Puerto Rico: Part Four

Day Seven

After spending the day before in Vieques, the next morning it was time to head on over to Culebra. In contrast to Vieques, Culebra was a bit more relaxed as the only thing on our itinerary that day was to go to Flamenco Beach. Flamenco Beach had gorgeous turquoise waters and white sand which we were able to enjoy in solitude that morning.

One of the most interesting things about the beach was not even the pristine waters themselves, but a colourful tank that could be found at the end of the shoreline. Needless to say, one does not usually equate beaches with abandoned tanks. Later I found out that these tanks were once used by the U.S military for target practice and had since been abandoned after the locals protested against the U.S occupation of the land for target practice. As the tanks were far too large to be moved, they were left behind to rust. When we went to Flamenco beach, the locals had painted the tank at the far end of the shoreline with various shades of teal and orange. It was super neat to see and even more significant once I learned the reason behind these tanks being left behind.

As the day drew on, we spent time basking in the sun and catching waves in the water. It was the perfect way to end our time in Puerto Rico as the next day, we would be driving back to San Juan and then leaving the day after.

Afterthoughts

During my time in Puerto Rico, one thing that I took away from the experience was to be more grateful for what I have as one never knows when your whole world can change in the blink of an eye. To this day, Puerto Rico continues to struggle in repairing the damage caused by Hurricane Maria. Not only were homes damaged but vegetation suffered. According to an article in the New York Times,

Although my travels may have only played a small part in pouring money back into the economy, I am hoping that through my posts I help bring awareness to the Puerto Rico’s current economic reality. Often when a crisis occurs, there is a momentary outpour of support and just as quickly the issue is forgotten.

If you’re looking to help Puerto Rico out consider checking out the following organizations:

Thank you for joining me in my journey through Puerto Rico. I hope that one day you get the chance to see Puerto Rico for yourself and all the great things the country has to offer.

Puerto Rico: Part Three

Day Six

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Ferry Ride

The next two days of this trip were probably my favourite part of the entire trip. On day six, we boarded a ferry at 6:00 in the morning and headed to the beautiful island of Vieques. Now, here’s some things you should keep in mind if you’re visiting Vieques. First off, rent a ATV as the island is big!

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Playa Caracas (the scenic view)

When we arrived, we were kind of lost of how to get around. Luckily, we came across an older gentlemen who was offering tours. After some hesitation in three girls getting into a car with one man, we decided to take a chance and we are so glad we did! As we drove around Vieques, he told us about the island and how Hurricane Maria had decimated a lot of the island. Despite this, there was still much to enjoy. Our first stop: Playa Caracas.

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Playa Caracas (the wildlife view)

As we chilled out enjoying the beautiful white sand, we also got to witness some wild horses hanging eating some nearby grass. As I admired them from afar, my best friend worked on trying to be a horse whisperer and get them to come closer. It was great beginning and set us up for the rest of the day in Vieques.

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Sun Bay Beach

After this, we headed to Sun Bay Beach. Despite being on the same island, the waves were incredibly strong that day. As a result, we spent most of our time here just walking along the beach and discovering new spots. There was a nice little secluded spot which had crystal clear water. The best thing about the beach here was how scenic it was. Just take a look for yourself!

Playa Negra

Our last stop in our Vieques’ grand tour was Playa Negra (Black Beach). The trail is about a 20 minute walk if you manage to not get lost. We obviously got lost, but it was all part of the adventure. Once we got there, the beach was nice and secluded. After our trek, it was definitely nice to kick back and enjoy the refreshing water and charcoal coloured sand. Believe me when I say the trek was worth it! One thing I’ve learned about travel, is the best things are often unplanned. In the case of Vieques, this was true. We got an excellent tour guide and got to see lots of cool things on the island as well. This concluded our day in Vieques. The next day, we would head on over to Culebra to continue our adventures.

Puerto Rico: Part Two

Day Three

Salinas de Cabo Rojo

The next day, it was time to head over to Salinas de Cabo Rojo. These are salt flats located in Boqueron, PR. They are part of the National WildLife Refuge and offer refuge to a variety of nesting birds. Maybe it was the fact that we were expecting a beach (totally our fault for not researching properly) but the Salinas de Cabo Rojo left much to be desired. When we arrived, the images of “bright pink” in actuality were a more dull pink. In addition, the area was quite muddy so be prepared to bring proper footwear if you are walking the trails. I think if you go here with the expectation that it is you a nature refuge then it is a place that is worth checking out. However, considering that it doesn’t take long to check out the flats, the almost three hour drive from San Juan made it less than ideal. Despite this, we made our journey worthwhile and decided to enjoy the nearby beach of Playa Sucia.The beach was nice and secluded and offered beautiful pristine waters. After being in the car for what felt like centuries, this was the perfect way to kick back and relax. 

