Well, I’ve now been back in Ohio for a couple days, but I wanted to wrap up the last few days of the trip which were in Puerto Rico. Now some may say, why did I even go to Puerto Rico? The reason I went was because it was a group of my good buddies celebrating our 30th birthdays and we never see each other together. It didn’t hurt that I ended up saving money on the flight by going through Puerto Rico instead of going back from to Columbus from Puerto Rico.
As one would expect, the travel plan to get from Barcelona to Puerto Rico was crazy. Consider this: I left my room in Barcelona at 5:15am, took a 2 hour flight to Munich, waited for 6 hours, took an 8 hour flight to Newark, had 3 hours before my flight left for Puerto Rico, and had 4 more hours in the air before I finally arrived at 1:45am. Customs at Newark was a mess. For some reason, there was no line for foreigners to get in, but the line for nationals was crazy long. After finally making it through, they made me leave the secured area to switch terminals and then had to go back through security again. I have no idea why this was the case, but oh well.
As I waited in baggage claim, my buddies were already waiting outside for me and took me back to the hotel. When I arrived, I was pretty jet lagged, but this group was an early rising one. On the first day, we just hung out at the beach and took on the waves which were pretty big. I would speculate that they were up to 8 feet high. As we went out to dinner that night (we were east of San Juan, in Luquillo), we got to experience a bit of the local culture. In speaking with our waiter, we talked about his interpretations of the general Puerto Rican view of the relationship with the US. The summary that we heard was that Puerto Rico needs the relationship with the US and they wouldn’t want to jeopardize it, but he didn’t think the people wanted to be a state. They want to maintain their own identity. Interesting perspective since each state and region of the US still has a proud history, just integrated into one nation. As this was going on, people on horseback rode by the bar. Also, all of the traffic signs and all of the advertisements are in Spanish. It’s like being in another country and in many ways, you are.
The next day, Joe and I went into the Yunque National Forest, which is a rainforest. It was about 10 minutes to get to the entrance and then we drove around for a while until we found a couple trails. It was great.
After our visit to the rainforest, we went back to the hotel and back to the beach. It was just a relaxing segment of the trip.
On Sunday, travel day, the guys took me to the airport, which was a disaster. I ended up just barely making it onto my flight, but right after I made it through security I ran into one of my classmates at Ohio State. Small world. And with that, the trip was over.
Since I’ve had a couple days to reflect on the trip, it truly was the experience of a lifetime. When is the next time I’ll have 6 weeks to go and do something like that? I was able to work in another country, make friends with classmates I hadn’t had much exposure to, hang out with my girlfriend and friends in Barcelona, make new friends across Europe, navigate Europe on my own and get to see old friends in Puerto Rico.
After touching 4 (maybe 5 if you consider Puerto Rico part of South America, just kidding) continents, traveling more than 21,000 miles (see the map below for details) and doing many things I never thought I’d do, I know turn my sights back to finding a job. I’ve now wrapped up my MBA and am ready for the next steps in my career.
I did want to quickly list the things I never thought I’d do, that I did on this trip:
1) fly over Baghdad
2) be in an Arab nation, actually two
3) eat lamb brain
4) enter Oman – I mean seriously, Oman?!?
5) see Iranian smugglers right in front of my eyes
6) swim in the Strait of Hormuz
7) travel across Europe without a suitcase or backpack
To all of you that have followed along with the blog, I am back on the grid, and really appreciate your interest. The page ended up being much more popular than I ever would have imagined (especially since I only decided to do the blog the day before I left), ending up with over 1,500 hits since it first started on April 29th. I had a ton of fun putting it together and hopefully you enjoyed sharing in the journey.
Until next time, cheers and thank you!