I’m not going to lie. Anthony Bourdain’s visit to Pork Highway for his TV show played a major role in my decision to move to Puerto Rico.
The Pork Highway, or La Ruta del Lechón, is a roughly three-mile stretch of Route 184 along the east side of El Yunque. There are around 20 lechoneras along the three-mile stretch of highway. They specialize in slow roasted whole pig.
I stayed at a hostel near this beach in a really rough barrio. I made friends with some locals, and I asked where to drink in the area. I was shocked to find the tiny, empty place they recommended had almost 200 types of beer. I asked my new friends why the place didn’t advertise better.
He said, “SHHHIIIIIITTT. If they advertised, they would have to work harder, and their friends wouldn’t be able to get good seats.”
That was the moment I knew I would like Puerto Rico.
Thread-Living in PR:
This is the primary tourist beach in San Juan, Condado Beach.
The city is named after, and dedicated to, John the Baptist. Patron Saint festivals in Puerto Rico are a really big deal. On June 24th each year, San Juan holds a huge celebration. In addition to many other festivities, thousands of locals go to this beach at night. Right at midnight they all dive into the ocean to reenact the baptism of Jesus.
June 26, 2015-The day same-sex marriage was legalized in America, a spontaneous celebration erupted at the Puerto Rico Capitol Building. Thousands of people formed a parade and marched through Old San Juan.
This is the front of that parade.
I am straight, but I decided to go dancing that night in the “gay” part of town. Hands down, that was the most joyous celebration I have ever witnessed.
I discovered that Puerto Rico has fire ants while I was trying to take this photo. It was my first week on the island. I had my tripod set up in the only location where I could get this angle. I was wearing sandals. My feet itched for weeks.
A German girl I met in a San Juan hostel heard rumors about a strip of beach bars and restaurants where the locals trained their horses to take them home when they got too drunk.
We decided to check it out. There was one horse. She took pictures with it. Then we went for a swim. As it got dark the noise got louder and louder. We walked back to the bars to discover 30+ horses racing up and down the beach. Breathtaking.
Old San Juan was one of the largest Spanish fortifications in the new world. The city wall was 7 miles long, 45 feet thick at the base, and between 40 and 150 feet tall. It was also impervious to cannon fire.
This photo shows San Juan Gate, the last of the old gates into the city. The massive Banyan tree standing guard by the gate was destroyed in hurricane Maria.
I called it the happy tree. I am going to keep the story why to myself.
Perched above the San Juan Gate, this statue depicts the legend of La Rogativa
In 1797, British troops led by Sir Abercrombie took control of the city by naval blockade.
The Bishop of San Juan called for a Rogativa. A procession of women, led by the priest, sang hymns, carried torches and bells, and prayed on top the city wall. The British, mistaking them for reinforcements, considering themselves outnumbered, abandoned the blockade.