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E&J Adventures: Birthdays are meant to be special

Updated: Nov 3, 2021

Puerto Rico 2021

PR 2021 E’s bday trip starts off pretty well, it’s a little ironic how when we think we are early we seem to make it right on time (and if we’re on time we’re actually probably gonna be late)! It’s the most frustrating notion ever but it’s completely us.

So we land in PR about 1:15 ish, we had a layover in Orlando but nothing particularly noteworthy of mentioning happened there. When we land we wait FOREVER for my bag. Honestly I thought it may have been stolen how long it took for us to get the dang bag (and how quickly Emmanuel had gotten his). You see, I had bought a new bag just for this trip and it was dull and Gray much like every other bag on the belt. I tried adding a bag tag and a ribbon to make it more memorable but it still blended in with all the others. Once my bag finally arrives, now we have to fill out a declaration form basically stating that I have had a COVID19 pcr and no Covid symptoms. This I guess is the new norm for international travel. It’s shockingly not as painful as I imagined and we quickly moved through the verification line.

So far the trip is essentially unscathed, everything is flowing as it should and I’m working on pepping myself up mentally because all of the pre-planning for this trip was a bit exhausting. We get outside of the airport and start trying to figure out where we pickup our rental car. I had booked the car several weeks earlier and for the life of me could not remember the name of the company... I booked it through Expedia and it wasn’t one of the big car rental companies. It must have been costly or something because I tend to stick to what I know unless it’s affordable. Combing through emails finally figure out that it is Europcar (an offsite rental company). Now we need to hunt down a shuttle to get us to the location. Sounds easy enough right? WRONG 😑. There are so many different companies with shuttles and on different sides of the street and the signs are not marked very well. Time is slowly ticking away as we wait and inquire with strangers who may or may not speak English about which shuttle is the one for our company. Fast forward to us finally hunting down the right shuttle, give our names to the driver (they have a list of all people with bookings) and hop on the bus. When the bus is about half full the drive informs me that my reservation has been canceled and basically tells us to get off the bus. Daze and confused I’m trying to figure out wtf just happened and why my reservation was cancelled. I check my email, no message on the reservation being canceled. Driver was like call your third party company and see what happened (but still booted us off the bus smh).

So now I’m trying to decide is it worth figuring out what happened or should I just look for another company, preferably on-site if possible. Wheels are churning in my head as I try to decide my next move when E looks at me and says “did you call them?”. Screw it, I guess I should call but honestly I don’t care about the call, time is ticking away and we have our photo shoot at 5P. I make the call, no answer so I leave a VM and recommend just going with another company. Cool. We both start looking for another company and BAM I find one. Apparently SouthWest gives you extra points if you book a rental car through them... and it’s actually cheaper than what Emmanuel was getting. So I go to book the car for now, because at the moment we’re stranded and need the car NOW lol. Unfortunately, you can’t order a car within the hour and it is now 2:07... I can’t order our car until 3:30 (Damn 7 minutes). Fine. I’ll take what I can get. My palms are getting sweaty, heart beat racing and anxiety going through the roof. Remain calm, remain calm, REMAIN CALM. Woosah! Deep breaths. E suggests, just call them and ask can we pick the car up now. Simple enough. Done ✔️ we can pick the car up now. Now back to hunting for our shuttle bus (a new one this time). Look for a bus with sunflower shades.

More time passes, clock ticks away and I’m not even sure that we’re on the right side of the street to catch our bus! I’m internally freaking out but decide to try and go ask again where I should be looking for the shuttle. I’m directed to the WRONG side of the street. I see the bus coming and try to rush to it only find out there there is a long line waiting to get on same said bus. 🥲😪 We have to decide if we’re going to be THOSE people and cut the line or get in the back where we belong. We’re good people so you already know what we did. Everyone in line fit on the bus EXCEPT us. More waiting. It’s like 3ish before the next shuttle comes. Luckily the actual location of the new rental car company isn’t super far away from the airport.

