Before I dive into my final thoughts I’d like to let my fellow travelers know about a couple of things I ran into on my trip.
- I flew Mexico City-Panama City- San Juan on Copa Airlines. When I arrived in PC, I walked to my next gate only to find a mini-security station. These weren’t at every gate and I don’t know why some flights warrant them and some don’t. I had just purchased a bottle of water for the 3.5-hour flight to SJ of which I drank half before tossing the bottle into the bin. If you ever find yourself at the PC airport for a connecting flight, you might want to check your gate first.
- When you arrive at San Juan’s airport forget about Uber. You have to use an airport sanctioned taxi to get where you are staying. I had rented a studio apartment fairly close to the airport and my fare was $21 plus tip. Now, going back to the airport you can use Uber. The cost? $7.
- Leaving San Juan the ticketing agent told me I had to show proof that I was leaving Mexico because I didn’t have a resident visa, only a tourist stamp. Thinking I had to buy a one-way ticket to somewhere I wondered how much this was going to cost me. Ticket agent to the rescue. He directed me to http://www.gotobus.com where I bought a one-way ticket from Tijuana to San Ysidro, CA. He needed to type in a ticket number for Copa Airlines requirement. Of course I was not going to use it, but it was only $10. I’ve read about this happening to other travelers, but the first time for me.
It took me 10 hours to get from MC to SJ including crossing a couple of time zones. I could have saved a couple of hours by taking an airline that flew a more direct route, stopping in Florida instead of flying all the way down to Panama City. At what time point does saving money not matter so much? Basically, I saved $150 to spend three extra hours in the air. Since I was going to stay in Puerto Rico for two weeks, the extra time didn’t bother me. But, what if my trip were only a week? Does everybody ponder about these decisions?
Food expectations. I overestimate the food quality of every place I visit. I thought all the dishes in Poland would match what my grandmother made. I figured pizza eaten in Italy had to taste better than anywhere else. I’m usually wrong. And disappointed. The lone exception was China.
Puerto Rico experiences
Puerto Rico is a Latin American country so for the first day or so I would begin each encounter I had with Spanish. That changed quickly. I would say “Hola” and the local would reply, “Hi.” For me, being there was a strange mix of the United States and Latin America. Perhaps this changes in the countryside and small, non-touristy towns, but in San Juan 99% of the people I met spoke English. Of course, I was in tourist areas mostly.
One day at the beach two teenage sister were playing paddle ball near me. Speaking to each other they would alternate between Spanish and accent-free English. That was a little weird.
Overall the most interesting people I met were Uber drivers. (I used it a lot.) They give honest opinions, positive and negative, and generally loved to talk if I engaged them. One driver in particular told me it would take 10 years for Puerto Rico to fully recover from the recent hurricanes because of corruption. Now, I’m no fan of America’s lying president, but in this case he wasn’t. Still, the corruption factor was a convenient reason for him not wanting to give Puerto Ricans the money they’ve been allotted when the real reason is they have brown skin. Ok, no more political opinions because this is a travel blog.
I can see why Puerto Rico is popular with Americans. For one thing, because it’s a US territory you don’t have to worry if your 30 or 90 days is up and it’s time to leave. People are friendly. The two beaches I visited were clean, a couple of guys would come around to sell beer and water and the sea water was warm. Still, I won’t return. While I enjoyed myself I didn’t feel an attraction that said ‘man, you have to come back here.’ Also, it’s a big world and I’m not 25. There are many countries I want to see for the first time that repeat visits don’t fit into the schedule.
Let me finish by uploading a one-minute video of some street art near where I stayed.
Thanks for reading. Next big trip will be in October but I hope to blog about a couple of short in-country jaunts before then.