Many Travels – Puerto Rico Part 4

San Juan (Corina, Stacey, Josue)

The next day we were up bright and early enough to catch a coqui!

P1030303

These tiny little frogs are named for the sound they make (can we say onomatopoeia?) every night like song birds.  Of course, some people hate the sounds they make, and it keeps them up, but I thought it was beautiful.  Plus, if you can sleep through the songbirds pre-dawn every morning, you should be able to handle a few measly frogs.

Camuy, etc.

Then, we were off to the Camuy Caves, a huge system about an hour away from San Juan.  From what we’d heard, these caves had the potential to be closed though – there had been an accident about a year ago in which falling rock had killed a woman, the first accident to ever happen during a tour at this cave site.  Consequently, they were closed to update safety procedures for some time.  Kelsey had told us the day before that she had gone to see them, and they were open for business, so we were excited to have the opportunity to see them.  Unfortunately we arrived just after an English tour filled up, so they told us we’d have to wait for about half an hour for the next one.

2-3 hours later, we still were not actually in the caves.  In fact, not a single tour group had departed since we arrived.  After severe questioning of the authorities, we found out one of the trams had broken, there were still at least 90 people in line ahead of us, and they had no idea when the next tour would even depart.  Thankfully we were able to get a refund, as we wouldn’t have time to come back to the caves, and typically they only give rain checks.

We had planned to spend the afternoon on the beach, so we quickly headed off in the direction of the coast, hoping to recoup some of our waiting time at the caves.  We were all starving by that point as well, so some food seemed in order.  I can safely say, the roadside stand we stopped at was excellent, and those pinchos were the best part of our day.  And Corina really liked them too…

pinchos

pinchos 2

Of course, as soon as we stopped to get out of the car, tropical heavy rain.  The beach was out for the moment.  Instead, we half-stumbled into this lagoon area where swimming was forbidden, but many people were fishing.  So we set of to hike around a bit, and discovered…snails.  Not just one or two, but hundreds of the big old things.

P1030357

P1030365

Antennae!

P1030374

There was plenty of other wildlife as well.

P1030336

P1030338

P1030386

San Juan

Finally at the end of the day, we relaxed on the waterfront of San Juan with fried foods and several Medallas (local beer) each.

medalla

Eventually we worked our way over to listen to a reggae group we’d heard about, and took some time to look at the water at night, and enjoy the stars while we slowly relaxed into evening.  And despite a few showers and a possiblity of a rain-out for the band, everything resolved itself in the end.

All in all, though it was an unexpected sort of day, and if it was early-on filled with waiting and boredom, it was also full of hidden surprises.  And if you can’t recognize those when they spring out at you, what’s the point anyway?

Advertisements

Many Travels – Puerto Rico Part 3

Ponce (Corina and Stacey, Kelsey)

Same song, third verse – a little bit louder?  Corina and I joined up with Kelsey to attempt, once again, to visit Hacienda Buena Vista.  This time we ascended the slopes in two cars, confident that we’d just barely make the tour schedules for 10:30 am.  Alas, for us, evidently you need reservations to join a tour even at the published scheduled times.  Of course, the Hacienda does not proclaim this, even on the sign directly outside their front gate, nor did the tour book we referred to, but why should a vacation go according to plan?  We were, however, able to get inside to at least buy some of he famed coffee, for which I give my personal thanks to the gate guard.  The gift shop employee was also very helpful and informative about the programs and initiatives the Hacienda was involved with, and we did get to see a bit of the natural beauty of the complex.  Here’s a bit of info, in picture form (and Spanish).

P1030181

Following that, we were on our way to Tibas, one of the largest cultural sites for the Pre-Taino and other native Puerto Rican groups.  It was awesome.  We took a look at some of the excavation sites, various ball courts, a model village (several pictures below), and also walked through a nature preserve atop the site to protect against erosion and overzealous archeologists.

P1030191

Pictured in the hut below are Kelsey, blowing a kiss, and Corina, to the left and back.

P1030198

Our tour guide was delightfully knowledgeable both about past cultures and about native flora and fauna, and clearly explained a variety of native cures for all sorts of ailments.  My favorite involved boiling a plant in honey, siphoning off the liquid, and drinking it.  Yum!  Finally we met a very nice man who gave us the first passionfruit from his garden and invited us to a drum circle later that evening, which we were unable to attend.

passionfruit 1

Evidently, the thick outer rind is not meant to be eaten.

passionfruit 2

All in all, Tibas was delightful.

P1030207

Yay!  Us three!  Especially note my clam-white legs!

Cabo Rojo (Corina and Stacey, alone once more)

Following that outing, Corina and I again ran off on our own to explore the coast even further west, and to stop off at one of the more picturesque clifftop lighthouses on the island.  Sure you have to tromp through a bunch of weird red salt flats to get to the actual lighthouse, but who cares?  Lively water not far from a protected bay with a beach? Perfect for late afternoon relaxation.  Plus, the lighthouse itself had character.  Where else can you find 500 copies of the Odessey available for the casual read, in a variety of translations?

P1030212

Book on the table?  Of course it’s the Odessey!

P1030216

P1030233

It may have been at this point that our stupid garmin first led us to a dead end, or it may have been the tropical downpours decreasing visibility or it may have been coming from the far side of the island – regardless, we got back to San Juan late.