Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Puerto Rico escapade

Day 1

We left on Friday morning and flew into San Juan. Rented a car and drove to Old San Juan about 15 minutes from the airport. Old San Juan's colonial architecture of hanging balconies and cobble stone streets makes you feel like you have gone back in time. We drove by the cathedral and museums and stopped to visit San Cristobal Fort. This castle was built in 1771 and was designed to protect the city from land invasions.
Parking spaces were limited in Old San Juan so we did not stop much but just drove around to see the sites.

After a quick lunch of arroz (rice) with pigeon peas, we proceeded to head south.
Traffic was awful getting out of San Juan. We were only moving at 10mph. But the view from the highway was awesome. Lots of mountains and valleys on one side and clear blue waters on the
other side and square houses nestled on the mountains.

Three hours later, we stopped at Ponce and bought some snacks, water, juices, tuna cans, buns, etc. We had been warned that meals in the hotel were exorbitant.

We were stuck in traffic again getting out of Ponce.

We finally arrived in Guanica about 6pm, and checked into our hotel, which was just awesome.
Realizing that our hotel is located far away from any other amenities or restaurants, we were glad we bought those cans of tuna.
Dinner was a quick treat at the Las Palmas cafe in the hotel itself because we were just too tired of being in the car all afternoon and did not want to drive all t
he way down that narrow winding road down the mountains at night. Jason had what he called the best burger he'd ever eaten.

Day 2

Today we decided we'd venture out of Guanica and head west. Armed with a map and plenty of water, we drove to San German,
Puerto Rico's oldest settlement outside San Juan. Streets were again, very narrow. Roads were hilly. Buildings were interestingly old and mostly pink or orange, with a lot of old Spanish charm. Getting out of San German was indeed tricky because the streets were mostly one way and we found ourselves on the same streets again, and again.

Then we headed to Boqueron, a small beach town. The locals love hanging out here. We had lunch at Galloway's which is built on a dock. I had a conch salad and Jason had quesadillas.
We then checked out the beach and all the little kiosks selling "pinchos" ( raw clams, oysters, shellfish). I was so tempted to try some but was afraid to, not knowing how long they have been sitting out in the sun.

After Boqueron, we headed Southwest to Cabo Rojo, in search of the famous lighthouse. We drove, and drove.. and the roads disappeared, and we were on some dirt track. But we saw some cars in front of us and felt not so lost.
Then the narrow path opened to a lovely view of the bluest lagoon I've ever seen. And the lighthouse was up on a hill on the left. We parked and hiked up a rocky trail towards the lighthouse and the view was just breathtaking. We found ourselves on a cliff, overlooking a 200 feet drop to the sea, waves splashing against the limestone cliff. Just magnificent.
For dinner, we headed out to La Parguera, which is also famous for its Bioluminescent bay to watch the dinoflagellates (by the millions) emitting flashes of light that give the water a ghostly glow whenever they are disturbed. Unfortunately, I was so ill in the restaurant that we had to leave even before ordering our food. The next few hours, I had no recollection of what happened. I just remember throwing up and having to go to the bathroom numerous times and I had an awful headache. I think I remember chanting to Jason that if I were to die here, just sprinkle my ashes into the deep blue Caribbean waters.

Day 3

The next morning, I felt much better. Which leaves me to think I had a case of sunstroke. Or it could also be food poisoning from the conch salad, though Jason says that it was 6 hours since I had eaten it, so it probably was already digested by the time I got sick.

After breakfast, we packed our backpacks and hiked the Cuevas trail in the Guanica Dry Forest reserve. True to its name, the forest was absolutely dry. Almost desert-like. Lots of Agave and cactus everywhere. At the top of the hill, the view of the sea was just awesome.

For dinner, Javier from the front desk had recommended a place in Guayanilla, a small fishing village, where the locals eat. He told us to ask for directions to the waterfront once we get into Guayanilla. We did. We had to. Because we got very lost. A nice old man at the gas station told us to follow him and he led us to the village with little restaurants on wooden stilts by the boardwalk. We looked for La Rinconada (which means little corner). It was crowded and the waiter told us we would have to wait for our food. Wait we did. After an hour or so, our food came and it was soooo good. We had the camarones tostones( fried plantain batter shaped into a bowl and filled with shrimps) and carrucho (crab) empanadillas (
very similar to 'Cornish pasties' or the Malaysian curry puffs).

Day 4

Since this was our last day here, we decided to just take it easy and enjoy the beach at the hotel and made our spa appointments.

For lunch, we drove into town for some Chinese food. The menu was all in Spanish and interestingly, the food was really good and pretty authentic.

