San Juan, Puerto Rico, was the first place I flew my bike to. This was in 2013. Coming back, after 4 years this time, felt soooo weird, in a good way.
Tori, Luisa, and I carpooled to Austin to fly in to San Juan. We saved at least $150 each by not flying directly out of Houston. We arrived to San Juan and made our way to our AirBnb. We ran to see who would snatch the biggest room and sneaky Luisa snatched it. Our room mates Lembo, Miguel, and Joselle were gonna join us later on through the next 2 days. It was the best lil house and everyone got along so well and I MISS IT SOOOO MUCH. Even if we didn’t have AC, it was lit, still. Plus, we all payed like, 60$, each, for 5 days.
The next day, Tori, Luisa, Lembo, Miguel, and I go to a waterfall a local had suggested to visit, that was 4 hours away. We began our journey early, and by the time we arrived to our destination, it was about 1:30 pm. The thing is, GoogleMaps said we had arrived to our location, but we were in a random street. Turns out, SOMEONE (we still don’t know who) typed in the wrong address, and we had driven 4 hours south, instead of west. We were all surprisingly pretty good sports about it and were determined to go to this waterfall called Gozalandia. We turned the car around and continued to our original plan.
We finally get there, a couple of hours later. Of course, Miguel jumps + flips off from the waterfall several times. The rest of us swim and splash around. We also discover this cool, tiny cave that you have to swim underneath for a couple of seconds, just to reach it. I kinda felt like Ariel in the Lil’ Mermaid, y’all.
We finish early and go to another beach that Miguel recommends has some cool stuff to jump off from. We get there as the sun is about to set, and the lighting is beautiful. We get some cocos to drink and I ponder about going to the ocean to pee…..I mean to snorkle. Miguel makes friends with some locals that are jumping off a pier nearby, and Lembo, Tori, and I go to join them. We all muster the courage to jump off the pier together, holding hands. I do it a couple of times more and Miguel let’s me borrow his snorkeling set to see the fishies all around us. As, we’re walking back to the car, Miguel mentions something about this beach being known for sharks. We all scream in horror.
By this time, we are all starving for some nomz. I ask a local that is parked next to us to give us a delicious recommendation, near by. We go to the suggested place, but it ends up being super pricey, like $25 a plate. We are all balling on a budget, and decide to go to Little Caesar’s, across the street. We all order a $5 dollar pizza, each, for ourselves, to have breakfast and lunch the next day. The fam is happy, holding on to their hot pizza pies in their laps, all the way home.
The next morning, we have planned to go on an island hopping adventure, so I, and a couple of others decide to get some sleep. Tori and Miguel scoff at this idea, and roam out to the streets of San Juan.
3 am :I wake up to laughing and yelling. I go outside of my room to see my bud Clarity has made it in to town from Aspen! I’m happy to see her, give her a huge bear hug, and shush the others. I remind them we have to be up in 2 hours to catch a ferry to Culebra. … I cannot believe my mom-like vibes and go back to sleep.
Who would believe that Tori, Miguel, Lembo, Luisa, Clarity and I were all ready to go and in the car by 6am? Not me, lord.
Some of us are full of energy and decide to pump up the group with LUDA and Misdemeanor classics. Everyone slowly transitions out of their sleepy demeanor to a more hype attitude… Except for Brad, who is squished in the trunk of the car, hungover as duck.
We arrive to Fajardo and wait in a long ass line to catch a ferry to Culebra. When we arrive to the island, we meet up with out boat guide. Our guide was a pretty cool dude from NY and the color of syrup. The island life was his existence, he said. We hopped on the boat, but not before stopping for a beer/alcohol overhaul.
Our first stop is a small island that has a small hike to a light house. We all start our trek, except for Clarity, who was more like ‘NAW, i’m goin’ swimmin.’ The hike was not that strenuous, and the view from the top was siiqqqqqq. We all ‘grammed the heck out of the place. It was so beautiful. We even saw some random goats on that teeny island. How the HEK did they get there?
Next stop was Culebrita Island, renowned for it’s hidden pools of various colors of blue. Getting there was tricky for myself, as I had worn these weird wooden flip flops with ZERO traction. – 0 – traction, m8s. When I finally arrived to the pools, everyone was venturing deeper. Aware that I might get hurt, due to my lethal shoes, I decide to not go any further. Clarity and I turn back and head to the boat.
As the other nerds are still frolicking by the pools, we decide to get our snorkeling gear on, and swim 60 ft deeper in to the ocean. We were tryin’ see some damn turtlez, man. So, we’re swimmin, splashin, and can only see oceanic fauna, WHEN
We see a stingray! The thing was as long as my arm-span is. Clarity tugs my arm and points to it, first. We watch the thing circle beneath us, when we see A MFUGGIN SHARK, YAWL! It was swimming right underneath the stingray.
S H A R K ! ! !
We look at each other under water, our eyes as big as Frisbee. Clarity & I resurface and I say, ‘Did you see that?’ She’s all ‘The shark?’ And I’m like ‘yeah, m8!’ She says, ‘Wanna go back?’ And i’m all ‘YEAH MAN, CMON!’
Sidenote: Clarity is an amazing swimmer & was on the swim team in high school& had previously mentioned, during the boat ride, that she swam with hundreds of dolphins in Hawaii when she was a teen.
So, like yeah, I thought I was gonna lose a limb.
