Puerto Rico /St. John Days One to Four
Puerto Rico Vacation
Amazingly, our trip from Detroit to Puerto Rico on the low budget Spirit airlines was uneventful. We did read all the tricks and avoided the nickel and diming tricks, but not the $35 checked baggage fees. After checking into our hotel in a San Juan suburb, we found a local restaurant and had our first authentic Puerto Rican cuisine called mofongo. It is a mashed green plantains , lightly seasoned. It is like a cross between potatoes and stuffing. It came with roast pork and a very nice gravy / salsa. There was hot sauce on the table, but nothing seems very hot and spicy here. It was good, but a little too close to meat and potatoes for me to make it a regular diet. The beaches on this side of the island are spectacular, but we only had time for a drive by today. Day one of our Puerto Rico vacation started well.
Day Two in Puerto Rico
was dedicated to exploring Old San Juan. Our friend Plinio drove us around the 400 year old cobblestone streets and dropped us where we could walkup to the famous Fortaleza San Felipe through spectacular Spanish architecture. The Fort is massive and the Spanish held it until 1898 when it was finally defeated by American fire power. It took over an hour and we probably didn’t find all of the The tunnels and the four levels of walls, some of them 17 feet thick. Sir Francis Drake couldn’t take the city and 30 uyears later the Dutch did a little better landing and coming in behind the fort.,so the Spanish built the second fortress of San Cristobal on the land-ward side of the city.
Dinner that evening was at a Cuban restaurant. The cuisine is similar. Emphasis on garlic. But with the addition of congri (rice and black beans cooked together).
Day Three Puerto Rico Vacation- El Yunque
Today is our day to visit El Yunque, the Federally protected rain forest. Check out our El Yunque Photo Gallery On the way we couldn’t find a restaurant, so ended up (I am so ashamed) at a Wendy’s. First and LAST chain of the trip. Very sad, except that the coffee was much better than the mainland.
It is amazing how quickly you go from urban San Juan to the fantastical, lush mountains of El Yunque. We decided to hike toward the top of the El Yunque peak. The rain started gently and we thought “Oh this I great! Part of the rainforest experience!” Then it started to pour and we thought “ It’s OK, we knew this might happen” and kept climbing. Five or ten minutes more and we were overwhelmed and huddled under a shelter and waiting for it to let up so we could head back down. Some young men from Atlanta passed us and continued up when we went down. 30 minutes later as we took a different loop down we passed them coming back up. They told us we had been almost at the tower we were headed for ! We started up the way they had come down, but soon abandoned the nearly vertical path . It was a day of continuously modified hiking goals, but one of fabulous rainforest vegetation and waterfalls filled with the sound of tree frogs.
The desk clerk enthusiastically directed us to Placita Santurce. It is Friday night and this is a hopping area of bars and restaurants. The streets are full of mostly young, apparently well off locals. We chose restaurant called Chicharron and following the motto of “try everything” we started with a huge octopus tentacle covered with garlic and onions. Linda and I had a delicious mahi-mahi lightly breaded with a hint of pork belly flavor and a wonderful sauce atop some sort of potato mixture with garlic. And our Puerto Rico Vacation is just starting.