Now we pull up to THE MOST rinky dink car company I have ever seen (Payless Car Rental). It’s in the name I know but still! Lol so due to COVID only one person in your party is allowed in the building at a time. Bet. I get it. When I tell you this is the most inefficient company ever. I’m waiting in line for like forever as just about every individual ahead of me is having some issue with getting there rental car. I’m getting nervous, like what it going on! Luckily when I finally arrived at the counter I was able to get our car pretty quickly. The paperwork part anyway. Getting the actually car was about 20-30 more minutes of waiting and getting the car inspected before finally getting the car.

We arrive at our AirBNB in Condado, It’s nearly 4 now, maybe like 3:45ish and we still need showers, get dressed, and drive to the location of our photo shoot. I know we’re gonna be late now but all I can do is rush us along to the best of my ability. Remember, the photo shoot is at 5P and the site is give or take a 10 minutes from where we’re staying. That’s relatively close right? We’re still late, like walking out the door at 5P late 🤦🏾‍♀️. We can’t help ourselves and it really eats at me that we can’t be on time to save our lives. What can I do! It’s not just one of our faults either, so I’m annoyed with him and mad at myself. Don’t let it ruin the trip!

Okay, we’re on our way and then babe discovers they don’t drive like we’re use to (So he says). His road rage kicks into high gear and he is cursing out every car that comes near us. I’m sitting on the passenger side like 😳. Woosah babe! Now we’re close but we miss our turn, he’s mad at the roads because the names on the gps and the names on the signs don’t match. Lord is like 5:10 now and that missed turn cost us almost 10 minutes. Smh. Now we’re gonna be even later. Anxiety is through the roof! Stay calm! BREATHE. Back on the right track, we make it to the right turn this time and park. By this time the photograph has started looking for us. Now I’m really freaking out and feeling guilty about having them waiting on us. Eventually we find them and the shoot begins. It was perfect 😍

All the stress for these amazing moments! We’re awkward but perfect for each other. This was day 1. We finished the night with dinner at Ladis. Food was meh but the drinks were great and the scenery was amazing!

Day 2 Food Tour / Surf Lessons

We decided to go on a food tour. This is literally becoming a staple for our trips. It’s a great way to learn about the history and culture as well as try dishes that are near and dear to the area. You’d be surprised how much of an influence food has on a culture and their reasoning for this specific type of food. Some of our platters

This laureate bread filled with cheese and ham will keep workers full for extended periods of time. We also were offered a medium roast coffee ☕️ but I’m not much of a coffee drinker and so did not appreciate this as much as others might. One think to know, at one point in time PR was 1/5 of the top producers of coffee. As larger nations started catching on (most notably Colombia 🇨🇴) they could no longer compete in quantity but pride themselves on the quality. Different parts of the country have different specialty coffees

Pork is a staple to the area. Apparently cows did not survive for many years/decades in the early days of PR. Pigs can survive anywhere! Many meals include some type of pork. Much like most Caribbean nations, rice and beans are staples as well. This was one of my favorite meals.

This was chocolate rum 🍹 it was DELICIOUS and you could barely taste the alcohol. This was served with a plantain taco 🌮 ( not pictured, I forgot 😩) but that was delicious too... and I don’t event like plantain. Another staple to the region!

This was salmon and mashed plantain, I honestly don’t remember the name of the dish but it was pretty good as well. Our last and final dish was a dessert popsicles, my flavor was birthday cake and a little more history on the harbor. There was so much to learn on this tour alone about Puerto Rico, it’s origins through to modern times that I could barely keep up. The company we used was Spoons and I would highly highly highly recommend you trying them out if you ever decide to visit San Juan, PR.

Next we decide to take surfing lessons. This proved to be as challenging as I expected but not quite as fearful. Just like you see on TV, we started out learning the maneuvers on the sand. Lie flat on the board, chest up, arms paddling at the side. When you’re ready, you pop up (in my experience going to knees, at least one knee first then to feet). Bend your knees and use your butt to help you balance. Be sure to face forward. In the end, I successfully rode 2 waves 🌊 to shore and was completely satisfied with that. After an hour I was done with the water. I didn’t get to take very my pictures because I left my phone dry and secure on the shore. I will say, Babe was a natural compared to everyone else in the group! He rode several waves and needed the least amount of help out of all of us!

