Getting to know San Juan + first taste of hostel life

My first few days here in Puerto Rico have been such a breath of fresh air. I always find it exhilarating to experience a new culture, discover a new way of life, and meet so many new people—both locals and travelers alike.

My first day here, I spent hours wandering through the winding one way streets of Old San Juan, with their blue-grey cobblestones and bright rainbow of facades. No plans, no expectations, just getting lost in the city. I discovered countless flower-filled alleyways and secret courtyards where local musicians played. And I fell in love with all of it.

For me, it’s a very calming thing, discovering a city on my own, taking the time to breathe it all in…the sights, the sounds, the feeling in the air. I love it because when you’re traveling alone, it’s all up to you. You don’t have to compromise what you want in order to match others’ preferences, you are in complete control of your schedule, and personally, I feel more connected to a place after I’ve explored it solo. It’s a world of endless possibilities, and I find so much freedom in it.

enjoying some mint tea in the hostel’s courtyard

Hostel life has been quite the adventure, too! Once you get past the shared rooms and noise level, it’s such a unique experience to share a space with like-minded travelers. After just one day, I’d found a small community, like a little family or a built-in group of travel buddies. I hardly spend any time in my room because there’s always someone socializing in the common space of the hostel, an open courtyard filled with murals and string lights and of course, a great playlist. This introverted soul hasn’t felt like much of one thanks to all these new friends!

I also just wrapped up my first two days of working in the hostel. I’m running the shop, a market-style booth filled with handmade apparel and accessories from Africa. Sitting out there under the pop-up tent and interacting with the tourists and locals that pass by makes me feel right at home after selling Rooted products at markets last fall.

Overall, I’ve been loving my time here so far. It’s everything I hoped it would be…a change of pace, a push out of my comfort zone, and an opportunity to explore somewhere new.

That’s all fir now, but stay tuned because I have some visitors coming to town next Tuesday, and who knows what kinds of adventures we’ll have!

Catch up on my latest posts!

Thoughts from 30,000 feet + a bit of news

There’s nothing quite like the feeling of takeoff. The moment when the wheels lift off the ground is simply magical, transcendent even. You can feel the tug of the earth’s gravity as you tilt back and start climbing toward the clouds. Man, I really missed that feeling.

As I write this, I’m somewhere over the Gulf of Mexico, or maybe the Caribbean, making my way to San Juan, Puerto Rico.

I know, I know, you’re probably thinking, there she goes again, off on yet another international adventure. Well yes, yes I am, and I couldn’t be more thrilled.

And some of you may already be typing out the don’t you know there’s a pandemic going on?! comments. Yes, I’m well aware. I spent 3 months in total lockdown in Spain last spring. You’ll be happy to know that I quarantined for three weeks before my trip, received two negative covid tests in the past week, and am rubbing my hands raw with all the hand sanitizer I’m using. Experiencing new things and exploring new places is still possible, even now. We just need to be as cautious and diligent as we can to protect the health and safety of those around us. But enough about that, let’s get to the fun stuff!

obligatory at the airport photo

As I said, I’m on my way to Puerto Rico (I’ll be there by the time you read this though), where I’ll spend the next few weeks working at a hostel. I’m sure I’m not alone when I tell you how badly I needed a change from my life back home. The drudgery of the day to day life was draining me of my joy. So when I found the opportunity to spend a few weeks away—and in a Spanish-speaking place!—I knew I had to take it.

And since I’ll only be working 5 hours each day, I’ll have plenty of time to explore the island, kick back at the beach, and manage my business, Rooted. (A BIG thank you to Mom & Beth Ann for being my shipping fairies for the next few weeks!).

On another note, hey look, I have a new blog! Welcome to Flying Blind, where I’ll be sharing my travel stories, experiences as a visually impaired person, lessons learned about faith, and of course, lots and lots of photos.

I want your input, though. So if there’s anything you’d be interested in hearing about from me, comment below! I’d love to hear any questions you have related to travel or sight loss or both. I’ll be attempting to write a couple of posts each week, so make sure you follow along to get notifications each time I publish a new one. And if you’re on Instagram, follow me @flyingblind_travel for daily travel inspo (Come travel vicariously through my account 😉)

Well friends, I think that’s it for now. From somewhere in the sky, ¡hasta luego!

– Rebecca