Road Trip Around The Island of Puerto Rico
Trip Start Oct 17, 2006
7Trip End Oct 23, 2006
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With another full day left for some more island discovery, we decided to keep our rental car, thinking that if time permitted we could venture further out on the island. So after gathering our thoughts about what should we do today, the decision was made to drive around the island and sample some of the local flavor outside of San Juan. Globetrotter test #7: Be flexible and agreeable: who knows how much fun could be in store. Kristin passed that test with flying colors since she was riding along and really wants to become like us some day.
Everyone we've spoken with since arriving has told us the island of Puerto Rico is about 100 miles from east to west and about 30 miles north to south, and if we were to drive, it would take a few hours. Well, the Globetrotters and our little wanna-be were willing to find out for ourselves how true that was. So, with great anticipation of what was to become of our day, we decided to go in the opposite direction from that of yesterday. At least if were not able to make the complete trip around, we would still see much more than the day before. Here's a tip: If you try this, to be certain to have a full tank of gas and a few snacks. We still had snacks from yesterday's trip, so we were prepared to head out. And since I was still stuffed from the dinner last night at the Water Club Hotel, I didn't think we needed to grab breakfast, and the gang agreed. So off we went.
Heading west along highway 22, we drove for about an hour before coming to the first town suggested by the hotel called ARECIBO. The day was beautiful near our hotel. However, off in the distance we could see the clouds developing into what was to become another day of rain. We still wanted to drive the island and, at best, if it were to rain, we would just continue our road trip and visit the towns along the coast.
The further we got from San Juan, the island became greener and lined with beautiful trees and large open areas. Highway 22 west later turned into Highway 2 and that took us out to one of the island's most northwest towns called AGUADILLA. The weather was starting to get worse. However, we kept pushing along even though it was raining cats and dogs and I could barely see through the window. Kristin suggested maybe if I would turn on the windshield wipers I could see a little more. Ha-Ha, I guess the little wanna-be Globetrotter was right.
The next major city along our route was called MAYAGUEZ. Nearly three hours into our drive around the island we all started to think whether this was a good idea since the rain was coming down so hard. We continued on and figured we would just drive through it. The trick now was getting back before dark.
I took this opportunity to reflect on our adventures here in San Juan, and since Kristin is attending school here, she brought her laptop and has started journaling her experience as an exchange student at the University of Puerto Rico. She even took the time to journal her birthday surprise with her favorite Globetrotters -- us. Here is Globetrotter test #8: Be willing to journal and share your experiences with those who aren't able to be along for the trip. Laptop computer and thumb drive could come in handy if you have such. However, it is not a requirement. Journal pad, good pen and knowledge of how to access the Internet from any Internet café around the world will work just fine.
Our trip back took us through a road that lead us over some mountains ranges. It continued to rain until we came to a little town called PONCE (pawn-say), said to be one of the oldest cities on the island. As we passed through PONCE, I noticed a large roadside outdoor gathering of tents, better known back home as a "Swap Meet." Never wanting to pass up a good deal, we stopped off to see what they offered. After all, this would be the first time we were able to get out and walk around before heading back to drop off Kristin at school. Your typical swap meet, we did a power walk through and ended up trying the local roadside food again, pinchos. Man oh man, those things were good.
The trip around the island took about six hours drive time. Had it not been for the rain, it would have taken much longer because we would have surely made more stops along the way, and most likely would not have made the entire trip around the island before nightfall. On our way back, we stopped off at a local grocery store to pick up a few things for the starving student before heading over to the dorm. We did a "drive-by" tour of the campus before ending what was, as Kristin said, "one of the best birthday surprises she has ever had." Afterward, we continued until we ended back at Kristin's dorm. We were both glad to be there for her to experience and celebrate this time in her life.
We dropped off the rental car before returning to our hotel room.