When I was young I loved the Disney classic The Jungle Book. Being in a remote part of earth fascinates me. My adventurous soul leads me to explore nature. When Emily and I were looking at different locations in Puerto Rico, we knew we wanted to stay in the rain forest. We didn’t bring our camping gear on this trip so we researched AIRBNB. What we found turned out to be more than ideal for us.
If you didn’t know, AIRBNB has taken strides to cater to people of all abilities. Within the filter section you’re able to choose multiple accessibility needs. When searching we always start with step free access, wide doorways, and no stairs. Here in Puerto Rico the results have been low. That’s okay though. I can usually handle 1 step but the narrow doorways are more difficult to handle. At our Vieques AIRBNB I had to transfer to a plastic patio chair through the doorway to use the bathroom. It was annoying but necessary.
When searching for a place to stay in the El Yunque Nation Forest we found the perfect Bungalow. First floor, step free, wide doorways and a roll in shower. It looked like the building was designed for someone in a wheelchair. Well...turns out it was! Our fantastic hosts, both local Puerto Rican architects, designed the bungalow with a few things in mind.
First, hurricane relief. The house they live in (right next door to the bungalow) is made of wood which is more likely to be destroyed in a hurricane. The bungalow, made from stronger materials gives them a more sustainable shelter during a hurricane. Second, they wanted to create a space for their older parents who have trouble using stairs. Third, they wanted to host people with accessibility issues like myself.
They own an architecture practice that specializes in accessible design. Neither one have a disability that they disclosed or was noticeable by my eyes. With Puerto Rico not being as accessible as the rest of the US I see this couple as trailblazers. Creating a beautiful space available for people of all abilities is an example of the kind of vision we should all have. They’re making the world a much better place. I have a great amount of respect for them.
We stayed in the jungle for 3 nights. This was the first location that had a kitchen inside the unit.
Preparing and cooking meals for each other has become a huge part of Emily and my relationship. The excitement to finally get to cook for each other for the first time on this trip was strong.
It was just our luck that our hosts had a horticulture and organic farming interest, so had set up a rather large organic garden on the property.
They graciously offered free picking of anything that was edible. We supplemented fresh vegetables like cherry tomatoes, spinach, and mint with the ingredients we had bought at the grocery store. Our meals not only tasted incredible, they gave us an even stronger feeling of being in the jungle since we were eating right from our back door.
The food wasn’t all of the jungle experience though. Sharing meals on the patio while listening to the epic sounds of nature crossed the T and dotted the I.
Have you got a massage at a spa? You know the jungle soundtrack that they play? That’s exactly what we were listening to each evening. Before going to the jungle I thought it would be a quiet and peaceful place. Boy was I wrong. It wasn’t quiet at all but that didn’t mean it wasn’t peaceful. The thundering sounds of the on-and-off again rain was the most enjoyable aspect of our stay.
While it rained we enjoyed the comfort of the bungalow. No matter how deep inside the rainforest we were technology found a way to join us. Netflix seems to be a necessity for all people. Emily and I shared a similar experience to what her parents share on most evenings. We watched a few episodes of Jeopardy each night. Emily beat me every episode. I think it’s expected though. She’s well educated, traveled and has a thirst for learning.
Shes not only kick ass at jeopardy, she’s an outdoors woman. While in the El Yunque jungle she researched and conquered the El Tori trail.
Hiking in the jungle is no easy task. Trails often turn into streams especially during the rainy season. She didn’t let rain stop her though, but when she came back covered in mud, cuts, bruises, and sweat I was a little jealous.
While traveling within PR we are conscious of our effect on the locals. We live in a corporate country but supporting small business is in our heart, both of our families are small business owners and Emily is as well. We try our best to shop at local stores, order local food/drinks, stay at local AirBNBs.
Not every situation is ideal specially when traveling with a disability. If a business isn’t accessible there is no other option but to go to a corporation for our needs.
After concluding our stay in the jungle we still have 16 more days. Keep following our journey. There’s much more to see.
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