First Day in Puerto Rico

An everyday itinerary, planned with the money-time balance in mind where money is more important because it is less important. There are goals but no defined path. Fun has to be had. Things got to be easy. There’s got to be long walks. Above all, there’s got to be an open mind.

A cab to the airport from home cost me around $20. Against all my wishes I went to Starbucks and had a banana and a tall (the smallest) glass of peach iced tea lemonade (I was dehydrated, excited, and all of that). I think I spent around $5 there. My flight tickets cost me $380 to and fro, from Boston Logan to Luis Muñoz Marín in San Juan.

Aerial View  of Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico from air

When I got off at San Juan airport, it was really hot and humid. Keep the sunscreen handy if you are landing during the day. I wanted use the bus to reach my airbnb house, about 15 minutes from the airport by car. It’s a farmhouse kind of a place – away from the city and tourists. Génesis Cumba is the owner and is a very sweet and kind lady. Her dogs are adorable. I would recommend you to stay there if you are looking for a local experience that is cheap. You have to drill it in your mind though that it would be really helpful to have a car rented.

The house is about 30 minutes (2.5 km) from the nearest bus stop, which is very close to the University of Puerto Rico (yeah, it’s all about landmarks) in Rio Piedras. The rent is about $19/day excluding services and tax. Now there is no useful information on the internet about buses or trains in Puerto Rico. I guarantee you that. I asked the tourism information center at the airport about the buses and he said that no bus goes to Rio Piedras from the airport. It was not the right information I think. The bus stop at the airport is not conspicuous at all. It’s like finding a hidden treasure or something. There are no signs or boards and the bus stop just says “PARADAS” (buses). No numbers, no information, no schedule, or stops. Also, there is no bench. While you are standing in the sweltering heat, a lot of taxis stop by and honk to tempt you to get into it. After about 1.5 hours of doggedness, and growing gray clouds, I had to give up and jump into the taxi that came my way. The taxi driver was very old and had no clue where he was taking me to. I put on my GPS and started directing him. He did not know English and I did not know Spanish. After missing about 3-4 exits, and the old guy dashing his already beat car against a mail box, a toll booth, and another car, I finally reached where I had to. He did not accept a card, and my host was nice enough to take him to the nearest ATM and give him money. She told me he was deaf too. He told her in Spanish right in front of me that I was illiterate. He was nice, though, given his conditions. People here are generally very sweet and nice. This cab ride cost me $25. It’s fixed rate.

The house had Génesis, her sister, two other people like me, Fey and Panda – Genesis’ dogs. They are furballs who love to play, lick your face and toes, bite, and jump on you. It’s my fourth day here, and I love them a lot. Génesis has her own cats, and the ones she has temporarily adopted too (she is very kind). It’s a nice house. I went for lunch to Rio Piedras in Genesis’ car. It’s tough for vegetarians in Puerto Rico (not in old San Juan, though) and I had a strong feeling that I would have to start eating meat. Surprisingly, we found a vegetarian restaurant and I had a hefty and good meal worth just $6.5 (including fruit punch). Rio Piedras, has a lot of awesome graffiti. There’s a lot throughout San Juan, and it’s just mind-blowing. I will try to get some pictures later. I don’t have the best ones yet.

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At night I went to a bar in Rio Piedras with one of the housemates. It was a long walk to and fro. Also, it is not so safe. Have someone accompany you, and keep a pepper spray handy. I had an umbrella too. The bar is pretty ghetto and very cool. Do go there if you are around. It will be an experience. I just had a beer worth $2 and then headed back home.

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A view from the bar

The house address: K15 Calle Generalife, Carolina, San Juan – 00987. It is listed on Airbnb.

I do not have the address for the vegetarian restaurant but I will try to find it. Their food is very local and they have quite to a few things to offer to the vegetarians. If you eat meat, just try the food truck on Calle 3, right opposite the McDonald’s. It’s super cheap, and I am told very tasty too. For those who swear by food chains, you have a lot of McDonald’s, Subways, Burger Kings, etc. to suck on.

Address to the bar: El Boricua, 5 Calle Saldaña, San Juan, 00925. You need cash here and I don’t think they have any food. You must go there if you want an awesome experience. I would suggest to call and ask when they play live music.

Make sure you carry a lot of cash with you. Withdraw it before you come to PR. There are only a few local ATMs here that charge you for every transaction. I will write about the rest of my days in a bit.

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