Roadside Dining, Puerto Rico

Continuing our adventure in Puerto Rico over Memorial Day, we went to our friends’ wedding on Saturday. Had some delicious Sangria and tasty little appetizers post-ceremony then a lovely luncheon of chicken crepes with grilled vegetables. The cake was non-remarkable and only served to reinforce our plan for our own cake to skip the smooth fondant icing which tastes like cardboard in favor of the good stuff: buttercream.

After the lunch reception, we had a mid-day break for drinking/napping/homework/gambling then met up with much of the wedding party at a rooftop club along the waterfront. Post-party we hit up a late-night classic, even in Puerto Rico: Denny’s.

San Juan at night
San Juan at night

The next day, having made some new friends at the wedding reception/party who had a rental car and a plan like ours, we headed out to experience the rainforest. El Yunque is the only rainforest in the National Park System. And it was awesome. I’ll throw a few pictures up at the bottom of this post.

But before we got to the rainforest (about 45 minute drive from San Juan), we needed to eat. After someone first mentioned just hitting up a fast food joint, it was observed that every block had three or four street food vendors on it. We picked a good-looking one and with a bit of broken Spanish, got a shrimp empanada (meat filled pastry, like Chris wanted Friday night), a couple of fried taquito like things and this thing that no one can remember the name of. Since we were eating in the car, I didn’t get to take a picture. But basically, it was like layers of sweet something (passion fruit), stuffed with spicy meat then battered and fried. Everything was fried and darn tasty.

We arrived at El Yunque and drove up to the highest point for cars, stopping at a tower and the waterfalls that just spill out along the road. After stopping at a park store, we got a map and decided to walk to La Mina falls, a 3/4 mile hike along the river to a cascade with swimming area at the base. This trail was rated as challenging but should also only take 30 minutes one way. HA HA HA. Well, I guess if you are in fine shape (I’m not), and its not raining (um, its the rainforest), and you aren’t stopping every 30 feet to take awesome pictures, you could get there in 30 minutes. The walk in was worth it though. La Mina falls were beautiful and there were plenty of photo ops on the way.

The walk back, not such a fan of. The rain, which is nearly constant but at a drizzly rate, became a downpour. And while I was dressed for warm weather, I was wearing cotton. We were absolutely drenched when we got back to the car. And the stairs that were challenging on the way “down” were three times harder on the way back (mentally anyhow). The entire trail is concrete or stone steps built in to the side of the river cut. Up and down, over and over. Blah.

We started back down the mountain and watched the rain lessen as we descended. By the time we got back in to the town at the base, the sun was shining. But before we hit bottom, we stopped at this little cafe mentioned in a guide book. Noted for the dog (who barks) living on the roof of the restaurant, this place was supposed to have great fried chicken.

OH MY GOD. Not like traditional Southern fried chicken with batter, this stuff was just lightly dusted with seasoning and maybe a bit of flour then thrown in the fryer. It was so good and the skin was to die for. I got an order with rice and beans on the side while Chris decided to get another empanada, this one pizza-style. Three minutes later he’s angling for a bit of my chicken. I gave him a bit (there was plenty) but I was keeping all the skin on the side. In the end I relented and gave him a bit of skin too. I also ordered a piña colada and the guy said to bring it back up if I needed more rum. I didn’t, it was tasty and just right. As we were leaving, Chris ordered one for the road and had them add the extra rum. Apparently by extra they meant another shot and a half. It was one strong piña colada!

We declared that this fried chicken lunch was the best meal of the trip, so far.

road side falls
Roadside falls
San Juan in the distance
San Juan in the distance
Cool picture of the peak in the tower- Chris took this one.
Cool picture of the peak in the tower- Chris took this one.
roadside falls going down the mountain
Roadside falls going down the mountain
La Mina Falls
La Mina Falls

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