We ate dinner at the hotel and decided it was ok to splurge a little since this was technically our anniversary. We ordered the shrimp mofongo (made from fried green plantains, seasoned with garlic, olive oil and pork cracklings, then mashed and stuffed with shrimps) and some calamari fritters.

Day 5

We checked out of our hotel real early and made the drive to San Juan. I was nervous about missing our flight because of the traffic but we got into San Juan early enough. In fact, we were too early. So we contributed some money at the casino at the airport.

There was a Puerto Rican walking band playing at the departure hall. Cute.

This trip allowed us to immerse ourselves into a totally different culture and I learnt a lot of Spanish words because everything is in Spanish, even at McDonalds.
The word "Damas" came in real handy because most toilets are locked and you have to ask for the key.
Most Gas stations only accept cash. So you need to tell the cashier (in Spanish) which pump number and the amount of gas you want ($$ in liters)
People are very friendly and generally helpful.

It was a wonderful Anniversary for us both... and a much needed vacation!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Too many lemons in the fridge

I have atleast 12 lemons leftover from the cleanse. We bought enough for two of us plus I thought I was going to do ten days of cleanse.

So I'm trying to use them up. I know I could just squeeze them all and make a pitcher of lemonade, but nah.. tired of that lemon drink.
Yesterday, I made a baked tuna lemon penne pasta.

Today, its lemon pudding cake baked in a crockpot.
Recipe will be posted here.

I'll give some away to the neighbors and put some lemons in the basket too :)

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

The Master Cleanse - Day Five

I had the weirdest craving today - fried garlic. I wonder what my body is trying to tell me.
My sense of smell has also gotten really sensitive and I would smell french fries a mile away.
But what I miss most is the sensation of chewing food. I am getting tired of just drinking that lemon drink ALL day.
Energy level was great today.

Today, however, will be the last day of this cleanse. I am cutting it short by 5 days because I just found out that we'll be going out to eat for Mother's Day with the family. And it's a sin to not eat at a buffet. Not to mention, agonizing to watch.
In a way, I feel relieved and happy, and I just can't wait to eat this, this, this and this. But I'm also feeling disappointed for not getting the full results of the detox. Maybe next time.

Tomorrow, I'll start to break the cleanse by drinking a glass of orange juice in the morning and clear vegetable broth for lunch/dinner. No solid foods yet. The next day, it'll be vegetable broth again, and maybe some celery & tomato juice. And one small piece of watermelon.
According to the message board, it'll take a few days for your body to adjust fully to eating normal foods, and I want to give myself a head start so that I'll be able to enjoy some food at the buffet this Sunday.

So far, I've lost 5 lbs but I'm sure I'll put it all back again (or maybe more) because I'm just dying for a bucket of KFC drumsticks!

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

The Master Cleanse - Day Four

My energy level is the highest in the mornings, which is really rare for me because I am in no way a morning person. So I find this change quite intriguing.

This afternoon, I just started coughing for no reason for a good 30 seconds and it stopped just like that. And I had to blow the mucus out of my nose. I told myself that I'm just detoxing.

Today, I decided to test my strength and perseverance by cooking dinner for the husband. I actually miss stirring over the stove and throwing stuff into a pot. So I made some penne with shrimp + ham in sundried tomato alfredo sauce. It was hard not to try and lick the spoon or eat the crumbs off the chopping board. But I survived that ordeal. Ofcourse I made sure I drank a whole glass of that lemon drink before I started cooking.

I'm going to try and make good use of the time I spend instead of eating and thinking about food to do something useful. So I'm reading the manual for the sewing machine that just arrived. And maybe try out something new. WhoopTDoo!

Monday, May 05, 2008

The Master Cleanse - Day Three

The annoying headache finally went away this morning. Strangely, I had to go to the bathroom even before the salt water flush. (Readers, you can just skip to the next paragraph. Am noting this for personal future reference) I guess my body started its detoxification process coz what came out was mucus-like and yellow. No stools.

Salt water flush was easier today.

I wasn't hungry at all like the past two days. But I made the mistake of going too long between the lemon drink because of a one hour meeting this afternoon and felt really hungry and a little nauseous. But the lemon drink fixed that. So it's best to drink that lemon drink every 20-30 minutes so the hunger pangs won't get you.

And a spoonful of that maple syrup will really help to boost your energy level. I hope I won't get addicted to it.

Note : the lemon drink tastes better if you put it in the fridge.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

The Master Cleanse - Day Two

Getting up early on weekends has always been difficult. But today, I got up early and felt energized although I was woken up twice in the middle of the night with a blocked and bloody nose, which has been a norm for me for the past 2 months or so. Another reason I am doing this cleanse.

Did the Salt Water flush and stayed in the bathroom for 50 minutes!!!
I felt really hungry after that and drank my lemon drink in one long gulp. Not advisable as the tartness of the lemon tickles your throat and got me choking and snorting lemon up my nose.