After a day full of activity we went home, showered, and attempted to get dinner. It is this night that we discovered if you plan to eat well, plan to eat early! By 6:30 NLT 7P restaurants are no longer accepting guest for seating. We tried 3 different restaurants along the strip where we live only to end up with THE BLANDEST Chinese food that we waited over an hour to receive. Emmanuel had chicken wing that had no seasoning while I had pork dumplings and low mein. The low mein had NO flavor. Needless to say we went to bed disappointed lol

Day 3 Cave Tubing / Zip Lining

Whew, this was one of the most physically challenging days of the entire trip. This excursion came with so many warnings I was low key freaking out the entire way up to it. This was another one of those moments where we got up thinking we were early and ended up being right on time. I actually thought the excursion began at 8:00A in which case we would have been very late, but it actually didn’t start until 9:30 which gave us enough time to stop and eat breakfast at IHOP. I know we’re in PR but this was available!

When we arrive at the meeting spot, we’re immediately given a backpack with a life jacket attached and a helmet inside of it. This is gonna be fun! Lol we’re up in the rainforest and the view is beautiful

So we started this long hike, literally we’re headed up this steep concrete incline and I’m like well damn, if this is how it starts idk where we will end up. At some point we veer off the incline and into the woods. We hike for what feels like FOREVER! It was steep, it was muddy, we were climbing uphill and downhill. I’m starting to understand what all the warnings were about. In some instances there was a rope to hold on to but overall, it’s you and nature. Get in where you fit it!

So then we reach this cliff with a bunch of tubes thrown off to the side. This is apparently where the real fun will begin. We’re told that this is where we will drop our bags and put on the helmet and life jacket. The next sentence made my heart drop. They told us that we were jumping from off the cliff into the water. Now I’m really trying to figure out WTF I have signed is up for.

Honestly, the picture doesn’t do it’s height justice. Both E and I are like welp guess we’re gonna find our back to the car. We share the same sentiments on heights 🤪. While we did end up having to jump off the cliff, we climbed down a little more and we’re closer to the water

Can you believe I jumped my ass in that dirty ass water 🙃😂. I was actually the second member of our group to go. All for the experience and I do not regret it (thought I will Google symptoms for histoplasmosis when I get home just to be aware). Apparently the water is normally clear but it had rained the day prior which caused the brown water appearance. YOLO as they say.

Once everyone in the group was in the water, the guides started to throw down our tubes. They inquired about our height to ensure we got the right size tube. I didn’t understand why but soon learned that I wouldn’t be floating down the River but actually paddling with my arms and feet.

We spent hours going in and out of the river, carrying those tubes along the outer banks and floating/paddling throughout the excursion. Lucky for me, the guides carried my tube when I wasn’t using it so I could focus on keeping my balance and not dying. All my videos are trash because I’m just trying to stand up straight. The rocks will get you if you don’t pay attention 😅.

We explored a hidden cave and floated through 3 others. There were bats in some of the caves as well

Once we reached a certain point, we zip lined across the last cave and then road the river downstream enjoying the rapids. This was both scary and exhilarating. There were some big rocks in the river but will 3 guides, they ensured we were safe the whole entire time! I’m sure at this point your thinking this ypo ish but listen, they know how to have fun and we do too! We road the rapids back to the place where we originally jumped into the water and hiked back to the cars in reverse. It’s was as much rewarding as it was exhausting to have completed this excursion. It is NOT for the fair of heart but definitely for the adventurous. If your interested, I found this opportunity through AirBNB. It was called Cave Tubing and Ziplining Adventures. I’m not getting paid to promote this, it was just such a great experience that if you’re up for the challenge you should definitely look them up!

