The Ape’s Guide to Puerto Rico | Pt. 4
The penultimate part of the series is here! Don’t worry, they’re almost over. Not going to lie, writing these for you all is fun. It’s so much better than simply looking through pictures.
Tips from day 4:
1. Go to San Juan
3. Check out one of the 24hr convenience stores
4. El Yunque should be a most-of-your-day affair
Day 4 – San Juan Day
You see, day 4 was meant to be El Yunque day / San Juan. They’re pretty damn close to each other, so we figured, “why not?”. Because it’s so damn hard to find. That’s why not.
We started our day early. Even though it only takes 2hrs to get across the island, you need to take into account that there’s only 2-ish freeways that actually go across, lots of traffic, and on/off construction. The problem with our early day, though, was that we started 2hrs later than we had hoped. We got up early enough that the drive was still an easy 2 hours all the way through to San Juan and to the express way that leads to El Yunque. This is where it gets tricky, when we get to the Yunque exit.
Long story short, we took 3 different routes up the mountain and still didn’t find the damn park. We were so lost we didn’t even take pictures! Hence this picture-less intro. On the third road up, we saw the traditional national park sign with “Welcome to El Yunque National Park”. Stupid lying sign. We drove up 15min before running into a cop and asked him if we were heading in the right direction. Apparently we weren’t. He offered to show us in the right direction up until the main turn, so we followed him. Except we only pretended to head to the park…we ran out of time and had to head to San Juan to meet up with our friend, J.
We met up with J, the man behind the awesome Elliptical Patterns blog, at a pretty cool restaurant in San Juan called Bebo’s Cafe. This man is born and raised near San Juan, so of course we went by his recommendation. This was actually the first time we met. There would be pictures, but we were too busy talking it up and enjoying some delicious mofongo. Btw, if you ever get around to trying mofongo, ask for mayuketchu. It’s really just a blend of ketchup and mayo, but it turns into magic sauce when mixed and used for mofongo.
After food, we moved on to beer. You see, when J said beer, we were thinking “brewery”. Except all we did was go down a few blocks to what looked like a 7/11. How wrong we were, though. These convenience stores, called “To-Gos”, had a craft beer selection that would make a Whole Foods jealous. Actually, let’s talk about the beer scene in Puerto Rico for a minute. Looking back to our first day in PR, after asking our waiter about where else we could get craft beer, he said “basically anywhere.” The man was not kidding. You can find decent beer at even the smallest of gas station quick-stops. It’s awesome! When you find a place like To-Go, the beer selection multiplies 3-fold.
This was so much better than a 7/11 experience. People hang out at these like a Starbucks. You grab some beer (well, or a drink/snack), sit down, do work, or talk with your buddies. Which is what we did – sat back, relaxed, and talked. We eventually got up. J is an awesome dude. He straight-up took his whole day to show us around San Juan. After the To-Go, he took us to Santurce. Santurce is a barrio (ghetto) in San Juan. It’s not the most tourist-y place because of this, but if you make it here, you wont’ be disappointed. We parked and J put us in the middle of the most street art either of us had seen in one area.
These pictures were only a fraction of the amazing murals in Santurce. We would have had more but someone (me…heheh) forgot the extra battery to the camera; and the camera was dead. So, hopefully these gave you a good idea.
We went to another convenience store for another beer after this, and proceeded to explore the city on foot.
So much fun! After running through traffic, chasing each other, and getting a few shots in, J took us out to experience the San Juan night life. We would describe the night life, at least what we experienced (again away from the tourist-y spots), as very much like a block party and lounge. We sat down around a bottle for a couple hours at a hole-in-the-wall bar and checked out bars that spilled out into the streets, with everyone mingling and simply enjoying themselves.
We ended the night with some bottles of sparkling water and a stroll by the San Juan shore.
An awesome day in San Juan, to say the least. Thank you, J!
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