I consider myself lucky because I get to do a fair bit of travelling in my new lifestyle. Something my former career wouldn’t allow for on the regular basis I now indulge.
And with that new found flexibility, I find myself frequenting a certain region….the Caribbean!
Ah yes, there’s truly nothing better than being in a hot and sunny locale with strong drinks and good books. Laying on the beach, without a care in the world. If you think your therapist does a good job working through your issues, try five days in Caribbean during the non-peak season, and you’ll accomplish a year’s worth of couch time.
At any rate, I’ve frequented foreign islands in the past, but this time I thought I would go where my driver’s license allows, and in this case, I chose Puerto Rico.
What a fantastic island! I stayed in the Santurce area, which is the far north coast of San Juan. Directly to the west is Old San Juan, and if you’re looking for that traditional Latin-Caribbean landscape, it’s the place to go!
If you don’t know, Puerto Rico is a fish fan’s paradise. They have ample charters available, all geared towards grabbing those large red snappers, dolphin-fish (Mahi Mahi for those scared to use the word “dolphin”), and many other delicious seafood that swarms the region.
Be advised, that while much of the Caribbean has calm waves and water for miles around, Puerto Rico does not. In fact, Puerto Rico has some very well-known surf spots on the island, that attract those in the know. The waves are not what I would call difficult, but they are definitely different from what you may be used to in Caribbean.
That said, if you are into fishing, this kind of wave activity can be helpful in certain circumstances. For one, it means that schools of fish, particularly tuna, will be moving in and out, and constantly fighting for position due to the water. This means that their tired, and not always aware of their travel path, meaning that you can grab some big steals when you would normally be waiting out the calm.
At the same time, if you’re a beach goer, and you have children, you’re going to need to be cautious about where they are in relation to you. These, though I said not difficult to contend with, are indeed strong, and they can move you without you realizing it. Especially for kids that aren’t high school age, this can become a deadly scenario without any frame of reference.
If the quality of fishing I briefly described caught your attention, the food in Puerto Rico is as well.
Puerto Rico has their own bread, Pan de Agua, that has a sweet quality to it. But it’s not so sweet that you would automatically label it as such. After having ‘Pan’ with three or four of my meals, I have serious questions about all this white and wheat bread I was being given throughout the years.
The beaches are great, except that if you go out in the early morning, say to watch the sunrise (and they are absolutely stunning in PR, I highly recommend this!), you might find that hotel guests and even some locals have strewn trash about from the night before. And that’s a bit sad.
Surely, travelers are to blame for much of this, but that anyone would ruin a gorgeous beach with trash is just, well, trashy.
That said, much of the employees of the businesses along the beach put in a lot of effort to clean up, and it’s certainly commendable. I felt like these folks are unsung heroes, and I hope that when you visit, you make sure to thank them for their efforts like I did.
The hospitality of staff here is consistent with what you find in the US, nothing terrible, nothing extraordinary.
There was a bartender at La Concha’s Sunday brunch that lined us up with a lot twists on mimosas that were absolutely delicious! Even if you’re not a mimosa drinker, try the Soursop version, it’s well worth it.
It’s unfortunate, but Puerto Rico is in massive debt. One local told me 1.5 trillion, several others said that was a stretch, stating the total was around 72 billion. What was clear was that with the government beyond broke, not much was getting done, and it was up to private investment to solve the gap. I hope that doesn’t mean more taxes, because Puerto Rico as a tourist destination is already more spendy than anyone in the industry would like.
Since I left on August 29th, Hurricane Irma hit, and it appears that flooding has caused the bulk of problems faced. That’s a good thing, in that much of the infrastructure is not in ruin, albeit that roads could become suspect from the water exposure.
What I would say is if you’ve been thinking about going to Puerto Rico, and you’ve been putting it off, come December, when it’s too cold in the contiguous 48, take a trip south and spend some time (and money) in Puerto Rico. You’ll love the experience, and the people will love to do fair business with you.
Until next time!