Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Hitchhiking in Puerto Rico

Before comming to Puerto Rico I was making some survey. The same one as I did before comming to Brazil.
I consulted google for some hitchhiking advices, articles and videos and didn't find anything reliable actually.
I found very short video about two guys getting picked up too happy and some creepy article how 2 guys were picked up with someone drugged (this could happen anywhere).
Then I just simply put a topic in the group of couchsurfing of Puerto Rico and people started to lift their fingers and do bu bu bu to frighten me. As far as I know,people in the districts with higher rate of criminality somehow always use to be more paranoid than the others. I got said that I will surely get raped,killed and put in the pieces and dumped in the open sea to be eaten by a sharks.
In that moment I said to myself - let's see :) This can't be that bad.
In the Island of Puerto Rico which from one side to another has about 180 km and from north to south about 60 and population of 4 million of people,making it one of the most populated islands in caribbean with good road infrastucture the things can't be that bad.

Puerto Rico outside of San Juan has almost no public transpot. I heared that there exist some public cars how they call them - Carro Publico - but I have never actually seen them, as well as if u go to the bus stop, you can easyly spend there all day and I can guarantee you that no bus will appear.
The only transportation company which generaly operates around the island is Linea Sultana and especially in the western part of the Island. I have never seen them actually either.
And Carros Publicos should be something like Taxis - you call them and they should appear, I taked to some people who used to use them and they claimed them to be extremely expensive - for about 3 km you pay around 5 dolars.
Linea Sultana - should look like this,but I actually never seen it
Other thing is that every Boriqua - how people from Puerto Rico call themself,has a car. There are several cars in the family,sometimes each person of the family (and I am not exagerating) has his own car.
So what is another option for someone who comes to the country and doesn't want to hire a car and is low cost traveler to do?


In Puerto Rico they say "viajar del pon" or "pedir el pon". I am already here about one month and something and I am hitchhiking daily everywhere. Let me explain you :)
At first I hitchhed from San Juan direction to Arecibo, where I got picked up by amazing funny guys from Bayamon itself who invited me to eat and were explaining me million and one thing around the island.
They accualy were going to buy some dogs in the central part of the island,but they ended up brining me to Isabela (where I had a host already),giving me a small gift for my keys which I still have with me and lots of hugs :)

And to be continued

Now I actually lied to you. The first time I hitchhiked in Puerto Rico was one of the first days on Island when we decided with Katie - another couchsurfer who was staying at the same host with me in San Juan that we will go to Younke and come back. We got a ride there by the parents of our friend from San Juan and back we were just walking down the slope - I have put my finger up and here we go - 5 minutes waiting time.

Here comes the proof.

We hitched the Haitians living in Maiami :) Who were so nice to bring us to Luquillo to the beach. From where we managed again in 0 time,when the night was approaching to hitch another ride with one couple heading to San Juan - actually they haven't been going to Santurce,where we lived,but just on periphery,but they took us almost in front of the house. Unfortunaly I don't have any video from this as the girl in the car haven't feel confortable with me filming. (Many times people doesn't let you to film as they have several girlfriends/boyfirends,who they don't want to find out that they took another woman with and be online).
I have actually never been given lift here in Puerto Rico by a woman,even though that they many times express their admiration for my courage and even one gave me a beer (not a lift),when I was hitchhiking at night from Mayaguez to Isabela running around the gasstation.

I tried to hitchhike as well in a couple with a guy (as I was told by other guys who tried to hitchhike in Puerto Rico and claimed to be very difficult and dangeorus),my friend from Colombia,living in Mayaguez - Gabriel.
The waiting time was bit longer - it wasn't anymore 5 minutes - it was around 20 for the first ride from Mayaguez to Cabo Rojo and 10 minutes for the second ride. But still I see it like amazing waiting times for a hitchhiker :P

Here comes the proof:

I hitchhiked as well in the island of Vieques (Small Island which belongs to Puerto Rico, which is about 2 hours by ferry from Puerto Rico itself and it  costs just 2 dolars to go there - definitely recomended) to get to the Ferry - got ride immediately I put my thumb up and the person dropped me very close to the place where I needed to go,having a short and nice chat,saving me 5 dolars for the Carro Publico - which in Vieques works somehow,but I didn't find out how it works to get from Esperanza - other side of the island to the Isabela II,from where the ferry goes. It's about 5 miles. 

