My birthday month of May kicked off in Puerto Rico with a rollicking week of adventure with the highlight being zip lining the world’s highest and second longest – The Beast! Part of Puerto Rico’s Toro Verde adventure haven, the Beast is in a category all its own, going head first, stomach to the ground in a cocoon-like harness, at speeds of up to 80 mph. Fun indeed! And the fact that we did it through a cloud with thunder in the distance only added to the excitement.
I’d been to the island once previously, but it was a quick trip without as much time to really see all that PR has to offer. Highlights included having a pina colada at the place they were invented (Barrachino), off-roading through the muddy backtrails at Hacienda Campo Rico, spending a day on a gorgeous deserted and uninhabited island called Caja de Muerto, and exploring the artsy (shall we say sketchy?) neighborhood of Santurce.
There because my travel companion was writing about the underground art scene there, we got lost. And when asking an elderly lady for directions, she looked at us and said, “You got a gun?” Seriously.
Later that day while trying to get our rental car out of a parking lot that happened to be in front of a convent of nuns, the gate was stuck. One of the nuns came out and said, “Sorry, bad luck for you. It’s broken.” Eventually a handy man came around and helped us get the gate open, but for a good 20 minutes, we like to say we were imprisoned by nuns. While Old San Juan has kept its charm and color, there were two highlights for me beyond the Beast.
The first was the Gallery Inn, a deliciously magical little haven in Old San Juan and truly one reason alone to visit the island. A converted mansion, the whimsical property is somewhere between Harry Potter and Fantasy Island where each nook and vista gives you another surprise or secret hideaway.
There, we met the two artist owners with eccentric personalities that you’ll remember for a lifetime and were serenaded with Spanish guitar music over dinner on the outdoor patio surrounded by wild orchids. I’d go on and on, but have to save the rest for my published stories, so stay tuned!
The second was the Pig Highway. Located in a tiny town called Guavate about an hour from San Juan, this is local at its best. Each weekend the lechoneras (pig roasting vendors) gather and cook as many as 20 pigs. Each!
Pina coladas are the entertainment with dueling stands across the street from one another, each trying to up the ante on the most creative cocktail. The spirit was contagious and inspiring filled with people enjoying their weekend and living in the moment.
Links to my stories:
Five Great Reasons to Visit Puerto Rico: Smarter Travel
Enchanting Puerto Rico: The Tennessean