I must have been a Puertoriqueña in another life; Inexplicably, this Polish chica has always gravitated toward salsa music, salsa dancing, and Puerto Rican food. So, in some ways. the island felt oddly familiar and comfortable to me – the charming, neon-bright houses of old San Juan [a World Heritage site], the tarnished beauty of the streets, the impenetrable El Morro fort, the manatees surfacing like mermaids in the back bay near our hotel, the incessant rainbows appearing out of nowhere. The weather was a bit wonky, a bit of rain, rip tides that kicked up sand making snorkeling impossible, and winds that upturned even the sturdiest of beach umbrellas.But the Friendly people – intentional capital F – meant every day was sunny and every vista gleamed. Seriously. I'm a skeptical, cynical city girl. But people on the streets of San Juan said "hola" just because. Here in Philadelphia, people ignore you, or worse yet, curse at you, just because.
Here are my top 5 Puerto Rico memories in photos.
1. Rainbows, every couple of hours.
2. Bird sanctuary at our hotel. The hotel was "meh," but I loved hanging out with my feathered friends. This mama duck trusted me enough to get thisclose to her brood.
|Mama duck and her brood|
|One of the more colorful guests. The pea-hens were pretty, too|
|Yes, the Caribe Hilton has a pet turkey. Two, actually. And I think they know how lucky they are.|
3. It's easy being vegan or vegetarian. I've heard Puerto Rico horror stories. But I had no problemo.
|Massive piña colada at the Piña Colada Club.|
|Muy bueno vegan burrito at the Piña Colada Club.|
|Delicious salad at my hotel. Though the phosphorescent green chips were a turn off.|
4. Old San Juan. It's a Unesco World Heritage site for a reason. Puerto Rico is a US territory but there's nothing remotely American about these streets, except gringa tourists like me. PR was discovered in 1493, and still has a mostly European look and feel.
|Sea view from El Morro|
|Graffiti in the dungeon at San Cristobal|
|Plaza, San Cristobal|
|And of course, we have to end with another rainbow|