We finished the excursion by being rewarded with adult caprisuns provided by one of the members from the group! After such an amazing excursion, we decided to get dressed up and re-attempt this whole dinner thing. It was about 5ish when we got back from the mountains so we knew it was becoming crunch time. The first restaurant we attempted didn’t have anything on the menu I was interested in, we ordered some drinks and think decided to try another location. Next we tried STK which was right across from our AirBNB. If you didn’t had a reservation already then they didn’t have any tables for the remainder of the night. The was proving to be disappointing but we decided to continue down the strip to see if we’d get lucky 🍀. We actually did! We went to Searfino and had a pretty good Italian dinner. A night full of great conversation and just enjoying each other’s company. Might I add we looked damn good

This was one of those rare occasions where your outfit comes out exactly how you planned! After dinner, we walked the strip a little and walked towards the beach (but not on it). It was a good night

Day 4 Natural Water Slide/ Rum Tour

Yet another early morning for some hiking! Today’s adventure consisted of returning to the mountains for a similar but different kind of fun. This excursion we were recommended not to bring our phones because they would be a distraction and slow the group down. I shouldn’t have listened as most people brought there phones in waterproof cases! I digress and still ended up with a few pictures thanks to kind members of our group

We took another pretty adventurous, though much shorter hike back through the mountains wading through more mud, rocks, and streams. Understand you gone get dirty no matter how hard you try to stay clean. We used roots to climb upward into the mountain and held onto bamboo to hold ourselves steady. When wading/swimming in water be careful do the big rocks because those are the ones that will get you caught slipping (I learned the hard way 🤣).

Once we reached our first pool this is where the real fun began. We had the opportunity to jump from a rope into the water and jump off a cliff into the water. I was too 🐓 to jump off the cliff but I did the swing

We hiked a little further to a natural rock water slide. Yes a slide made of rock! It was surprisingly smooth and although I was thrown against each side of the rock I had a blast smashing into the water. I apparently slid wrong or maybe didn’t weigh enough to keep me in the middle of the slide but I was not harmed! Lol. There was an even larger /highercliff jump near the rock waterslide but again if I didn’t do the smaller one, I certainly wasn’t doing the taller one. I enjoyed watching the other brave souls jump off! When all our group and most of another had taken turns on the cliff, we headed back to our cars. This excursion was also found on AirBNB experiences, The Original Rainforest Water Slide Tour with Paradise Tours. Again not paid to promote I just really enjoy this experience and think you would too. You should have some physical fitness for completing the hike but this one doesn’t require nearly as much as the first one. I may add more pictures later as they’re made available to me (the ones the guide took).

This excursion was much shorter than the previous one and so we had way more time to do more things, so we decided to grab a pineapple rum...

Our last and final tour was a cocktail walk 🍹, you read that right! It’s like the food tour but with alcohol. Again we learned a lot of history on Puerto Rico and the role rum has played in their culture. This tour was done in Old San Juan with Old San Juan Flavors Food Tour. We had the sweetest, smartest guide named Nahiomy. We learned about basically being able to dress rum up or down, basically made to mix or made to drink straight. The mojito was originally made as a treatment for scurvy and made to make you feel better and transformed into another way to make you feel better!

Then we learned about rum punch and how every Caribbean nation has their own spin on it. It usually has to do with the fruits they put in it. PR uses apples and passion fruit

Finally we tried “Sipping” rum. I bought Emmanuel one of the first batches of this rum called Skyker.

Here was where I really got lit because I was chasing straight rum with my rum punch and drinking rum straight from the keg! By the end of this tour I was obviously drunk AF. We hadn’t eaten most of the day due to our timing and so I basically went on a rum tour on an empty stomach (not recommended). And remember what I said about restaurants closing early or at least stopping the seating of people. It was nearly 7 by the time we ended the tour and so we had to quickly find a place to try to get something to eat. We ordered food but unfortunately I was too drunk to eat it. It was still a very fun night!

Overall this trip was nothing short of amazing! At one point I had a roach jump on me from the elevator but that was honestly the worse part of the trip. Emmanuel was kind enough to kill the bastard for me and I was low key grossed out and afraid of the elevator the rest of the trip. No idea where it came from! But yeah, We had a blast!!!! Until next time 😘

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