Old San Juan will always remain in my memory as a little toy-town where I was getting myself back together after an amazing and very intense time spent in St Maarten. But one week is absolutely enough to come back to reality, no matter in how many pieces you’ve fallen.
And so I left my frescoed office and moved to a different part of the city – Condado.
It’s an absolutely different world: tiny houses with colorful facades that make the streets look like rainbows are replaced by very poor looking, damaged buildings that try to divert viewers attention from how weary they are with amazing murals covering them from the very foundations all the way up to the roof. Still, dodgy streets weren’t welcoming at all to stroll along them in the middle of the night alone. But I wasn’t that alone anymore 🙂
The hostel I’ve chosen – Mango Mansion – turned out to be a great idea and jumping into new mood and new environment -a refreshing change, especially, that once again I was lucky to meet many outstanding personalities, and that, of course, implicated many outstanding evenings when I stayed up way too late 😉
The party centre
When you think about partying in San Juan there’s basically just one thing you should remember –
LA PLACITA. Usually inconspicuous market, during Friday and Saturday nights turns into a veritable sea of humans heads and rivers of one dollar shots. In tiny bars, you can meet not only young people having fun but also old Puerto Ricans playing they favourites songs from the music box. Classy.
Oh please, put those tentacles into my mouth…
If I was about to say, that Chicharrón ? Placita de Santurce served traditional Puerto Rican food,
I wouldn’t be sure. But one thing I’m 100% sure. That-was-DELICIOUS. So if you have an empty stomach and on the contrary, your valet is a little bit too stodgy, you can easily change it there.
And you won’t regret.
Tuna with sesame seeds.
Nuts, almonds, caramel…like a premium snickers carrot cake.
Mommy, is that the monster from the closet pulling my leg?
The lovely Mango Mansion with all its goodness was just a few steps from La Placita. No wonder, that one-day mellow evening and discussions about life and death and whatever else, magically moved to a bar highlighted in red and purple, where a huge plastic skeleton on an even bigger bike was happily dangling from the ceiling, while everybody else was trying to twerk and I was trying to find some techno.
Then somebody screamed: LET’S GO SKINNY DIPPING IN THE OCEAN!
Oh well, thank you, sir, very much indeed, but NO WAY. As a responsible person (who, just a few days earlier, woke up wearing nothing by bathing suit, but breaded in a sand like a premium chicken in bread crumbs ) I knew I needed to go to bed. So I sneaked out from the shiny disco and proud of myself like never before headed to Mango. Shower, teeth, pyjama – done.
Half asleep I felt someone pulling my leg.
WHAT THE HELL?
I sat on the bed to find out, that my lovely companions came back to take me on the beach. Usually, awaken by someone I’m acting like a bitch, but that was so cute I couldn’t stop laughing.
When in the middle of the night two grown up guys wake you up and start pulling your leg in order to take you to the beach….you’re in the right hostel 😉
The life of Pi in my life
Have you ever seen water, that glows? Have you ever touched it?
I did, and I must say, I was amazed.
It’s said that there are only 6 places on Earth where you can experience the phenomenon of bioluminescence. Mosquito Bay in Vieques is one, maybe even the most beautiful of them. That’s why the first moment I’ve heard about it, it became a no-brainer. I just had to see it!
Unfortunately, the transportation in Puerto Rico is not very developed. To complete the journey from San Juan to Fajardo, where the ferry to Vieques island awaits, you can either travel by car (45min) or several buses (around 4h and still no guarantee you’ll arrive in place). As a person without a driving license, who shows right and says left I had only one option: UBER. This way of moving around Puerto Rico is very popular, but not when you’re a solo traveller and not Beyonce, but backpacker, because for a one-way journey you will be charged around 70USD. Then kayak, hostel, way back, MAYBE some food…daaaaaamn sounds like a way too much for a one-day thing.
But even if I don’t know how to drive a car, I can write some pretty good posts on Couchsurfing,
so within one day, I had a lovely group of 4 willing to hit the Mosquito Bay: a girl from France, guy from Mexico (Mr Blender), another one from Germany and myself.
Besides the small incident of driving in between two minefields and the fact that the French girl wanted to pee in those explosive bushes AND we almost let her go – we did a pretty good job
and organised kayaks for the evening.
Covered in OFF spray from top to toes (literally, I used half of the can) we set off to Mosquito Bay on board the enormous old-school school-bus (he, he) driven by a chubby Rastafarian.
I came back for one afternoon to see this enormous field in Old San Juan.
What is this bioluminescent thing?
In few words: these are tiny guys, plankton guys, usually Dinoflagellates, that when water moves they glow, usually in order to evade predators. Fancy.
And then the magic began…
We floated into the black abyss. Seriously. When the moon phase is somewhere in between waning and waxing crescent (important to check before you go) the lake is absolutely black. And then you immerse the paddles…and it starts glowing.
Moving along the water you can spot little fireworks under the surface – fish, who scared by your presence start escaping and put the little shiny fellows “on fire”…or some other unidentified animals jumping on the surface highlighting just several spots on its way. I lied down in a kayak and started to think how different my life is now. How different I am.
Leading a life of a digital nomad taught me a lot: responsibility, for sure, because on the way nobody wants to be your nanny. Taught me also, that no matter what happens I always need to have my wits about me – because if I won’t, it can only make the situation worse (like for example when in the middle of Caribbeans my laptop stopped working – no laptop=no work, no work-=no money).
It taught me to be more open to people – starting a conversation with a stranger is no longer a problem. But what’s the most important, how to spend time with myself. Immersing into my thoughts like a paddle into the shiny water and not to be afraid of it. Blah, blah…anyways, this is you who you’re going to spend the rest of your life with. I’m not saying that it’s gonna be JUST you&yourself but for sure the one person who you won’t be able to escape from. So better make sure the person is cool as f**k and your best companion ever 🙂
Exhausted but happy – on my way to Mexico 🙂