These three words don’t even come close to describing my weekend adventures in Puerto Rico filming an episode of Xtreme Waterparks for the Travel Channel. Yes, you read that right! I was blessed with the opportunities to fly, with two friends (Blakely and Michelle), to be filmed on natural rock slides in the El Yunque National Rain Forest.
How it all started: INSTAGRAM.
Seriously! Because of pictures and hashtags I posted from my first trip to Puerto Rico, the staffing crew of the production company found me and commented on a post. My Instagram is designed around this blog’s headline “Mapless Adventures” and focuses on both my personal life and my travels. After talking back and forth, they interviewed myself and my two friends. They seemed to enjoyed the fact that I was an adventure/travel blogger and before we could even blink, it was our time for our Xtreme Puerto Rico Weekend!
We flew out bright and early on a Friday morning from St. Thomas to San Juan on a sea plane (another first for me on the island). The sea plane was pretty freaking awesome. It was only a 10-seater plane and the views were impossible to truly capture via pictures. Surprisingly, the flight was smooth and only took 35 minutes. At the airport, we were picked up by the production assistant and taken to the filming location, approximately 1.5-2 hours away. This hidden jewel was extremely remote and I didn’t even know it existed (and I googled Rock Slides Puerto Rico prior to leaving), so the trip was even more Mapless!
One of the things that the producer consistently told us was that we were on a “Need to know basis”, so we had NO idea what was in store for us THE ENTIRE WEEKEND. Talk about taking chance.
I guess I should start from the beginning. The particular area of El Yunque is known as Las Tinajas and is located on the east side of the forest. When we arrived, we realized we were on a family’s private land, where they have lived for 33 years. There are two homes located on this land just off the river and the family is beyond kind. They graciously opened up their home, their land, and their knowledge for us and the show.
We spent much of the morning and mid-afternoon being filmed and talking with the family, production crew, and site manager. It started with our introduction interviews and our driving scenes (watch the show to find out). Our producer had an entire plan for the episode and we just did what we were told, but don’t let him know that it was actually enjoyable not knowing what to expect! Because we had individualized interviews, we were able to spend time watching the family make us an authentic Puerto Rican lunch, the traditional way. I mean in a small hut with a wood burning fire (with coconut shells to help the fire).
The authentic cuisine was actually part of our story line and we were filmed talking with the family, learning about the food and enjoying the meal. This was COMPLETELY unexpected and incredibly delicious. I mean, we sat outside on a deck overlooking the rain forest with the sound of the river eating rice and beans, pineapple infused chicken, plantains, and drank freshly squeezed starfruit juice followed by fresh passion fruit and a coconut dessert. SPOILED is really the only word to describe this lunch.
Afterwards, a few more filming opportunities were required. By this time we captured all the footage for the day we were loosing light and our producer wrapped the day! We were exhausted but ready to get to the hotel, sit in the hot tub and enjoy a delicious dinner with the crew, which we did!
Day 2 started bright and early and we knew it was going to be a long, exhausting day, but this was the day we were waiting for; the day we came for! Today was the day we would get to go down the rock slides! What I haven’t mentioned is that on Friday, we learned that this location had more than just the rock slides. It had a rope swing as well as a perfectly placed cliff for cliff jumping!
From the family’s house, the first stop is about of 35-45 minute hike, but because we were filming it took us about 60-90 minutes. Of course we had a ton of fun along the way, though I’d expect none the less from me and my friends, plus the producer, who hiked with us, was just as fun!
The first stop of the day was the rope swing and cliff jumping location and the filming included us walking down to the river, our first looks of the location, us entering the water for the first time, and several attempts at rope swinging and cliff jumping! Do you know what a thrilling rush rope swinging and cliff jumping gives you? AND I did both of them twice, for filming of course 🙂 Though I probably would have done it several more times knowing me.
By this time, it’s around 12/1 o’clock and we’d been filming already for 3 hours, so we took a little break by the river (more being spoiled). They wouldn’t even let us help or carry ANYTHING.
After lunch, we continued our hiking to the rock slides and continued filming along the way. It took us another hour before we arrived at our final destinations and OH MY GOSH…HOLY MOLY…they looked amazing!!! There were a few people sliding down them upon arrival and watching them just built up so much adrenaline. I, however, struggled getting up the rope to climb the rock to get to the slides because my body was beyond exhausted. But I didn’t give up because I had no choice. Blakely helped stabilize the ropes to help me finally reach the top!
This is where we spend the next several hours, sliding down the slide, climbing back up (thankfully we found a much easier way up), then sliding back down the slide. Each time, we were being filmed a different way. Once without GoPros, once with the drone, one holding a GoPro, once with it on my ankle, once with the camera at the bottom of the slide, once holding the GoPro in a different position, etc…etc…etc. I think you get the idea. In total, I calculated that I took the slide 10 times. Talk about fatigue, but 1000 times worth every ounce of energy.
It was time to head back to the houses, but we weren’t wrapped yet. Once we made it back, we had to give our final interviews about the adventures. AND FINALLY, after about 10 hours of filming, it was a wrap!
Back to the hotel we went with a quick pit stop to a gas station for refreshments. We spent our evening with the crew members enjoying quality time talking and laughing about this adventure and our lives! It was a perfect ending to a whirlwind Mapless Adventure!
I’m still in utter disbelief that I had this opportunity to film for a show that will be aired on the TRAVEL CHANNEL. It took me a month to write up this summary because I’m still processing the events of this weekend! I can’t wait to watch the final production this spring! You’ll have to stay tuned for the official air date 🙂
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