I arrived back from Puerto Rico yesterday night and while it is good to be back, I miss all the beautiful people that I met and the wonderful time that I had.
I went there with my youth group on a week-long mission trip with an organization called World Changers. We left two days early to allow for travel and to do a little bit of sight-seeing while we were there. We left St. Louis at 5:30 in the morning and caught a connecting flight in Orlando to San Juan. We arrived at our hotel and then went to a local Puerto Rican restaurant to eat. I ordered Mahi Mahi and fried plantain chips. I loved the Mahi Mahi, but the fried plantains were just okay. I think it was just the restaurant’s cooking of it because I had it later in the trip and really liked it.
The next day we went to the El Yunque National Rainforest and that was super neat! There were numerous spots along the drive into the rainforest that you could stop, so the first stop was at a waterfall. It was really pretty and we climbed up on the rocks – though I was scared a few times I was going to slip and fall right in, LOL.
The next stop on the drive was to a lookout point, kind of like a lighthouse. On a clear day, you can see the Virgin Islands from there. Naturally is was cloudy, but it was still quite a view.
Next to there was a trail that you could hike. It was 8/10 of a mile and we thought that would be enough to really see that rainforest but wouldn’t completely exhaust us… we were wrong, LOL. It took us 45 minutes to go one way down the trail but it was totally worth it. At the end was another large waterfall and it was just gorgeous.
Since we were all hot and sweaty, we were ready to eat and just plop down. So the beach was the next place to hit. It was relatively close to the rainforest and it was awesome. I’m a beach kind of girl anyhow so the whole experience was awesome. They had music blaring ( I LOVED the Puerto Rican music!) and there was a ton of people and it was just like one big party, haha. We found a cute little food shop and I ordered a pollo empanadilla. I’m not really sure what the difference between an empanadilla and an empanada is, but it seemed like the same thing – and it was delicious! It had a lot of flavor and it was only $1, so it was even better.
After eating, we found a spot on the beach and swam in the sea for a while. The water felt wonderful after being hot and sweaty all day. The boys got tired of the beach after about an hour (As a side note, I do not know any guys that like the beach – which I think is really bizarre. All my girlfriends love the beach!) so we washed off and changed. We stopped at a few beach shops before leaving and I bought a cute little green floral wrap.
It was only 3pm when we left so we had a lot of extra time than we had thought. We decided to go to Old San Juan to do some sight-seeing and shopping. It was a bit frustrating at first because we were driving a large 12 passenger van and couldn’t find a place to park so got stuck in the traffic of the small little streets. It took us about an hour and forty five minutes to get out of the traffic and find a place to park. I kept seeing all these cute little shops and all the bright colors and couldn’t actually get out and in it.
However we finally got out and were able to do all the shopping. Ahh, I was in heaven! We probably shopped for three or four hours and I ended up spending all the money I had raised previously, haha, but it was great.
When we arrived back at the hotel, we showered and unpacked and then me and two other girls sat outside on these cute little couches by the pool. We could see a little gelato shop across the street and convinced our youth leader to let us go get some. I hadn’t had gelato since I was in Italy two years ago (I can’t believe that was so long ago!) so I was so happy to get some! It tasted just as delicious as I remembered it.
The next morning we went to the El Morro fort in Old San Juan and it was awesome. I love old forts and castles and that type of thing; since it was right on the sea, it was just gorgeous. There was a cemetery on the side that we looked through first. A door led from the cemetery to a small grassy area that dropped down to the rocks by the sea. I could have just stayed there forever. We then crossed the grassy field to the actual fort and explored it. At the end I bought a pirate-y looking map.
So that was our busy day and a half of sight-seeing before our actual mission trip, which I will talk about in the next post.