It might have only been a three day trip, but it was amazing to get back on an airplane to head somewhere just for fun. I miss traveling for weddings and events, but something about a pure vacation makes me happy.
As I’ve mentioned, I had been to Puerto Rico before. This time though, it felt like an entirely different place. We opted to stay in Carolina at a large resort, purely because this is the nicest beach in the San Juan area. Although this is slightly out of character for us, it was a nice change of pace from guesthouses and hostels. (and nothing bad can be said about drinking a frozen mojito while sitting on the beach. I mean honestly.)
Carolina is definitely equally as Americanized as Condado, but boasts a better beach, as well as nicer resorts. Aside from a few local cafes serving local fare, the area was mostly about beach enjoyment. Given that we wanted this short trip to be a chance to sit and enjoy the environment, it didn’t matter. It was also a nice treat that our friends Danielle and Rick joined us on the trip. They had visited us in Hong Kong during The Trip so we already knew that Puerto Rico was going to be a good time.
I knew how easy this trip was going to be when it only took 5 hours to arrive at the beach after we left our apartment in Fort Greene. Short flight, easy taxi ride. The weather behaved and gave us three perfectly sunny days. Another nice bonus was the San Sebastian Festival.
Once a year, Puerto Rico hosts the San Sebastian Festival in Old San Juan – a celebration of music, food, and dancing. People stream into and out of the colonial streets all day for three days, making traveling in the area a nightmare. One traveler told us it took him 5 hours to drive the typically 10 minute journey from the airport to Condado, due to festival traffic. We headed out to the festival on Saturday night around 7pm and arrived in 30 mins. LUCKY. The streets were lively with music tents and food stalls, drink stands, and people going in every direction. It took us a good 30 to 40 minutes of walking around, getting confused and hungry, before figuring out that the only thing to do was drink. Its the one weekend of the year drinking is allowed on the streets and its pretty clear that most people were taking advantage of that. We stepped into a bar to order ourselves some drinks, which instantly made the festival a lot more fun.Eventually, we made our way into a local restaurant and ordered up platters of empanadas, meats and cheeses, churrasco, rice, and beans. And of course more drinks.
At the end of a night of trolling the streets, it was pretty evident getting a taxi back to Carolina was going to be difficult. People were still streaming into the festival at around 11pm, but every taxi was getting attacked by festival goers looking for a ride home. After no more than 1 minute of waiting, I luckily found a taxi driver who understood my slow Spanish and decided to take us, along with a Venezuelan couple, back across town. I can imagine the only reason he took us was due to the good fare he would get for 6 people, but I would like to believe it was my excellent ability to speak the Spanish language. It took us only 1 taxi and about 5 mins to get on the road – that made the night so much more enjoyable. The Venezuelans were also fun to talk to. They were very clear with us that we were never to go to Venezuela as it is too dangerous. Ever.
In order to avoid a possible traffic and taxi situation, which we completely avoided by luck on Saturday night, we spent the rest of the time locked down on the beach. Dinner nearby, a night at the slots (I won $30. Im a lucky big winner!), and a night with a free bottle of wine with my husband over looking the palm trees.
All of this was a return to the calm I had been missing in New York. A return to a slower lifestyle which I had grown accustomed to on The Trip and which I miss everyday. I had discovered an ability to slow down, to think about where I a, and how lucky I am to be there. Something which gets overlooked when there are 20 emails in your inbox and conference calls booked all afternoon. Until the February, the next time we can get out of the city, I’ll have to find a way to have some more frozen mojitos in my life. Somehow.