2010 Jul 18 | Puerto Rico

I love their name.

Fixing my coworker's dress by replacing some jewels that had fallen off. Lots of intricate work.

All done.

There's a law that says if you pass a cop who has someone pulled over, you have to move over into the next lane or slow down 20mph. They haven't really been enforcing it, but this week they're going to hand out warnings and next week they're going to actually start giving tickets. A few problems I can think of, though. First, it's fine if traffic is light, but if it's heavy, it's gonna make it even worse. And on those highways, the shoulders are usually plenty wide anyway. Second, how are the cops going to chase down the people who do blow by them? They're still stuck there writing a ticket. 7

A neat straw dispenser.

A new billboard by PETA on I-45.

I got an email saying to get to the airport two hours early due to construction causing delays. My flight was at 6am, so I got there at 4am. Most of the workers hadn't even arrived yet, though, and there was no construction delay.

This is a neat idea. If you're a few hours early for your flight, you could even rent a movie and return it right after you're done.

And they even have some older classics.


Water fountain for any height.

Not sure if these people were delayed or what, but they were all sleeping on the floor.

Ooh, I see Puerto Rico!

Some of the city.

A heart-shaped (?) park.

More of the city. The guy beside me was snapping away with his camera, too, heh.

Please don't land in the water. This is the first flight I've been on where everyone clapped and cheered when we landed. I dunno; maybe they don't fly a lot?

The cabs were $19. A few people landed just a few minutes earlier on another flight, but by the time I messaged them, they were already on their way in a different taxi.

I rushed to get to check-in before 5pm, and I got there at 4:50. but they had already closed. Aw, no fair.

I'm glad I get great cell phone and internet reception on my phone.

Some birds at our hotel, the Caribe Hilton.

View from my room.

And a much prettier one in the other direction.

The taxis had set rates for where you were going, so that made it a lot easier to make sure they weren't cheating you.

Birds in a pool.

Peacocks walking around.

One of the many swimming pools.

A beach area.

We had dinner at a restaurant at the motel. There really weren't any cheap options nearby except for a Subway because the motels were off in their own area. Our server said he could take us out into the rainforest on a tour for $40 a person, which was a lot cheaper than any other tours out there, but then the next morning he said it had rained too much. We think he was lying about the whole thing, though, because, duh, it rains in a rain forest.

From my room at night.

An arcade with Tekken Tag Tournament, Simpsons, and Dance Dance Revolution 3rdMix? Oh, man, it's hard to pull myself away. Too many other fun things to do, though.

Fireworks went off across the harbor at 10:30.

Another view of the fort.

My room is in this tower.

Watching some fish at the end of the dock.

Across the bay.

The fort again.

I got up all early to watch the sunrise and the dumb clouds are in the way. Oh well; I have a few more days.

View to the south along the shore.

And to the north, which has a little dock you can watch fish off of.


Soft lounge areas.

There are tons of interconnected pools.

More neat chairs.


Breakfast buffet.

Tons of good food, and even a cook to make your eggs how you want them.

The only problem is it's $25. Time to go find a cheap local restaurant or grab some cereal at a grocery store.

The hotel's beach a bit after sunrise.

This chunk of gate is down, which I love, because it saves me from having to walk all the way around.

We saw the guy putting the birds out in their little cage in the reception area, so we had to stop him for some photos.

The beach.

Same area; it has a little cove.

Relaxing in a hammock.

A little lizard.

The peacock is all fluffed up! I wonder why.

Ah, he's showing off to the white female hiding under the window sill.

A piano in the hotel that various guests play at times.

We went on a guided tour of Old San Juan. The first stop was this government building.

Everyone wanted to pose by the statues.

More on the second floor.

A view down.

Getting some icecream out front.

The building from the outside.

Fort San Cristobal

Part of the old wall.

A fountain.

And another one.

The corner of the wall.

We stopped in the shade whenever we could; it was hot.

Modern art.

The wall along the side.

A neat tree.

The main gate.

More wall.

Skinny roads.

The gate from inside.

When people entered the gate, they walked up this road...

... to the cathedral.

A street artist.

We had a little time to shop around and eat on our own.

Traffic jam so bad us pedestrians had to cross to the other sidewalk.

Another fountain.

Tiny little streets that are really packed.

There were various US restaurants scattered among the local ones.

Some really cheap rings.

More little shops.

I looked at the menu between these two restaurants and went in the right door. However, the menu was actually for the restaurant on the left.

It worked out, though, because they had close to the same food.

Gotta have beans and rice.

Another souvenir shop.

I wanted to buy one of these towels, but I'm not sure if they'd even be legal to have on a US beach. Hmm.

More narrow streets.

Fountain at Plaza Calon.

If you paid some guys $10, they'd put these birds on you and let you take pictures.

