To say we were excited about kicking off our inaugural trip to Puerto Rico is the understatement of the century. A lot of planning and anticipation has gone into it, and it is finally here!
The morning started off very relaxed (because Manini girls Sam & Erica were still recovering from her epic Havana themed bachelorette party) so we headed to find some breakfast around 10:00am along with two of our travelers, sisters Jacci and Sammi. Thanks to Erica’s Puerto Rican fiancé and our unofficial translator/tour guide/errand runner/pack mule/videographer we had delicious sweet and savory mallorca breakfast sandwiches. The fluffy sweet-bread mixed delightfully with the saltiness of the meat and cheese and the saccherine of the powdered sugar dusted on top was the metaphorical icing on the cake!
Free Time | Old San Juan
After breakfast, we had some time before our afternoon activities so we strolled through Old San Juan taking in the sights and smells. We stopped by Castillo San Felipe del Morro to look out across the aged cemetery to the sparkling blue of the Caribbean. The crumbling stone and brick is the epitome of seasoned beauty. If you follow our brilliant photographer (@ericakayphotography) you have seen the gorgeous shots of the garitas, placed along the perimeter to house cannons and defend the fortress. We also saw an iguana which tickled my Disney princess fancy.
Stopping by La Parque de las Palomas (Pidgeons) was neat. It is a place that families will sometimes go to feed the birds and it is a flurry of feathers and activity. Today however, it was rather calm with “only” about 50 birds there. It still has great views of the ocean and city though.
Volunteering | Save A Sato
Philanthropy is a passion for us and one of the major building blocks of our company so its fitting that we would jump right in to service on our first day.
The organization we volunteered is a stray dog rescue called Save A Sato (Sato meaning “mixed breed” in Puerto Rico) whose primary mission is “to improve the quality of life for Puerto Rico’s homeless and abused companion animals.” The women who run the shelter are passionate dog-lovers and just all-around altruistic, meritorious people. There is not a lot of volunteer support from local residents so they were excited when we inquired about volunteering.
The rescue started in 1996 when a woman from the U.S. started saving dogs from the streets and adopting them out to people back home. To this day, the majority of dogs are still adopted out to people in the states.
Our experience volunteering was great. We cleaned out cages and food bowls, fed the dogs and took them out to play, and by the end of the day we were a sweaty, smelly, SMILING mess. Almost all of the dogs are friendly and quick to greet you with a kiss, which made the work all worth it!
If anyone is interested in getting involved and helping this wonderful organization we can assist in pointing you in the right direction. Currently, the Puerto Rican government has buildings that are no longer in use, most of them schools, and Save A Sato would like to be granted one of those buildings so that they can expand their facility. In order to do this they need to write a proposal to the government and they could use help from anyone who has experience writing them. [Please contact us if you feel you would be able to provide some assistance and we can get you in contact with these amazing humans.] They are also in need of volunteers, supplies such as newspapers and clorox, and help with their $17,000 vet bill. [If you would like to donate, they ask that you send the money directly to the vet in their name. Contact us for that information as well.]
Dinner | Punto De Vista
Dinner. Was. Amazing. I mean, I can’t possibly translate the tastes to you through written word but I can do my best. If you have ever been to Puerto Rico, you have had Mofongo. Mofongo is mashed green plantains with meat and veggies, topped with sauce. Most of us ate that and you had the option of a creamy garlic sauce or a sweet criolla (peach, mango & pineapple) sauce. The criolla sauce had so much flavor and the balance between sweet and savory was addictive.
I could go on and on about the food but should also mention the atmosphere and the wait staff. The rooftop terrace is perfect and breezy with strung lights giving it a dreamy vibe. The staff was awesome, friendly, and they were more than willing to work with us being a larger group.
We have a fantastic group of travelers who have joined us for this trip and we are SO excited to explore new things with our new (and old) friends! Keep a lookout for our blog posts all week featuring the highlights of our adventures!