What’s a traveler to do? You return from Puerto Rico, and have no choice but to store away the memories along with the suitcase, right? Not necessarily. The better solution: bring Puerto Rico back with you and incorporate her favorite qualities into your daily life.
1. Coffee: As a member of the tropical island club, Puerto Rico produces some fine coffee. And in Old San Juan, the best comes from Café Cola’o–or so I was told by a local, on a recent trip. So I went. So I drank. So I believed. The daily special (Adjuntas) was strong and smooth, without a hint of bitterness. Back at home, rather than hit up any ol’ Puerto Rican knock-off, you can order direct from the source. Check out the Café Cola’o Facebook page to order (Coffee costs $9-23, depending on the type and amount of coffee. Shipping costs $9.)
2. Flora: You hardly believed it the first time that you saw that Alice In Wonderland-like plant in the rain forest–the one whose leaves fold together when touched. But you don’t have to wait until your return to Puerto Rico to see the Mimosa pudica plant again. You can buy seeds online to grow your own “Tickle Me” plant.
3. Colors: Sunglow yellow, playful periwinkle, seaglass blue: these are the colors of your neighborhood…if you’re visiting Old San Juan. Back at home, leave your whitewashed walls behind and go directly to your nearest paint store. Bring those vibrant photos from your trip and compare them to paint chips for the truest colors.
4. Sounds: After a while, that tweeting sound from the treetops will become such a part of your Puerto Rico experience that you’ll only think about it again as you leave–when you notice its absence. It’s not a bird, it’s the coqui–a tiny tree frog. You might not have frogs back at home to respond to the calls (‘co’ serves as a warning to keep other frogs away, while ‘qui’ invites females to come closer). But playing the sounds after your trip will take you right back to the balmy evenings. Record a video and loop it on iTunes for ambient background noise, or leave a digital recorder running overnight on the balcony for an interruption-free replay.