Tag Archives: Puerto Rico

Unknown Trails Beat the Usual Routes


Invariably, Travel injects my running routine with some sensory enhancements. Relocating my route to the edge of an ocean, up the side of a mountain, through the streets of an unfamiliar city or into the turns of an untried trail is a treasured element of the overall trip experience. The need to see what lies just down the beach or how the view will expand over the next ridge is a terrific natural energy boost. Like fresh paint on the walls of a familiar room, running through unknown places has a rejuvenating quality that lingers long after I’m solidly grounded into the repetitions of everyday life again.

In Puerto Rico we ran a golf course, innumerable beaches, roads and a couple of trails. The hazards ranged from coconuts and hermit crabs to wild horses, chickens and mosquitoes. Occasional encounters with spraying irrigation systems were generally a nice counterbalance to the humid heat, however.

The palm lined beach we ran from our first location in Rio Grande was especially lovely. In the morning thick clouds rolled overhead, ferrying their moisture inland and giving glimpses of the day’s light hidden just behind them.

The effect of such visual inspiration? Better speed, better distance and some endorphin-rich vacation memories that followed me all the way home and back onto my regular running route.

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One Ocean is Enough at Playa Seven Seas

Photo by Hannah Hartzell

Seven Seas? There was but one ocean in the near vicinity. And along Puerto Rico’s northeastern shoreline, it was the North Atlantic. But, we weren’t about to quibble about minor math when the sand was soft, the sky and water were complementary shades of blue and the palm trees were waving a breezy “hello”.

Playa Seven Seas in Fajardo is technically a balneario: a beach park with facilities. While “playa” might better describe the utterly isolated beaches we joyfully found on Isla de Vieques a couple of days later, Seven Seas had been recommended to us by a local as where she liked to go on her day off. There were a few picnicking families, but overall it was the quiet sort of spot we had hoped to find.

Just down the road (where we turned around when I missed yet another turn -not an unusual event for me!) we spotted a little restaurant that featured ocean side tables just across the street.  We weren’t in lunch mode at the time, but the view alone would have made for a nice meal.


Fresh Cracked Coconut

My local produce department is top notch, but nothing beats reaching up and grabbing fresh fruit from a tree.  Quanapes, sea grapes, passion fruit, breadfruit, mangoes, coconuts…  all were within easy reach during our trip to Puerto Rico and Vieques.  Landing back in reality includes accepting the seasonality and limited availability of passion fruit here in central Ohio.

Coconuts, on the other hand, have achieved mainstream non-exotic status in US groceries.  Grabbing one from a store display seems a bit tame, though, after watching them prepared roadside near El Yunque National Forest. A big knife, a stump and a few heavy swings was all it took to split one open for Matt.  A few sips of the watery “milk”, though, and he was ready to move on to the fleshy fruit.

Later in the trip, we watched a man split a coconut with no tools at all, hurling it at the ground repeatedly until it fractured enough to be pried apart.  He insisted on giving us the opened coconut and split off pieces of the outer husk to make scooping spoons.  Of course, we couldn’t resist trying to split our own then, tossing coconuts at boulders throughout the rest of our trip.  They take a bit more effort than peeling a quanape or plucking a sea grape, but the exercise of opening a coconut only adds to the enjoyment of eating one.  I bet they taste even better when you climb the tree to grab your own!

 

Family Vacation on raveable

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