Thursday, October 30, 2014

Puerto Rico..........YOU WERE AMAZING!!!

Well it's been a crazy week and it's still got a long way to go for me.  But That's my life and I wouldn't have it any other way.
This past weekend was SO AMAZING!!!  Freya and I were invited to be cosplay guests in Puerto Rico and it was by far one of the best events we have ever been invited too.  The event was put on by Comix Megazone and the event was called their Halloween ComicFest.  We were to be their guests for three nights in San Juan.  When asked what costumes they wanted from Freya and I, they asked for the classic characters of Power Girl and Ms. Marvel from Freya and they wanted King Aquaman and Gladiator Aquaman from me.  Well, King and Gladiator Aquaman consist of my leather armor and so I had to figure out a way to transport it safely via plane to the island.  The solution came in the form of a 24 gallon Stanley Tool Chest on wheeles that are commonly used by the members of the 501st to transport their Stormtrooper costumes to events in.  I just happen to still have mine from when I was activly doing troops as a clone trooper from Star Wars.  The chest with my armor in it came in right at 70lbs, which was the limit for it going with us without having to pay over $200 each way.  So we were scheduled for one of the first flights out to San Juan and had a close friend of mine come and take us to the airport at O'Dark Early.  We got checked in and through security without any hassel at all.  Before we knew it, we were on the plane and on our way to beautiful Puerto Rico.  The flight was about 2 and a half hours long and completely uneventful.  I read a book by Joe De Sena called SPARTAN UP! about the development of the famous Spartan mud and obsticle course races that are all over the country now.  Learned some cool facts about people who are good at Delayed Gratification and how that ultimatly leads many who live a lifestlye like that to prosperity and adventures.  It made me look at my own life and realize all the things I have done and how delayed gratification played a role.
Touch Down in San Juan, PR was smooth and we were off the plane and and through luggage pick up in about 20 minutes.  I had to stop and check my armor to make sure everything was fine and to my delight it was.  As Freya and I walked outside, we were immediatly hit with the heat and humidity that is a tropical island climate.  We looked around and quickly found a man wearing a comic book store t-shirt and sure enough, that was our driver to get us to the hotel/convention site.  His name was Gambit and not only was he our ride, but he also is a local radio personality that hosts a radio show in Puerto Rico that covers comics, video games, movies and all things Geek.  He told us on the ride to the hotel that we would be getting interviewed by him and his co-host on Sat and we were excited.
The hotel was an Embassy Suites and was REALLY NICE. The atrium was all tropical with small waterfalls and a large gathering area.  As we went to check in, we were met by the owner of the Comix Megazone, Frank. He greeted us and introduced us to several of the key players that we would be interacting with over the course of the weekend at the show.  Unfortunitaly, our room was not ready so we had to wait.  So we chit chatted with several of the shows admin and as we waited, the driver came back with several more of the invited guests and so we all got to know each other as the it approached lunch time.  We all started discussing a plan to go and find food when Frank showed up with gift cards to the attached Outback Steakhouse to the hotel.  So we all put our bags in holding and heading to grab lunch.  This was where I got to meet most of the other invited guest and get to know who they were and where they came from.  Two of the cosplayers flew in all the way from California and another from Phillidelphia.  The last of the invited cosplayers was not scheduled to arrive till later that afternoon.  So we talked and then ate and then talked some more. After lunch, the girls wanted to go chek out Old San Juan, but Freya and I wanted to go to the beach, so we went our seperate ways and Freya and I grabbed what we needed from out bags and off we went.  Turned out that the beach was only a five minute walk from the front door of the hotel and since we were staying there, on the beach itself, Embassy Suites has a section for it's guests where you get free towels, a chair and umbrella.  So we got some towels and went for a swim in the gourgous water.  The water was nice and warm and had just enough wave action for some light bady surfing which I took full advantage of.  After about an hour at the beach we headed back and got our room and got cleaned up.  The hotel had a social event each night with free drinks and light snacks.  So Freya and I headed down to the atrium and began to mingle with some of the artists that were in for the event as well as the cosplayers.  The organizers had decided to take us all out to dinner so we loaded up into 2 vechials and headed out of San Juan.  We drove for almost an hour until we reached a restaurant that was favored by the locals and had only island cuisine.  I ordered something called Mufongo with shrimp and it was good.  One thing I learned about Puerto Rico is that almost all their dishes have some version of Plantens in it...LOL  During the course of dinner, the organizers brought in a large box and in it were small gift bags for all of us.  One of the bags was full of local  candy and treats and the other was from a Rum Distributor and it had several small bottles of different rums from the island as well as some other gifts like a thermos cup and keychain.  After dinner we all loaded back into the vechicals and headed back to the hotel and we were all BEAT!!!  We were told as we headed up to our rooms that we had to be dressed and ready for our first radio interviews at 9:30am.