I’m swimmin’ and huffin’/puffin’, tryna catch up to Clarity, who is a good ten feet away. I come to terms that I’m gonna be attacked, and starting wondering if I’m going to have a bionic arm or leg. 🤔
We meet Miguel in the middle of the ocean, halfway to the boat. We tell him what happened, to not venture any further, and we all swim back, furiously.
I tell the others that I out-swam a great white shark. Everyone is shocked/amazed/ I become a local hero and am featured in a Puerto Rican magazine.
Some of that didn’t happen.
But anyways, we go back to the boat, make some drinks, and start daggering underwater, all wanting the coveted spotlight of Miguel’s GoPro.
Man, goooooood times, y’all~~~~ We head back.
Oh, yeah! Polo! I think we play some pick up, go to the reg party, get lit. Mild dancing/ slight daggering. Lots of people go to the beach after that, to skinny dip. The fam/room mates and I go back to the house. We discuss the after party plans, and no one wants to go swim in their birthday suit. I’ve had enough drinks, where I think skinny dipping is a good idea, and join Miguel, as he decides he, in fact, does want to lose his shorts to the sea.
I have never seen so many naked people or naked POLO people in my life. It was crazy. My first time gettin buck nekked in the ocean. 10/10 would do again, with more tequila in me. Later on, my room mate Joselle (party MVP) told me she was at the beach, skinny dipping every single night she was in San Juan ::clap emoji:: ::queen emoji:: ::peach emoji::
The next day, I meet up with my other #1 FAM, Sasha+Kelly &Co. We reunite at Castillo San Felipe del Morro. Sasha & Kelly are there flying kites with her mom and some other friends. I am so excited to see them, seeing that they left me to dehydrate in Texas, the moment they moved to California ;_; I greet them with giant hugs and get to fly Sasha’s red kite!
We walk around old San Juan, before going to eat authentic Puerto Rican food. San Juan is Sasha and her mama’s (Leti) old stomping ground, so they know all the in’s and out’s of this town. For the next act, Leti decides we must go to this famous place in the old part of town, where people feed pigeons.
I am scared of birds, y’all!
But for some crazy reason, Sasha convinces me to let some dang old pigeon-toed birds land on me. There were several! I was basically attacked!
After that, we walk around the town a bit more and do some sightseeing. Sasha+Kelly promise to deliver some major dance tunes at the tournament, before we part ways. ;_; I love them so much! They are so kind and genuine :…)
Tournament day was A L L business. Luisa made some kinda fancy cocktail mix and we were armed with pounds of beer/ Gasolina. My team mates were Carlos from SLC and Tea from Fresno. I was an honorary Pedal Junkie & got a rad, free shirt (which i immediately made sleeveless/c’est la vie). We played pretty well together, gave it our all, and got to play some good games. <I might have done too many #laybackswithLuisa during our second to last game on Sunday.> (thanks Luisa/ party mvp2/ enabler/drop yr weapon-er)
Saturday night was the beach party under the moon light. Sasha+Kelly were there, supplying the tune-age, amazing photography, and light-sabers (unforgettably). Also, I had a blast playing this game called ‘beached whale’ with Clarity, during the party. While everyone was getting their ass kicked with light sabers, making out, or hanging— Clarity and I were swimming. Clarity said the game ‘beached whale’ was very easy. All you had to do was swim in, chest deep, and let the waves carry you back to the sand. We did this MULTIPLE times. Yes, there was alcohol involved. In the end, I had so much sand in my eyes, later on, and even moar in my dang crevices
That Sunday night, I got sooo l i t 🔥 . Real litty, fam. Fam. I did. I’m sorry, fam. I tried not to. I don’t know WHAT i said, and I apologize if I hurt any one’s feelings, or gave anyone a wedgie. I even stole someone’s Uber ride, I think
Monday morning, Tori, Luisa, and I were manically trying to extend our return flight one more day. NEVER, EVAR leave the day OF or the day AFTER an amazing tournament. Fools.
It was either too expenisve or the layover was ridiculously long, if we were to leave a day later, so off we headed to the airport. Hearts heavy, hangovers a-brewing, and strong chances of post tournament blues were in the forecast.
We ate our feelings at the airport with chips and queso.
Luisa, Tori, and I arrived to Austin at 11:30 pm. Luckily, Maggie, Tori’s good friend was able to give us a ride back to Tori’s car that was parked at Kim/Adam’s.
We all piled in to Tori’s light green Yaris and hit the road, but not before stopping for some P.Terry’s. In the middle of Austin to Houston, the Yaris started making weird noises. Tori freaked out and within 5 minutes, the Yaris was completely dead! Tori was able to move the car in the far right emergency lane, before the car went totally unresponsive. It was 1 am, pitch black, and 3 brown girls happened to be stuck in one of the most racist towns in Texas. Yeesh.
The sky was mad charcoal. We used our bike lights to alert other cars of our presence. Pretty savvy af, but were still pretty stuck in the middle of nowhere. Tori tried to get AAA to come save our asses, but they apparently only tow you 3 miles, and then start charging obscene prices.
Mr. Ortega came and rescued us, finally. AAA towed the lil Yaris to Hruska’s. Luisa and I secretly whispered to each other that we wish we had a cool/present ass dad like Tori’s.
I go to sleep at 4 am, in my own bed.
See you next year, Puerto Rico. 🌊🌊🌊🌊🌊🌊🌊🌊🌊🌊🌊🌊🌊🌊🌊🌊🌊