Have you ever been to a place you finally had your first culture shock experience? This was the first place I had my first culture shock experience, which I will share with you later on in the story. When my husband and I took our first cruise this was one of our stops. I was uncertain as to how it was going to be because I heard various things about San Juan, Puerto Rico.Most people I talked to either loved it or disliked it, very few were in between about how they felt about the city and area. When we arrived this place was much bigger than the other places that we had been. Before I went there I thought that San Juan was going to be a very tiny island much like all the others. When we arrived to the island the cruise ship anchored at the dock and we were able to get off the ship and explore. We walked through a small part of the town to meet a tour guide and other fellow travelers for our excursion.
My husband and I had a rainforest drive excursion planned for this port. The rainforest drive would take us by a small bus through the city and up into the rainforest. The drive took us about 40 minutes to get to the rain forest, also known as the El Yunque Rain Forest. We would make many different stops on the way up to the highest point we could go. On the way there we noticed a car driving backwards on the highway in the median because he missed his exit. The tour bus lady said that was normal driving for that area. I was very shocked but realized people in the United States would probably do the same thing if cops were not around. Our first stop was to the visitors center where we could walk around for a few minutes, go to the gift shop, use the bathroom or whatever we would like to do. We missed the guided tour of the place but we got back on the bus at the right time to go to our next stop.
Our second stop took us to a water fall in the rainforest. Many people decided to climb the water fall or just admire it from afar. My husband and I walked around near the water fall, took some pictures and got back on the bus. This was one of my favorite stops we made because the water fall was beautiful. This was the highest point that they could take us to, so we descended back down the mountain. We made one of our last stops at a creek where we could walk around freely and explore for a bit. We walked around, took pictures around the creek and met some other fellow travelers from different parts of the world. After this stop we left to go back into town and stop at another place where we could get something to eat, gifts and go to the bathroom. After awhile we went back to where we met. I was disheartened to learn not too long around that this rainforest received significant damage from the hurricanes that hit this year. This was one of the most beautiful places in San Juan, Puerto Rico and it was destroyed.
When we got back to downtown San Juan, my husband and I decided to walk around and explore. We went in a few shops, found a park that had Christmas decorations set up and saw a pirate ship. We met some of our new found cruise friends and joined them on their adventures in exploring San Juan. The mother of the 3 of them had coupons for a free drink at a bar, so we went to try that. The shot they gave us was really good but really small, so we realized why they were free. We encountered a guy walking around downtown that came up to us and asked us all if we spoke English. We all told him yes, he then proceeded to tell us an elaborate story about someone in the hospital and he was begging for all the money that we had. This was when I received my first dose of culture shock. I have never encountered someone walking up to me telling me a long story to ask for money in the end. I was completely in shock by this and did not know how to feel after we walked away. The family and my husband explained that things like this happen all the time in foreign countries. After awhile of walking around downtown, we went back to where we had to show our IDs to get back onto the cruise ship. After about an hour we sailed off to our next destination for the cruise.
I enjoyed every bit of my time in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Even when encountering something different, I did not let it affect how I felt about the island. There is a lot to do and see in San Juan and I would love to go back to see more of the island. I would love to go back and see the part people call old San Juan. I am sad and disheartened about the effects it endured with the hurricanes this year. I am glad to know that many people are working tirelessly to help get the island back in order. I am excited to go back next December to go on another cruise with Carnival Cruise Lines from San Juan, Puerto Rico. I definitely recommend this place while cruising or even going on a vacation.
Stay tuned this week to learn about Arkansas, USA and self care. I have a special series about self care lined up and I am so excited to share why I believe it is very important. Do you practice self care? See you next week.