You’re going to laugh, but the first thing I dare you to try in San Juan if you like daring adventures, is a cab ride! San Juan drivers are notorious for their outrageous driving practices. They fly up and down the narrow, curvy streets with no regard for their surroundings, careening around corners and tailgating. If you are a thrill seeker with a high tolerance for fear, take a San Juan cab to your destination. It will be a ride you will not soon forget. There are, however, far more daring adventures to be had.
If you travel southwest in San Juan along Route 129, you will soon arrive at the Rio Camuy Cave Park. There, you will find the great subterranean caverns, which are an entirely different world, in and of themselves. No doubt, you will enjoy your encounters with massive columns, limestone stalactites and stalagmites. They are beautiful and awesome to behold. However, they are deep under the recesses of the earth where it is dark and damp. The risk of falling rocks is not anything to take for granted. In 2008, a man was killed by a small rockslide within the interior of the caverns. If you have the courage to go down, it is worth it to see the incredible natural formations. Just remember, however, that there is nowhere to run should trouble arise.
For a few dollars, authentic tribal storytellers are available for hire on dark and stormy nights in small San Juan cafes and hotel alcoves. Be entertained into the night by old Taíno legends about demons and ghosts who roam the island after dark looking for food or people who have scorned them, or wrathfully protecting their stolen treasures of pirate’s gold. There are stories about Zemi Maquetaurie Guayaba who is said to appear late at night as an owl or bat, who swoops down out of the rafters at innocents who walk underneath. He is said to rule the souls of the dead in the underworld. The tales are thrilling and often accompanied by an assistant of the storyteller who will, when least expected, jump boldly out at the crowd with the Spanish equivalent of “BOO!” often resulting in heart pounding and jumps out of, otherwise comfortable, chairs. Needless to say, walking alone at night in San Juan is permanently altered in the minds of anyone who has dared to endure one of these story-telling sessions.
If you are a nature lover, there is an attraction at La Flor that you might not want to miss. However, getting there is rough and risky. The idea of watching large turtle lay eggs out in the wild might not sound like such a daring endeavor at first. You can book your tour at the famous Casa de Oro in San Juan. However, what most people don’t know ahead of time is that these tours only run at night. To get to the location where the turtles are, you have to ride in the back of a pickup truck that goes deep into the wild down a scary (and bumpy!) dirt road that is very isolated. More than once, the pickup has to cross-rushing rivers, and the water sometimes almost reaches the truck bed! It is a frightening trip, to say the least, and once you arrive, you must make your way down a dark, weedy path, following a guide who holds a large flashlight ahead of him/herself. Once at your destination, you can witness the big turtles, lumbering to the sand pits, digging their holes and laying their eggs, and it is a marvelous and miraculous sight to behold. However, I didn’t find out until well after I took the tour that the area is teaming with three different types of poisonous snakes! The area is known for its rattlesnakes, coral snakes and cantil. Therefore, if you dare choose to go on this adventure be sure to wear hiking boots and long pants, and take your own flashlight, if you have one.
Another chilling adventure offered in San Juan is zip lining. This is one that a lot of locals enjoy. For those unfamiliar with this rugged outdoor activity, it involves climbing to the top of rocky and rugged terrain, enjoying the scenic view at the top, then grabbing hold of a pulley resting atop a cable that has been suspended over a river, canyon or other dangerous area. The object is to then jump off the cliff, hill, mountain or huge boulder, and slide to the bottom while holding on to the pulley. I have to admit, this is a fun activity, regardless of the danger. The degree of danger involved depends largely on the tour company you hire to take you zip lining. Some of the less prosperous ones will turn you loose without the aid of any type of safety harness, helmet or other precautions. However, the more reputable places will offer all of the above and these are the ones I recommend. Depending on the incline of the cable, the ride down can be very fast and scary, but well worth it for the thrill alone.
San Juan is a beautiful island replete with tropical foliage, beautiful animals and friendly people. However idyllic this may sound, the thrill seeker can always find a thing or two that will keep the adrenalin pumping!