06 December 2010

La Isla del Encanto

Puerto Rico is truly the "Island of Enchantment." The scenery was beautiful, the people friendly, and, most importantly, the beaches were gorgeous! Nate and I stayed in Luquillo, about a half hour east of San Juan, in a wonderful beachfront condo. We were able to spend a lot of time on the beach relaxing, but we also enjoyed some more active pursuits, including hiking in the rain forest a night kayaking trip through a bioluminescent lagoon.

The kayaking trip was one of the most incredible things I have ever done. We set out from a small bay and headed through a narrow channel surrounded by mangrove trees. Once we were in the channel, it was almost pitch black. At first we were focused solely on trying to avoid running into the trees or other kayakers, but suddenly I noticed that our paddles were glowing when we dipped them in the water. I stuck my hand in and was amazed to see sparkling, shimmering lights on my hand when I brought it out of the water. It looked similar to lightning bugs, but much smaller. It was so cool! At that point I started tossing water onto my legs so I could watch my legs sparkle and shimmer. Poor Nate ended up doing more than his fair share of paddling because I was so fascinated with the sparkles.

The glowing is caused by bioluminescent micro-organisms that give off light when they are disturbed. There are only a few bioluminscent bays in the world (including some where you are allowed to swim) and I highly recommend a visit if you ever have the chance. It was definitely one of the highlights of our trip.

View from the balcony on the condo. There is nothing like enjoying
breakfast outside with the fresh breeze blowing, the sound of the
waves crashing, and the smell of ocean in the air.

Enjoying the balcony.

In the rain forest.

My flight home left several hours after Nate's, so after we dropped off the rental car, I found a place to store my luggage and took a taxi to Old San Juan to do a little sight seeing. Old San Juan is a really neat place with several Spanish forts and beautiful old homes. Below are a few pictures from my last afternoon in Puerto Rico.

Colorful buildings in Old San Juan.

View down a narrow cobblestone street to the bay.

Guerite at Castillo de San Cristobal.

Castillo de San Cristobal.

American, Puerto Rican, and Spanish military flags flying at San Cristobal.

View from Castillo de San Cristobal looking towards Fort San Felipe del Morro.

Me in old San Juan. I am not quite as talented as AL
at the self-portraits :o)