The few days that Mimi and I spent in Hong Kong for grandma’s funeral reminded us how much we missed being around our extended family on our mom’s side. Our mom has 4 younger brothers, and they were a big part of our childhood growing up. We don’t get to see one another very often anymore, and unfortunately, it took a funeral to get all of us in one place again.
We were with our uncles nearly 24/7 during those few days in Hong Kong, and it definitely helped for us to grieve together. Times like that definitely brings everyone closer, even if just momentarily. After we came back, we were in withdrawal for a bit, so we decided to pack our bags and take the girls with us to San Juan, Puerto Rico where most of our uncles live, in order to extend that family time!
This was my third trip to San Juan, but it was the first for Mimi, Brianne, and Bridgette, so I was excited that we’d get to experience it together. It was a short 4 day trip, but we didn’t have much plans or expectations other than to have some quality time with family, so it was a nice change to not put on my planner hat! 🙂
My teenage cousin, Steven, who has lived in Puerto Rico most of his life, took us around to the El Yunque rainforest for a half day hike, the Camuy cave for an adventure of a lifetime, the beautiful El Morro fort in Old San Juan for the most magnificent sunset viewing, and of course…the lovely beaches that Puerto Rico is known for, for some fun in the sun!
We seriously thought we’d just be hanging out at the beach every day, so we didn’t even think to pack running shoes with us. We ended up having to hike in our flip flops, which was fine for the first 30 minutes but after a few hours, our poor feet were ready to retire!
Being in the rainforest, it of course rained sporadically, but we were almost always sheltered by the tall, lush trees surrounding us!
After the hike, we made it back to Old San Juan just in time for the most glorious sunset at the El Morro, which is a 400 year old fort right by the water! It was so beautiful out there even the girls couldn’t resist taking photo after photo!
On our second day, we went to the Arecibo Observatory to see the world’s largest single-aperture telescope. The thousand foot dish was really quite massive, but the kids weren’t all that interested, so we didn’t stay for very long.
After lunch, we proceeded to the new cave in Camuy, none of us really knowing what to expect. We basically paid our admissions fee, got geared up, and followed our tour guide. Little did we know that we’d have to climb up/down muddy paths and be inside a pitch black cave full of bats, scorpions, and cockroaches! Ofcourse….all of that while we were in our summer dresses and flip flops!!! Talk about being unprepared!
At one point, we could hear the bats circling right above us. We weren’t allowed to use our flashlights then, for fear of hurting the bats’ visions. That was probably a good thing, as we would’ve been a lot more frightened if we actually saw them in such close proximity to our heads! The scariest part for me was watching a cockroach eat a scorpion, and then hearing the tour guide tell us there were thousands of cockroaches right around us!!!
When we reached the end of the cave though, we were greeted with an extraordinary view that made it well worth the trek!
After the first two physically intense days, we spent our third day just chilling at the beach, which was definitely a nice change of pace. 🙂
We’ve raised some serious water babies! An entire afternoon in the water and sand was not enough for them. We stayed through another gorgeous sunset, and into the early evening, before we had to drag the girls away. Much to our delight though, right before we left, we got to watch fireworks on the beach for a nearby wedding!
There was a storm on our final day in San Juan, so we hung out at my uncle’s souvenir stores to help him sort through inventory instead. The girls had a blast because they decided to conduct their own in-store fashion show!
What a great trip!! Much love and thanks to our uncles, aunts, and cousins for hosting us and making our trip such a memorable one!
We had a 4 hour layover in NYC on our way home, so we were able to show the girls a very small glimpse of the Big Apple. 🙂 We had to hit the hot dog stands of course, and FAO Schwarz!