphed over the “u” and “t” words. No. 5 buried his anxieties, flew down the first zip line, and was hooked, and I’m not just talking about his safety harness being properly attached to the zip line. He loved it, and his exuberance reduced the grumpiness I felt about him wasting a big wad of that snorkeling excursion fee by at least 2.3x.

As we rode the zip-line tour bus back to the port, we got an impromptu tour of Old San Juan. Our driver, you see, gave every indication of being a native Puerto Rican, but clearly was faking it; he was obviously Scottish. Here’s the evidence: he spent the drive back from the forest explaining five or six ways to have a great time in Old San Juan WITHOUT spending a lot of money. It was “pinch a penny here, pinch a penny there.” Including making an unscheduled stop in Old San Juan to drop off people who wanted to check the town out, thus helping them avoid taking any “too expensive” cab rides. It was the very essence of a tightwad Scotsman, a stereotype I have no uncertainty and trepidatious-ness about mocking because I am one of those myself!

My wife and I decided we would get back on-board our ship to freshen up and eat a little after zip-lining, then debark again to stroll the charming streets of Old San Juan. While busing back to the dock, I described the historic sights we would see to the kids, and how certain I was that they would really enjoy them; their eyes immediately glazed over and they got some precious nap-time in.

When we took to the cobblestoned avenues of Old San Juan (without kids, if that needs mentioning) we discovered that it was really hot, a draining kind of heat. We’d gone from zipping to zapped.

We found some shady refuge from the heat, and, more importantly, a dose of history and culture, in the walls of the Castillo de San Cristobal, a fort built by the Spaniards in 1521. Among the items of interest there was a large model of the Santa Maria, the ship Columbus sailed on in 1492. And I learned from a placard next to the model that the ship sank on Christmas day of that year, off the coast of Haiti. Apparently, it was being piloted at the time by a cabin boy! The rest of the crew was (this is true) sleeping off drunkenness. Caused by celebrating Christmas with 2.3x of the grog that Columbus said they could have.



Text Only
  • This column will self-destruct in 5 seconds I've become completely infatuated over the past few weeks with a gift I received a few Christmases ago. It was a completely unexpected gift from one of my big brothers: a set of "Mission: Impossible" DVDs. No, not home videos of me begging my kids to

    April 15, 2014

  • Don't sweat the small things There are a few things in life that really get under my skin, one of which is complaining. Yes, I complain sometimes, but it doesn't last too long at all before I put myself in check. There was a story this week that really touched my heart and like

    April 15, 2014

  • The timeless beauty of wicker No matter what the day may bring, I can leave it all behind when I take my evening walk. Strolling through our historic neighborhood on Indy's south side is a multifaceted treat. It is good for my heart, it erases the cares of the day and it affords

    April 15, 2014

  • Self deposit box I love where I bank. It's a branch inside of a big supermarket. I can make a modest withdrawal and then go and blow every last penny in the cookie aisle. The tellers at the window appreciate me. They know about my obsession with round numbers and und

    April 15, 2014

  • Change can be done here In previous columns I've suggested that one of the factors holding this community back is the relatively poor image many of us have of our town. The point, as some may recall, was made by several people who live in other communities who said Rushvill

    April 15, 2014

  • Second hand rose...or fashionista? "Fashion is an expression of individualism mixed with charisma"....John Fairchild 1940's sensible shoes with a '70's midi-skirt. High waist skirts with over the knee boots. Polka dot shirts with bell-bottom pants. Retro fashion is here to stay, and w

    April 11, 2014

  • Mankind is not causing global warming Back on Feb. 26 of this year, an article appeared on with the following headline, "Greenpeace co-founder: No scientific proof humans are dominant cause of warming climate." Here's what Patrick Moore, a Canadian ecologist and co-founder of

    April 8, 2014

  • One fine day True story here: a long time ago, a young woman from Cincinnati daydreams of growing up and meeting a nice man, getting married, learning to cook, having two children, etc. etc. Eventually, it all comes true for her. Except it all happens in a major

    April 8, 2014

  • It is time we take back our country What ever happened to the America of my youth? That great country that was indeed the jewel of the common person of the world. The country where one could actually, through hard work and industry, make a good living and actually have the OPPORTUNITY

    April 8, 2014

  • Net tricks My wife and I went on a binge last week. If you think I'm talking about an eating binge, you've never seen how thin we both are. If you think I mean a shopping binge, you don't know how cheap we are. And if you think it was cleaning binge, you've nev

    April 8, 2014

Featured Ads
AP Video
Raw: More Than 100,000 Gather for Easter Sunday Raw: Greeks Celebrate Easter With "Rocket War" Police Question Captain, Crew on Ferry Disaster Raw: Orthodox Christians Observe Easter Rite Ceremony Marks 19th Anniversary of OKC Bombing Raw: Four French Journalists Freed From Syria Raw: Massive 7.2 Earthquake Rocks Mexico Captain of Sunken SKorean Ferry Arrested Raw: Fire Destroys 3 N.J. Beachfront Homes Raw: Pope Presides Over Good Friday Mass Raw: Space X Launches to Space Station Superheroes Descend on Capitol Mall Man Charged in Kansas City Highway Shootings Obama Awards Navy Football Trophy Anti-semitic Leaflets Posted in Eastern Ukraine Raw: Magnitude-7.2 Earthquake Shakes Mexico City Ceremony at MIT Remembers One of Boston's Finest Raw: Students Hurt in Colo. School Bus Crash Deadly Avalanche Sweeps Slopes of Mount Everest
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.