Not your typical tour

“Not your typical tour. A must-do!”

I am sitting in my home where it is a gloomy 55 degrees and wishing I could be right back in beautiful Puerto Rico at this moment!

My husband, Tony, and I visited the island in May, 2016 to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary. For me, though, it was so much more than just a vacation as it is also my own heritage; my mother was born and raised here until my New Englander father came to serve his country as a young soldier in 1957. He stole her away and the rest is history. So sharing this visit with my own love is something difficult to contain in mere words.

As there is so much to see in this tropical paradise, it was challenging to whittle it down to what could be included during our short visit. Touring El Yunque, however, was an absolute must, and as we quickly learned THE highlight of our trip! We found Across Caribe tours through Viator, and based on so many positive reviews, we forged ahead. We were not disappointed.

Our tour guide, Manuel, met us as planned, and immediately we were charmed. First and foremost, I must express what a gem they have in this gentle soul. He was so very warm, friendly and engaging that we felt as though we’d known him our entire lives. In fact, I wish we had! He gave us the perfect mix of information and conversation. I’m not sure what we were expecting, but we got so much more than we could have imagined!

After a quick stop for a delicious fruit smoothie in an open market, we enjoyed meandering along the countryside with a brief pause at Piñones Beach to take pictures and enjoy “Sea Grapes.” On our way once again, Manuel provided history and information about Puerto Rico we might not have learned otherwise, and in between morsels of education he got to know us a little bit as well. We found ourselves sharing family histories and exchanging stories and experiences along the way.

11210393_483716208465945_8358436612803391915_nWhen we first arrived at El Yunque, we were surprised to discover we would not access the forest by the main entrance, but instead we truly embarked on our journey “off the beaten path.” Manuel led us along the trails, always mindful of my sometimes less-than-sure footing and brought us to a river pool so beautiful, cool and refreshing that we never wanted to

leave. Tony enjoyed a stimulating plunge from the rocky ledge (me, not so much—I chose to enter the water the normal way, thank you!). Manuel graciously took those photos for me as I was a little uneasy about getting too close to the edge, then he patiently helped me make my way back down to meet my husband in the water. Next,

he surprised us by preparing the native fruits he picked up earlier (pineapple, parcha {passion fruit}, limes), and we enjoyed those while standing on a rock, knee-deep in the river. El Yunque!!! Oh my goodness–what a beautiful, refreshing and invigorating place it is!

Regretfully it was time to leave this amazing setting, but we were not through with the tour just yet. Finishing up by stopping at the kisocos on Luquillo, and indulging in the local cuisine my Mamita raised me to love (arroz con gandules, alcapurrias and so much more)……we were in heaven!

11012166_487845511386348_3126660495073380494_nI am sure we would have enjoyed the trip no matter what, but we just want you to know that we truly feel Manuel made it even better than we could have imagined. Thank you for such a great day! And thank you, Cindy and Sahid for still being willing to allow us to go on our tour even though we couldn’t change our plans to join in with another group. In that regard, we ended up with a private tour, and that was a terrific little bonus. It was a great pleasure to work with you via email, and we will surely
recommend Across Caribe to our friends and family as soon as we convince them to visit. Once they see our photos, it won’t take too much coaxing! We are certain all the tours you offer are equally as wonderful and can’t wait to return for new adventures!

Warmest regards, ~Cindy and Tony Thayer, New Jersey 05/21/2016