Puerto Rico is the birthplace of my ancestors. It is a magical place where I feel connected, grounded, where I feel alive. I returned to my motherland for an extraordinary occasion–one of my best friends was getting married! The whole trip was all mapped out. I would arrive in San Juan and spend time getting to know Condado. The next day I would travel by sea to Vieques for the festivities. Sadly, I was going alone for four days and five nights. On the upside, I could experience Puerto Rico in a whole new way.
As planned, I landed in San Juan and took a ride to La Concha Resort. I arrived in the evening, so most places closed by the time I freshened up to step out. Thankfully I was able to grab a virgin piña colada at Piñaloka and a chimichanga at Orale Guey. I had plans for the beach the next day, ending the night after a few episodes of Love is Blind.
As soon as I rose, it was right to work being a weekday and all. And because I was riding solo, all shots captured were at the “hand” of my trusty tripod. Which meant setting up shop on the sand with an audience of beachgoers if I wanted photos by the ocean. Fortunately, no one minded my little photoshoot much. I was able to get shots on my balcony, kicking up my leg on the bed, and at the beach.
By the midafternoon, I was all packed and ready to hit the ferry to Vieques. Getting there is an hour’s car ride to Ceiba, where a boat awaits everyone to sail to the island. The ferry ride is $2 and around 45 minutes long. Once we all arrived at Vieques, there were tons of cars waiting to drive us to our destinations. The drivers are typically islanders using their vehicles. I know it sounds sketchy, but I hitched a ride with others who were getting dropped off along the way.
Three years ago, when I traveled to Puerto Rico, I stayed at The Dreamcatcher (a stunning B&B in San Juan). The founder, Sylvia de Marco, developed another exquisite gem called Finca Victoria in Vieques. Here is where my best friend held a fire ceremony led by a shaman and her wedding service. If any of you are considering a trip to Puerto Rico, I highly recommend you to stay at Finca Victoria. The entire property is charming and lush. I only stayed for one night, but I enjoyed every moment.
Hix Island House
While hotel hopping may seem like a good time, I assure you I was exhausted and ready to settle in. I finally got that chance when I arrived at Hix Island House (where Lady Gaga also stayed). The hotel, designed by architect John Hix, is incredibly romantic and luxurious. I loved my loft so much that I shot as many photos as I could during my stay. Even the nightgowns were chic! Hung in my bathroom were two oversized men’s shirts that I wore as robes while I made breakfast for myself.
I spent time taking it all in during my first day. It wasn’t until midday when I popped over to the private pool to sunbathe. The views were serene, and I couldn’t help but fantasize about moving to Puerto Rico. I ran the idea by my boyfriend, who shockingly seemed to go for it. Riz, unfortunately, couldn’t make the trip. And since I worked up an appetite under the sun, this meant dining alone another night. Lucky for me, it wasn’t my first time in Vieques, so I knew exactly where to go.
I took myself out to Bananas in Esperanza, on my last evening in Vieques. I ordered the lobster and shrimp ravioli, with tostones, along with a virgin piña colada and coconut flan for dessert. By the time I finished my meal, I was so full it hurt. Good thing I wore high waist shorts because they were the only thing holding in my stomach. As soon as I got back to my loft, I went full Homer Simpson and let my belly hang out. It was amazing! Oh, and I slept like a champ that evening too.
As I mentioned before, I took as many photos as I could. Mostly because the space was incredible, but also because I wasn’t able to capture every OOTD. There was a ladder on the terrace, which made for a great backdrop to shoot my wedding look. I purchased this necklace specifically for my slip dress, not knowing I was going to love it so much. The chain was a great buy and perfect with basic t-shirts.
If you were following along via Instagram stories, you saw that I styled this midi dress for the fire ceremony. I purchased the midi on a whim last Fourth of July and only had the opportunity to wear it once. When I started packing, I was so excited to find it because I knew it would come in handy. It just so happens, all the girls who are closest to Christine wore white that evening.
Throughout my trip, I tried to get in as much time with the sun as I could. But because I prioritized shooting content, I didn’t get much of a tan. For my last day in Vieques, I wanted to spend a few hours baking before traveling back to San Juan. Unfortunately, while I was getting ready, it started to pour. I did wake up to the most enchanting sunrise before the rain came down. While I drank my coffee, I saw a white horse outside my terrace–reminding me of how magical life is.
After breakfast, I packed my bags, called a car, then checked out of Hix Island House. Saying good-bye to my beautiful loft was bittersweet. While I missed Mason (my cat) and Riz, I wasn’t ready to leave Puerto Rico. I also was not looking forward to flying at 2 am. In haste, I booked an inexpensive flight that would arrive in Newark at 5 am. I planned on going straight to work from the airport, which was a terrible idea. Please, never do that! After traveling, rest and a hot shower are very necessary.
In the end, this solo sabbatical helped me to refocus on what is inherent in my life. It was an important trip for me, one that opened the doors to the next phase of my career. I cannot wait to share these details with you in my next blog post. Thank you so much for reading my travel diary. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask me in the comments below.
Special thank you: Alan and Ron at Hix Island House and Claudia at Condado Vanderbilt Hotel.