Sunday, December 09, 2018

Puerto Rico Adventure - Day 7 - The Last Day

[Composed 11/26/2018]

When we awoke this morning we knew that by the end of the day we'd be getting on an airplane with its destination being a frigid Washington, DC. This alone motivated me to try to pack as many mini-adventures as possible into the day.

We started off with a tour through the Jardin Botanico UPR - Rio Piedras. The garden wasn't the largest or flashiest we'd ever been to. But was a wonderful way to get a walk in a natural setting without having to drive a significant distance. We saw a handful of interesting birds and flowers and generally enjoyed soaking up our last day of perfect Puerto Rican weather. Combine this with free-admission, and I'd rank this as a worthy place to visit should you find yourself in San Juan. On our way out, we asked about the orchids. The guide explained that Maria had decimated them and there were no longer any to be found in the park. Apparently the garden had taken quite a beating and the orchids were only one of the many victims. This was theme for us throughout our week in Puerto Rico: to the untrained eye, hurricane Maria had hadn't left much of a mark. But dig a little deeper and it seems like every aspect of Puerto Rican life was impacted by this hurricane, and there's still much left for the island to recover from.

After the gardens, we made our way to Plaza del Marcado de Rio Piedras. Like the botanic gardens, this market isn't anywhere near as epic as ones we've visited in Morocco or Japan. Still, it was was a fun market to walk through, and had we needed to pick up any cheap supplies this would have arguably been the place to do it.

We ate lunch at Fela's vegetarian restaurant, which was quite delicious. They offered quite an extensive set of veggie options, allowing us to create quite the veggie friendly smorgasbord.

We spent our final few hours in San Juan by wandering the Plaza Las Americas, which has the distinction of being the largest shopping mall in the Caribbean. When it opened, it was the largest shopping mall in Latin America. Yeah, it's big. But mostly, it felt like stepping back in time. What with Sears and JC Penney being anchor stores, and walking by a Time-Out Arcade.

After the mall, we fought traffic to get to the airport, where we boarded for an on-time departure.

We really can't recommend Puerto Rico highly enough. It's got everything we look for in a destination: hiking, history and lots of opportunity for adventure, and welcoming natives. The casinos don't hurt either.

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