While my energy level was still high, I took the opportunity to scrub the bathroom and do laundry.

Anyways, today has been tougher for me because Jason decided to quit last night and since then, I have been fighting off temptation. The house is constantly filled with tantalizing aromas of every darn thing that I am not supposed to eat. But I can only hope this will make me even stronger. Right now, I am craving for a fried egg so bad.

I havent had the need to stay close to the bathroom so that's good. Went to Walmart and stopped by to look at the Model home in our neighborhood. I'll put the floorplans under my pillow so we can dream of our dreamhouse :)

We spent the evening with the in-laws and Summer, the latest addition to the family, kept me occupied while everyone else had dinner. She's a sweetheart. I miss having a dog.

Now, I'm trying to fight off a headache so I'll call it a night. Energy level has dropped to zero.

The Chronicles of the Master Cleanse - Day 1

I had a few errands to run this morning and I was afraid the Salt Water Flush would make me be toilet-ridden. So I did all those errands first (a trip to the Post-Office, fed the neighbor's cats) and came home to prepare myself for the flush.

The Salt Water drink wasn't as bad as I thought. I've read about the horrible after-effects that could happen to you after drinking this. So I made sure I measured the salt and water correctly. And waited for my body to tell me that it's "time". It took about 15 minutes and I had to run to the toilet. And sat in there for atleast 30 minutes which felt like forever. Salt water came out. Lots of it. Next time, I'm bringing a book with me.
My tummy made weird sounds I've never heard before. Like the sound of ripping a packing tape.

Then I made the lemon drink. Love it!

I'm feeling hungry all the time. And am drinking that lemon drink constantly.
Also made one glass of peppermint tea.

Even feeding Trouble those cat treats was a challenge. I had to talk myself out of putting the cat treat in my mouth. Yes, I was that hungry.

The day seemed to go by sooo slowly. Funny how much time in our daily lives actually revolves around food. Now that we're not cooking nor eating, we have so much time in our hands.

Side note :
The husband surprised me by volunteering to do this with me. I know it's going to be a whole lot tougher on him. He said he might quit after Day 3 but it's looking like he'll quit tonight. So we'll see. But I am feeling really proud of him to even want to give this a try!

Embarking on the Master Cleanse journey

I've been thinking of doing this for some months now. But could never commit to it or find the right time to do it because there was always some thing going on. Today is the day I will say goodbye to solid food for the next 10 days. Just the thought of it makes me want to cry. Because I love food. And I love watching the Food Network.

So why, pray tell am I doing this?
For several personal reasons. It's a personal challenge. Sometimes, your body just tells you "Ok, it's time to flush out those toxins". Emotionally, mentally, physically. Toxins caused by stress of whether I will ever conceive, negativity, putting up with all that crap at work, allergies, anxiety of whether I will ever sell any of my wares on my website. (Incidently, I've sold 4 scrubbies within the last two weeks :)), frustrations, feeling grumpy for no reason and lack of exercise. It is also about renewing and soul-searching and overcoming mental blocks.

I'm going to record my progress here to keep me accountable and also for future reference incase I have this insane idea of wanting to do this again.

Basically, my day will start out with the salt water flush which is made from 1 quart (4 cups) of water with 2 teaspoons of uniodized sea salt. (Very important to get uniodized and not iodize sea salt).

Throughout the day, I will be drinking 6 - 12 8 oz glass of this lemonade drink :
8oz water
2 tbs fresh squeezed lemon juice (organic lemons if possible)
2 tbs grade B organic maple syrup
1/10 tsp cayenne pepper

And the occasional peppermint tea.

Optional : 1 glass of herbal laxative tea at night.
I've decided not to do this as I think the salt water flush in the morning is sufficient (or torture enough).

Also, try to use natural spring water if possible.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Partied all afternoon

Jason's boss hosted a party at her newly built home this afternoon. She lives way out in the country, and almost everyone got lost heading there. Saw lots of horses and cows and goats on our way.
They built the house themselves. Huge and rustic. Feels like a vacation home.

There was NC Bar-B-Que and everyone brought a dish. Loads of food, drinks and homemade ice cream. Jason wanted to bring a portable grill and we skewered some Char Siu and Satay which we had marinated for a week.

Kristy also brought a game which was quite fun. Looks easier that it actually is. The goal is to get the bean bag into the hole.
My teammate and I won the game by one point. Yayy!

Then, Barry and Todd had a jam session with the drums and guitar. Very Cool.
Funny how a laid back party can wear you out. I'm ready for bed. Tomorrow, I am embarking on an internal cleansing ritual. If I am alive after 10 days, I'll blog about it.