Puerto Rico in 6 days

Caribbeans, well, it comes to my mind o so often these days, with the weather here in Kansas being so dark and gloomy. My heart yearns for the sun, the sand, and the surf, and the endless hours spent in just lazing around. Puerto Rico shall always remain special to me, for it was simply magic which unfolded in the Caribbean archipelago. Not to forget the drunken revelries, and the picturesque locales, the crazy rides or the super yummy food. For the uninitiated, Puerto Rico is a beautiful archipelago, nestled in the Caribbean Sea, which has an abundance of sexy beaches, and awesome mountains and rain forests. Not to forget the famous Puerto Rican Rum.To cut the long story short, Paradise.

Walking down memory lane: reliving the moments:

Pit stop: San Juan: Day 1: 
The capital city of Puerto Rico, greeted us, oh so, graciously in the wee hours of the night. The only problem, by the time we managed to reach our hotel, the local eateries had already shut down. Not to forget the bad food we bit into, at Miami Airport. The trip started with, sleeping with an uber empty stomach for both of us. Guess, the first hungry night on the archipelago is the rationale, for the way we dug into all the exotic food for the rest of the trip. The entire first day was literally in transit, from Kansas City to Chicago, from Chicago to Miami, and From Miami to San Juan. It almost felt as if we were going to India. Dog tired.

Guavate: Day 2:
Anthony Bourdain and Andrew Zimmern swear by it. Guavate, located just south of San Juan in the mountains, is well known for its Lechon(roast pork). Its a small village which boasts of lechoneras(roadside eateries), specialising in roasting a whole hog right in front of your eyes. And you get to decide which cut of meat you want, and its cut, right there, from the freshly roasted pig, on the spit. Its a gastronomical delight just to queue up in those small roadside cafeterias, to order your cut of meat. The episodes of Bizarre Foods and No Reservations had gathered rave reviews, and once we reached the place, we realised that all the reviews about Guavate were worth it. Words are simply not enough to describe the experience, as you dig into your choice of roast pork, with live music being played for you, and u can step up and start shaking your leg, whenever you feel like, not to forget sipping into the rum all along. The drive up the mountains to reach the lechoneras is quiet scenic and quite a winding one. So exercising caution while driving these narrow roads and finding parking near the busiest lechonera, is a concern.

San Juan: Day 2: 
Known as the walled city, San Juan is any history lover's absolute delight. The city has so much stacked up in its bylanes and all its castles.The Spanish forts were our first choice, and parking the car, and walking around seemed the best option to explore the  old city. San Cristobal Fort and Castillo Del Morro located within a few miles of each other, were designed to protect the entrance to the old city, and San Juan Bay, from the enemies.

After all that walking around in the city, our appetities were reaching the roof. And having decided to gorge on nothing else other than the Puerto Rican staple- Mofongos, meant a long wait for a dinner table.  Be it the skirt steak version , or the crustacean delight, plantain was never so tasty. The only regret was that we missed out on managing a seat at the restaurant where the famous Pina Colada was invented.

Island of Culebra: Day 3: 
The ideal combination of  pure white sand and azure blue waters is the Island of Culebra, located just off the mainland  of Puerto Rico. From being a pirate refuge for years, to a US naval base, Culebra had seen it all. Managing last minute tickets on the public ferry, to braving sea sickness throughout the journey, every bit of it, was worth it, once we laid our eyes on Playa Flamenco in Culebra. Picturesque is probably an understatement for describing Flamenco beach. No wonder its regarded as one of Top 5 beaches of the world. Lazy hours on the beach, romping around in the waves, discovering an abandoned tank half submerged in the sand, to digging onto sword fish kebabs and endless pinacoladas, it was one memorable day. Beach experience at its superb best. Be it South Beach in Miami, or Havelock in Andaman and Nicobars, not one can stand in competition to the magic of Playa Flamenco.

It happened to be our anniversary, which called for a special dinner. So Iron Chef Hector Crespo whipped up a  red snapper and lobster mofongo, for us, at his restaurant in San Juan. Paired with Sangria, it was truly a celebration.And since we were in the land of the pirates, we decided to set the mood right.

Bacardi Factory: Day 4: 
The day started off with a breakfast at one of the oldest restaurants on the island, La Bombonera. And the experience was really an old world one. And then it was time to get a bit high spirited. When you are in the rum capital of the world, a visit to the biggest rum distillery in the world is a must do. Bacardi in all its glory! Cheers. !

Bio-luminescent Bay at the Island of Vieques: Day 4: 
 A choppy  catamaran ride to the Island of Vieques. Yes, the very same island where Captain Jack Sparrow went on the hunt for the fountain of eternal youth, in the latest installment of the Pirates of the Caribbean. A small boat took us to the Bio-luminescent Bay on a moonless night. It was darkness all round, and when the fishes swam past us, in the waters, it was as if it was a moving lantern in the water. The mystery lights in the water are created by micro-organisms who thrive in these waters. The best part was when we jumped into the water, in the dead of the night, and it was if as if we were all lit up as we moved ourselves in the bay. Our camera could not capture the magical moments, so taking the liberty of borrowing a few shots from fellow travelers. Truly, a wonder of the world.

Ponce: Day 5: 
The fifth day was by far the day when we were not quite lucky. We visited the quaint town of Ponce, but realised that the day was a holiday in that part of the island. Parque De Bombas was one of the most famous buildings of the island, which literally translated to the Park for the Pumps. Now  transformed in to a museum, the building located centrally the town, housed the  major fire station for years. However the drive to the Arecibo Observatory or the Camuy De Caverns was all in vain, as the doors to the public were closed on that very day.

San Juan: Day 6: 
The final day, when we had our flight in the late afternoon. Decided to embark on a walking tour to explore the lanes and bylanes for one last time.San Juan Gate, Raices Monument, the haunted El Convento Hotel, the oldest Church in the US, it was a crash course in Puerto Rican history.  One  last sampling of Puerto Rican cuisine sealed the deal. Finally it was time for the long long flight back to good old Kansas City. A trip highly cherished, a trip truly memorable.

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