Puerto Rico: From the Road

Has it already been a month since I last posted? Time really does fly during summer vacation!

I recently had the honor of visiting Puerto Rico with my family. We drove all around the island, and by that, I mean literally all around.

More or less the roads we took. Spread over two weeks, not one 17 hour marathon 😛

From the bustling city of San Juan to the golden sand beaches of Luquillo, from the rainforests of the East to the dry mountains of the West, we spent many hours out on the open road and got a very fine idea of this island. Before I tell you stories of specific adventures, I thought I would share some of my overall thoughts and observations on Puerto Rico, in between pictures of our trip – pictures which I took while sitting in the car, so do forgive any blurriness. 😉

We began our journey in the north east. This area typically gets a lot of rain, which explains the *coughs* rainforests. Everything was so green and lush and tropical, with palm trees, vines, and many other foliage I’ve never seen before. It was also interesting to know that we were on a tiny island almost 74 times smaller than my home state of Texas, yet there were huge mountains extending in emerald layers to the horizon. Mountains that are so much larger than I am.

It made me feel like a very tiny person in the grand spectrum of the universe. And, strangely, it was a comforting feeling.

Initially, I thought that because Puerto Rico is a US territory, everyone would speak English. I learned this was wrong day 1, when picking up groceries at a local Walmart, and had to dig back and retrieve the Spanish I’d learned way back in elementary and middle-school. It was funny because whenever I try to say something in Spanish, French words want to come out. In fact, I said Oui instead of Si a few times, and kept on saying words like “un” and “de” with a French accent.

In the words of a friendly waitress: “Hey, at least you tried.”

In fact, many things about Puerto Rico were much different from my expectations of a US territory. The roads were very good and well maintained. Signs, however, were often lacking, especially at exits. People’s driving was universally terrible, which is not a thing unique to Puerto Rico, but this was the first time we saw people changing their minds and literally backing down from a ramp into oncoming traffic, and cars suddenly shooting out into the main highway out of nowhere. Generally speaking, either the driving education needs to be improved, or people need to actually obey the laws.

The many bruised cars, frequent accidents, and heavy traffic was thus, not surprising.

Completely unedited. That color is really THAT VIBRANT and FIERY and EPIC

This tree goes by many names. Royal Poinciana, Flamboyant Tree, or Flame Tree in English, and Arbol de Flamboyán in Spanish. But my favorite name is its Vietnamese one: Cây Phượng Vĩ, translated as the Phoenix’s Tail tree.

Isn’t it so fitting??

This is probably my favorite tree, found very frequently in subtropical climates like Puerto Rico and back home in Vietnam. They are everywhere in Puerto Rico, alongside roads, in cities, hanging gracefully over cottages. I squealed in excitement whenever I saw one.

Driving on a highway through the mountains, we crossed over to the West, the drier side of the island. It was fascinating to see the gradual change, and then back into lush greenery as we headed down closer to the ocean. Again, I was struck by how majestic and seemingly never-ending the mountains were, while this was supposed to be a small island!

The highway cutting through the mountains was very large and well-maintained. I was so glad for this, because it meant we could avoid the lurching, twisting, winding (not to mention extremely narrow and steep) mountain roads.

To my delight, there were horses everywhere. Along the roads, grazing in fields, and even stuck in bushes. Many of them didn’t have any sort of rope attached to them, nor were they inside any fenced-in area. I thought they might be wild, but if they weren’t, I wondered how their owners found them again.

We stayed for a week in the West, in a little house right by the beach. In front of the house was a small field where a horse I affectionately named Bill lived. I may or may not have yelled out good morning and good night to him every single day.

Many of the roads winded through picturesque forests and hills, reminding me of the English countryside.

Absent in England, however, were towering bamboo trees, leafy stems sticking out of skinny trunks. This was surprising to me, because I thought bamboo only grew in Asia.

Alongside the roads, there are frequent little stands selling fruit. Pineapple, kiwi, mango, even honey. One man stood by a traffic light selling these huge avocados.

The time we were there (early June) was the start of the rainy season. We spent every sunny moment in the ocean, and drove mostly on rainy and overcast days.

Last but not least: the tropical flowers. Most of these are Bougainvillea flowers, but really they should be called iridescent jewels or something dramatic like that. They flourish in the warmth of Puerto Rico, with a color so vibrant it looks painted on.

Let’s Talk!

If you’re curious about something in Puerto Rico, or have questions on anything I’ve mentioned, please let me know in the comments! I am by no means an expert, but I love sharing what I’ve learned in my travels. 🙂

Until next time,

Bon Voyage!

5 thoughts on “Puerto Rico: From the Road

  1. Aaaaaaahhhh so much prettiness!! 😀 The Phoenix Tail trees are AMAZING. I’d love to have like fifty of those for myself (though they would probably die because it gets so cold here xD). And Bougainvillea are so pretty too (they actually seem like mini Phoenix Tail trees?) There’s a ton of them in SoCal, though I don’t think they’re native.

    BILL LOOKS SO CUTE. If I’d been there, I would have been very tempted to find his owner and ask if I could ride him. xD

    Liked by 1 person

    1. YES we should make an IP garden and fill it with Phoenix Tail trees. They would be especially perfect for you. 😉 Ooh, and you’re totally right, bougainvilleas do look like mini Phoenix Tail trees! 😀

      ISN’T HE? And that was the look he gave us as we drove away on our last day. 🥺 Like how dare we leave him.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you!! 😀

      They were pretty much like California. 😅 Extremely strict enforcement of masks, social distancing, and limited occupation, even places like a huge National Forest, which we were unable to visit because of the mandates. *shrugs* It was indeed an awesome trip, but I was glad to be back in our own wonderful, fully open Texas. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

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