May 16, 2013

A Puerto Rican Sojourn: Photo-Narrative

I haven't embarked upon many spontaneous trips in my life - and so when I found myself on a plane to Puerto Rico a mere few hours after having decided to visit it, I was brimming with anticipation, wondering what awaited us.

Landing in PR's capital, San Juan, the heat and humidity and the blue skies greeted me like long lost friends - and as we neared the sea, I could smell it in the air long before even glimpsing it. Every time I return to the sea, it makes me realise how much I miss it - and how much peace I derive from the simple action of sitting on the shore and watching the waves endlessly roll in. 

The universe of blue at Culebra
Honestly speaking, apart from vaguely knowing that it falls under American administration and consisted of a collection of islands, I didn't know much about Puerto Rican geography or culture; whatever I subsequently witnessed and felt was an intriguing experience, trying to decode its langurous American/Hispanic vibe while absorbing the wordlessly stunning beaches or the smiles that festooned everyone's faces or the quirky ice-cream colored houses.

Sunset at Castillo de San Marcos

Tree-view at Old San Juan
We began our journey in San Juan and whose older quarters I instantly fell in love with; as we drove through the winding sea-flanked lane, I was enchanted by the colorful, historical buildings that lined the place. Following the sunset which we witnessed at Castillo de San Marcos, walking past earnest joggers and people flying butterfly-shaped kites, it was time to explore San Juan in nocturnal mode. Beneath the clear, star-spotted sky, we climbed steeply inclined cobbled pathways and encountered assorted stories around each corner. Boys played basketball in a beach-side court, people sat outside cafes and sipped drinks while a patient puppy crouched beneath tables, and a mannequin in an exquisitely embroidered white lace wedding dress smiled at the sprawling tree across. When I looked up once, an old lady smiled at me from one of the balconies studding a mustard-colored building.

Brilliantly hued wall at Luquillo

Swim-perfect beach at Fajardo

We bid farewell to San Juan the following day and drove down to Fajardo, a 30 min drive away and home to Puerto Rico's renowned Bio Bay, which contains bio-luminescent bacteria. After having idled in a swimming-pool blue lagoon, we then went on a kayak tour to the Bio-bay. If I wasn't so preoccupied in attempting to master kayak paddling;) (first time, people, first time!) I would have better appreciated the eerie, surrealness of the moment: as we traversed the mangrove channel and cut the swirling currents, branches interlocked above us while cries of nocturnal birds and creatures rent the humid, salty air. And then, the guide suddenly asked us to trail our hands through the water. It took me a minute but I then sensed it: it was as if stars had fallen from the skies into the water and we were trailing star-dust! It was undoubtedly the most memorable moment in the journey. 

Tangle of green
 From jade-colored waters to the luxuriant rain-forest, one morning, we climbed up a hill and found herself in the middle of a village in the rain-forest; behind us, clouds plumed the densely-forested peaks while in front of us, the sea quietly reclined, like a misty painting in progress. As we climbed up a path cutting through the forest, trying to access the myriad gradations of green, all I could hear was a library of sounds: birds chirping, water falling and creatures scuttling through the undergrowth. And yet, within ten minutes, though, we found ourselves at the sea once again, where birds swooped in and down through the water, fish gleaming pewter in their beaks - and the sky turned flamingo pink behind a curtain of palms, just like we saw in the post-cards.

Post-card perfect palms

Our last day concluded with a ferry trip from Fajardo to one of the nearby islands; there are several such as Vieques and Culebra and we opted to visit the latter. At Culebra, we found ourselves taxiing down to one of its most popular beaches, Playa de Flamenco - and one look at its incredibly hued waters and we could see why the beach was simply crawling with visitors, swimming or playing or simply soaking in the sheer gorgeousness of it all. The pictures below will attest to the purity of the sea-waters and the intensity of its blue and green hues.

