At first it looked as I thought it would, with palm trees and green, luscious flora, but then I noticed something I wasn't expecting. Large, green and yellow iguanas the size of a medium sized dog scurried from the runway into the shrubbery. "Look at the lizards, look at them!" a little boy in the row behind me yelled. The plane, filled with tourists, was taken by them. Frankly, I was glad they were outside and I was in the plane - they looked like they could have eaten me.
Rolling into San Juan from the airport, I observed the city. Giant skyscrapers reached for the clouds, a four-lane freeway was packed with cars, and there was a Subway every 200 feet. I felt like I hadn't even left the U.S., and technically I hadn't.
But that feeling was short lived. Stepping out of the taxi onto the street where I was staying, I was hit by a wall of humid heat - 90 degrees and 80% humidity. Gasping for air, I tried to wipe away the sweat that instantly poured from my forehead and maintain consciousness while I paid the taxi driver. I knew it would be hot here, but let me tell you - it's really hot.
After arriving at my vacation rental apartment, I took a look at my legs which I had left uncovered and unprotected during my journey from the airport. Almost forty mosquito bites - yes, I counted - were peppered everywhere from my shins to my forearms. "Welcome to the Caribbean," those little buggers seemed to be snickering at me. I had received my initiation to Puerto Rico.
This first experience with mosquitoes set the tone for the rest of my adventure in Puerto Rico up until now. My legs have been permanently red, swollen, and itchy since my arrival. As such, the locals know instantly that I'm a tourist because of the pink, dried calamine lotion that I slather on generously every ten minutes. Maybe it's because I'm fresh blood, or maybe I taste really sweet, but I seem to be particularly attractive to mosquitoes here.
My second weekend here, a hurricane passed through Hispaniola and Puerto Rico was just on the outskirts of the storm. Rain pelted from the sky for two days straight, making it impossible to venture outside without getting totally soaked. Umbrellas were useless - the wind turned them inside out. Tourists braved the storm in ponchos, determined to see San Juan and enjoy their vacations. After one attempt to brave the storm and go sightseeing, I returned to my apartment to snuggle with my host family's two cats. I survived my first hurricane.
When there are no hurricanes, I go to the beach, which is only a 20 minute walk from my apartment. The beach perfectly pleasant, as it's on a lagoon and separated from the harsh waves of the sea. The sand is white, the water is clear, and the experience is heavenly. San Juan has given me the opportunity to live - pleasure, journeys, life lessons, love, and joy. Every day, my eyes are set on the horizon, knowing that each new day will bring new adventures.