Romance, adventure, and enchantment filled each one of the moments I just spent in Puerto Rico. Each time I visit the Island of Enchantment, I plan my trip with so much excitement, as I am gratefully declaring that this time was incredible. From the instant, I landed, and I heard the joyful clapping of excited passengers reassured me that I was in Puerto Rico.
There is always so much going on in Puerto Rico and in such a festive and casual way, it is so easy to get distracted. Everywhere culinary and musical festivals were taking place, inviting the public to join in and before you know, a party is taking over. That is Puerto Rico; you don’t need a reason to start a party.
The day I arrived, the evening welcomed me with a cloudy sky. As I headed to Aguadilla with my daughter and her friend, the torrential rains slowed me down. Located in the northwest and about two hours away from San Juan, the crystal clear waters of Aguadilla surround the small and rural town. Its golden sand beaches face the deep blue Atlantic ocean. The refreshing breeze and the melodious singing of the coquís were a wonderfully welcomed to my beloved island, as well as the brilliant sky with a shining full moon.
We made it to the town where the rocks sing (Aguadilla, my hometown) at almost midnight. My loving and sweet mother was happily waiting for us with a delicious pizza from Pellot (a local restaurant). As I could feel the pleasant breeze of that wet evening and admired the splendid full moon, I stayed until three in the morning chatting with her. In bed I was so grateful to be there, so ready to indulge myself in the breathtaking nature of Puerto Rico.
The next morning a group of dark clouds enfolded the sky, surprising us with a magnificent sunshine in the afternoon. We went to Crash-Boat Beach and had a splendid time jumping from the bridges into the deep and turquoise sea. I was overwhelmed with so many memories of my younger days while I was jumping with the girls. We snorkeled over living coral reefs, enjoying tasty empanadillas (yucca fritters) and refreshing limbers (sorbet) after all that diving.
We spent a very busy week; from taking surfing lessons at Jobos, to cycling through the coast of Isabela, to horseback riding by the seashore, to hopping from beach to beach, and taking pictures of sunsets around nearby towns.
I met with Haydée Reichard, who used to be a history teacher in my school, San Carlos Borromeo, and has written over 15 books about Puerto Rico. Sitting in her beautiful home that faces the sea, she shared with me that there are parts of the ocean in Aguadilla that are the 2nd deepest in the world. Underneath the city, there is a world of many dark caves where mystery awaits its exploration.
On the way to San Juan, we drove through Ponce and stopped in Castillo Serrallés to visit the beautiful mansion of the affluent family that manufactures sugar and rum Don Q. Rich in history and culture, Old San Juan is the oldest city in the United States. We visited the massive forts that protected the entrance to the Caribbean basin: San Felipe and San Cristóbal. The same forts that hold so many secrets about ghosts that have wandered through Old San Juan streets for thousands of years.
I am so grateful for being able to share with my daughter Marina the adventure at the breathtaking bioluminescent bay. Through the absolute darkness, we kayaked in a tour through Laguna Grande, Fajardo and experienced the glowing waters at the Bay. Besides the phosphorescent water, we also saw many falling stars, joyfully flowing like little birds painted with glitter.
I drove through mountain roads and highland towns to reach the Cordillera Central. In the center of each town there’s a Spanish colonial church, a historic plaza for people to socialize, and a City Hall; displaying its uniqueness. At El Yunque, as I hiked some of the trails, I found myself walking through the clouds, hearing the music of our indigenous ancestors through the wind.
The night before we flew back to Atlanta, my heart was clenching with sadness. But as I admired the incredible view of San Juan at my sister’s condo in Santurce, I was reassured that I will be back before the end of this year. Happily traveling through those green valleys and the silver veil of the moon, the ocean waves were guiding me to the places I was supposed to go, touching me the abundant magic that takes place in Puerto Rico.