Surprisingly, I was in good spirits when I awoke. I’m barely in my thirties but the day after drinking I feel much older. Spinal cord injury or not I’ve felt like I would still need to use my wheelchair. Luckily, on my second Day in San Juan I felt like a spring flower. Was it because I was still on vacation or because I was enthralled of Emily and my afternoon plans? Keep reading and make your own decision.
Not everyone has the opportunity to travel like we have during this trip and I’m very aware of that. I have an enormous amount of gratitude that this opportunity is even available to me. I have a boss who let me take a month away to live life. If you’re in management, this is a lesson to be learned. As much as corporate America needs workers to show up for 8 hours a day, it’s equally important to let your employees be human and enjoy their life outside work. They will want to preform at a higher rate than before their vacation, which will increase productivity substantially.
Emily and I are on our last week of vacation and we are set to make every moment memorable. The memories made during this vacation have left a mark not only on my memory but my soul. We took a helicopter tour that showed Puerto Rico’s beauty from a birds eye view. We’ve flown over Puerto Rico a few times in a smaller planes but we were excited to have a different perspective.
We arrived at Puerto Rico Helicopter Tours about 15 minutes before our tour.
We were shown a safety video and given life preservers in the case of a crash into the sea. This was Emily’s first time in a helicopter and would be my first memory of flying in a helicopter. I’ve taken two flights in my past but don’t remember them much. They drink service must have been strong! No, I’m kidding I don’t remember much because I was heavily sedated. The ride was from the bottom of a 600 ft reviegn to the hospital. I had just drove off the road and was badly injured. My have a strong respect for helicopters now because I wouldn’t be alive without them.
While waiting for our flight we heard the helicopter land. The vibration of the hanger increased our excitement level. Next we saw passengers who just landed walk through the hanger with huge smiles on their faces. We were told it would be a 5 minute wait while the helicopter was being refueled. The anticipation was to much to handle! I wanted to be in the sky now. Time felt like it stopped.
Finally, we were told the pilot was ready for us so we made our way to the tarmac. We could hear the whirring drum beat of the blades before we made it out of the hanger. The pilot was ready. The blades were whirling, sending gusts of wind towards us. Getting into the helicopter was much easier than I expected. I sat I. The front next to the pilot. The ground crew carried my wheelchair away from the chopper and while Emily boarded next. The pilot gave me a nudge, turned towards Emily and gestured for us to put on the headsets so we could hear each other talk. He asked us if we ready. It was a rhetorical question, I could tell by the smirk he gave me.
Communication with the tower was hard to follow. Pilots and air traffic control conversations sound like a different language to me. I guess what matters most is they understand each other. The tower granted the pilot’s request for take off and we were off the ground. Our take off was exhilarating. It felt like we were only 10 feet from the ground but we had to be traveling 50mph. We turned toward the runway and started to gain elevation. Our pilot hit his mic and to let us know where we were going first.
We were headed towards the beaches of San Juan. We flew over the ocean but not too far off the shore.
The shades of blue and green water mixing together were mesmerizing. Theshallower the water the lighter the colors became. They eventually mixed with the stunning white sand and then I could see people. They were enjoying the warm sun rays and working on their tans while we hovered by.
We approached Old San Juan but first passed the state building and Castillo de San Cristobal.
Then we passed the famous la perla district.
Once the roughest drug neighborhoods in all of Puerto Rico but now mostly known as the filming location of the music video Despacito. and I’m not talking about the Justin Bieber version.
We made it to el morro. It was the first location we explored on our first full day in Puerto Rico.
It’s now our last week and we’ve come full circle. Yes, different elevations but we were where we started and the view was like an out of body experience. Our pilot radioed the tower requesting a hover. We sat off the shore staring directly into the 16th century Spanish fort.
He then lifted and turned us around so we were pointed northwest. The way the helicopter maneuvered during the turn got my blood flowing. When I looked outta passenger side window all I could see was ocean.
The helicopter eventually leveled out and we were over land again. Land that was special to Puerto Rico.
Land originally owned by Santiago de Cuba, the founder of Bacardi Rum. Founded on February 4th 1862 and still operating today. Bacardi is important to Puerto Rico because it employs roughly 7,000 people.
Our next stop was the largest fresh water reservoir in Puerto Rico. Its located in the center of Puerto Rico.
The dam was built in 1948 to provide water for hydroelectric power generation along the northern coast of Puerto Rico.
The reservoir is able to store 55.66 million cubic meters of water. It’s huge but what I found most beautiful was the suspension bridge that connected people from both sides of the reservoir.
On our way back to San Juan we circled the Luis A. Ferré Science Park in Bayomon.
From the air we could see rockets and old military aircrafts but that’s not all the museum houses.
It has a zoo and tons of other exhibits. Unfortunately, it hasn’t fully recovered after the hurricane and is still closed. For us that didn’t matter because we were able to experience it from the sky.
San Juan is only a short distance from Bayomond and traveling by air got us back fast. Our approach was just as thrilling as our departure but the expressions on our face were much different. We were smiling from ear to ear as the helicopters skids touched the ground. We thanked the pilot as he powered down the helicopter. The ground crew brought my wheelchair to the door and lifted the passenger door. I hopped onto my chair and rolled out from under the whirling blades.
While walking back to the hanger Emily and I discussed our favorite parts of the tour. We both agreed the experience we just had was priceless. Many reasons came to mind but the strongest was love. The feeling I get when exploring the world with my partner is inexpressible. Our souls seek adventure so adventuring together is what we’re doing.