I hitchhiked as well in the island of Vieques (Small Island which belongs to Puerto Rico, which is about 2 hours by ferry from Puerto Rico itself and it  costs just 2 dolars to go there - definitely recomended) to get to the Ferry - got ride immediately I put my thumb up and the person dropped me very close to the place where I needed to go,having a short and nice chat,saving me 5 dolars for the Carro Publico - which in Vieques works somehow,but I didn't find out how it works to get from Esperanza - other side of the island to the Isabela II,from where the ferry goes. It's about 15 miles.

I have even hitchhiked inside of Area Metropolitana of San Juan - which is considered as the most dangerous place of the island - I can tell you that it wasn't easy and people dont stop very much,but I was lucky to find this guy who dropped me on the exit of the area Metropolitana in Bayamon:

Hitchhiking over there wasn't that dangerous,just the people go too fast and they tend to overlook you,even having your hitchhiking plate etc.It's easier if you are on some gasstation close to Expresso (The only highway in Puerto Rico and ask a bit around,talk to people).

Truly sincerely I can't tell you much about it,as I did it just twice till now and never had any problems,even though that sories became much more interesting and people as well and getting a ride especially around Mayaguez at night was quite difficult even though I moved then to gasstation,where I asked the people directly. As they mainly refuse to talk to you or feel scared or affraid or shy,it's quite complicated. But what I can tell you for sure is that you have a higher chance to meet drunken or drugged driver. Remeber - no public transport and everybody like to have a beer or a small drink after work :) I personaly prefer not hitchhiking at night in Puerto Rico (but that is my own feeling,you could have diferent and I would be happy if you share your stories).

And then you ask WHAT ABOUT POLICE? In USA it's forbidden to hitchhike and Puerto Rico is incorporated Teritory of USA. How is it then? Is the police interested in you trying to hitchhike (viajar del pon). Truth is I have never got in trouble for that in Puerto Rico,they just seem to ignore you and let you hitchhiking wherever you are,even though it would be Express (the highway), where I got picked up by this policemen out of service at that moment.

He was extremely nice and even though he was going just to Luquillo,he took me to Fajardo at the end  to manage to take a Ferry to Vieques - picking me just one hour and a half before the ferry had to leave somewhere around 70miles from Fajardo itself :) Thanks again.
Yesterday I was picked up as well by already pensioned police officer of New York City,could make a video as teh battery of my camera was already flat. Sorry,guys.

Then you ask me,WHAT ABOUT THE CRIME (that huge crime rate what everybody is talking about). In comparation with South and Central America Puerto Rico itself doesn't have that much high rate of crime as many people paint it. You hear on news and tv about stories as someone was shot etc,but in general the crimes are related to drug smuggeling,drug selling,inapropriate reaction to some situation of the person,getting to the places where you can wait to have some crime (like burthels,streets of prostitution,dangerous neighbourhood,where there is a drug bussiness - sell/buy/kill, or just crimes of the passion - like killings of wives in the fight/ beating up a small child to death for crying too much etc. So if you have a bit of common sense you should be fine.
I am hitchhiking every day here,as I don't have a car. Inside of small towns,outside of small and big towns and between them.

So if you see me somewhere around with my thumb up - please, pick me up :)
Maybe we can learn something useful from each other,or just exchange some amazing stories! Everybody has some!
 And if you are already in Puerto Rico and you don't know if to hitchhike or not, just don't be affraif,people mostly exagerate too much :P But sometimes they have really good advices for hitchhiking spots itself ;) Which you can check on my another post: (thanks to Marcos)
Enjoy the Enchanted Island and your freedom! :)

P.S.: All the videos mentioned in this post should have english subtitles - just press the small button of youtube channel to add them ;)

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