It’s called enchanted island for a reason

Just in case I don’t give you enough reasons to visit Puerto Rico on a regular basis, this video by Javier Letour should do it. It’s sweet torture for me right now, facing this bitter New York winter and counting the days until I can return to my one true home. Enjoy!

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Hacienda Madrigal & Restaurante Raíces

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Horseback riding is a different way to explore Puerto Rico. I got the chance to visit Hacienda Madrigal for the first time this December and really enjoyed the experience. People were super nice and the views were spectacular. Needless to say, I also took my new baby camera out for a stroll. I can’t get over it and want to share as much as possible.

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Afterwards, we went to the original Raíces Restaurant in Caguas. A lot of tourists visit their location in Old San Juan because it’s closer to hotels and cruises. I haven’t been to the location in Old San Juan, but their original spot is pretty cool. Everything around the restaurant reflects the time when my dad was born. It really gives you a nice sense of Puerto Rican history and for that on its own, it’s worth it. If your mouth is not salivating right now for that mofongo relleno de churrasco, then I don’t think you’re human (if you’re vegetarian you’re excused, but not really).

Photos taken and edited by Cristina Nogueras – Canon EOS Rebel T5

New Hobby? Hiking at El Yunque Rainforest

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When I was little, someone got lost in El Yunque Tropical Rainforest and was not found until about 3 days later. I’m basing this all on my memory, so forgive me if I mix up the details. Anyways, that story really stuck to me. I think he was only able to survive because he knew which plants were good to eat and he was able to ration whatever little he had. Regardless of the accuracy of my memory, I must say I’ve developed a sense of respect for the rainforest.

Sure, I went on all the Girl Scouts adventures, but being the good girl I’ve always been, I always followed the rules. In the past few years, I’ve been bringing different friends from all over the world to come see El Yunque. In all of these trips, I stuck to the basics. The basics are safe and you can’t get lost on your own. I have no idea why I was being so stupid, I just never questioned my typical short visit excursion.

Until this Holiday break, of course, when my adventurous boyfriend was all like “let’s hike up to the tallest mountain in the rainforest” and I was like “no”. Being the amazing girlfriend that I am, I decided to take him beyond the first tiny waterfall.

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Turns out, there are actually different trails in the rainforest. How did I not know this before? All this time here I was thinking that the man got lost because of lack of proper signs.

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It really was a beauty to walk through these wonders of nature. Granted, I kept looking down in the ground to make sure I did not trip and fall off into unexplored territory. We also got into a crowded trail, which was a little too stressful for my taste. If you want to have a more tranquil experience, go during a weekday.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetHere is another story that I’m not so sure how accurate it is. When I was little, my dad would tell me that these white leaves that you see above could predict whether it was going to rain or not. They are called “Yagrumo” leaves and they belong up in a tree. You see, only one side is white and by checking if that side is facing up or down, you’re able to predict if it will rain. A quick Google search didn’t really validate this story and I’m not going to look very into it. To be honest, I like to believe that these are magical leaves, I think that’s pretty cool.

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After a 45 minute hike, we arrived at this beautiful waterfall. Mind you, I would say this is the second most touristy waterfall in the rainfall, we got even better ones! If you want to go super off the beaten path, you may, but I am completely unable to tell you how to get there. Also, the water was freezing for my standards. My true American boyfriend, on the contrary, found it cold but bearable. You could tell people apart very easily in this spot, people in the water were clearly not from Puerto Rico.

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Back from the waterfall, we ended our first hike with a little sweat but still smiles on our faces. I was ready to get going and hit the beach but of course, this adventure was not over. My boyfriend was super ecstatic about hiking and stood firm on his original plan to reach the top. In the back of my mind I was prepared for this and had brought us lunch. Again, aren’t I the best?

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We found a great picnic area for our gourmet meal, it was like being in elementary school all over again. I think companies should have field trips, just as we did back in school. We can all wear t-shirts, ride the bus together, learn about nature and stop at the shopping outlets on our way back!

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Speaking of gourmet meal, take a look at our feast! This was probably the healthiest I ate during my two weeks in Puerto Rico, I do not regret that for one second. I’ve always heard that nuts give you a lot of energy, so I made sure to back plenty in case we got lost in the rainforest for three days.

We got on the car again to drive closer to the top and start another trail. On the way there, I worked my magic and was able to persuade my boyfriend into abandoning our super ambitious hiking plan and head to the beach (yes!). The beach was great and afterwards we had dinner at the Kioskos de Luquillo, which is a great stop after you go wandering around a rainforest.

