Though this will be posted on Thursday, January 13, I am writing it on Tuesday, January 11, and as of today, I am still not 100% sure that this trip will happen, though it is only two days away. Omicron has taken the world by storm, and case levels that were around 150 per day in Puerto Rico in mid-December have exploded. Some days hit more than 14,000, and while that number seems to have subsided some, more than one third of all Covid cases on the island have been over the past month.
So why am I still leaning toward going, you are probably asking. Well, cases here at home in Los Angeles County are at the same levels as in Puerto Rico, and those seem to still be rising, whereas Puerto Rico may just be over the hump. (Obviously this isn’t a certainty.) Outside of airports and flights, I am confident that I can keep my exposure risk on the island at about the same level as here.
All this being said, a trip during the middle of a Covid spike will look a bit different than it was originally planned to be. My tour to El Yunque rainforest and to kayak a bioluminescent bay in Fajardo is almost certainly off the table. Museums are iffy. Indoor dining was never on the radar, but even outdoor dining seems riskier than I’d like it to be. So assuming the trip happens, it will be a lot of walking outdoors – masked – and takeout either brought home to my Airbnb apartment or to a bench with a nice view and nobody else around.
But as of this moment, I’m still planning to go, and to be honest, still excited to go. I spent a day and a half in Puerto Rico about a decade ago before boarding a cruise ship – all in San Juan – and absolutely loved it. There are few places one can go within the US that feel like a different country, and this is one. Spanish colonial architecture, stunning blue waters and green mountains, amazing food, and Latin flare make Puerto Rico – and San Juan specifically – a place I have wanted to make a return visit to from the moment I left.
My Airbnb is in the neighborhood of Parque in San Juan, about a ten minute drive (or 90 minute walk) from Old San Juan. It is about two blocks from one of the largest public beaches in the city, and just off a main drag (Calle Loiza) featuring restaurants, shops, and markets. This is an area that was apparently considered unsafe twenty years ago or less, and is now a trendy local neighborhood. It is – I hope – a glimpse into the “real” San Juan, one that exists beyond Old San Juan and beachside resorts.
I want to write about the city – and the island as a whole – from a few different perspectives, to give you all what I hope will be a well-rounded look at an awesome place. Yes, I’ll write about the history of San Juan, especially since 2022 is its 500th anniversary. But I also want to write about the modern city and its culture, the political status of Puerto Rico, the food, and anything else that inspires me while I’m there. Articles will probably start coming out in February.
In the meantime, make sure to follow me on Instagram for daily (or at least regular) photos. And if you have spent time in San Juan, comment with your recommendations, especially for food.