All good holidays and times have come to an end - and so, while sitting in the ferry returning to Fajardo and musing upon the pink-flecked waters, I would hear exuberant cries every ten minutes from the stern of the deck. After a couple of episodes of these joyful shouts, I stood up and peered at the merrily sounding bunch. "What's happening? Are they celebrating something?" I asked a boy wearing an over-sized shirt, diamond studs and immaculately groomed eyebrows (from what I observed, it seems to be quite a trend amongst young Puerto Rican men). He shrugged and smiled. "They are just happy," he said. And indeed, there was much to be happy about: they had spent a wonderful day frolicking in the clear waters and picnicking and were now enjoying a theatrical sunset en voyage to a fun-filled Saturday evening. And there could not be a better way to say adios to Puerto Rico with these cheerful voices in our heads...


You can find more images and impressions of my PR trip over at my new blog, Photo Kahanis...

Do you like taking spontaneous trips? What is the best one you've ever been on? I would love to hear your experiences:)


  1. Your photos are fabulous, love the colors that are coming out live. In fact I am doing some sea scapes right now and I observe that whether it is Salalah or Culebra, the aura is the same and for an artist, it offers endless possibilities .Now, let me check your new blog!


  2. Thank you so much, Padmaja...whenever I think of Puerto Rico, the colors are so vivid and intense in my mind and that's what I hope emerges from the pictures:)

    I agree, I too feel that the aura surrounding the sea is wherever you go...and that constancy is comforting and as you mentioned, inspiring for the artist. I will look forward to seeing your seascapes once they are done!

    Hope you enjoy the new blog:)

  3. Goodness, what a beautiful place to travel to. I love the way you worded your arrival, so welcoming!!

    1. @OneCraftyFox Thank you so much for stopping by and please do visit again:)

      Thank you also for your kind words - I am glad you enjoyed the post...I had a wonderful time in Puerto Rico and sought to convey the essence through my words and images!

  4. loving the pictures... and the way you narrated it all.. felt like i was on the trip with you :))))... *sigh***.... vacations are ( used to be ) so much fun :))....

    1. Thanks so much! Honestly speaking, it was so difficult to choose which pictures to put up - each conveyed so much. Even if I had just made it a photo-post, it would have been enough to convey the atmosphere and beauty of the place:) Glad you enjoyed 'visiting' with me! And hoping vacation time will come soon for you...!! You definitely need a break to pamper yourself:)

  5. Priyanka, when quickly browsing through blogs, I would keep thinking that I must come back to yours and read it at leisure. This weekend after seeing your comment, I took my laptop to the sofa and did just that, I savoured your posts in both your blogs and I want to tell you how much I enjoyed them - the story of the ghost trees, the instagrams ;), your pick of paintings and photographs, your experiences at theatre, travel and exhibitions, all wonderful reading. Your post on the other blog about the symbolism of chadors and Anvari's photographs, also, very absorbing.
    It is also a pleasure when a blogger with an interesting blog such as yours, takes the time to comment on my posts. Thank you for that.

    1. Priya, first of all, thank you so much for making my day with your lovely comment and thoughts:) It really means much to me that you took the time out to read all the posts that you mentioned and one I wrote about Haleh Anvari. Thank *you* for being such a thoughtful reader!

      I connected with your blog immediately and it has always been a pleasure to read yours, whether its encountering your illustration posts or otherwise. And I will continue to look forward to reading them!

      Once again, many thanks and have a great day:)

  6. Replies
    1. Good to see you here, Sue...and yes, it was absolutely stunning - hope my pictures did justice to the place:)

  7. My holiday there in 2011 was very similar and still remains my best ever. I had so many firsts there with my husband- surfing, snorkeling, kayaking, biobay, scooter riding, and many more... I can't remember a more fun holiday. Just relived it via your post and pics, so thank you!


    1. Your comment came through:)! Happy to hear that you enjoyed reliving the memories. Well, although its been almost two months, the memories of the PR trip still remain fresh in my mind, from the beaches to the tiled floors to the Puerto Ricans' super friendly smiles. I totally second you about it being one of my best holidays ever...*goes back into nostalgia mode*


Thank you so much for taking the time out to leave a comment. I look forward to hearing from you!