Puerto Rico Vacation Report – Day 8 Climbing a mountain

Sabbath began again like the rest of vacation. Susie’s up early again, so I get up with her. We wait for everyone else to wake, as this morning we’re heading to El Yunque Rainforest, one of the National Parks on the island. This park is high up on one of the tallest mountains on the island, and provides you with views of the coast, splashing in waterfalls, and hikes through tropical rainforests. Once everyone is awake, we pack up our cooler with sandwich stuff for lunch in the park, and hit the road. It’s only a few miles away, but getting up the mountain to the visitor center is slow going.

Once we reach the visitor center, we get directions to the sights from a park ranger, and then take a few minutes to look around the building. The open-air building has many displays of things we’ll see in El Yunque. There’s a wonderful little gift shop where we find a few PR souvenirs. After shopping, we go into the little theater to see a short film on the park (the film was all in Spanish). Now that we’re educated on the park, let’s go see it.

So we hop back into the van and decide to head to the highest hike to see climb a tower near the peak. We find a parking spot, and begin the hike up 500 feet to the tower. Michelina starts with Susie on her back. About half way up, she switches with Jeremy. As we near the tower, the fog is pretty thick, and we start to worry about our view from the tower. A little more hiking and we reach the base of the tower. We take a few minutes and wander around the tower, and then it’s up to the top. Unfortunately, we were right. The view was pretty obstructed by the clouds, so not much to see really. As we start heading back down, we hear thunder in the distance, and not too much later, rain. It began to pour. We quickly made it to a shelter off the path, and hid there till the storm ran its course. Then we continued our descent back to the car.

From here, we drove to a picnic area for lunch, and then it’s on to La Mina Falls. Another hike, this time only a 250 ft climb, but still not easy. We make it to the falls, and place our feet in the water. These falls were beautiful, but they were a favorite of all the hikers, so it was pretty crowded. So after about 30 minutes down here, we make the return trip back to the car.

From here, we start heading out of the park. We stop for one more set of falls. These falls (3 of them) belong to a small stream and are fun to play in. Susie has fallen asleep in the car, so dad stays with her while the rest of us head up to the falls. We quickly find the smaller first falls (perfect size for a young child). We continue on, and find the other two falls. Jeremy quickly decides to get in and play under the falls. After braving the cool water, he manages to convince Michelina to try also, so the two of them play in the middle falls. Michelina and Traci go ahead on back, but Jeremy wants to see if he can reach the higher falls, so he heads up the side of the hill while I wait behind for his return. He finally comes back and reports that there was no clear way down to the falls unfortunately, so he and I head back to the car where everyone is waiting for our return.

We hop back in the car, and begin our return trip back to the condo. El Yunque is a beautiful park, and nothing like anything I’ve ever seen in the states. If you ever get a chance to go, it’s well worth the time. On the way to the condo, we decide to stop at Luquillo Beach Kiosks, which are basically small shops that sell fried food, alchohol, and play music. There are 60 some of thes all along the beach, and very much a part of PR culture. We get a few items and share, plus 2 coco frio’s (chilled coconuts). The food was pretty good, and the coconuts were interesting. The milk was good, but the insides… did you know that green coconuts insides are slimy? Still good, but different.

We finally return home, get some pizza for dinner, and spend a quiet evening just relaxing at the condo. What a great Sabbath day.

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