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Puerto Rico On my arrival from cold climes of NYC was welcomed although I had cold weather clothes on bearing in mind it was 25˚c. I arrived late afternoon a 20-minute drive from the airport. The airport was well if and individuals worked to arrange cabs as soon as they can. I don't think uber was permitted at the airport as I tried but nevertheless, I got a BestBuy a timely fashion. Off I was to my first accommodation in Puerto Rico.
I stayed with an elderly man who seemed to be the only one who lived there and a small dog. As I arrived I was shown to my room and shower which was big enough for me and all my kit so I had no issues with the stay. I settled my equipment and struck up a conversation with him. My Spanish is ok, for example I could ask if the area was ok how he was and asked where the nicest food places were. He replied quite fast over judging my Spanish, I asked him to speak slower he laughed and obliged. My question was Este zona es bueno? Si es muy seguro. I was happy with the reply I asked where the food shops where he replied in slow Spanish end of the road take a left. I followed his direction and bars foods pubs and all kinds of food places. I took my pick headed to a small bar, each new country I go to I sample their local beers and in Puerto Rico it Medalla so I ordered 2 of them and a portion of chicken wings in Spanish alita de pollo. There are two perks to this the local beer is normally the cheaper variety and I like beer so was a win-win situation.
Having had my fill and engaging in a few conversations I was offered by the barman shots of there local favourite a creamy coconut alcohol shot. Which I thanked and initially refused, expecting to pay for it he said no need to pay from me to you to welcome you to Puerto Rico. I thanked him and drank away ordered more chicken wings and more beers listening to reggaeton, Latin type music and a little bit of salsa. I watched in envy of a couple dancing as if it came naturally to all people. It definitely did not as I didn't have a clue even after a number of lessons back in the UK, for moments like this, there is always an offer to dance with anyone who is up giving it there best. I had to point blank refuse politely but the many social interactions in Latin America come from dancing. They normally arise like this Bailar conmigo por favor americano. My reply is 99% this No gracias, no soy muy bueno. 'soy ingles'.
Having had my fill of wings and beer I walked the route back to as getting lost on my first night in a new country is not a thing I would like to repeat too often, Guyana being one. So I would try to remember landmarks shops people even and it works pretty much all the time if you don't have more than 5 beers that was, I had 4 and one shot just within my threshold. So a petrol station turns right then a burnt out derelict air traffic control tower. Which it had been 12 months since the hurricane of all hurricanes and there was still signs it had been all them months previous. I got back into my accommodation and was asleep before I could do anything else.
The next day spent looking for other cities to visit in Puerto Rico. The cost of a lot of stuff in Puerto Rico is quite expensive it is an American state, therefore, most the prices reflect that in the states. So I saw Bayomon close by and a train link the only active train service in the whole of the Carribean. That was what I decided after checking Airbnb up and down the coasts and ways to get there at the cheapest possible. I could say UBER was very cheap and longer journeys I would have opted for uber as the bus links were ok but I found them confusing at the best of times.
So my second day I stayed in until the night I got the computer out and portable hard drive. To learn my wire was the complete wrong wire for my computer to the hard drive. With this now worrying me about how and where I could store my countless drone vids and photographs. I had to go out on the hunt at 6 pm that evening looking for a wire I went to each phone or electronics shop I could see. each time I was told BestBuy is the best bet. So an uber to them which cost around $10 I was looking for a single wire.
I was looking around for around 20 minutes before I asked with no luck at all. I opted to buy a completely new hard drive. With the correct wire 60$ down plus the two $10 journeys $80 round trip, I was angry with myself as all the double checks beforehand did me no justice. So I had got what I needed to and of I was back to my room. And booking a room for my stay In Bayamon.
The next day I headed to Bayamon bit more rural is the best way I could explain it. The train station in San Juan was easily identifiable I got an UBER to station sagrado corazon (sacred heart). The tickets are cheap I believe I paid $1.50 the stops were all called out and reminiscent of any tube type transport from London to New York simple and easy to follow. Under an hour I was getting off the train but on travelling on the train again the damage by the hurricane the previous year was seen all over huge swathes of trees blocking rivers huge holes in buildings which were once hotels. The poorer families you could see them as we stopped still repairing their roof or the doors. I got speaking to a student in regards to this there was a huge amount of controversy regarding aid getting to Puerto Rico which the US had stopped which delayed a lot of aid coming and going from the island. Nobody could understand especially citizens of San Juan. I couldn't begin to understand I could only learn from the people I spoke to.
The accommodation I was heading to Airbnb I live by these throughout travelling I have stayed in 12 countries and used it each time. Yet to be let down sometimes surprised, but not let down. It was a small house with 3 rooms with 101 books. The stay was amongst the best I have experienced through the utmost kindness and thoughts put in.
As I got off my train I used maps.me another brilliant resource when I travel. I walked the hour or so journey with my huge pack on, mainly to get a feel for the inner city and community as well as culture. Another thing I aim to do when I travel, experience the country alone and exposed to the countries comings and going. I walked through a number of places where I didn't see any touristy types parks where the homeless seem to frequent always saying hello in Spanish and trying to in English a few were well spoken. Better at English than I was in Spanish. As I got there I again just through my belongings down and got the drone out. As I had with the other location in San Juan, to see the earth from a birds-eye view just shows how small you are at even at 400 or so metres directly above the sky was bright blue and the wind was non-existent. So I attempted to get as many images and video footage as possible..
Having spent 4 days in Bayamon I did not do much at all I explored A lot of the neighbourhood and the beautiful bakery where each morning I would head up the hill for a guava doughnut and a cup of coffee. I spent 2 nights in one house and another 2 nights in another close to the train station.
The day I left for San Juan I had booked another Airbnb, which was the same host as the first house in Bayamon. Which stated hostel/Library so I could only imagine there will be a lot more books. So my remaining few days in Puerto Rico was in San Juan near the airport for convenience. I headed there from the station again a quick and easy journey I opted to walk from Sagrado Corazon station to my new place for the last few days. The best way to describe this location is local very local it was a straight road from the station to the place I was headed but again around an hours walk. There were a number of big specialist hospitals very Americanised I got closer I had to take a few turns and I ended up in a small dead-end road. The houses were small and traditional built of wood and small, it was ideal for me not many tourists around at all. I was met by a young man who helped me with my bag and showed me around the house and left me to my own devices as he read most the day. I settled in and went to explore the area, the area had a few large shops supermarkets a number of food places and also a healthy number of strip clubs. There was an American couple also at the accommodation who asked me of the area as they had heard it to be quite rough around the edges so to speak. I explained on my experience with everywhere I go even my hometown of Birmingham the UK there a whole host of places, people and behaviours to avoid if you were to do this the chances of any issues arising are as much as in your hometown or less.
They were happy with my explanation and the remaining few nights I had seen them up and leave for food as a couple ought to. But my days were spent researching the notorious Darién Gap of Colombia.
My time in Puerto Rico had come to an end.
Mi vida es mi viaje