Puerto Rico 2015 - Island Expidition

Published: March 16th 2016
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Breakfast of championsBreakfast of championsBreakfast of champions

Nutella crepes with strawberries
We started off eating breakfast at a crepe place across the street. The kids both had strawberry nutella crepes and Jeff and I had more savory egg ones. They were delicious. One thing with Puerto Rico as with Montreal, there is always one thing we are used to having that we can’t find on our trip. This time it was iced coffee. The hotel didn’t have any and the crepe place didn’t have it on their menu but they made it for us anyway. The waiter said no one drinks it in PR except for people from the Northeast. The food didn’t disappoint and it was Jake’s favorite place we ate, we ended up going twice. It was a relaxing and quiet spot; we were able to eat outside at a nice table and watched all the people walking by. Our hotel was in a very posh neighborhood in San Juan, lots of million dollar condos, high end shopping and restaurants. We were a few miles outside of old San Juan, so there were lots of people out for a jog, dog walking, and just enjoying the morning before it got too hot.

On our first full day on the island we decided to explore. I had booked us a trip snorkeling on a zodiac boat for after lunch and then a Kayak trip to the bio bay in the evening. We booked the excursion through Kayak Puerto Rico, which left out of Farjado. So we rented a Jeep through the Hertz rental car out of the hotel and away we went. Farjado is about an hour outside of San Juan. Originally I wanted to buy some sandwiches and snack food because we didn’t have enough time for dinner in between the tours but the hotel didn’t have anything to choose from., so we decided to wing it and see what happened.

As soon as our Jeep was ready we immediately took the hard top off and took off. The kids had a blast in the back. The wind was blowing their hair around like crazy, and all you could hear was belly laughs and cackles (one of my absolute favorite sounds as a parent). We even went through a little rain cloud and the kids got wet. It was so fun.

We used the map from the rental car the website directions from Kayak Puerto Rico to get there. Once we got into Farjado we had a little trouble finding the Marina where the boats left out of., good thing we gave ourselves plenty of time. We stopped at a small park to try and regroup and figure out where we went wrong. The kids climbed some trees, stretched our legs, and we found where the Kayak trip left out of so getting lost wasn’t all that bad of a thing. We tried to ask for directions but my Spanish is very limited and not to many people wanted to speak to us in English so after a few minutes of letting the kids play and Jeff and I talking through our steps we figured we must have just missed the turn so we decided to head back down the road and sure enough there was a big sign, not really sure how we missed it!

We still had quite a bit of time before our tour took off so we decided to grab a bite to eat at the little restaurant at the marina. We were able to watch the previous tour come in and get a glimpse of the type of boats we would be riding in. They were small yellow zodiacs. Big enough for just four people, a driver, a passenger behind him, a seat in front of the wheel and another in the bow of the boat. There were two tour guides, and we watched as they packed the cooler with snacks, drinks, and our snorkel gear.

I wish I could remember what we ate at the restaurant, the kids probably got fried chicken fingers and Jeff and I tried to get something local. Overall no one complained but it wasn’t exactly memorable either. The atmosphere was great though and we were able to get in a good meal which we weren’t quite counting on.

Once it was time for our boat trip to start we headed over to the gazebo to get some safety instructions and sign all the waivers. We put on our sunblock and bought an underwater disposable camera and away we went.

Jeff was the driver with Izzy behind him and Jake and I were in the bow. Driving out of the marina was slow, Jeff was a little nervous since he hadn’t driven a boat much but once we got out into the open
snorkeling snorkeling snorkeling

underwater camera action
water we were all freaked. I really thought we were going to capsize several times. Izzy was crying and Jake and I were so nervous we were laughing so hard. We had to hold on so tight and I was convinced one of us was going overboard. We arrived at our first snorkel site and of course Izzy was way too nervous at first, but the boys jumped right in. It took Jake a little bit to get the hang of the snorkel and finally Izzy warmed up to it and put her face in, once she saw the fish she was hooked. It was really fun. We tried to swim and catch the fish but of course we couldn’t. Again, many laughs were heard and I was very happy. The snorkeling was good, not the best I’ve seen but good and the kids loved it for their first time. The best part was explaining to the kids how to work the underwater camera. They had never seen a camera that wasn’t digital and they couldn’t understand why they couldn’t see the picture they had taken and the fact that you had to scroll the film over to take another

Underwater camera action

After a little, while we climbed back into the boats had a few snacks and headed out to an island where Pirates of the Caribbean was filmed. So far out of all of the beaches I have seen in my lifetime this has got to be the most beautiful beach I have ever seen. The whole island takes less than three minutes to walk around and there was one palm tree on the Island. It was pure paradise. We were able to spend about 45 minutes or so out on the island just relaxing. The kids would jump off the boat into the water while we sat on the edge of the beach watching them.

