After the end of last year, it's pretty true that a lot of people needed a refresher and time for recuperation. As an artist and person extremely sensitive to nature I was really missing the warmth of sunlight and fresh air, and I would definitely say this trip hit the marks spot on.
In the past I would normally travel to Puerto Rico with my family (since I am Puerto Rican American), but with this trip I was able to travel with a really good friend of mine (also a photographer) so that we would be able to truly explore as much as we could easily!
To be honest, for much of the trip I definitely found myself reminiscing some Wes Anderson films (especially with all of the colors around me at all times). Viejo San Juan (Old San Juan) was filled with traditional Spanish-style apartments of many colors along every street, and you could walk into a new dreamlike space within each new entrance.
Casa de Calle de La Cruz
I was enchanted by the first Air Bnb we got to stay at, and better yet we were neighbors with my grandfather's building. How cool is that? I could just walk over and say "Hola Abuelo!" whenever passing.
Of course everything in the space was as colorful as ever. There were even little lights on the roof for nighttime!
Puerto Ricans really know how to cook . There were many great food experiences but I'll just have to list my favorites.
Mallorcas: The last time I ate a mallorca was when I was seven years old, and man, did they taste good this time. La Bombanera gave a perfect re-introduction to the taste.
Red-Snapper: As my first try for this fish I was blown away. The seafood sauce and crispiness gave it quite some life! Cueva Del Mar is a great restaurant.
Stuffed Avocado and Tostones: I already love tostones (fried plantains), but add in stuffed avocado and I am set.
Pasteles, pernil, y arroz: A wonderful home-cooked meal from my family's good friend in Humacáo. I will always want more!
Peanut Butter Coconut Wings: These were a sweet surprise. I love peanut butter, and seeing this on the menu at Mangos in Ocean Park I almost cried.
Biking in San Juan
Before coming to Puerto Rico I hadn't realized that they had been working on creating a bicycle path from the northern main part of the old city into Isla Verde, so it was quite the pleasant surprise finding out. There was also a bit of luck in store, because the host of the guest house had exactly two bikes and helmets! With this, we were both able to go explore the coast up to the beach, all the way through La Perla, and through the bumpy cobble stone streets. I certainly felt like I was flying!
Immersing in Nature
With weather being freezing cold in NY, it was wonderful to be able to get back into surrounding myself in the greenery of the mountains of La Isla. I think one day I want to have a place somewhere in the mountains, even if just for retreats. Going through the trails to get to waterfalls, caves, fields of cows, quiet dirt roads, and to simply breathe the fresh air and become one with the place is a feeling that constantly makes me feel at home.
I don't think I will forget the feeling of standing atop Yohakú Tower and seeing everything around me, including a tiny house on a hill that was highlighted by the sun's rays.
I had a similar feeling from a few other places.
Coming to the opening of Cueva Ventana (nature's window) and viewing a valley from 800ft above, laying inside a crater filled with fresh seawater at Playa Mar Chiquita letting myself float, and kicking my shoes off at El Morro to run in a field I had dreamt of months before. My breath had been taken away and was replaced with true essence of living.
Absorbing the Art World
Viewing the art and creative community of other places is something I believe is so important to other visual people in order to see into the creative minds of different cultures and to learn the history of a place through it's artwork. Staying with artists was definitely quite an inspiration for new ideas and motivation, but we also got to check out a few museums and galleries. To name a few, we saw Muséo de Las Americas, Liga de Arte, and Muséo de Arte de Puerto Rico.
Spending hours at these places in order to absorb everything allowed a new level of energy to rise within myself and inspired me to start painting again, and to really accept myself as a creative artist rather than just a photographer. Each space and artwork would draw me closer to my own history as a Puerto Rican.
Another thing to note is how excited I was to see my grandfather's work in a national museum! I have never seen the work face-to-face, only in phone messages, so when I experienced it in full size I was pretty blown away. I am one proud granddaughter!
Even though I only met up with my grandfather a few times I really felt quite happy after each meeting;. I loved seeing him light up upon entering the room, and hearing our stories about our adventures throughout the Island (and funny misadventures, too). He gave me one of his colorful canes when he saw me smile at it, and currently I have it in my room in a special place to remind me of him.
Even though he could not speak at the time we all shared precious memories through reading his notes helping to move artwork, and just laughing. I don't think I will ever forget these visits, or this trip!
Now I have to anticipate where will be my next adventure!