Flights to vacation destination – I do not seem to mind as much. Flights back home from the said destination – I feel are overly long and tiring. Does that happen to you too?
Last Thursday evening, we left for yet another short getaway.
Upon landing around 11pm that night, I called the owner of the B&B we were going to stay in to let him know that we would be arriving around midnight. He asked me if I had directions to his place and I mentioned that I had a GPS, so there shouldn’t be a problem. He promptly asked me to ditch my GPS because it would be of no use there. Ok, I said, I have directions off Google Maps, so I guess we will follow that, I mentioned proudly. He took no time to let me know that no that too is useless.
Alright, what should I do then, I asked him.
Go to my website and follow the step by step directions on there.
Well, I do not access to Internet at this time so I can’t do that, I said coyly.
Use your smartphone, he urged.
Hmmm yeah well, I don’t own one.
WHAT???!??!? NO SMARTPHONE??!??! How did you get directions from Google Maps?
I have it copied down.
Giving up on the hopeless case that I am, he asked us to proceed to a particular town and call him once we got there.
While this was happening in one end, the partner was dealing with the car renting process at the other end. We were indecisive about whether or not we wanted to buy insurance from the rental company, but one mention on how bad the roads were and how they will scrutinize every little scratch on the car upon return, we decided we would go ahead and get it for the peace of our minds. And even after all that, we were told that the insurance won’t cover for stolen tires or rims. Ah! Fun little fact, eh? Should we be worried about the tires/rims getting stolen, we asked. Well, it happens once in a while, came the reply. Anyway, with the payment made, car inspected by us – top to bottom, left to right – to make sure they make a note of all existing scratches we finally left that premise and headed towards the B&B.
An hour later, we reached the town that the B&B owner mentioned. We stopped by a nearby parking lot and called him to get directions. The nice man that he was, he stayed on the phone with me giving me step by step directions while I repeated it all to the partner, who was driving. He stayed on call with us almost 90% of the way from there. Only when we hit roads where would have to travel for about 10 or more minutes, he asked me to hang up and call back once we reached the next landmark that he had given. The last stretch of the drive was a both a little scary and extremely beautiful at the same time. It was through a dense forest, up a hill, on path that was fully muddy due to the previous day’s rain. We got stuck at a couple of points, tires turning round and round in the mud. The partner, however, skillfully maneuvered the car and managed to get us through it all. Once we reached the top of the hill, we were welcomed by the owner.
After the initial exchanges about how the ride was (the forest, its mystic sounds were lovely, but the road was a little harsh we mentioned, I think) and showing us around his farmhouse, the owner lead us to our room and bid us goodnight. I cannot put in words how tranquil that place was to sleep in that night. The forest came alive. The sweet sound of the tiny frogs that are native to the rainforest sang us lullaby all night long. We had all the large windows in the room open to let in the breeze and the tunes of the night. The view of the half moon and star filled sky from the window across the bed was priceless. Everything was beyond beautiful.
(Day 1) The next morning we woke up around, got ready and went down for breakfast, after which, we headed to the Rainforest. We finalized on a couple of hikes we wanted to do for the day and headed off for the first one. The weather was perfect as long as we stayed in the coolness of the lush forest. As soon as we walked into a patch where there was no canopy of trees over our head, we could feel the scorching sun do his magic. To get relief from the heat, our second hike was to a waterfall; we were told that there was a tiny naturally formed pool underneath the falls where we could soak. We changed into our swimsuits and went to the falls. The water was cold, but it was a welcome change after sweltering so much under the sun. I was exhausted after this, so we went for dinner right away and then back to the B&B. We sat in the living area for half hour or so, took in the ocean views before calling it a night. Another serene night.
(Day 2) One of the things we were particular about doing during this trip was to just be and not do anything at least for a day. The last vacation we took, we were pretty much doing this or that every single day. We didn’t take the time out to do nothing. So that’s what we did on this day – absolutely nothing. We lazed around in the B&B. We ate, we read, we napped, we talked. And that’s how that day (and the night) went… blissful way to unwind.
(Day 3) We woke up a little early this morning since we had to go catch a ferry to get to a nearby island. We checked out and left around 8 in the morning. We were afraid of whether we would get be able to make it or not (since people kept warning us constantly that the ferry tickets sold out three hours prior to departure), but fortunately we got the tickets. After a little bit of hustle bustle, we boarded a ferry, and it took off, within minutes – a good half hour before the scheduled time. And in another hour and half, we were at the other island.
We took a cab to the B&B we were going to spend the night in, checked in, took a shower and headed into the town for lunch. After which we rented a scooter, changed into our swim suits and went beach hopping. Yes, beach hopping. All afternoon we spent riding from one beach to another and swimming in each one of the blue/green waters of the endless white sandy beaches. The water was so warm owing to the hot temperature. And it was also extremely crystal clear. We could easily see the fishes swimming beside our feet. Numerous times we went into the water just to swim around with the fishes, follow them as they followed us. What fun all that was!