All jokes aside, I really enjoyed hiking. It’s also always nice to go with someone whose company you enjoy, kinda crucial when you get lost in the rainforest for 3 days. We decided we need to go hiking more often. Come to think about it, I don’t think I’ve ever been hiking in the US. I find this hard to believe, but my brain confirms it. As long as I can get my picnic on, don’t encounter any bears and don’t fall off a cliff, I think I can get used to this hiking thing.

All pictures taken & edited by Cristina Nogueras – (iPhone 5)

Joyuda, Puerto Rico – Take One

 

It’s always sad when one exciting trip ends, but there’s always the comfort of coming home to a bunch of photos. This was my first trip with my DSLR camera, which obviously means I took more photos that I now can handle. I must admit I am obsessed and can’t get enough (something I have no problem with).

Here are a few to begin with from my days at Joyuda, Puerto Rico

IMG_1512Joyuda is one of my favorite areas in Puerto Rico, located in the South West, you can get amazing seafood (which I had) and pass out by the beach with a food coma (which I did). In my humble opinion, this area has some of the nicest beaches in Puerto Rico, but I know that can be highly debated.

IMG_1640I love the fact that you can find a handful of seafront restaurants in Joyuda, allowing you to have your fish by the sea (you can think that’s awesome or tragic, your pick). I also love this random picture that I took of my boyfriend, he might seem serene but I can tell he is a little freaked out by the huge fish swimming right below (they were like 4 feet long!).

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For better or for worse, I am a steak person, but seafood here is so good that I can totally make an exception. You can find seafood empanadillas, seafood mofongo … seafood EVERYTHING. I would show you pictures, but most times I was very excited to eat and forgot to shoot first (I know, horrible how I dared to enjoy my food without any technology). I do have some good places to eat that I will be sharing soon, more to come!

 

 * All photos in this post were taken and edited by Cristina Nogueras, please do not use without permission *

Puerto Rico On My Mind

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Five years ago, making my way to las Tinajas in Puerto Rico.

Trekking up the river to reach a corner of the forest where rocks become natural slides.

Now, just a few days away from landing on this twisted little island of mine.

“Great things never came from comfort zones”

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This has been my mantra for this past month. Not only is my big Europe trip right around the corner, but I got a new job and started a new professional journey (basically the reason why I have abandoned this blog for a few weeks) but cry no more, I’m back! (Only to leave in a week, but still!)

I also went home to my beautiful Puerto Rico and got to spend some wonderful days with my family and friends. It was really the perfect way to end a great chapter in my life and freshen up to start a new one. So really, I can’t complain. Sure, I’m peeling from the sun even though I am still technically white and sure, my bank account has taken a hit, but I’m sure I’ll live.

I try to stay away from all things cheesy (except when they actually are cheesy, yum.) but lately I’ve just been feeling like I have so much to take in from life (besides new work information, of course). Sure, I stress about things all the time, that’s just how I work. Who knows? This may be the nice weather talking, but life is good right now. Long gone are the days of miserable weather complaints and in are the sunny, sweaty walks to work. Ah, sweaty summer bliss.

But back to being corny,

Life is crazy, unpredictable and if you let it be, it can also be beautiful.

Speaking of beautiful, below are some pictures from La Isla del Encanto that I took during my last visit home (yes, I get to call paradise home). I always love giving out recommendations for travelers that wish to visit Puerto Rico, so feel free to shoot me a comment or tweet me any questions!

IMG_6283Yes, me and my boyfriend might have started a cheesy tradition of taking travel pictures with our feet #noshame – This was before our kayak tour at the bioluminescent bay in Fajardo. Tour started during the day, through the canals and into the bay to watch the sunset. Then, I was once again amazed by the beauty that is the bay’s natural glow. Third time doing it and it’s still worth the sore muscles!

IMG_6299Right before our journey! This picture has no filters, you can see how the sunset light glows in the water, giving it a nice natural tone.

IMG_6303Credit for this one goes to my dad (@josenogueraspr)

IMG_6335Hyatt Hacienda del Mar in Dorado, Puerto Rico

IMG_6352Basically, a little corner of heaven, right here.

IMG_6387It wouldn’t be complete without a food picture, wouldn’t it? For my boyfriend’s birthday I took him to a delicious restaurant in Dorado called El Ladrillo (The Brick) – I had been there when I was little and fine cuisine for me consisted of plain rice and chicken, coming back was absolutely amazing. Not only is the food really good and varied for all tastes, but the restaurant itself is beautiful. They have a true art collection within the space.

Be sure to follow my Instagram for more pictures that don’t make it to actual posts – @peaceloveanddietcoke

Main image credit – http://www.etmusiquepourtous.com/2012/11/07/16191/jpeg/

All other pictures taken by Cristina Nogueras ©  Do not copy or repost without attribution