Way back when, I trained with one of my best friends for our first half marathon. For whatever reason I remember her saying, ‘I just want to be able to call myself a ‘runner’.’ To earn a title for yourself and shed feeling like an imposter. It’s a noble goal, and it’s purely personal to know when and if you’ve reached that point.
The problem is, once you reach your status as a ‘runner’ and you’ve logged the miles and gone the distance, it’s hard to go out and be content with a 2 mile jog. It feels lazy and unrewarding.
Now for me, I consider myself a ‘traveler’. I’m not sure where along the way I accepted my new skin, but I wear it proudly. I think the title comes with a desire to know the world, not just see it. A traveler wants to have experiences over tourist attractions, to meet the locals, to totally immerse themselves in the unknown and learn. The last part, learning, being the most important to me. Traveling has taught me so much about my comfort zone and how good it feels when you successfully step outside of it.
But once your eyes have laid sight on wonders of the world, you’ve sunbathed on uninhabited islands, met indigenous tribes, etc, you’re ruined just a little. Basically, I think being a ‘traveler’ semi-ruined my trip to the west coast of Puerto Rico for me.
All I heard about was how much I was going to love Rincón, and the west coast of Puerto Rico. A laid back surf town with beautiful beaches and friendly people. What I actually found was a mediocre beach within walking distance, a small town that closes down early, and restaurants with meh food. It definitely wasn’t El Nido in the Philippines, which was about the same size but had all the island vibes and many beautiful palm lined beaches you could walk to.
We drove the 50 minutes to Gozalandia waterfalls one day. While it was lovely and we were lucky to pretty much have it to ourselves for a bit, there was a local asking for tip money to help us use a rope swing. ‘The Jungle Man’ was quite a character and ended up being worth it. But, it certainly wasn’t Guam when we hiked to a secluded waterfall and didn’t see another soul for hours, or camping next to Mooney falls in Havasu. No, these falls had a paved sidewalk and a restaurant at the entrance.
Hiking around the cliffs in Cabo Rojo was probably the highlight of the trip for me. It felt adventurous and had beautiful scenery. Butttt, it’s not the dramatic cliffsides and rock formation beaches of the Algarve region of Portugal.
Playa Sucia was a white sand, turquoise water beach that we posted up on with a cooler for a while. It was gorgeous crescent shaped and blocked by the winds. But you have to road trip it there rather than walking out your hotel or Airbnb door like I’ve done on other islands.
Don’t get me wrong, we had our fun on the trip, and even made some friends who did a beach bonfire for my friends birthday. So do not mistake this post as a complaint. It’s really the opposite, I’m quite grateful that I’ve reached the point of seeing so much bright and shiny that my vision has been dulled. It’s more of a realization that I had and I think others can probably relate to, in whatever capacity it may be.
Back to my travel promoting self now tho. Puerto Rico offers so much in one little island and I strongly suggest you check it out. It’s about as easy and cheap of a vacation that you can take in the US and still feel like you’re somewhere a little foreign. But, if you’re a ‘traveler’ just know that there’s a very good possibility that this trip may fall a litttttle flat, as it did for us. The best part was the company of my friends on a road trip, we had a fantastic time, and that’s ok. Maybe part of being a traveler is also understanding that it isn’t always where you’re going and what you see, it can also simply be who you’re with.
Note, we did our trip during the week and just before surf season really kicks off apparently. So, I’m sure Rincon can be a great time. I’m definitely not counting out ever visiting again nor trying to put it down! I’ve also enjoyed surfer and survival beach in Aguadilla before, and adored Culebra on the east side of Puerto Rico. El Yunque rain forest is also the only rainforest in the United States and is only 45 min outside of San Juan. Gilligan’s island sounds cool as well on the south side of the island, and I always enjoy the Spanish colonial fortresses and buildings in Old San Juan. So, for real. You should go to Puerto Rico. This was just my experience…