If you’re a food and/or travel blogger in the Washington, DC area, you probably already know Jessica van Dop Dejesus aka The Dining Traveler. If you don’t, well… you’re missing out on a generous blogger and local influencer who pays-it-forward more than any person we’ve ever met. Seriously, almost every cool trip, blogger-friendship, and restaurant relationship that we’ve established over the last year can in some way be traced back to her.
Jessica is currently in the last leg of a Kickstarter campaign to fund her Dining Traveler Guide to Puerto Rico, a photo book and travel guide that portrays the island from a Puerto Rican perspective. Take a moment and check out her campaign video below, then channel some holiday spirit and make a donation to help her close in on her goal. And “donation” is a loose term, since you’re basically pre-ordering the guide along with some other cool perks at different pledge levels (including a home-cooked Puerto Rican meal made by Jessica herself!).
Despite being insanely busy with the campaign, as well as traveling, and finding time to enjoy the holidays, Jessica was kind enough to answer 11 questions about Puerto Rico, traveling, and (of course) food.
1. What’s the one food dish that you recommend people try while in Puerto Rico?
Where do I start? My favorite places on the islands are the panaderias (bakeries). I love a medianoche sandwich. It’s similar to a panini; a soft baguette filled with roasted pork, ham, and Swiss cheese.
2. If someone wanted to stay away from touristy areas in Puerto Rico, like San Juan, what area(s) would you tell them to check out?
The west coast of Puerto Rico. Cabo Rojo in the southwest coast has beaches to die for, like Playa Buye and Playa Sucia. The town of Mayaguez for the food; they are known for their artisanal sangria and the guava jelly roll (Brazo Gitano).
3. What is the one thing that you’d like to share about Puerto Rico and Puerto Rican culture that people might not know?
That Puerto Ricans are very welcoming and open people. Don’t get weirded out when people tell you their whole life story after five minutes of meeting you!
4. On average, how many days do you spend traveling each year?
This past year I have been on the road over 100 days so far.
5. You seem to have already traveled almost everywhere, but what’s one country or city that you haven’t visited yet, but would like to?
Peru. It’s my dream destination. We’ve been trying to go for the last two years but something always happens. Hopefully in 2016.
6. Do you have any travel rituals that you follow before a big trip?
I always wait until the last minute to pack. Does that count as a ritual?
7. Do you remember your first plane ride?
I was five. We flew Eastern Airlines (dating myself here, LOL). We moved from Rochester, NY to Puerto Rico. I was super excited. The whole family, including our German Shepherd, was on the flight!
8. When you’re back home in DC, what are some of your hobbies and other activities that you like to do to relax?
I love exploring DC. I enjoy going for a run along the Mount Vernon Trail and admiring the monuments across the Potomac. I also love checking out the new exciting restaurants that continue to pop up in the city.
9. Okay, it’s late at night and you’re craving a sweet and/or salty snack. What do you make or grab from your kitchen to satisfy your late night hunger?
Well… this food blogger is trying to lose weight! I’m trying to be disciplined! However, my downfall is cheese. We always bring tons of cheese back from Holland, where my husband is from.
10. You currently live in Washington, DC; what other U.S. city or cities do you think you would enjoy living in for an extended period of time?
I lived in Miami for three months and truly enjoyed it; there are so many cultures converging in this area. Wouldn’t mind returning. I would be open to living in Chicago or San Francisco. However, I love DC. It will be hard to get me out of here.
11. If you could have one person from any time period, dead or alive, be your tour guide in any city in the world, who would you choose and why?
I would have loved for Pablo Neruda to show me his native Chile. I studied his poetry in high school and college. His words made me feel as if I was already in the country.
Many thanks to Jessica for taking time out of her non-stop travel schedule to chat with us. Don’t forget to check out her Kickstarter, Dining Traveler Guide to Puerto Rico, before the campaign ends on December 10th!