In November of 2015 Hillary and I went on one of the best trips we have ever experienced! The trip started with 4 days in Puerto Rico, and would continue with a 10 day cruise from San Juan, Puerto Rico back to our “home”state of Texas. Instead of inundating you with 14 days worth of information, we have broken it down into easily digestible sections so you can better explore the journey with us 🙂
Puerto Rico is Part 1.
We had not been in the beautiful city of Old San Juan more than 10 minutes until the rain starting pouring down! Of course we were out walking around as we always do on trips and we got caught in the rain with no place to go! Every adventure we partake in always starts the same way: we throw our stuff down and run outside without any agenda or plan whatsoever and start exploring. San Juan weather didn’t agree with this spontaneity and let us have it (in the form of rain, luckily). Finally we found a place to eat that seemed reasonably priced. The food was bad and the service was even worse! (We were soaking wet and freezing cold, so I’m sure we were quite pleasant to wait on as well.) Oh well, as frustrating as the dining experience was, we were just glad to finally be inside and dry!
Drowned rat, stage left 🙂
We spent most of the afternoon walking around Old San Juan trying to get our bearings and admiring all of the extremely beautiful buildings. Old San Juan should be on a bucket list for anyone interested in traveling. The history and culture of this quaint little place are like nothing else! Later that afternoon we went to the Saint Cristobol Castle. It was way bigger than we each initially thought it would be- complete with a dungeon! It was really cool to explore a place that had a history dating back to the 1500’s! Hillary isn’t a big fan of history or its artifacts, but even she enjoyed the castle. After a day of traveling, we were exhausted and in typical Kennon fashion, we passed out soon after the sun went down!
On day 2 we rented a car and drove to El Yunque National Park. If you know anything about Hillary and me, you should know that we HAD to go hiking!
We saw some pretty magnificent waterfalls and I even got in the water at one. It was a little brown and freezing cold, but it was awesome! (Hill wouldn’t dare.) After the rain forest we made our way to a beach that was in the area called Luquillo Beach. It was not crowded at all, and the sandy shore went on for as far as the eye could see. We felt so excited to have found such a beautiful gem on only day two of this awesome trek. We had no idea what was in store for us later on in the trip!
We are always on the hunt for good breakfast places and coffee shops on our travels. There’s just something about a hometown cup of coffee that makes each place special to us. For Puerto Rico, this place was Caficultura. I think we went three times in our four days in Old San Juan. The guy who brought our coffee was awesome-shared stories of his journeys from California to San Juan and how he never left upon arrival. After some liquid courage (in the form of caffeine, you alcoholics) we decided to drive to the other side of the island to see a lighthouse in Cabo Rojo, on the southwestern most tip of the island. (Sounds magical, I know.)
About an hour into the trip I smelled something horrendous. This was easily one of the worst smells I have ever smelled. Imagine if you combined skunk spray, your running shoes, and cow manure…that’s about half as bad as what it actually smelled like…Now that you get the picture (smell), I thought for some reason that the smell was coming from inside the car. More specifically, I thought it was coming out of the A/C vents. Like any normal reaction, I proceeded to roll down the windows (does anybody actually still roll down windows with a hand crank?), turned off the A/C, and took a HUGE, DEEP breath of fresh air…
…the smell was in fact not from the car, but it was definitely coming from somewhere outside!
I quickly rolled up the windows as fast as I could and blasted some recirculated, half smelly air. I am pretty sure I almost threw up from how bad the smell was. Actually, I don’t know if it was the fact that it smelled THAT badly, or if it was just the surprise of getting a huge whiff of it unintentionally.
We laughed about this for a good half hour on the way to the lighthouse. It’s funny how the weird, unplanned moments in a trip are what we remember the most!
We ended up getting a little lost on our way to the lighthouse. (By a little lost, I mean that we drove about an hour out of the way to the wrong freaking city. Who knew Cabo Rojo and Rojo Cabo were so different?!) At this point we were absolutely starving and the best thing we could find to eat was Church’s Chicken! I’ve never tasted better chicken. We eventually figured out the correct route to take! Without fail I ended up flying over a few speed bumps on our way to the lighthouse. This has happened to me several times on trips…In my defense, in all cases none of the speed bumps were marked! The lighthouse was really neat, but the iguanas around that place really stole the spotlight. They were all so vibrant and prehistoric looking. After some research, we learned that Puerto Rico is overpopulated with iguanas and they are seen as a nuisance. We thought they were awesome. 🙂
On the way back towards Old San Juan we decided to try to go to Guilligans Island. (Listed as one of the top secret things to explore in Puerto Rico.) After another very long and very frustrating drive, we finally found the ferry to the island. We spent half an hour driving around in circles looking for the boat launch. I didn’t realize that what the travel articles really meant when they said “top secret” was “this place is so top secret that you’ll actually never be able to find this place it’s so hidden”. I was content to just forget about the damn island and go home, but Hillary was determined that we would find it. I am truly glad that I married somebody so hard headed and stubborn as her because it was definitely worth the time and frustration once we made it to this little island. The water was so clear and the fish were so vibrant and friendly. There was an iguana as big as Hillary. It was bright orange and it was crazy.
