When I was little, someone got lost in El Yunque Tropical Rainforest and was not found until about 3 days later. I’m basing this all on my memory, so forgive me if I mix up the details. Anyways, that story really stuck to me. I think he was only able to survive because he knew which plants were good to eat and he was able to ration whatever little he had. Regardless of the accuracy of my memory, I must say I’ve developed a sense of respect for the rainforest.
Sure, I went on all the Girl Scouts adventures, but being the good girl I’ve always been, I always followed the rules. In the past few years, I’ve been bringing different friends from all over the world to come see El Yunque. In all of these trips, I stuck to the basics. The basics are safe and you can’t get lost on your own. I have no idea why I was being so stupid, I just never questioned my typical short visit excursion.
Until this Holiday break, of course, when my adventurous boyfriend was all like “let’s hike up to the tallest mountain in the rainforest” and I was like “no”. Being the amazing girlfriend that I am, I decided to take him beyond the first tiny waterfall.
Turns out, there are actually different trails in the rainforest. How did I not know this before? All this time here I was thinking that the man got lost because of lack of proper signs.
It really was a beauty to walk through these wonders of nature. Granted, I kept looking down in the ground to make sure I did not trip and fall off into unexplored territory. We also got into a crowded trail, which was a little too stressful for my taste. If you want to have a more tranquil experience, go during a weekday.
Here is another story that I’m not so sure how accurate it is. When I was little, my dad would tell me that these white leaves that you see above could predict whether it was going to rain or not. They are called “Yagrumo” leaves and they belong up in a tree. You see, only one side is white and by checking if that side is facing up or down, you’re able to predict if it will rain. A quick Google search didn’t really validate this story and I’m not going to look very into it. To be honest, I like to believe that these are magical leaves, I think that’s pretty cool.
After a 45 minute hike, we arrived at this beautiful waterfall. Mind you, I would say this is the second most touristy waterfall in the rainfall, we got even better ones! If you want to go super off the beaten path, you may, but I am completely unable to tell you how to get there. Also, the water was freezing for my standards. My true American boyfriend, on the contrary, found it cold but bearable. You could tell people apart very easily in this spot, people in the water were clearly not from Puerto Rico.
Back from the waterfall, we ended our first hike with a little sweat but still smiles on our faces. I was ready to get going and hit the beach but of course, this adventure was not over. My boyfriend was super ecstatic about hiking and stood firm on his original plan to reach the top. In the back of my mind I was prepared for this and had brought us lunch. Again, aren’t I the best?
We found a great picnic area for our gourmet meal, it was like being in elementary school all over again. I think companies should have field trips, just as we did back in school. We can all wear t-shirts, ride the bus together, learn about nature and stop at the shopping outlets on our way back!
Speaking of gourmet meal, take a look at our feast! This was probably the healthiest I ate during my two weeks in Puerto Rico, I do not regret that for one second. I’ve always heard that nuts give you a lot of energy, so I made sure to back plenty in case we got lost in the rainforest for three days.
We got on the car again to drive closer to the top and start another trail. On the way there, I worked my magic and was able to persuade my boyfriend into abandoning our super ambitious hiking plan and head to the beach (yes!). The beach was great and afterwards we had dinner at the Kioskos de Luquillo, which is a great stop after you go wandering around a rainforest.
All jokes aside, I really enjoyed hiking. It’s also always nice to go with someone whose company you enjoy, kinda crucial when you get lost in the rainforest for 3 days. We decided we need to go hiking more often. Come to think about it, I don’t think I’ve ever been hiking in the US. I find this hard to believe, but my brain confirms it. As long as I can get my picnic on, don’t encounter any bears and don’t fall off a cliff, I think I can get used to this hiking thing.
All pictures taken & edited by Cristina Nogueras – (iPhone 5)