Some say the worst part of traveling somewhere is the actual traveling part. I strongly disagree. The getting from point A to point B can be just as enjoyable as laying on a beach while gazing into the Caribbean Sea. It’s all about how you perceive travel. Waking up early to catch a flight, having fun in the airport while connecting flights, conversing with a local taxi driver on the way to your hotel are all parts of traveling that I appreciate.
I don’t always appreciate these things in the moment but looking back, I do. Emily and I spent 14 hours traveling to Puerto Rico yesterday. We had some fun moments like sharing headphones to watch Dancing with Wolves during our flight and getting massages during our 4 hour lay over at JFK airport in New York. We also had challenging times like Emily learning how to be patient while traveling with me (she travels frequently for work so is used to zipping through these things quickly). Everything takes more time for wheelchair travelers, sometimes painfully so. It requires extra checks at security since I can’t get out of my chair, then we have to preboard, which means I have to be at the gate before everyone. I also have to wait for all the passengers to exit the plane before getting off, because they have to get a special aisle chair. This can add hours to an already very long travel day. However, I feel really lucky to just be able to travel.
Despite these challenges, we made it to Puerto Rico and are thrilled so far. After checking into our hotel room we pulled out our Google machines (cellphones) to look for a bar close by. After one drink we realized we hadn’t eaten dinner so we asked the barkeeper where we could grab food. He suggested La Factoría a few blocks away. We ordered some fancy drinks made with local tropical fruits and nachos. While eating we noticed people coming and going from a secret passageway behind the bar – like a speakeasy. The adventurous parts of us pushed us (literally – there were several steps we had to figure out) to see what was going on. Once we were through the door the spirit of salsa entered our bodies. The music was loud and the dance floor was covered with couples dancing. We met a few locals who turned out to be some of the most inviting people I’ve ever met. We now have Old San Juan Puerto Rico local friends!
Travel days can turn out to be memorable if you want them to – it’s all about perspective! We could have been grumpy and tired but we chose to experience the moments for what they are and push through them for an incredible reward at the end. You should live too! The world is full of incredible, magical places like secret speakeasy salsa bars that are just here waiting for you to come visit.