In February of 2020, I went back to my island. Not Long Island where I grew up, but Puerto Rico where my family is from.
I’ve always felt a pull from the island, like gravity holding us to this rock we call Earth. I remember my first trip when I was 5 years old. Abuelo passed on and mom wanted to visit his grave.
One of the funniest parts of the trip was landing. Why was everyone clapping? If you’ve flown to the islands, you know what I’m talking about.
Memories, it’s funny what we remember.
Our group of friends “the crew” vacation together regularly. We’re going on 20+ years now. When it came time to plan a trip, I said let’s go to PR. It has been nearly 10 years since I had been.
In the weeks leading up to the trip, we were hearing about this virus going around. No big deal. Two of my friends masked up on the plane. We laughed and teased them.
The joke was on us.
We landed on Valentine’s Day. More claps 👏
It was an amazing trip, full of delicious food and belly-aching laughs. I remembered why I loved this island so much.
Just two years later and nearly to the day, Jenny and I took a trip back to the island. Maybe this will be a new tradition.
We left at the right time, the weather in NY was been downright nasty while we were in PR.
Our first stop was a hotel in Condado. We landed at 2 am and since we were staying in the mountains for the first part of the trip, we thought it best not drive those windy ear-popping roads.
At 4 AM, pop pop pop pop pop!
We immediately woke up, looked at each other, and went back to sleep. A car backfired? Gunshots? Just a dream? Who cares, we were in paradise.
The next day we set out for the mountains refreshed, but not before a stop at my favorite little fritter hut in Loíza. We bought a bunch of goodies and a couple of ice-cold cervesas to cool us down from the 90-degree weather.
This is where you get bacalaítos (salted cod fritters) the size of your face and piononos (a sweet and savory pie named after Pope Pius IX) that will melt your foodie's heart. I hope Tony experienced this part of the island.
Just thirty-five minutes later, we were twisting and shouting up the windy roads of Canóvanas to our rain forest retreat, El Escondido Studios & Gardens. Nike was our host and the experience was phenomenal, I would highly recommend you stay here a few nights. The views were spectacular and you’re far away from any light or noise pollution.
The rest of the trip was as eventful as any island getaway. Great food, interesting interactions with the locals, spontaneous tropical rainfall, and the occasional lizard crossing.
The island has been through a lot these past few years. Hurricane Maria ravaged the island, continuous earthquakes in the south, and island-wide austerity due to debt. The thing is, you wouldn’t know it by interacting with the islanders.
If you’re planning on escaping the cold weather or just the monotony of life, my recommendation is go to Puerto Rico. I’d be happy to offer you some recomendations on places to stay and of course the best places to eat.