What makes a place memorable? Is it culture, people, food, or the fact that whenever you look outside your window you see an amazing site where the vast ocean meets the shore? I believe a divine mixture of all these elements make an astounding site where each and everyone alive should at least, once in their lifetime, have an opportunity to witness. Such a remarkable place is Puerto Rico.
My first time in Puerto Rico, I fell in love with the place. The natural beauty of the place resounding with its culture and people is a remarkable site to see. Being a part of United States and overly flooded by gringos who go there for vast sandy beaches and Pinacoladas, Puerto Rico has undoubtedly struggled a lot to maintain its origins. Through its dark history of invasions by foreign nations, Puerto Rico right now is desperately hanging by a thread to maintain the heritage that it is so so proud of. Who wouldn’t be? The music, the food, the proud culture, and sense of freedom runs deep within all Puerto Ricans, like blood that runs deep within our veins.
The entire trip to Puerto Rico, I stayed at La Concha in Condado area, which is constantly over run by tourists from different parts of the world. Condado for me was like a superficial city trying to cover the traces of what really runs deep within Puerto Rico. Needless to say, it was like any other tourist destinations you can set your foot on. However, as I started moving out of that area and venture in old San Juan, I then realized how beautiful Puerto Rico really is. The magnificent fort surrounded by the ocean was definitely a site to remember. As you walk around the area, you will witness old streets and alley surrounded by authentic food and ever evolving restaurants of different class. The timeless buildings that stands still on those streets has looked upon thousands of passer bye, yet doesn’t show any signs of fatigue. Overall, the glorious streets of old San Juan left a remarkable impression.
About 35 minute drive from Condado into the rural parts of Puerto Rico, there is a magical place called Guavate (also known as the home of the Lechon). Never have I ever witnessed a site like that. Crowded cafeterias and cars lined up to buy food and other items. I saw a man selling puppies on the street. How fascinating is that? The area is flooded with lechoneras (cafeterias) which specializes in slow roasted Pig over an open flame. Since the Pig is cooked for almost 6-8 hours, the juiciness and the tenderness of the pork is kept well intact. My favorite part of the pig was the skin, remarkably crispy and delicious. Never have I had something like that in my life nor witnessed how the preparation of this delicious food takes place. With the pig, there are assorted sides that you can buy like rice, beans, mofongo, sweet potato and roasted chicken.
Another place I feel in love was Piñones. It offers a day of sandy beaches and amazing food all along the beach as well as road side. The sites and sound of Piñones is unlike I have ever experienced. Every car that passed by had their music blasted to the maximum volume, filling your ears with sweet music that captivates your senses. The magical place is about 35 minutes from Condado and I strongly recommend anyone who loves fried finger food and wants to check out the real Puerto Rico. Naysayers do mention to avoid this place during the night time but I personally think that the magic of this place heightens around the evening.
A day out from Marina Puerto Del Rey, about an hour from Condado, into the vast undying Caribbean waters was just what I needed. Sitting on the boat and watching the sky pass us by as we cruise on top of blue sparkling water made me want to never leave that place. I haven’t had felt so peaceful for a long time. The tour I took also included Snorkeling, a fun activity to do if you want to experience marine life and corals. Although I have to say, being in the middle of the ocean for the first time was a bit scary but the beauty and warmth of the blue water took all those fear away. Either floating in the middle of the ocean while looking at the islands and boats passing by, or simply relaxing on the boat enjoying endless rum drinks, I very much recommend you to take some time out of your trip and relax at any of the cruises offered at the location.
Sadly, like all the good things, my trip to Puerto Rico came to an end. I have never missed a place that I had been to, but Puerto Rico was definitely something else. Like the memory of that special someone, Puerto Rico is engraved stalwartly in my heart. This trip was not just a another vacation but a learning experience about culture, food and people of Puerto Rico. I was there only for four days but I wish I had more time!!!
Some of the pictures from the trip! Special thanks to all my friends, old and new. Without you guys by my side the trip wouldn't have been this memorable.