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Monday, February 13, 2012

Our Puerto Rico trip Day 1 -- The Rainforest


I have been feeling very guilty about not putting any entries or photos on the Memories for so long. So I am going to put several posts on this week to make up for lost time. Jan and I were fortunate to be invitied on a trip to Puerto Rico a few weeks back, and I have to say I was overwhelmed with the beauty and variety of the sights we saw. The photo above was taken from the 14th floor of the Caribe Hilton Resort, where we spent a few hours each night recuperating from the day!


Our first morning there, we spent time wandering around the hotel itself. There were many beautiful areas near the beach, the photo above is of the small fortification that protected the early Spanish settlers from the English, who came to take the gold that the Spanish had collected from the area.


In the afternoon, we took a guided tour of the El Yunque rainforest. It is a National Park, and was very clean and well-kept. Our destination was the largest waterfall in the country, and we had a 1.5 mile hike in store for us from here to see it.


The Yokahu Tower shown above was several hours' drive from the hotel, our guide (he's in the blue jeans in the photo of the whole tower, was very cheerful and informative. He was obviously proud of living in Puerto Rico, and in Jan's and my opinion, justifiably so!


The photo above is looking out at the Atlantic Ocean from the tower. The rainforest, our guide told us, gets on average 144 inches of rain a year, TEN times the average for the central and eastern part of the island. The Trade Winds are responsible for that.


There are over 160 varieties of trees in the El Yunque, and they are protected now from farming for wood, as the forest had been in the past. Sometimes, however, hurricanes and other natural occurances take their toll.


There were several instances of unusual root systems in the trees in this rainforest. The photo above shows one kind of root system. Another even stranger tree has the roots coming from the top of the tree, and they hang down like curtains to the ground, where they deliver more water to the treetops.


La Mina waterfall. Quite a sight. There were many people wading and swimming here, but Jan and I did not go in.


The sign at the foot of the trail. It was a long journey there and back, and both ways were uphill!


I saved my favorite photo for last. As Jan and I were walking away from the falls, she pointed out this small patch of fern growing out of the steps. She really liked these tiny ferns, so I snapped a photo. I got several different kinds of ferns along the walk, but since this was Jan's favorite, it "made the cut."

That evening we kayak'd through pitch darkness to the Bio Bay near the ocean, where luminescent algae light up like millions of tiny fireflies as the water was disturbed by hands or paddles. I wish I could have taken some photos, but I had taken so many photos of the rainforest, my chips were full. Pitch blackness is not a good photo subject anyway.

Our second day was a tour of El Morro, the largest fortress on the island, and of Old San Juan. I think you will like those photos, too.

Till then,
Mike

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