Day Four

Mar Chiquita

The next day, we decided to head on over to Mar Chiquita in Manati, Puerto Rico which was just a short drive from San Juan. If you are visiting Mar Chiquita, make sure to bring water shoes as there are jagged rocks in the water and sea urchins in the water. Being the tourists that we are, we obviously did not bring the following which resulted in a nice gash on a my foot and a sea urchin spine embedded in my foot. However, don’t let my injuries deter you. The beach itself is quite beautiful and has cliffs you can explore as well on the far end of it.Furthermore, on the weekends they have a small food vendor stand selling alcoholic beverages and food on this beach. With a Pina Colada and a juicy chicken kebab, I was in heaven. There’s just something about eating on a beach that makes everything taste 100x better. Be warned, the waves can be quite rough, so be vigilant and enjoy the tide!

Day Five

Views of Fajardo

On Day Five, it was time to say goodbye to San Juan and its surrounding areas and say hello to the city of Fajardo. Originally we were supposed to head out to the Vieques via ferry from the neighbouring town of Ceiba but the world had other plans for us. When we arrived to the ferry port in Ceiba, we were informed that all tickets to Vieques and Culebra (the two islands this ferry services) were sold out for the day. As a result, for all those looking to visit Vieques and Culebra make sure to buy your tickets in advance on their website to avoid disappointment. Despite this minor setback, we decided to make the most of our adventure. After heading to the grocery store to get some supplies. For those of you looking to cook during your time in Puerto Rico, SuperMax is a popular grocery store which will provide you with everything you need during your stay. It also includes a hot food table, bakery, and in some stores a smoothie/acai bowl bar. Once we settled into our AirBnB, we headed over to Seven Seas Beach. For those of you not looking to board ferries, Fajardo itself is a town which has a lot to offer. Due to it being more of just a home base for us, we didn’t get a chance to see everything it had to offer. However, it is home to a variety of small beach inlets and lots of snorkel and beach tours which can take you to the smaller islands surrounding it such as Cayo Icacos or Isla Palominos. After what felt like an incredibly long day, we had a few drinks back at our place and called it a night.

Puerto Rico: Part One

One thing that 2019 taught me was that you need to stop apologizing for everything and knocking yourself down for not doing “more.” I think North Americans have a problem with constantly trying to outbeat each other. If one person wakes up at 7 am, the other proudly proclaims that they have been awake since 5 am. To anyone feeling like they are not doing “enough,” you are doing great! There is all this talk about being the greatest and extraordinary, but what makes people extraordinary is a genuine sense of happiness and fulfillment. Gain confidence from being at peace with your strengths and your weaknesses. Allow yourself to feel sorry for yourself for a short while on the bad days, and then pick yourself up and remember that you are a badass! For me, these reminders come in the form of holidays. So in order to get myself out of a slump, I picked myself up and booked a trip to Puerto Rico. This is my story.

Day One
After arriving in San Juan late in the evening on our first day, we began our official adventure of San Juan the morning after. The first thing on our list was Museo de Las Americas. If you are a history buff, then take a moment to check out this museum. The museum highlights Puerto Rican history while also incorporating contemporary Puerto Rican art. According to my best friend, she also swears that she heard a ghostly tapping while perusing the galleries. While I cannot confirm the validity of her ghostly encounter, what I can comment on is one unsettling demonic figurine that is hosted in the museum. This figurine is encased behind glass and on the front of the glass is the symbol of the cross. So whether you want to learn about Puerto Rico’s history, enjoy some contemporary art, or have your own ghostly encounter, check out the Museo de Las Americas.

Museo de Las Americas

Next on our list, was Castillo San Cristobal. This is a fortress built by the Spaniards to protect the city. With the stone walls and ocean views, it definitely offers picturesque views. After this, it was time to treat ourselves with some giant coconut water infused with rum. Treat yourself! After this, we headed back to our place before getting some food and enjoying the nightlife that the La Placita neighborhood had to offer.

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Castillo San Cristobal

Day Two

On this day we decided to check out El Yunque Rainforest and Luquillo Beach. For the elderly, the young, and the physically unfit, you have been warned that El Yunque is a bit of a trek. Just make sure to pack some snacks and water as there is no place to stop to get food. I am a nature lover and El Yunque hit all the spots in what I look for in a good trail. It has lush greenery, rugged terrain, cascading waterfalls, and a few great photo opportunities. When we began our hike it was all sunshine and rainbows, but shortly after the weather turned misty and foggy to the point it was a slightly precarious situation. Despite not being able to see much once we got to the top due to the dense fog, it was a long arduous workout which was physically satisfying. In addition, once you reach the peak, the world echoes around you. With the dense fog and our voices echoing to the forest below, the best word I can use to describe the experience is sublime. To those who have been with me for awhile, you will know that I have mentioned the experience of the sublime before. It is something awe inspiring but also takes us beyond ourselves and may even incite fear. This is what El Yunque offers. The reward of sanctuary in a place that makes the world around you feel so vast and unknown and yet so magnificent. There is a small lookout point once you reach the top and if you take a moment to stand up there by yourself, you will understand what I mean.

El Yunque

After our experience in El Yunque it was time to relax on the beach and so we headed to Luquillo to refresh our tired, sweaty bodies. It was still quite overcast when we arrived and it was getting late but all that mattered was a moment to do absolutely nothing. And so, that is what we did. We enjoyed the waters and then ultimately headed back to San Juan for the night.

Stay tuned for more ****