Adventuring can come in many forms. Not every adventure is trekking through the jungle or flying in a helicopter. Adventuring can be as simple as getting lunch, doing some shopping, getting drinks or doing laundry. Well… I guess none of that’s a true adventure but it doesn’t mean it wasn’t a fun day.
Before leaving California Emily posted our plan to travel to Puerto Rico on social media. That post sparked a flame on an old friendship. One of Emily’s childhood friends is living in San Juan and we planned to meet her and her family for lunch. Emily loved catching up with an old friend and I appreciated make new friends. They are local business owners that you’ll hear more about in my next Journey post.
After lunch Emily and I did some shopping. We spent the day relaxing for the most part. Emily spent some time on the beach and I explored the city on my own. Later we ate dinner and did some laundry. Our morning horseback riding plans required us to rest so we went to bed early.
Right as we were leaving our hotel the next morning, Emily received a message from the horseback-riding company. They canceled on us because some workers didn’t show up. We were both pretty bummed but Emily sprung into action. I was driving with no set destination while she researched trails. She found one that we both thought I could manage. She plugged the destination into our GPS and off we went.
I’ve learned that plans rarely go the way you thought they would especially while traveling. Being open to alternative ideas is important. We could have let our horseback riding cancelation destroy our day but we chose to stay positive. We chose to be flexible.
On the way to Charco Azul trailhead Emily read some trail reviews. Some reviews made this trail seem majestic and magnificent. Others reminded the readers that a hurricane demolished it. Keeping up trails doesn’t seem to be of importance in Puerto Rico right now. Rightfully so, there’s downed power lines, holes in roads and so many other issues of importance. We stayed optimistic though.
We arrived at the trailhead and there was an open area to park across the street.
This was once a campground as well as a hiking trail. Nothing was rebuilt after the hurricane. It was all completely abandoned. A gate at the trailhead was locked signifying the trail was closed but you couldn’t tell because there was a footpath to the side of the gate. I was pleased my wheelchair fit through the gap.
The path was paved at the beginning of the hike. Extremely smooth and plenty wide for people to pass if needed.
It led us to an open meadow that looked like it was once camping spaces. Without proper upkeep the jungle easily swallowed every camping space. There were even bathrooms…but not functioning. A tree had fallen and taken most of the roof down with it.
After taking a look around we continued our hike.
The paved path would come and go but it was still doable even for my wheelchair.
I was using my freewheel attachment and boy does it make a difference.
I only used it a few times on this trip but I’m so grateful I had it with me for those moments. We ran into a few spots that I had to get out of my chair and crawl. Rolling down a steep cambered embankment can get super sketchy. I know my limits and tried to stay within them as much as possible during this trip. Luckily I have an amazing partner to help make things easier if needed.
Being in nature is something we all need to experience. Hiking is challenging, recharging and healthy. Being able to hike along side Emily was one of my favorite things about this whole trip. We both love being challenged and getting dirty. Hiking for me is difficult. Just finding a trail can be the hardest part so we were both stoked Puerto Rico had created this for their community.
We passed multiple streams along the trial that had cement bridges just wide enough for my chair.
I would have loved to see this camp ground before it was destroyed.
I could imagine families sitting around campfires cooking food and singing. Parents teaching their kids basic life skills like fishing and building a shelter. It was truly beautiful even with its current state. I felt this way and I didn’t even experience the best part yet.
On the drive to the trail Emily mentioned how excited she was to reach the swimming hole at the end of the trail. We talked about it non stop during the hike. As we approached the swimming hole I thought back to a swimming hole we experienced together in South Dakota.
It took some effort to get me in and this hole looked to be the same. Every drop of sweat was worth it though. It was mostly Emily sweating anyway. The woman’s strong. She piggybacked me down the embankment into the water. It was freezing cold. She was in up to her thighs taking deep breaths while I laughed. The only part of my body that was wet was my feet. I couldn’t feel the temperature but when the water reached my waist (where my feeling comes in) I immediately stopped laughing.
We acclimated to the water fast. It felt amazing.
I felt like I was in a movie a few times during this trip. This moment time slowed again. Emily and I were neck deep, eye to eye in a remote swimming hole in the jungle of Puerto Rico. Talk about ROMANTIC moments! Yes, moment. It didn’t last long and we were okay with it.
Locals showed up with food and music. We had a great time-sharing the swimming hole.
After swimming we laid in the sun and worked on our tans. We eventually hiked back to the car and started our way back down the hill. We passed tons of Bamboo on the trail and I wish I could have taken it home with me.
Hiking and swimming stole all our energy. We needed to refuel so we stopped to eat at a roadside vendor. The food in Puerto Rico has been more than amazing. We both chose a few items to share. I had pork ribs and Puerto Rican tamale. Emily chose stew and a banana pudding for dessert. A few locals sat at the bar drinking and laughing. The culture here is fascinating. I fell in love with Puerto Rico and can’t wait to visit again.