Caribbean Vacation, Day Five – San Juan, Puerto Rico

The first thing you notice about San Juan — especially in contrast with Bermuda — is that the port is actually close to the city. Of course, there are some drawbacks to that approach, including much more pressure from various tour hawkers and street vendors. We ran that gauntlet to find ourselves right on the outskirts of Old San Juan in the middle of the hottest morning we’ve encountered yet on this trip.

We had a few hours to kill before our scheduled shore excursion, so we wandered through some of Old San Juan to do some exploring and souvenir shopping. The area certainly gives you a taste of the “old style” Spanish town with the architectural features and narrow stone streets. Some of the buildings were in really good condition, while some were really run down. Nonetheless, we found a few nice trinkets to bring home and managed to avoid the high-pressure jewelry stores and the like. We found a nice restaurant for lunch, and then headed back to the ship to meet up with our tour group for the excursion.

We had elected to go on the “San Juan Canopy Adventure” excursion, so we boarded a bus to head to one of the Puerto Rican rainforests. We had to switch from a large bus to a smaller bus in order to head up into the hills, where we were dropped off at the starting point for Canopy Tours. After signing the typical “any injury is not our fault, it’s yours” liability waiver, we were suited up with some rappelling gear and took a short hike up into the hills. From there, started back down to the base camp in stages — but instead of walking, we slid down various rope traverses between platforms that had been built up between the trees. Each person had two pulley mechanisms on the harnesses that were attached to the ropes with carabineers; we would then sit down in the harness and kick away from the platform, sliding a down the ropes for a few hundred feet to the next platform. We had a great time, doing our best jungle yells as we slid from tree to tree through the forest — about 10 traverses in all.

After that, we headed back to the ship to get cleaned up and then headed back to Old San Juan for dinner. Sadly, between it being Sunday and the ship departing port at 11 PM, we didn’t have time to find a place to put our pre-cruise Latin dancing lessons to the test. We did get to do some party dancing, though, at the tropical-themed “sail away” party on the ship that night — followed by a wonderful tropical fruit buffet and conga line.

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