I’m back! Puerto Rico was AWESOME! Phil and I were in a dream world. We ate some amazing food, I practiced yoga every morning from the balcony of our room, did some beautiful sightseeing and meditated in some of the most beautiful places.
We arrived late on Saturday night to the Wyndham Rio Mar Beach Resort, and to my surprise, Phil called ahead and requested an Ocean Suite. (He never ceases to amaze me. :-)) We toured the grounds and checked out the beach bathed in bright moonlight.
Sunday: I woke at 6:30 to sunlight streaming through the balcony door. Like a child, I ran to see what my surrounding world looked like in the day. I grabbed my yoga mat and began my sun salutations.
I ate a vegetable frittata for breakfast, a grilled mahi mahi half-sandwich and fruit (split with Phil) and we spent most of day lying on the beach. The sand was like powder and we received complementary wicker lounge chairs, really soft towels, an umbrella and a table. For dinner, we went to a place called La Estacion in Fajardo. The owners/chefs are ex-New Yorkers with a passion for local cuisine using fresh food from local farmers. If I lived in Puerto Rico, I would eat there all the time. We split a grilled red snapper with pineapple salsa, a ginger salsa that complemented the fish perfectly and plantains. I will dream about this meal for the rest of my life.
Monday: May is apparently Puerto Rico’s rainy month and the hotel is located in the shadow of El Yunque (the only rain forest in the U.S. National Forest Service) so it showered often but didn’t damper our time. What’s better than touring the rain forest when it’s raining? We drove, hiked, climbed, slipped and slided our way up the mountain. We ate a great meal at the Sierra Palm Picnic area and enjoyed the scenery.
We went to Old San Juan for dinner to a trendy place called Marmalade. It’s a chic, New York-style restaurant with the most comfortable seats, ever. I could have slept there. And they included a red velvet stool to put my purse on. Their white bean soup is delicious and I was able to get the recipe for it! I am looking forward to sharing it with you all.
Tuesday: We island hopped on a mini boat tour and snorkeled around the coral reefs off Cayo Icacos and Palominito. This was unbelievably awesome and I highly recommend it for anyone taking a trip down there. Every couple gets their own mini boat to drive out to a few completely beautiful, desolate islands surrounded by cerulean and turquoise-colored water. Our guide was a marine biologist and showed us some amazing fish, sea turtles, conch shells and I got to hold a purple sea urchin which was rather squirmy. I don’t have any pictures because we feared our camera would fall overboard but the guides took some pictures so I’ll post those soon. The last island we visited was Palominito is better known as the island that Jack Sparrow leaves Angelica stranded on, in Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides. Totally cool!
Wednesday: A friend gave us a good tip and so Phil and I braved the mosquitoes, lizards, red fire ants and termite nests and hiked our way through a carved out dirt trail in a mangrove forest, to a secluded beach called Playa Colora. It was rocky and the sand was coarse, sticky and looked like the toppings on an everything bagel but it belonged only to us and a few wild dogs. Blissful.
In the evening we kayaked through a mangrove forest to Laguna Grande. It was creepy in the dark and awesome at the same time; like floating down the bayou at night. In some places the only thing visible was the light on the kayak in front and other times the moon would shine through which was magical. After going upstream we came to the bio bay, home to the little bioluminescent microorganisms. When you shake your oar in the water, they get agitated and emit a glowing light that looks like moonlight. Once again, we didn’t bring our camera but the guides took pictures and we will get those soon. In the meantime, here’s a picture of a little micro guy. He looks like a microscopic turtle.
Thursday: Our last day in Puerto Rico. We drove to San Juan to tour El Morro: the fort built by the Spanish beginning in 1539 to defend Puerto Rico from potential invaders. The more invasion attempts, the more the Spanish kept building and it wasn’t until 1787 that it was considered complete. The walls of the fort are 40 feet thick.
Our last meal in Puerto Rico was at Restaurante Raíces in Old San Juan. Another friend suggested this place and the food was wonderfully fresh and flavorful. They create an old-time Spanish atmosphere and serve food and drinks in tin cups and plates.
There’s that quote, “life is better in flip-flops” that I kept thinking about because it is so true! (Except when you’re hiking around the rain forest and bust your butt on some slippery steps. :-)) In fact, I’m still wearing my flip-flops now. I want to hold on to as much of this vacation as possible. It’s so nice to completely relax, not think, lose track of time…just…be.
Vacationing can be a lot like meditation. Most of the time you’re walking around but if you breath in the fresh air, stop thinking, become part of the whole picture and the beautiful surroundings, you won’t need a “vacation from your vacation” when you get back. You will be refreshed with life-long memories to cherish.