One of my dreams has always been to travel to an exotic island. I thought Puerto Rico would be an ideal place. A commonwealth country of the U.S., I pictured it to be similar to Miami with Spanish-speaking people. So, for my first trip out of the country, I went to San Juan in 2001.
It was more beautiful than I imagined. It was like paradise – the tropical climate, the picture-perfect island and the up-beat people. Puerto Rico is home to some of the most beautiful beaches at Cuelbra, Ocean Park and Isla Verde. The waters are crystal clear and there are beautiful birds and wildlife everywhere.
I got to visit a rainforest, sit under a freshwater waterfall and go kayaking in a saltwater lake surrounded by phosphorescent mangroves. The rainforest was so peaceful that it brought me to tears. Sitting under the falls and swimming in the water made me feel so refreshed and free. Sparks of electricity (or maybe it was bioluminescence) flew from the lake when we were kayaking. In fact, sparks flew from everything we touched. These were very enlightening experiences!
It’s hard to get lonely in Puerto Rico. San Juan is home to more than a million people, but the warmth of the people is more like that of a small town. Puerto Ricans in general seem to be closer than Americans – they are so friendly and passionate. Most people kiss when they greet each other, and hug when they say good-bye. They enjoy a fun-filled lifestyle, with high fashions, cell phones, fast cars and delectable cuisine. The food is out of this world!
The other teens I met were also very nice and easy to talk to. They are very expressive and seem to be more open with their feelings. They are typical teens, though – they love to dance, party and have a good time. The music is of a wide variety. Very few people like just one type of music, and reggae, salsa, merengue and pop dominate the teen culture. African culture is prevalent in their music. Bomba and Plena are two of the national dances with obvious African influence.
I would definitely recommend Puerto Rico to anyone who wants to learn about a different culture, even if you don’t speak Spanish. Many people speak English or have a working knowledge of it.
My trip to Puerto Rico has enriched my life so much. I now am more open-minded about different cultures – I even want to attend a university there for a semester.
Until next time, “Bon voyage,” or as the locals say, “Buen viaje.”
Orignially published on kidtravels.com
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