Fort San Cristobal again.

A little flour shop.

We had three buses full of people. Don't want to miss anyone.

This guy was stopped in the middle of the lane so everyone had to merge into the left lane to get around.

It looks really cheap until you realize it's in liters.

Touring the Bacardi Factory.

Free shots in the gift shop.

I didn't buy anything since it was all pretty expensive.

We each got two drink tickets for out here.

Me with my drinks.

Everyone waiting for the tour.

A modern art bat, I think.

And the tour begins.

The first income taxes paid by the brewery.

Some neat lights in the ceiling during a movie on the history of Bacardi.

More of the tour.

Explaining how to make drinks and what you can and can't take back on planes.

A wall of Bacardi.

People recording short videos of themselves and emailing them. I never got mine, though.

Just a neat-looking tree.

A little area people could take pictures.

Modern art.

Riding the trolley back to the bus.

A bit too expensive for me, but the Special Reserve is only available down here.

Some neat balconies on a hotel.


And a meeting with vendors.

I had to leave early to get a rental car, though.

The dumb clock in our room is off by an hour, and I have absolutely no idea how to set it. I spent like 30 minutes trying and finally gave up.

Why two sets of open and close door buttons?

Uh oh, the bathroom door fell off it's guide and we almost got stuck in there. Gonna take my phone with me in there from now on, just in case; I don't wanna have to wait until the maids come and find me.

CEs on OCT and optomap.

I ended up renting a car because it was the only way I could fit into our schedule all the activities around the island I wanted to do. Plus, it was cheaper than taking a tour from the hotel or any other agency. Here's a guy selling water between the lanes in the street.

View of the entrance to the pool area.

Pretty view outside a meeting room.

Six of us piled into my rental car to go to a kayak tour about an hour away. We needed to stop and eat before our kayak tour, but since traffic was jammed the whole way there, we didn't have much time. Wendy's are all over the place, though, so we figured eating there would be eating like a true Puerto Rican.

Lizard on the window.

Las Tortugas Adventures, our bioluminescent tour providers. We had signed up with another company, but they cancelled a few hours before we had planned on leaving, so I had to call around until I found someone who could take us out. Then, we were planning on hitting Luquillo beach at sunset, but the traffic delayed us. It was pouring rain on the way, anyway, so we wouldn't have seen anything. So much for planning, sigh.

There were tons of tour companies down by the docks.

Our guide teaching us the basics of kayaking.

Setting off.

Going into the red mangroves, which is the only habitat the dinoflagellates live in.

A mangrove up close. Thankfully we only ran into one, and that was because it was almost pitch black when the branches closed off the sky above.

Paddling away. My camera couldn't figure out what to focus on in the pitch black, so it's a little fuzzy.

The boats had glow wristbands to help follow them. Green on the front, red on the back, and blue on the guide.

Out in the bay.

Our guide. It was his birthday, so we sang happy birthday to him out here.

Our group. I really, really wanted to go, so I'm glad after all the hassle we were still able to do it. =) Unfortunately none of the pictures I took really came out, but it was beautiful to see.

Paddling back.

Getting back onto shore.

There were tons of different groups down there.

A few stands selling various foods by the docks.

Another one.

Why run out of the pool when it starts to rain? You're all wet anyway.

Danielle and I on the way to the rain forest.

A Burlington Coat Factory in Puerto Rico? I hope they sell more than coats there.

A little place we stopped for lunch.

Narrow streets.

Extremely narrow roads again, but with trees on the sides blocking you in.

The entrance to the park.

There were a few trees down in the road from the heavy rains.

A little stream.

Me by La Coca falls.

Pretty view.

Danielle on a bridge.

It was raining on and off, but we didn't bother to get an umbrella or anything since we planned on getting wet anyway.

The path.

Some stairs.

Rain forest.

Another little stream.

People looking at La Mina falls.

Below the falls.

La Mina falls.

Me in front of La Mina falls. I wanted to get under them, but due to the heavy rains, I couldn't get any closer than this. The rocks were really slippery, the current was really strong, and I had no idea how deep my next step would be. At one point I was up to my knees, and with my next step I was unable to touch bottom, swimming, and grabbing onto rocks to avoid being washed downstream. After that, I decided this was plenty close.

Danielle in front of the same waterfall. She decided to not get into the water after seeing my, uh, fun.

Both of us.

Other people walking along the rocks.

Below the falls.

I was hoping we'd see more animals, but we only saw a few of these little snails. Heard tons of frogs and birds, though. No pythons or monkeys or jaguars or anything like that. Then again, that might be a good thing.

Another stream.

A little cave.

More streams.

Walking back.

Bamboo, I think.

Another pretty view.

And another one.

A rock I found in the pocket of my swim trunks after swimming around by the waterfalls.