After a few hours of swimming on a sunny afternoon in different beaches, we headed back to our room, showered, nibbled on some snacks, rested for a while and then went on a scooter ride around the town. Wild horses got scared of us, stray dogs scared us. Setting sun warmed us, evening breeze cooled us. That experience of riding on isolated roads, as if everything around was waiting for you to come, as if everything on the way was there to please your senses, was marvelous.
The plan for that night was to go on a Bioluminescent Bay tour. As we reached the place where the kayak tours would start from, I looked up and saw a brightly star lit sky. I nudged the partner to look up and he was equally amazed. Do you think we will see a shooting star tonight, I asked, as we were requested to get on the kayaks. Once all of us were set, we rowed to the middle of the bay. And oh my, how so very magical that was. Every time the paddle touched the water, the water glowed. Every time I put my hand in the water, the water glowed. Every time a fish swam by, the water glowed. Every time a wave was created, the water glowed. The tour guide gathered us all together at one place and lectured about the science behind the glow (microorganisms in the water whose defense mechanism is to emit a bright light whenever the pressure around them changed). I didn’t care much for what he was talking about – I was more into gazing up at the starlit sky and then down at the glowing water. I loved how it felt when I cupped my hands, took a little bit of water and let it flow through my arms – in that setting, with all the clear sky above, seeing the glowing water trickle down my arm gave me the impression that the stars from up above were dancing on my hands. Magical, that’s what this experience was. To make it even more perfect, one of the times that I looked up to gaze at the sky, I saw a shooting star. Did you see that, there was a shooting star, I called out to the partner. Oh yes, I did, came the reply from someone else. No, I did not, said the partner, who was totally immersed in what the enchanted water had to offer.
(Day 4) Our initial plan for this morning was to go snorkeling, but the weather had other things in mind for us. There was a storm heading towards the island and, after talking to a couple of people, we decided against going into the ocean in such weather. So we ended up spending time walking around the island a little and then having lunch, before taking the ferry back to the main island. Once back, we started driving towards the main city. On the way, we stopped at a little restaurant to have coconut water. We devoured on not one, not two, but three of those. We would have had more, but it was just too filling. Then, we reached the hotel, showered, went out to dinner and then called it a night.
(Day 5) On the last day, our plan was to walk around the old part of the city. Since we went there for dinner the night before, we knew what to expect – beautiful cobblestone roads, colorful homes/buildings built during the Spanish Colonial period, European architectural charm, etc. We liked what we had seen and we were excited to explore more as we woke up this morning. The sun, again, was not too kind, but we braved through and walked along the historic parts. One of the “National Heritage” site was closed because of the Federal shutdown. So, we were forced to skip seeing the Castle; a few reporters stopped us while we were strolling the nearby area to ask how we felt about what was going on, etc (thankfully, we had heard about the Federal shutdown the night before when we switched on the TV for a few minutes at the hotel; so, were not perplexed when they asked questions about the same).
One of my most favorite experiences about this trip is this – the partner chanced upon a coffee shop as we were exploring the town and we walked right in. It was called the Poet’s Passage. They had a coffee shop, which closed right when we walked in. But they also had a little gift shop, which we browsed around. It had a lot of poems and paintings. The owners of the place, husband and wife, are artists and sell their work in that store. The wife is a poet and the husband, a painter. And their little shop was dreamlike. We, who never really care for souvenirs and such, bought a mug and a poem from the store. The mug was to remind us of the frogs of the Rainforest (Coqui) and the poem, for each other. When I read that particular poem first, I thought of the partner and he said he thought of me as was reading through it. So, of course, we had to get a copy of it for ourselves and we did. A little more walking in the town and we came upon another store by the same name. We went in to realize that this was the painter’s workshop. And it was amazing being there, among his paintings, browsing through, while he sat at the counter creating a new piece of art.
After that little adventure, it was time for us to get back – return the car and head to the airport. And the rest of it from there on was uneventful, you can imagine, right?
- The first thing we noticed as soon as we got off the plane in San Juan was that it felt like we were in India. The weather, for the most. And the way of life too, at times – the harmony in that chaos reminded us so much of India.
- White sandy beaches with green/blue crystal clear water, lush green forest, songs of the Coqui – I miss it all.
- During this trip too, there were these people who we ran into so many times. It’s fun bumping into the same people here and there throughout a trip.
- One of the days that we were in the farmhouse near the Rainforest, a couple came and left within minutes of seeing what the place had to offer. Mountain views, ocean views, breezy open space, forest all around. Yet, they walked out because they thought it wasn’t much. Because there was no AC. Because there was no TV. And there I was wondering who would need any of that when you are surrounded by splendor such as this. Oh well, to each his own, I guess.
“We’ll figure it out,” as the partner pointed out, has been the motto of our trips. We don’t plan anything in advance. We don’t know what our next move is going to be. We seldom know how we are going to get to wherever we are headed to next. Yet, we get through it all, we figure it out and we have a blast doing it. And that spontaneity is what I love about traveling alongside the partner.