My girlfriends and I planned a really special trip to Puerto Rico after we lost one of our dear friends to cancer three months ago. She was a nature freak and an adventure lover, and before she passed, she would always talk about a best friend’s weekend retreat in the mountains of Puerto Rico.

by My Puerto Rico Experience

When we got to Puerto Rico, we decided to stay a few nights in the Courtyard by Marriott to visit the Piñones Mangrove Reserve before heading to Jayuya and enjoy a little bit of time in a beach resort in San Juan. We wanted to enjoy the best of both worlds. The Courtyard in Puerto Rico was super close to the Piñones area and we made arrangements with a taxi cab driver to drop us early at the boardwalk and then pick us up in the afternoon. We found a bike rental shack and spent the whole day biking around Piñones. Running on the bike path made us feel safe and relaxed, while we enjoyed the coastal view of Isla Verde. We then stopped at different beachfront food joints and got to try Puerto Rico’s local goodies. After two days of beach bliss and unwinding from our crazy New York City lives, we rented a car and drove almost two hours to Toro Negro. We had gotten the permit weeks in advance by contacting the local DRNA office. The drive was extremely curvy and made us queasy, but the beautiful landscape made us quickly forget about it. It felt like we were driving through the clouds.

When we arrived to the Viveros’ camping area, close to the Forest Ranger’s office, we settled in after hauling our baggage from the parking spot to the campsite. There wasn’t anything nearby and no cellphone reception, so we were really on our own, which was exactly what we wanted.

The clear skies at night with so many stars left us breathless. We built a campfire and the three of us sat around it, telling stories of our beloved friend. We laughed and cried together. The magic of the coquí singing touched us, as we realized our love and friendship transcends life and death.

When the morning came, we hiked to The Observation Tower, where once again our hearts skipped a beat with the spectacular sight. I almost fell on my way down, because the rocks on the path were covered in moss. Our favorite trail after the tower was Charco de la Confesora. It led to a small waterfall with water so clear we all felt the need to jump in.

Going on the Piñones bike trail and the Toro Verde camping retreat were such incredibly healing experiences for us, and even though at times we felt overwhelmed by our friend’s absence, we found her in the mountains of Puerto Rico, under the stars of the Jayuyan sky and in the songs of the coquí. Thank you, Puerto Rico.