On the way home our phones died. Mapless Kennons. We needed to find a gas station before we took our rental car back. However, without a map it was pretty difficult to find a gas station. Finally, after finding a gas station we could not find our way back to the rental car place. When we did, the gentleman working the parking lot was not very helpful as to where we were to actually park the car. (This is my concerted effort to not say anything about this gentleman I wouldn’t want my mom to read.) Hi mom 🙂 After finally parking the car, we walked across the street and ate a glorious meal at Denny’s. Never before has greasy breakfast food tasted so good!
Although we spent over 8 hours in the car that day, we both realized that it’s hard to put a price (with money OR time) on experiences of a lifetime. We would never drive 4 hours away from our home in Dallas just to see 1 or 2 attractions, but that is exactly what we did on our vacation and we will never forget it! I believe that we learned to be more adventurous while we are “stuck” at our home base in Dallas.
On our last day in Puerto Rico, we decided to spend our time in Old San Juan. I went on a run first thing in the morning around the city. Old San Juan is mostly guarded by an old fort wall that partially encloses the city. I was able to run down towards the cruise ship ports and get to a sidewalk path that is between the ocean and the fort wall. It was one of the most scenic runs of my life. However, it was extremely humid and the sun was very intense so it did not take long for my amazement over the city to dwindle.
I was hoping to come back to our apartment to cool off. This was not the case. The apartment only had one window unit A/C that was in the upstairs bedroom, which left the rest of the apartment feeling like a sauna! I am definitely spoiled by the conveniences of air conditioning and pretty much always being able to be comfortable. Although our apartment was FAR from a small hut, I still found myself appreciative of many things that we take for granted back in Dallas.
After I finally cooled off we walked to El Morro, a large fort built in the 1500’s as a way to protect the city. It was really amazing to walk around such an old historical site, as there is nothing nearly that old in Dallas. The Puerto Rican sun and humidity was really starting to wear us down. After walking around the fort and city for an hour or so, we took refuge in the Casa Cortes Choco Bar. That place was amazing! Nearly everything on the menu has chocolate as an ingredient in it, I would go back to San Juan just to go there again!
Several hours and a few tourist shops later, we got espresso one last time from our favorite coffee shop in Old San Juan. We then sat at a park square and watched hundreds of old, touristy, life alert using cruise ship members arrive for disembarkation. After only a few days in Puerto Rico, Old San Juan in particular, we were really sad to be leaving. We really loved the culture, architecture, and the walk-ability of the city. Seeing all of the fanny pack wearing tourists had us second guessing whether or not we would enjoy ourselves on a cruise ship full of 3,000 of them. Mostly, we were just wondering if Hillary would be able to board the cruise ship in the first place! After all, the criminal known as my wife was traveling with an invalid passport!
At the airport in Dallas we realized that Hillary’s passport had her maiden name on it. We spent much of the day stressing about whether or not she would be allowed onto the cruise ship, or if she would be allowed to get on but not have the opportunity to get off and explore. We came to the conclusion that most likely she would be let on the ship. In the case that she would not, I would go on the cruise by myself and play dominoes with a fictional old lady that we named Gertrud. Hey, it was a win-win for me 🙂
Luckily, we were both able to get on the ship without any issues. That night we would leave one paradise and enter another.
Final thoughts about our 4 Days in Puerto Rico:
The people are very nice! Except for one weird, probably drunk, guy we ran into on a trail in the rain forest (who acted as if he was going to push Hill off a cliff, but was maybe joking?) we had exceptional interactions with everybody that we met.
Did I mention we saw cats? Lots of them? They were everywhere! (Hill thought she died and was in Heaven) Proof she wants to be a cat whisperer—>
The food is delicious!
Don’t expect people to drive like they do back in the States! More specifically, don’t expect people to have working headlights or taillights. Those are merely optional accessories 😉
Keep it Kinetic,