Creative Travel: 3 local Tips for Puerto Rico
by Maya Pérez
Puerto Rico and I have a love / hate relationship. I LOVE the island and HATE that the economy is suffering. Back in 2010, I separated from the island due to financial hardships. I moved to the continental U.S. and hoped that I could save money and return. After 8 years apart and the destruction of Hurricane Maria, I was finally able to see my island again.
Upon arrival I was met with mixed emotions. It seemed like a lifetime ago that I walked the streets of San Juan on my way to and from work. I couldn’t remember what was there and what wasn’t. I couldn’t tell what was different due to time and due to Maria.
I’ve come to terms that I’d probably never live in Puerto Rico again–my life is too different now. But on a happy note, I now know that I can enjoy my island whenever I want! It was one of those revelations like not seeing the forest from all the trees.
So if you want to enjoy Puerto Rico, keep these 3 tips in mind.
#1 IMMERSE YOURSELF IN THE CULTURE
Puerto Ricans are a combination of African, Spanish, and Taino culture. The official language, architecture, and traditions are mostly Spanish. However, the food, dance, and music have a heavy African influence. Also, the art and friendly disposition of the people reflect that of the Taino Indians who gifted Colombus’ crew with gold. Puerto Ricans are very proud of their culture and this is a perfect opportunity to experience its exotic and captivating spirit. Piñones, in the town of Loiza–a 10 minute drive from the airport, offers beautiful beaches, delicious food, and good music. La Placita, in Santurce–San Juan vicinity, is another place where you will be immersed in Puerto Rican culture. The live music, good food, and vivid atmosphere will leave you in a trance. Of course, there are so many ways you can immerse yourself–you decide!
#2 EXPLORE PUERTO RICO
Puerto Rico has the only rainforest in the United States–El Yunque, caves, rivers, pristine beaches, hot water springs, and other natural gifts for nature lovers. Indeed, if you really want to experience the beauty of Puerto Rico; you must be willing to venture out of the San Juan area. This can be accomplished by renting a car or booking a tour with a local agency. Local favorites are Luquillo, Rincón, Culebras, and Vieques to name a few.
#3 ENJOY YOURSELF!
You would think this comes without saying; but I said it anyway. Even if you decide to stay in the metropolitan area, there is still so much to do. Walk the cobblestone streets of Old San Juan, buy souvenirs at El Paseo de la Princesa, relax on the beach, party at one of the best clubs in the world–whatever you chose to do; make sure you have fun!
Puerto Rico is a beautiful island that takes pleasure in your pleasure. Discover her and love her; and she’ll love you for it!