A hotel that was not a hotel and a cliff that was actually a mountain…

Wrapping up our Puerto Rico blogs with a quick (but eternal night) little story:

Day 4 of our trip, we were finishing up snorkeling and went to eat at a seafood restaurant in La Parguera. Since there were hotels nearby, we asked about availability but unfortunately everything was booked. After searching and calling multiple hotels, we found an Expedia listing for a hotel about 20 minutes away, without hesitation we booked it. It was around 11pm and we drove to this hotel (“My hut by 3 beaches” — in Spanish). We thought oh cool, this hotel is by the a company called “3 beaches” (No, we did not get it, as we were also very tired after a day of snorkeling). We show up to this hotel, which is not a hotel, it’s literally a house with 13 men drinking and chilling outside. After assessing the situation we decided its probably not in our best interest to stay there.  We find the closest hotel which is about 20 minutes away and start driving. Suddenly, the GPS tells us to turn right into a road into the mountains. We say, “okay only a couple of miles in this mountain.” It is extremely dark, the roads are steep, and Jeremy and I are driving to this hotel in the middle of the rainforest. All of the sudden, we reach a very steep hill. We start driving up the hill and in the middle of the hill, the car starts rolling backwards….DOWN THE MOUNTAIN. We’re able to gain control of the car but have to drive backwards for a good chunk of the mountain until we hit the main road. We then decide to drive to San Jose (at this point its 1:00am) which is about 2 hours away from this mountain. I call every single hotel in the city and one calls me back saying there’s been a last-minute cancellation. We are relieved. We get there at around 4am and pass out.

MORAL OF THIS STORY: Make sure to rent a 4-wheel drive or at least check that the tires in the car are good (the tires in our car, a Nissan Sentra, were wore down and therefore could not make it up the mountain). Also — book everything in advance, it will save you a headache!

Our Itinerary – Puerto Rico 2017

Our trip to Puerto Rico was adventurous. When we first booked the trip (3 days before departing), we had a vision that Puerto Rico was going to be like Costa Rica, which we had visited previously in the year. Although it was very different from Costa Rica, it was filled with its own special charm. Jeremy and I are extremely adventurous individuals so we had to try practically all the island has to offer:

  1. Day 1 — Yunque National Forest, this rainforest was beautiful and calm. There were moments were we were hiking (without the interruption of big groups) for 20 minutes at a time. The hike is considerably long (a couple of miles) so bring lots of water. There may be a small (no, thats a lie, GREAT) chance its going to start raining (or pouring) while on the hike (hence, rainforest), so bring shoes that do not slip and maybe a poncho (if you don’t mind looking like a tourist (jk, not really). Although there are a lot of interesting bugs and plants, I would not come into this adventure thinking you’re going to find snakes, monkeys, or sloths, Puerto Rico does not have as rich of a wildlife as Costa Rica. Also — make sure to get there early as parking does fill up rather quickly.
  2. Day 2 — Beach Luqillo & BioBay in Fajardo, we spent the first part of the day in Beach Luquillo, a very quant and quiet beach, were we walked around and went inside the water. At this beach, a stray dog kept on following us around (we wanted to adopt his so bad but we already have 2 pets at home). Eventually, the dog found another person to call its new “master.” Anyway, the second part of the day we went to Fajardo to kayak in the BioBay. This was fun and adventurous. If you want to kayak in BioBay you need to have good condition (a group of 4 girls had to tie their kayaks to the leaders because they kept on going in 360 degree circles — literally). Also, make sure you bring lots of mosquito spray as you will get eaten alive if you don’t. It’s best to see the lights in the water when its dark out — and no, it does not look like the photoshopped images online. The lights, at least in where we were, are faint, but still cool! Another thing to remember, DRIVE YOUR CAR AND PARK, do not trust Uber or Taxis in this area. Read about our misfortunate adventure.
  3. Day 3 — Cavernas de Camuy, if you like caves and adventure, visiting the caverns is a most! They are huge — literally huge! You will find small critters like bats and spiders in the caves and DO NOT touch the railing as it is covered in bat feces (no, the white stuff is not snow). There’s also a zip line in the same park you can choose to do. Overall, great experience!
  4. Day 4 —  La Parguera Snorkeling, this is probably our favorite part of the trip: snorkeling with the fishies, lobsters, and crabs. I totally recommend finding a snorkeling place and having this experience! This part of the island has no beaches, just cliffs and harbors, but one can find boat rides and it has nice hotels — they do fill up fast so book in advance. Also — driving in and out of Parguera, AVOID THE CLIFF ROAD if you can. Our GPS took us into a mountain with very steep edges which was scary to drive for a non-local.
  5. Day 5 — Old San Juan, you can’t visit Puerto Rico (or how locals call it PR– I work in marketing so this is so confusing as I think Public Relations). Old PR is filled with history, shops, and the famous fortress. It’s a great way to wrap up a trip to Puerto Rico!

