In the spring of 2012 we visited the island
of Puerto Rico but at the time I never really got around to editing that video, but now
I did, so… Here’s our recollection of that trip, enjoy.
Hello and greetings from Puerto Rico. We’re staying right here at the Miramar Hotel and
now we’re going to take a road trip around the Island.
We are staying at the Miramar Hotel located in the historic Miramar neighborhood. The
rooftop deck offers a great view looking towards the west, the Saint Augustine Church, the
San Juan Marina; it is such a beautiful day. Then we have this building here which is actually
obstructing our view of the Caribe Hilton Hotel. The Condado Lagoon to the north and
the Condado neighborhood to the northeast. Let’s explore the island, shall we? Welcome to Puerto Rico. We take the Jose De
Diego Expressway towards the west of the island. We stop by the coastal town of Arecibo, and
it feels like a ghost town today. It is early and yesterday was Easter, so people are probably
sleeping late. The main attraction lies about 20 Km inland, so we take this winding road
though the mountains towards the Arecibo Observatory. And we have arrived.
There’s a short walk from the parking lot into the place. They have all these signs
forbidding cell phone use. I guess they have some pretty sensitive equipment in there.
The Arecibo Observatory was built in 1963, and it is the largest radio telescope in the
world, measuring about 1000 feet in diameter, and we’ll get to see it soon enough after
this small exhibit we have to visit. Yes, it is a meteorite from Mars. How the heck
do they know? Here’s a model of the telescope, and finally here’s the real thing! The giant dish has been part of the plot of
many films and TV series, most notably the movie Contact, The X Files, and one of the
bond films. TALKING OK. Fascinating! And the nature around us is quite beautiful. Well
worth a quick visit, but right now, it is time to go. We are on our way to our next
destination and Google Maps has taken us through all these narrow and bumpy country roads.
Makes me wish I had rented an SUV and not a crappy Hyundai.
They get better after a while and eventually we arrive at the Camuy River Caverns.
There’s quite a long line, over an hour wait actually, but at some point it is finally
our time to go in and we get on this tram that will take us into the Empalme sinkhole
which is where the main entrance is. Let’s just say that it was worth the wait,
and here we are just scratching the surface of this place. This is just part of a great
network of caverns carved by the third largest underground river in the world, the Camuy
River. And this is the entrance to the Clara Cave.
The Clara Cave is a huge chamber, wait ’till you see inside but first lets take a look
outside, look how beautiful this is with all the mist and all that. The chamber is 700
feet long and 215 feet high. We are dwarfed by the magnificent size of
this cave and its many interesting rock formations, and stalactites, and stalagmites. After a pretty long walk we reach the other
entrance to the cave. We find out part of the tour is closed because of safety issues.
Somehow that seems to happen too often in these types of attractions. Here’s looking
back inside. At least we get to see the muddy Camuy River
at the bottom of the cave. We go back to the main entrance through the
other side of the chamber. And it is time to go again.
We continue driving towards the northwest and end up at the town of Quebradillas. We
are looking for something to eat and luckily we found this great place. Like they say, full stomach, happy heart.
We just ate some fabulous seafood at this place called arrecife. And the views of the Caribbean are fabulous! We continue towards the town of Isabela, driving
along this hilltop residential neighborhood. Apparently this town is called Comunidad Coto
Isabela, so the actual town of Isabela must be near by, and sure enough, here it is.
This lower area of the city is called Villa Pesquera, or Fisherman’s Village. It’s very
nice, quite modern. We are now down by the beach area, and we see the beautiful colors
of the Caribbean Sea, and the waves breaking. The locals chilling by the water, and at the
bar. If we hadn’t had lunch already, we would have definitely stopped here for some alcapurrias.
Hmm, yum. Look at those waves!
We drive further west by the Borinquen golf club near Aguadilla, and we descend towards
the ocean through this road. This is Punta Borinquen, the site of the ruins of an old
lighthouse, which we’ll visit some other time, not today. We are very near the westernmost
tip of the island. I’m fascinated by the waves here in Puerto Rico, and I’m sure you’ve noticed
by now. Let’s keep going.
A few miles further south we find Crash Boat beach, full of locals enjoying the warm waters
of the late afternoon. We pass by the town of Aguadilla and roam
some of its streets trying to capture snapshots of daily life.
A little further south we get to Aguada, which is a little further inland.
And we continue in the southern direction into the town of Rincon, its motto: “the own
of the beautiful sunsets”. They are having some kind of religious procession celebrating
Easter. We also stop by this place called Maria’s
beach, apparently very popular with American surfers.
In fact, many of the beaches in this area are considered some of the best for surfing.
We have a couple of authentic Presidentes at this bar, which actually is more reminiscent
of some place in the Florida Keys than Puerto Rico. By the way it is not a myth, the Dominican
Presidentes do taste better than the ones available in the US.
We continue, as we want to experience the sunset at the Rincon lighthouse, located at
Punta Higueros, Puerto Rico’s westernmost point. What a beautiful place this is.
And of course the surfers are here too. This beach, Domes beach is also very popular with
surfers. The mysterious island we’ve been seeing in
the horizon is Desecheo Island. It is uninhabited, and a National Wildlife Refuge although at
one point it was used by the army for survival training. The reef around the island is a
very popular diving spot. And here’s another view of the famous Domes
beach. A rainstorm lurks in the horizon. The green
dome you see was originally the site of a small nuclear reactor. It hasn’t functioned
since 1968. Well, lets go back to San Juan, shall we?
We spend the last few hours of our vacation in the islands capital city.
As we arrive we see the Morro Castle in the distance, a staple landmark in Old San Juan.
To our left the Capitol building. To our right the historic community of La Perla, supposedly
notorious for its high crime rate and lack of police presence but I wouldn’t know because
we didn’t visit. There’s a real bad traffic jam as we approach the epicenter of Old San
Juan. We park at an underground lot under the Quincentennial Square Plaza, also called
Plaza del Totem. We decide to explore the Morro Castle grounds. Many people are flying
kites and everybody seems to be having a great time. Besides, it is such a beautiful afternoon.
Right next door we encounter the Santa Maria Magdalena de Pazzis Cemetery, the final resting
place of many prominent Puerto Ricans even dating back to the colonial times. It sits
overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, right outside the fortress walls.
On the other side of the cemetery the aforementioned La Perla neighborhood, which despite all the
warnings, I intend to visit the next time I come to the Island.
As night falls we return to the Totem. The square commemorates the 500th Anniversary
of the discovery of America by Columbus. The 40 feet tall totem was designed by Puerto
Rican artist Jaime Suarez, and the youngsters seem to be having a great time at the fountain.
We decide to enjoy some of the nightlife. A little bit of Don Q rum here and there,
if you know what I mean. We walk along the streets of old San Juan
at night, passing by the San Juan Cathedral. They are having some kind to activity celebrating
Easter. Then we take a stroll along Paseo de la Princesa
and at the end we find the Raices Fountain, raices meaning roots. Completed in 1992 it
also commemorates the 500th anniversary of Columbus arrival. And the cruise ship has
left. There was some kind of fair earlier but it looks like it is winding down… and,
guess what, so are we. With this we are going to say good-bye to Borinquen, the Island of
Enchantment, for now. We shall return soon. Do subscribe to the YouTube channel so you
don’t miss any of my future videos. Oh, by the way, if you like all these road trips,
here are four of my best ones, for your enjoyment. As always thank you for watching and see you
on the road. Bye, bye now!