After we were able to relax in the sun for a while it was time to head back. The tour guide took us a long way back to the marina and around a partially sunken ship. The trip back was just as bumpy and freaky as the trip out but by this time we were getting used to it.

Once back at the marina, there was a bath house we used to shower off and put on dry clothes. Time for our kayaking adventure.

We headed back to the park where we stopped on our way to the snorkeling trip. We arrived with plenty of time to use the bathroom, put on bug spray and find our group. Jake and I had our own kayaks and Jeff and Izzy shared one. The tour guides gave us a few safety instructions and away we went.

The biobay is a lake on the island that is fed by a creek from the ocean, the plankton from the ocean travel up the currents in the creek and then get stuck in the lake. The produce a photoluminescence and for the life of me I can't remember why but they pretty much glow in the dark when they are disturbed.

Our tour started around sunset because we needed it to be dark to see the plankton glow. The creek was surrounded on both sides by mangrove trees with moss hanging down off of them. It almost looked like a Disney World ride but we knew we were seeing the real thing. I was petrified there would be snakes in the trees that would land in our boats there were termite mounds, and tons of birds all along the creek. It was so surreal and beautiful, the creek emptied out into this HUGE open lake surrounded by mountains of the El Yunke rainforest in the distance. The sun was going down and the sunset was beautiful. We were left to explore the lake in our kayaks as we pleased. Each tour guide had a different color laser pointer that we would regroup at when it was time to leave. We saw huge fish jumping out of the water and when then sun went down the real show began. It was so neat, you would put your hand in the water and swirl it around and it would glow. Then when you lifted your hand out of the water it would glow too. We all agreed that Grampy would of loved to see it and it made us really miss him. We couldn't wait to tell him all about it.

After a long time exploring the lake it was time to head back, this time down the creek in the dark. You think I was petrified of snakes before this time it was even worse because you couldn't see the trees anymore, it was pitched black, all we could see were the lights on the kayaks and the other boats as they passed by. Once back to shore we were soaked, tired, hungry, and cold. Unfortunately I didn't have anymore dry clothes or towels because we used them after our boating trip. There were several "street" food vendors in the park selling chicken kabobs and coconut cocktails. We grabbed a few kabobs, one spicey for Jeff and chowed, they were so good. After eating we wrapped the kids in the dries towels and clothes we had and headed back to our hotel. The kids fell asleep pretty quickly into our trip back and just as we were heading into San Juan, I realized that I had no clue what exit off the highway our hotel was. I tried to read the map but by the time I figured out where we wanted to go we had passed the exit. I told Jeff, it's ok as long as we don't go into the tunnel. Of course that is exactly where we were heading as I was telling him this. So here's the problem, each time we get off the highway to turn around it brings us to another highway so we can't turn around. I was trying to remember how many turns we had taken and figure out where on the map we were but we were pretty much lost. It is midnight at this point and we are lost in San Juan , PR with no idea how to get back to our hotel, no idea what kind of neighborhood we are in and very limited spanish, THANK GOD THE KIDS WERE SLEEPING, Jeff and I were freaking out, but we kept our heads on and kept our cool. We finally got off one of the many highways and pulled into a gas station, took a look at the map and knew which direction we wanted to head in. Since we stopped Jake woke up and now I had to keep him calm as well as both of us, amazingly within just a couple minutes we could see the Marriott sticking up above all the other buildings and a couple side streets later we were in the parking garage of the Marriott and carrying the kids back up to the room. You could say today was one of the biggest adventures we had been on from start to finish. With all of the stress from getting home and the exhaustion from lack of food and being uncomfortably wet, the kids and I crashed but Jeff had too much nervous energy that he needed to decompress with a little trip to the casino and ended up winning a little bit of money, but that's a story for him to tell.

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