Even though the boat is put away for the hurricane season, my parents and I could not stop “cruising”. We simple continued in a van with two of my mom’s sisters and their husbands.
Our first day was spent at the Arecibo Observatory (1st two photos). This is the largest radio telescope in the world and has been featured in the movies Contact and James Bond: Golden Eye. I had been here ten years ago, during a work trip, and it was just as fascinating now as it was then if not more so. After several hours we started the twisty drive back down to the town of Arecibo on a road that sure seemed to be the width of a single land, but defiantly carried traffic in both directions (whoa did you see how close that was!). In town we visited the lighthouse, which has a whole little theme park attached to it. The lighthouse was very typical of the Spanish design. They are rectangular with several rooms forming the keeper’s housing and the light itself is a short (20-30 feet) typical lighthouse tower on top of this. The theme park was not bad for the $10-15 price to get in. They had some bumper boats, a small petting zoo (this part was horrible and you felt bad for the animals), life size models of different Puerto Rico historical eras (they had some colonial ships, an indian village, parts of a plantation, soldiers with a cannon, and others). One funny incident was when we were looking at the gators and my mom announced they were fake, because they were so still. Right when she said that one moved his head in a thrashing motion and scared her a bit. After a quick stop at the local beach we had dinner at a local seafood place just outside of town, that came highly recommended.
On a different day we drove the opposite direction from San Juan and visited the El Yunque rainforest. It seems the English into film pronounced it as “junk” but with a “Y” instead of a “J”, while the Spanish version of the film pronounced it just as “junk”. Either way this is the only tropical rainforest in the US Forest Service. This statement baffled me because of Hawaii, but I have figured out it because this is a Forest Service site and not a National Park Service site. This forest receives an average of three quarters of an inch of rain A DAY!!! I feel like we were there on a very typical day, because it would rain and then stop and then rain and then stop and so on. During this raining and stopping my mom, one set of aunt and uncle, and I took a 3-4 mile hike. We walked along a river for half of the hike and in the middle we saw a great waterfall (4th photo) were there is a popular swimming hole. The second half of the hike left the river and it was so peaceful since you could hear all the rainforest sounds that were drowned out by the roar of the river. The frogs were the best sound. Crow-kiieee. There is an observation tower (6th photo) to help you get above the canopy and see the rainforest from the trees. Unfortunately it closes right at 4pm and not at 5pm like the main visitor center, so we only got to see it and not climb to the top.
Of these two sites I think Arecibo is fantastic with the science involved, but EL Yunque was the more awe inspiring for me due to being enveloped in the natural world and I had not seen it before.
I planned on telling about the whole week we spent in Puerto Rico in this blog, but it is so fun describing these sites that this blog got a bit long. So next week I will take you through Old San Juan, which is steeped in history and was unbelievable. I only hope I can do it justice with my typing. Until then…..