Rainforest, rum distillery, Old San Juan

Today was s a busy day. I got a lot of fun things done. My day started with a trip to El Yunque, the rainforest on the east side of this island. I walked to another hotel where the tourbus would pick me up. It only took 20 minutes and with the GPS it wasn’t that hard.

The big van stopped at three more hotels to pick up guests and then about 35 minutes to the rainforest. It was rainy and not too warm. I wasn’t freezing, but I had a few goosebumps most of the day. And because of the cold, I didn’t go into the waterfall pool, otherwise I totally would have done it!

We saw a lot of waterfalls, dense rainforest, a tree frog, lizards, bamboo, and more. It was definitely a cool experience to be in a real rainforest. We didn’t hike much at all. Just mostly drove around to vistas, some walking and climbing, but nothing too hard. It was an easy day. But I was extremely tired when I got back to the hostel, so I actually took an hour nap before going to my next stop for the day.

Juan Diego Juan Diego waterfall pools.Juan Diego Juan Diego waterfalls pools.Sierra palm tree Sierra palm treeEl Yunque El Yunque Yokahu Tower Yokahu Tower built in the 60’s for an amazing view over the forest.Yokahu Tower On top of Yokahu Tower.Yokahu Tower Yokahu Tower Yokahu Tower Yokahu Tower La Coca Falls La Coca Falls.La Coca Falls

I drove there in the heavy traffic, but I was in a better mood today and didn’t get too angry when I drove the wrong way a few times. I got there and directly managed to catch a tour. $13 for the tour, and a complimentary glass and drink was included and so was a lot of rum tasting. So worth it! Not worth driving though. I had a few sips of rum and a virgin pina colada afterward. First on the tour we drove around the area in a train and the guide pointed out the distillery and all the other buildings. Then we went to the visitor center where we first watched a historic movie about the Bacardi company. Then into a room where an old distillery was built. We could smell different types of rum and learned the process of making rum. It was interesting, but too much fact for me to remember now. I do remember though that it started in 1862 in Cuba, and then moved mainly to USA, and then back to the Caribbean when alcohol was banned. It opened up on Puerto Rico in the mid 20th century and the San Juan Bacardi distillery is today the world’s biggest. I also remember that it was the founders wife who suggested the bat logo because the first building they used were full of bats.

The next room was a bar where a bartender taught us how to mix the three basic rum drinks and the history around them. The first one, rum and coke, was back in the days called a Cuba Libre (=for a free Cuba) because the military cheered that way. It is just rum (preferably not a white rum), coke and lime. The second one, daiquiri, was invented when a lot of people ordered the same drink all the time, but there was no name for it, so one guy named it after the city he was in (or something like that). The drink is also very easy to mix, two teaspoons of sugar, white rum, ice, and lime juice. And then there are a lot of variations with flavors and stuff. The third drink was mojito and I definitely learned something about that drink today. You are not supposed to use the muddle on the mint leaves, only on the lime. So first, two teaspoons of sugar on ~5 slices of lime, muddle it, then pour white rum (don’t remember the amounts) and lime juice over, take a handful of mint leaves and clap your hands once or twice with the leaves in between and then put them in the drink. Some ice on that and it is done. The last thing we did was to try Bacardi 8, 8 years aged rum. It was strong, but actually not too bad. I only took half the sample, since I was driving (I usually have a zero alcohol and driving policy, but I thought if there was one time to break it, it would be at the tour of the world’s biggest rum distillery. Then in the shop I tried a tiny sip on Bacardi Coconut, and Rock Coconut which was a fusion between melon and coconut. Both were good, but strong. It is hard alcohol. And then at the bar where the tour started I got a pina colada with no rum and had it as a smoothie in the car while I was driving to Old San Juan.

Casa Bacardi That artsy thing (where you bought the tickets, and where the bar was) is supposed to look like a flying bat. It is very much designed.Casa Bacardi Casa Bacardi

Old San Juan was cute, I liked it. It is very close to the hostel and there were a lot of souvenir shops, which is what I was looking for. I bought my bracelet and the magnet and I actually couldn’t resist buying a shot glass too. I wasn’t planning on it, but when I saw it, I just couldn’t resist, handmade with an iguana on it.

Old San JuanCalle Fortaleza in Old San Juan.

On my way out of there I had to drive through the busiest street of Old San Juan, but I survived and it wasn’t too bad.

I got back, hung out with my roommates for a while (they are leaving tomorrow morning unfortunately), we ate pizza, and talked about everything. They are really cool!

Now, I am finishing this up, and will probably go to sleep directly after. This humid heat is making me exhausted all the time. Tomorrow is Christmas Eve, which is hard for me to believe. I will spend it on a beach called Mar Chiquita, then return the car and watch the last 9 episodes of the Swedish Christmas Calendar I haven’t watched yet. I will probably stream “Kalle Anka” (Donald Duck, the Swedish Christmas TV tradition) as well. I don’t feel too sad about spending another Christmas away from home actually. It is a nice holiday, but not too important to me any longer. I guess it will be when I have my own family in the future though.

San Juan International HostelThis is what the main room in the hostel looks like.

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