Puerto Rico: Swimming in Fire

Contributor
School of Medicine

It doesn’t happen often that I get to enjoy two different vacations in one summer, and one of them to a Caribbean destination: Puerto Rico.

I booked my flight and the first night in a hotel in the capital, San Juan. The next nine days were pure adventure. The weather was sunny, hot and humid, with occasional storms.  I loved it. Old San Juan is beautiful, with city fortresses that stood for 400 years to keep it a Spanish colony, until the United States took over the island.

On my second day, I made it to El Yunque National Forest, a beautiful rainforest of lush green and picturesque waterfalls. I hiked under the sound of birds and the coqui frogs — one of the symbols of Puerto Rico.

The next day, I took a ferry to the island of Vieques, where I discovered that island time passes at a different pace. Five hours after departure time, I finally boarded the ferry, but that long wait was about to pay off.

Upon arrival, I learned about the bioluminescent bay, so I booked a kayak tour at night to see it. After a bumpy road in an old bus that could put the best roller-coaster in the world to shame, we arrived at Mosquito Bay.

Within a few moments, we were kayaking in a pitch-black bay, where the only thing I could see was darkness — until I looked down into the water. There below was the most magnificent thing I had ever seen: glowing water!

Every movement — paddling, touching the surface, even swimming fish — made the water light up. And if you scooped water in your hands, every falling droplet looked like fire.

At one point, far inside the bay, in the calm of the night, they let us take a dip in the water.  Although you cannot see yourself, you can see the luminescence when you move the water. 

I started swimming, and I could see my hands, arms and body shaped by light. It was magical and mesmerizing. I felt as though I was swimming in fire. It was one of the best experiences of my life.