Updated: Apr 11, 2022
Written by Rashanna Roach- April 2022
At the end of March, family and friends traveled to Puerto Rico to celebrate 3 birthdays and attend the Afrobeats festival, Afro Nation. This trip was a great mix of family, fun, and the unexpected. Luckily, in Puerto Rico we learned "Tranquillo" which means "Calm" because given the festival's disappointments, this island and the people did not disappoint. In Puerto Rico we ate well, drank our way through history, and ran into old friends while also making new connections.
Afro Nation PR (6/10)
Disclaimer: This was our first Afrobeats festival
Let's discuss Afro Nation, Puerto Rico, a three-day and multi-event Afrobeats themed festival that includes performances, pool parties, and after parties. If you followed the hyperlink to their Instagram page and read the comments, you know that purchasing tickets to this event is a risk! Literally we would suggest, BUY AT YOUR OWN RISK! This festival is for the traveler with no expectations. Do not expect for advertised artists to perform. Do not expect a solidified schedule of performances until the day of. Do not expect hand-washing stations to work Do not expect any monogrammed paraphernalia with purchase of tickets. Do not expect authentic African or Afro-Caribbean cuisine. Do not expect to hear more than 20 songs played on repeat by different DJs. Do not expect for pool parties and after parties to go on as scheduled- absolutely have no expectations and you will have a good time. Rather, go to be apart of a vibe. You can expect a nice venue (although it is difficult to see anything past this well-lit section at the welcome area), it's no beach party, but the grounds are well-kept, good food (although not authentic to the advertised country or culture of origin), and good people mostly in their early to mid 20s! Nonetheless, we saw some great performers such as WizKid, Meg the Stallion, Shenseea, Patrice Roberts, Busiswa, P-Square, and a surprise yet unrequested appearance from Rick Ross. He was a good sport and put on a show! If you take this risk, here are some tips and things to consider:
BRING A PONCHO! It poured the first two nights and we were soaked! By the second night, we secured ponchos that helped tremendously.
Purchase a waterproof turban for your hair with Aqua Headwear. This help to keep your hair, wigs, and weave dry!
Note that umbrellas aren't allowed at the venue. We were able to bring one in the second night but it was confiscated on the 3rd night despite rain.
Wear your nation's flag as apart of your outfit. The venue banned flags unless they were worn as an outfit accessory.
Bottled water and other beverages are served with no caps or tops so prepare to chug to avoid spillage as you make your way back into the crowd (for an eco-friendly festival, this is where we would recommend monogrammed tumblers that could be refilled throughout the night). *Note, occasionally you can catch a server with a beverage walking around. We did not, but it should be noted.
Bacardi Rum Tour (10/10)
THIS IS A MUST! While this premium rum brand started in Cuba, the spirit and legacy lives on in Puerto Rico. We paid $75 USD for the Mixology Class. This consisted of a complimentary pre-boarding cocktail before the trolley tour, a guided tour of the estate and history of the brand and family, and ends with an absolutely fun mixology class! We learned to make both a Mojito and Piña Colada, the national drink of Puerto Rico. This was a spirited afternoon that ended with exclusive Bacardi purchases such as the Ron Casa Bacardi Special Reserve (not sold on the US mainland and costs $160/bottle).
*UFO Secret Xperience Highlight: Explore the town of Cataño after the tour. There is a boardwalk, good food, and local crafters to support!
Francisco's Taxi Services (10/10)
This business, United Family Organization- Vocal ACTION, prides itself in supporting local businesses and people wherever we travel and send our Xplorers. It would be robbery to not highlight our local tour guide and taxi driver, Fransico! Francisco started as our Uber driver but we quickly deduced that he knew the island very well and asked if he also provided taxi and tour services. Francisco is originally from Canóvanas, Puerto Rico and has been a taxi driver for over 18 years. He has so much pride in his island and is one of the best gems that we found during our stay. Francisco took us to one of best restaurants on the island, through the mountains, to the Caribbean side of the island, and even past his grandmother's home where is he was raised. The best way to explore a place, is to explore it through the eyes of someone who is from the roots. Thank you, Francisco for everything! To book with Francisco you can call (787)220-5654 or email him, email@example.com
Overall my second trip to Puerto Rico was a great time, despite a poorly executed festival. During our first trip we visited Loiza, a town that celebrates and displays the African heritage of the people, during a single day cruise stop. We had the best food there at Bar Restaurant Rancho Alegre to this day and enjoyed the museum. It's our goal to travel there for a third time to really experience the culture through food and music (my favorite way to experience culture). Until then, look out for our honeymooners traveling to Puerto Rico in June 2022!