Wednesday, February 24, 2010

20th Wedding Anniversary: Puerto Rico Part 1

Feb 18th, 2010 was our anniversary. My husband and I chose to celebrate by spending 5 days in Puerto Rico. I have never found it easy to just hop on a plane and go but leaving behind frigid Florida weather for the sunny tropics was easy. The first thing I did when I stepped off the plane was to stash my sweater never to be seen again until we were back in the arctic circle aka south Florida. My hubby beelined to the nearest car rental bus, picked up our rental and off we went. Fred drove while I navigated. Our host Carole suggested we take the beach road or PR187 because it was more scenic. It was beautiful.



We traveled through the small towns of Suarez and Vieques on narrow two lane roads. The traffic was crazy and for some reason my husband was having the time of his life whipping down the narrow road and giving me heart failure. I soon discovered my husband's driving was no different than anyone else on the road. I learned to stay focused on my surroundings and ignore the driving. We made it to Rio Grande in one piece and found Carole's Villa without to much trouble. Her house was the last house on the right as you enter the Bosque National El Yunque on PR9966. This is a long twisty steep road that winds up into the mountains it is barely a two lane road with many of the residents parked in the street.



I was afraid at first the place was so far away from civilization. It was rustic almost rudimentary. There was electric but no air conditioning. No T.V, no wifi, OMG there was no shower curtain. It was like nothing I had every experienced before. It was romantic and beautiful. It was perfect. A cool breeze blew through the large window that looked out into the jungle. The room had a king size bed, a small fridge with water, a fan and a dish full of fresh bananas. What more could you want.


We found Carole on her front patio with her dogs Gaya and Sabina. She is an awesome host and she makes the most delicious banana smoothies. We chatted for a while enjoying the cool breeze blowing off the ocean and admiring the view. I wish my pictures could convey the true beauty of our mountain perch view, the unique smells of moisture and earth, or the sounds of the creatures in the jungle as the sunset.


I wish I could say we slept in but we were up bright and early and ready to explore. Explore meaning getting lost and riding in circles a lot. We made our way quickly down the mountain went east on PR3. We headed into Luquillo and stumbled upon the famous Luquillo Kiosks. We stopped and Fred took some black and white pictures. I can't wait to see how they turned out.


We took off again and ended up on another mountain road that eventually took us back to PR3. As it was getting close to lunch so we made our way to the kiosks and enjoyed lunch. Fred had salted fish with rice and chickened out and ate an empanada which was good but not as good as my sons. Stuffed and happy we made our way east to Fajardo.


The day was cool and very overcast but we were enjoying our adventure. As we drove into Fajardo we spotted a sign for a ferry. We followed the signs through heavy traffic areas including a hospital and school but finally made our way to the coast. We found the ferry but it was passengers only so decided not to cross. Parking would be an issue that we weren't willing to deal with so we took advantage of the photo opportunities of the area.



The Bahia De Fajardo and the Parque La Juventud north east of Fajardo were beautiful. There were several beaches but the area was dotted with numerous marinas to the north side and to the east. All the boats seemed to be pleasure crafts and I don't remember seeing any fishing vessels or any stores that specialized in fresh fish or shrimp which strikes me as very odd.



As the afternoon wore on we headed back towards Rio Grande but we weren't quite ready to call it a day. The sky started to clear up and bit and the sun finally came out. We finally found the side road that leads to the Bosque Nacional El Yunque.



Everything is green and moist. There are water falls everywhere. Pretty red flowers fall from overhead and vines dangle from the trees. We stopped at the parks Welcome Center and picked up a map, asked about the hiking then made are way further up the mountain. Again Fred loved the steep twisty turning roads and as long as no one slowed him down he was happy.


We found the first tower and climbed all the way to the top. My legs screamed as we approached the top but we made it and the view was well worth the climb.



Ascending the tower was a little scary, my legs threatened to give out. My feet were very insistent that there would be no more hiking today. Which was too bad because there were so many trails and so much to see. I was hoping maybe another day but it was amazing how quickly the days flew by. We did make it to the top of the mountain turned around and descended in half the time it took to drive up. I was tired but happy with all we accomplished when we finally made it back to Carole's Place but Fred was not done.


About half a mile up the road is a bridge that crosses a creek that runs down a steep rocky area and if you descend down a steep path cross the creek and down a second steep path you will find a private waterfall. So camera in hand, we made it down the steep path crossed the creek and saw the second steep path only to get rained on.



Carole warned up about flash flooding and the sun was starting to go down behind the mountain so we decided to try again another day. We made our way back to our room and settled in for the night falling to sleep to the noisy chirps of the crickets and the Coqui frogs.