First off let me just say I’m sorry for the lack of updates, I’ve been busy preparing for my next adventure in Europe which means saving money and not traveling. I was however, fortunate enough to be invited down to Puerto Rico for my 25th birthday. It had been 3 years since I’d seen my family down in PR and even though my departure to Italy is less than 2 weeks away I said “Hell yes!”
The first few days were spent visiting family in Ponce and Mayaguez, two cities that aren’t exactly tourist hotspots. I spent most of my time on the beach and doing what I do best. Eating.
Puerto Rico is known for its spectacular beaches, friendly people, awesome Caribbean cuisine, and for Americans a “foreign/exotic” vacation that doesn’t require a passport.
Puerto Rico is home to two Bio-luminescent bays. For those of you who don’t know what that is, it’s a body of water that has small fluorescent plankton that appear to glow, making the water look as though it had glimmering stars. I’d seen just one of these two before and the visibility wasn’t super great. From what I understand, tourism and pollutants in the water are killing these organisms and they no longer shine as brightly as they used to. That being said, I am happy I was able to see one in my lifetime.
If you’re up for a trek through the rain forest you should head over to El Yunque. This is one of the most well-known treasures of Puerto Rico. It’s not too far from the capital San Juan if you find transportation out there. If you follow the signs you’ll be led to the main museum/entrance. From there you’ll head up the mountain and all the curving roads until you see a mass of cars and a pair of stairs, that’s when you’ll know you’ve arrived. The total decent takes about an hour or so and it’s NOT recommended to go down if you’re not in good health. Bring a swim suit because there are so many small natural pools to swim in and cascades. Once you reach the bottom, you’ll find the biggest waterfall and most well-known. Once you make your way back up you can take your car a bit more up the mountain for an amazing panoramic and historical structures.
Ponce is where my dad’s family lives and where my grandmother often goes when she visits. This is where my aunt, the one that paid for this trip, lives. Her house is absolutely stunning with an infinity pool and a gorgeous view of the ocean. The best part? Her house has air conditioning in all rooms! This isn’t common in Puerto Rico, usually if they have A/C it’s in ONE and used at night. After catching up with her I called up my cousin, who just had a baby while I was in Korea, to meet her over by La Guancha boardwalk.
She came as soon as I notified her of my landing and I got to meet her little bundle of joy and fiance. The last time I was in Ponce we met and talked about going to Spain to study together. I held up my end of the deal and am headed to Spain September 20th, but now with her daughter it’s a bit more complicated. Anyway let me tell you about La Guancha. I found this place by accident when I worked in Ponce for a week (back when I worked for a government contractor that I eventually quit to travel the world) and it’s where I’d gone for lunch everyday. It’s a long boardwalk with small restaurants that sell alcoholic beverages, typical Puerto Rican dishes, and yummy fried delights. You can enjoy the food while looking at the sailboats in the distance.
As I said earlier, I wasn’t really there for sight-seeing so much as looking for a small retreat away from home and see family that I hadn’t seen in a long time. My stress levels are too damn high and all I needed was to be by the beach doing nothing. I stayed in the pool most days before making my way to my aunt’s private beach property. We painted, swam, and ate for 2 days straight and I felt all my stress melt away.
The week flew by and I was surprised to find out I was invited to a place called “El Conquistador” in Fajardo. I’d never heard of this place, but my dads aunt has quite a bit of money so I assumed it would be an expensive and fancy place. I was right. If you want to read about my time at this resort, and how I ended up in a Puertorican emergency room, keep an eye out for my next post. 😉
Peace, love, and travel on my fellow travel bugs!