Puerto Rico: Right Before the Coronavirus Lockdown!
In these times of travel ban, I’m feeling thankful to listening to my gut and taking the impromptu trip before we were forced to stay within 4 walls. Knowing us and the adventurous year we had, I couldn’t wait to travel to a new place and Karan’s work trip to Puerto Rico seemed like a good chance. So, we jumped on the wagon and extended his trip to make it a leisure one for us. 😛
Since I was to join Karan in Puerto Rico, I had to make the logistics arrangement keeping TinTin and our safety in mind. And because I was traveling to Puerto Rico with TinTin all by myself from a different airport, I had to make the preparations and arrangements accordingly.
Firstly, I did reverse planning. Now last-minute tickets were being booked so we expected high price tickets from a small town international airport like ours, State College. So we booked a nonstop night flight from Philadelphia to land Puerto Rico much later at night (with the time difference of an hour) and just hit the bed. That being said, we had to plan our 4-hour road trip from State College to Philadelphia to reach in time for our flight. So TinTin attended school early morning till noon and then we left home after lunch so TinTin could take her afternoon nap in the car. I carried enough snacks to munch on to keep me up and her full. Without a single stop, thanks to a well-fed and slept toddler, we reached the airport just in time for early dinner.
Good dinner, dessert, yet restless toddler and a 4-hour flight later Puerto Rico welcomed us with a warm 24 deg wind. We booked an Airbnb cause 1. I wanted Tamyra to have at least one home-cooked meal on day 2. It was much cheaper than the hotels 3. It was right on the beach
The next morning, despite having a late night we were up and ready early to reunite with Karan and hit the beach. It was one of the cleanest beaches we had visited. Once at the beach, TinTin knew no bounds, she jumped right into the action with building castles, lots of water fun and a nice ice cone at the beach.
Puerto Rico is a Caribbean island in US territory with very tropical weather. So we were prepared for rains but were surprised many times while just walking on the streets. We stayed in San Juan, the capital city of Puerto Rico which was is very vibrant in its architecture and arts. We visited old San Juan in the evening and was surprised by the contrast it carried to the new. It had multiple rows and columns of cafes, restaurants, dessert shops, homes, local stores, historic shops, and public plazas where Puerto Rican music was being played by local bands and residents and tourists alike were free to enjoy salsa. TinTin didn’t want to move away from the plaza. I was already liking the vibe of the place and the cordial nature of the locals. For dinner we chose to try a local dish – Mofongo. It was different, tasty but too much for a single person.
Old San Juan is also surrounded by massive walls of forts and churches from ancient times. The port at Old San Juan docks the Cruises for tourists to experience the town making it a major attraction.
We even visited a cultural and cuisine rich neighborhood La Placita. The restaurants were packed inside with diners and outside with people who enjoyed local bands with salsa. By the time we reached the end of one street, we realized that the area is meant for adults although kids are not restricted. TinTin and I enjoyed the catchy music and definitely didn’t care who was watching our dance moves on the street.
Day 2 was planned for El Yunque National Forest. El Yunque is the only tropical rainforest in the
US national forest system. Encompassing 28000 acres of land makes El Yunque the smallest forest in US. True to its tropical nature, we experienced rains amidst the lush green pathways.
We also couldn’t hold ourselves back from taking a dip in the mystique waterfalls. It was an all-day outing so our energy and protein snacks kept us from starving. Early dinner by beach of Luquillo completed a fulfilling day.
Our final day (3) was planned for a day on the island of Culebra but the ferries were cancelled due to heavy rainfalls. Day 3 also happened to be the day of Holi and knowing that in advance had me prepared with organic colors to carry to Puerto Rico. Change of plans and an hour later, we found ourselves celebrating Holi at the beach of San Juan. It was surreal and nothing like we ever experienced before. A good meal with loved ones, strolling the streets and enjoying good conversation ended our final day and stay in Puerto Rico.
Albeit short, it was one of the memorable trips we had taken and it will probably remain so till we can step out in the real world again.