The next morning, Freya and I got up and got ready. Knowing the first part of the day was an interview with a local radio station and a panel and meet and greet with the events VIPs, we decided not to go all out with our big costumes just yet.  Freya put on her Black Canary and I put on my Spandex New 52 Aquaman.  We went down to the room for the panel and we were the 1st ones there.  This made doing our interviews easy as we were able to simply sit and be interviewed without a lot of distractions.  Afte awhile another couple of cosplayers showed up along with a few of the artists and we began the panel deiscussion with the event's VIP attendees.  It was well run and we all had ample input to the questions that were asked of all of us.  The two girls from California never showed up.  After the panel, we were given a short break and sandwiches were brought in and bottled water.  While I was getting my fill of food for the day, an older gentalman who was part of the VIP audience came in and walked over to me.  He was in his late 70's if I had to guess.  One of the organizers quickly recognized him and before he could even introduce himself, I was told that this man was the one responsaple for the Rum gift bags we had recieved the night before and was the owner of the Rum of Puerto Rico factory.  The old man smiled as I thanked him for the generous gift.  He then told me as a boy, he used to read comics and that Aquaman has always been a favorite of his. He then went on to tell me that when he walked into the panel room and saw me, it was like the vision of his imagination of what Aquaman would look like was standing there before him.  I was so blown away and touched.  This brought back memories of when Nick Cardy stopped me at MegaCon a few years ago before he died and told me I was just as he had imagined Aquaman would look.  Nick Cardy was the creator of Aquaman and to be told that I was the walking embodiment of his character has been a memory I will treasue forever and thus I became The True Aquaman.
After grabbing a bite to eat, Freya and I went into the main room for the ComicFest and were shown to our tables. We quickly set up our prints and iPads with a 20 minute slideshow of characters and events we have done in the past on them, we were ready to go.  We decided to stay in our current costumes until after our next break since the events for the day were to go till 9pm and wearing the armor for me and the Power Girl boots for Freya would be a challenge for that length of time.  As the event doors opened and the attendees filed in, wave after wave, it was so great to see so many fans who actually knew who we were and were so excited to see us.  We posed for picture after picture after picture and never let our smiles fade.  After a couple of hours we were told we had an hour off and that more food was ready for us in an area just outside the convention hall.  We grabbed some food and headed up to the room.  We took the time to relax and then eat and then laid out our costumes for the long haul of the day.  I suited up in the armor and put my Trident together as Freya got into her Power Girl suit.  We helped each other do the final costume checks and then made our way to the convention hall ready for Round 2.  As We walked in, the crowds parted at the site of me walking in as King Aquaman. The fans were more than receptive to me being there.  You would have thought a huge Rock Star had just walked in from their reaction.  I immediately went into photo mode and smiled and posed for pictures from every direction.  It was great.  Freya was getting the same kind of Love from the crowds and we were both feeling so honored to be there.
As the day went on, the crowds thinned out and we were given another short 30 min break, but instead of leaving, I stayed to talk at length with several fans who were absolutely fascinated by me.  After the break time was up, Freya and I were asked to report to the stage that was on one end of the convention hall so that we could help to judge the costume contest.  There were 6 of us judging and about 20 contestants.  One by one the contestants came up on stage and tried to show us why they deserved to win.  We all took notes and when we were done, we left the stage and went out of the hall to confer with our decisions.  It was pretty easy for narrow the field down and then after a few discussions we figured out who 1st, 2nd 3rd, Crowd Favorite and Judges Favorite was going to be.  Each of us was handed the mic and we each announced one of the winners.  We then did a group shot with all the winners and we were done for the night.  The organizers grabbed us and told us they were taking us to dinner so we all went back to our rooms and changed and met down in the lobby and then we were all taken to Outback for a fun filled dinner.  After dinner, we were told that we would be doing individual photo shoots with all the winners from the costume contest in the morning right after breakfast. Well the girls wanted to hit the pool but Freya was tired and wanted to get some rest so she retired to the room and I grabbed my suit and joined the other cosplayers in the pool and then the hot tub.  The pool officially closed at 11 and it was 11:45 when we got to the pool but no one said anything to us until about close to 1am.  We all toweled off and headed to bed.
