Thursday, June 4, 2009

a trip to Puerto Rico - May 2009

After almost a year, I finally visited Puerto Rico again. This time, I went with some friends fromTexas. The plan was to do some sightseeing, some salsa dancing, and a whole lot of eating.

We arrived on Thursday, May 21st. We got there pretty late, so after getting our rental car we went straight home. Mom had cooked arroz, habichuelas, biftec and tostones de pana for us. It was late, but we didn't care. My mom's cooking is top tier.

The following day was a busy one. First, we went to Las Cavernas de Camuy (Camuy Caverns). The little tour had changed since I last went back in 2006. From what I remember, the time spent in the actual caverns was much shorter, and then it was followed by another trolley ride to see the sumidero. Now, you don't get to see the sumidero (or at least, we didn't), and the time you spend in the caverns is much longer. The tour guide makes multiple stops to explain a lot of different things, which at some point became kinda boring to me. Oh well.

After that, we drove down to Lares to have some of their famous ice cream. I had the coquito-flavored ice cream (which had actual rum in it), and my friends tried the corn, cake batter and rice and beans ice creams. We took some pictures at the town square, and then drove back home. Later that night we went out salsa dancing at el Condado. Fun times.

On Saturday, we drove down to the Arecibo Observatory (as see in the GoldenEye movie) since we didn't get a chance to do so the day before. It was a long drive. Afterwards, we had some food along the coast of Hatillo, and then met up with friends in Mayaguez. We stayed in Aguadilla (or was it Aguada? not sure) that night.

Sunday, we went to church in the morning, had breakfast at El Mesón in Mayaguez, and then drove to Cabo Rojo to meet up with some good friends of mine. We went to Playa Sucia for a little bit, then left Cabo Rojo to go all the way to Fajardo to visit the bio bay. It was a super long drive, but it was totally worth it. It's kind of expensive ($45), but you kayak all the way into the bay, and you're able to see the organisms that cause the water to appear fluorescent. It's pretty neat. The rowing on the way back was quite the workout - the current is a little strong, and you really have to paddle. I thought that the tour (at least the one we used) could some improvement. Some people kept being left behind, or got lost at certain points. It's really dark in there, so it can be scary. I know there's nothing that can kill you in that area (animal-wise), and the water is not deep, but still, they can do a better job. Anyway, I still think it's worth checking out.

Monday, we made our way to El Yunque rainforest. The rainforest has two entrances: one in the south, and one in the north. Somehow, I failed to read online (we visited some websites) that the south entrance has been closed for years now, and that's where we went starting out. It was a long drive back to the north entrance. On the way, we stopped at the "60 kiosks" in Luquillo for some fried goods (alcapurrias, empanadillas, etc), mondongo, and pinchos. Good stuff. We didn't spend that much time at the rainforest. We made our way down to the waterfall where people jump in and stuff (which is a 30 minute hike each way), and then we left. We drove to Guavate in Cayey to get pernil and all the good stuff that you eat with it, but my friends weren't really feeling the place we found, so we left. I took them to Los Gorditos in Caguas for some good mofongo and carne frita.

Tuesday, went to the Bacardi Rum Distillery tour, and then walked around Old San Juan. We had lunch at La Bombonera, then walked to El Morro (we saw it from a distance at least, haha), Paseo de la Princesa, and all the places you go to in that area. It was a pretty good walk, and I think we were able to hit all the places my friends were interested in.

Wednesday, I drove my friends to the airport. They had different departure times, so while we waited for the last flight, I took them to Plaza las Americas to walk around, and have lunch. They got to try pastelón there, as well as serenata (which I don't think they enjoyed much, but I love the stuff).

After they left, I pretty much spent my time in Puerto Rico with my mom (during the day, mostly), and then going out with my friends at night. I had a blast. I hadn't seen them in like a year, so it was great to be able to spend time with them again. I got to go with them to La Placita in Santurce (good times) on Thursday, walked around Old San Juan at night going to different places on Friday. On both days I got to salsa dance with cute puertorrican girls, which was awesome. I think we just hung out on Saturday night, which I believe was the night they got me interested in playing Street Fighter 4 (which I'm horrible at). On Sunday, I went to church with my mom, which was great. She's going to a different church than the one we went to when I was growing up, and so I was glad to see that this church is a very lively one. She's already displaying more dedication to God in her life, and I'm definitely happy to see that.

The last night, my friends wanted to take me to a place where I could salsa dance, but it was a Monday, and we couldn't find anything. We went to a Mexican place for pool and some food, and just had a great time talking and kidding around and stuff. They definitely enhanced my stay in Puerto Rico, to the point where I was actually kinda sad, and didn't want to leave, haha. Oh well, there's always next time. :-)

Here are some pictures:

A shot in the Camuy Caverns.

At the waterfall in El Yunque.

In Lares. At the central plaza. Pointing at Juncos, my hometown. :-)

At the Arecibo Observatory.

In Old San Juan. At Los Hijos de Borinquen.