Disclaimer: BOOK EVERYTHING IN ADVANCE! Jeremy and I did not do this, we played it by ear and almost slept in our car a couple of times because everything was booked. Hotels especially, they are extremely scarce to find the day of booking.

A little run in with the cops in Puerto Rico…

Like any tourist traveling to Puerto Rico for the first time, Jeremy and I were eager to witness the famous bioluminescent waters we have all dreamed of exploring since the first time we crossed an Instagram photo on our newsfeed.

Since our trip was very last-minute (we decided to travel 2 days before we hopped on the plane!), we were desperately calling every kayak bioluminescent tour in the country (yes, country). We finally found a tour in Fajardo Bay. We were told by locals that parking would be extremely tough at the bay so we decided to Uber (apparently not a preferred choice by locals).

When the tour ended (very beautiful experience but we’ll talk about it in a later blog), we called an Uber. The Uber driver then texted us and asked where we was going, I told them back to our hotel, which was about 20 minutes away. He then told me that his car had just broken down (apparently right after he had asked where we were going). Anyway, we tried calling another Uber. By this point, it was very, very late like 11pm, since the bioluminescent tours need to be pitch black to really have a point. There were no Ubers in the area available for pick up.

We looked around and the bay/park had started to empty. Shoot. We were completely stuck in the middle of the deserted bay area with no ride and no way to walk back to the hotel. Should we find a taxi? “No taxis in this area and at this time” said a very blunt local. Okay then what do we do? “You’re pretty stuck, no way to get back there, you should have driven..” Well… yes, we know that now.

So we’re contemplating calling the hotel when we see a group of police officers standing. We walk towards the officers and ask them exactly how we get back to the hotel. They tell us the same thing, no rides at this time, you really should have driven…After they chat with each other back and forth for about 5 minutes they finally turn to us and say we’re off in an hour, we will give you a ride back then. In the meantime, we try to call the hotel a couple of times but no luck.

A very young and friendly police officer comes up to us 10 minutes later and says that they will give us a ride now. As we walk towards the police car, the older policeman says to the young one, she (as in me) rides in the front with you and he (Jeremy) rides in the back.

We awkwardly get into the car, as Jeremy is trying to practice his Spanish (high school Spanish level and freshmen year of college?) with his new police friends. The older policeman, who doesn’t seem to understand, says to the younger policeman in Spanish, ” I can’t understand a word he’s  saying.” I then began translating to the police office (which they were shocked I spoke Spanish) and then we had a quiet (&awkward) ride home. Oh, did I mention their sirens and lights were on the whole time home?

We finally got to the hotel and the hotel manager comes outside and says:

“Oh, more drunk ones?” 

Thank you to the Puerto Rico policemen who drove us home! We truly appreciate it!

Tips we learned if you’re visiting Fajardo Bay:

  1. Drive! Taxis & Ubers are very unreliable
  2. If you’re not driving, make sure you book a shuttle with your tour beforehand.
  3. You should book your tour WAY before, we got very lucky but most tours were booked, mostly in summer.
  4. Bring bug repellent or else you will get eaten.
  5. Feel free to ask questions or for help to the local police, they are extremely polite and friendly.