The next morning Freya and I got up and headed down to the breakfast bar put out by the hotel.  We were joined by a couple of the other cosplayers and chatted away and further cemented our friendships.  We were then told by one of the event organizers that the time table for the winners photo shoots had been moved up so we quickly finished up and headed to get ready for another day in the convention hall.  Freya donned her Ms. Marvel and I put on my Gladiator Aquaman for the first time since it's premier at DragonCon.  As I walked into the Convention hall I was met with all kinds of awesome comments as I walked to my table.  Standing at my table was a fan and the host from another one of the radio shows I was to be interviewed by.  The Radio host, presented me to the fan as the biggest Aquaman fan on the whole island.  As I approached, he went to his knees and began chanting, "I am not worthy....I am not Worthy. Hail King Aquaman" I laughed and greeted then fan who was a few years older than me.  He begged for a picture which I was honored to grant and then we went back to my table and he bought one of my prints that I signed and he told me would be put in a place of honor in his Aquaman shrine.  We chatted on and off for several hours at my table.  I was called away several times to go out and shoot with the contest winners as none of them showed up when they were scheduled so we stayed flexible and got them done.  After a few hours I got tired of the Gladiator version and I knew several of the attendees had not been able to come out on Sat and were bummed that King Aquaman was not there in full armor, so I went and put it on again so that the fans got to see what they really wanted to see and this made me happy.  At 5:30pm the show closed and we were all asked what we wanted for dinner from a Food Truck company called The Monkey.  We put in our orders and then we were cut loose to enjoy the pool.  We got ourselves waterlogged in the pool and hot tub until the food arrived and we sat out by the pool and enjoyed.  After we ate, we stayed in the pool for another hour or so. Freya decided to go up and relax and we were told that someone had a Cards Against Humanity game going in the atrium.  We all dried off, changed into dry clothes and went back down and played until 1am in the morning.
Freya and I were not scheduled to leave until 4:30pm the next day so we decided to spend it with a couple of the other cosplayers and go to the beach after breakfast.  So the next morning, we got up, had breakfast and packed our stuff and put our bags into holding at the front desk.  The four of us headed to the beach and when we got there it was so beautiful.  We all took pictures and swam and swam and swam.  I taught the two other cosplayers who were not from Florida how to body surf the small waves that were rolling in. One of the girls wanted to go as far out at allowed by a barrier chain so I went out with her just to be sure she would be ok.  Then we swam back in.  One of the artist was already at the beach and told us that she just got startled by what she thought was a dead sea turtle floating out in the water.  We spotted it's shell and me and one of the girls made our way out to investigate.  Just as we got close, it lifted it's head out of the water and that was when I noticed that his head was covered with tumors. He heard us more than I believe he could have seen us and he ducked under the water and swam to outside the swim area barrier.  We treaded water and watched him for some time and felt really badly for his condition.  Then we joined the others back up on the beach.  Freya was getting hungry so the two of us headed back to the hotel.  We went to the pool and got the salt and sand off of us and I used the pools shower to wash my hair with a bottle I had taken from the room.  We then ducked into the restrooms and changed into our clothes for the trip home.  We stashed our wet stuff with our luggage and was given some advise on a place 3 minutes walk that had good local food.  We headed out and texted the girls to meet us there if they wanted to join us.  We all finished getting food and headed back to the hotel.  One of the girls was staying another night with her husband and the two girls from California had left earlier that morning. So we said our goodbyes to the one cosplayer and three of us headed to the airport as our flights were close together. As we got to the airport, which was only a five minute drive, we said our final farewells to a true new friend and awesome cosplayer named It's Raining Neon.  Freya and I got checked in and shortly after boarded our flight back to Orlando.  Again, the flight was uneventful and we arrived on time and was met again by my friend who got us home safe and sound.  Freya and I have already decided that we will return to Puerto Rico and when we do we will make sure to have several days for exploring the island and all it's wonders.
The next morning I had to be up early again for a meeting and I have been going and going since then.  I'll tell you all about this week, next time. :-)

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