Below Juan Diego Falls.

Me there.

Yocahu tower.

A view from there.

The dog's house is on top of the roof of the store.

A vine hanging down that slapped our car.

A little traffic jam, but at least it cleared up fast.

Stopping at a toll booth.

Yummy food at the banquet. The stuff that looks like mashed potatoes is mofongo, a Puerto Rican dish made from plantains.


I don't know how that happened, but it's not very useful.

I hope pesado means big truck and not rental car.


It'd be nice to live their with that view.

This is what drove me most crazy about Puerto Rican drivers. There's apparently no concept of being in the rightmost lanes if you're going slower; it's just a free for all.

I got to the Rio Camuy caverns at 8am. They open at 8:30 and all the websites say to get there early because it fills up fast. Apparently all of these people waiting ahead of me heard that, too.

I couldn't get this place to come up on the GPS, so I used Google Maps on my phone, which worked well.

The waiting area. None of the workers were there when they opened; they slowly trickled in.

No idea where this cat came from, but it was wandering around.

I got spot number 10, so I was pretty sure I'd get in the first tour. Although then they let in 60 people and split it in half for Spanish and English speakers, so I shouldn't have worried as much.

Taking the little tram down.

Getting off. We actually had too many people to all fit in the tram, so it had to go back up. Also, we were the second group; the first was the Spanish-led tour. This, combined with the whole slow opening, was driving me nuts since I was on a pretty tight schedule to get the rental car back in time.

The outer wall of the cavern.

With lots of vines.

A little bridge we went across on the tram.

The opening of the cavern from above.

A tree growing upside-down.

The spiders on the webs scattered around were huge.

The main room.

Looking back at this opening from inside.

The other opening at the other end. The guide explained that this is a cavern, not a cave, because caves have one entrance/exit, while caverns have more than one. He was really funny the whole time, too.

A giant stalagmite with water dropping on it and running down.

Some pools.

Getting closer to the other entrance.

Almost out.

There was some water dripping down from above.

The guide said it made you more youthful so you shouldn't mind if it drops on you.

Lots of trees with their roots hanging down.

A river and another cave.

Right under the water.

There are lots of bats in the cavern, but they're not in this main area. However, this little guy must have gotten lost.

Where all the bats are. The guide said they taped the noise of these bats for the new Batman movies.

Some rock formations.

And back to the entrance.

Some neat bracelets in the gift shop made of various stones.

The GPS couldn't find the Arecibo Observatory, either. So again I was using Google Maps on my phone. Thank goodness I still got reception out here. The roads to the caverns were highways, but the ones to here were tiny, twisting, and had lots of forks.

Some cows.

A ranch house with more cows.

This is supposed to be a two-way road? Maybe I should have gotten collision insurance after all. Thankfully I didn't meet anyone.

At the Arecibo Observatory. It'd be pretty funny if it'd fry your phone if you didn't turn it off.

They had a couple levels of information above the dish and how it worked and things like that, but I didn't care at all.

Because I wanted to go see the actual dish.

Me and the dish.

There were these giant cables with giant ground mountings...

...that held up the big towers. It was funny because it was a 30-minute drive there from the caves and a 30-minute drive back to the highway and I only spent 10 minutes looking around, but it was really cool.

Gotta love the small local roads with the random horse on the side.

And the cars up on blocks.

The GPS at least knew where the airport in San Juan is. Except that (1) it always underestimated the ETA and (2) it actually picked the wrong airport this time. Thankfully I knew enough to re-route it rather than listen to it try to take me to the wrong one.

Some graffiti on the hill on the side of the road.

A really brightly-colored shopping mall.

US Border Patrol? Uh, there aren't really any borders; it's an island.

The highway to and from the caves / Arecibo had three toll areas along the way, but thankfully they were only about $1 a piece and there weren't long lines for them.

At the airport. I couldn't find a McDonald's or similar restaurant because at least they have prices fairly close to regular rather than super-inflated like here.

Oh come on! I want some Skittles. This is cruel.

I wonder why this little guy is wearing a helmet.

Bye bye Puerto Rico!

I had a great time. There were only a few things on my list that I didn't quite have enough time to do, but I'm really glad I went out of my way to rent a car and schedule in time to go to other sites, like bioluminescent kayaking, the rain forest and waterfalls, Rio Camuy caverns, and the Arecibo Observatory, rather than just hanging around the hotel. They were worth the effort. =)

OVer the ocean.

Arrive at 12:15pm? Uh, that's supposed to be am.

Sometimes it's actually faster to walk to the next terminal rather than take the train.

But in this case, the train came often, so it was better.

I wanted Sbarro, but this one only had pizza.

There was another one in another terminal that had spaghetti, though.

Watching the workers at the airport.

And back to Houston.