Continuing our adventures in Puerto Rico. After our late night of kayaking and swimming in the bioluminescent Las Croabas lagoon, we had our late night feast and collapsed into bed. Unfortunately we had to get up pretty early to have a good breakfast before we head to catch the bus for the El Yunque rainforest tour.
Our tour guide/bus driver’s name was Jesus (hay-soos) a.k.a. Chipi (seriously, this was his nickname, he said). It was a 45 minute drive to El Yunque. After Chipi made sure everybody who had signed up for the tour was on the bus, we set off. 2 of the guests were from Mexico (I think), so we had a bilingual English-Spanish tour, which was fun.
On the way there, Chipi pointed out that the part of the sea that we were looking at was the Puerto Rico Trench. It is one of the deepest trenches in the ocean (#8 according to wikipedia, but Chipi said it was 2nd after the Marianas).
[[image:pr36.jpg:Puerto Rico Trench:center:0]]
First stop, the El Yunque Rainforest center. We got off the bus and walked around this building, built into the canopy of the rainforest. There were many informational boards and we learned a lot by reading the materials there. We also watched a movie (narrated by Jimmy Smits) about El Yunque and also the flora and fauna that live there. Did you know that the Puerto Rican parrot is an incredibly endangered species? Apparently, in the late 80s, due to habitat changes and people keeping the very finicky-eating parrots as pets, they counted only 13 individuals left in the wild? 13!? They have managed to up the count now to 46 in the wild, but there are some more parrots carefully raised by the forest services in captivity with the idea that they should be let out into the wild.
So, some pictures of the Rainforest center.
[[image:pr38.jpg:Vin reading a sign on the canopy walkway:center:0]]
[[image:pr40.jpg:Malaysia is mentioned!:center:0]]
We also heard about the “coqui” (ko-keeee) that is a species of small tree frogs that make a noise like that “ko-keeee”. Here’s a little signboard about this frog that has become one of Puerto Rico’s mascots.
Then as we walked around the center, there was a little creek running through the entire place (I think they built this center around nature, trying not to disrupt it as much as they could). Look what I spotted in a quiet spot of the creek:
The little black spots – berudu (tadpoles)!! See them? Maybe someday they become the little coquis singing in the rainforest.
After our time at the center, we went off to see some things in El Yunque. We hiked a short trail and Chipi pointed out all kinds of different things. We start off by going to view El Bano Grande:
[[image:pr42.jpg:Me and Vin by the El Bano Grande waterfall:center:0]]
[[image:pr43.jpg:Me by El Bano Grande:center:0]]
An example of the Puerto Rican parrot nest. The parrot nests in a particular kind of tree that has a hollowed out trunk. The entrance to the nest is at the top of the hole. The nest itself is at the bottom of the hole where the parrot’s young would be safer. The Forest Services are building these nests to encourage the parrots to nest.
[[image:pr44.jpg:Example of parrot nest:center:0]]
There are 2 kinds of snails that live in El Yunque – here’s Chipi pointing out the poisonous “do-not-touch” kind of snail:
[[image:pr45.jpg:Warning! Do not touch!:center:0]]
Here’s the other kind of snail – that is not poisonous and is edible:
After we hike on the trail, we get back on the bus and drive to Yokahu Tower.
The tower was built to observe the rainforest canopy. We climb up the 96 steps to get up to the top of the tower and got a terrific 360 degree view of El Yunque, even all the way to the sea.
[[image:pr49.jpg:View from Yokahu Tower:center:0]]
[[image:pr50.jpg:Vin climbing down the stairs:center:0]]
Chipi also points out that a section of the mountain peaks looks like a face looking up into the sky:
[[image:pr47.jpg:”Their eyes were watching God”:center:0]]
See it? It was pretty neat. Vin and I both made the climb up the tower and the view was really worth it. Then we climbed back down and off we went to our last stop on the tour, the Coca Falls.
Chipi shows us the traditional Taino way of painting their bodies – using clay rocks found in the falls.
[[image:pr55.jpg:Chipi talking about the tradition of body painting:center:0]]
First he went into the Coca Falls and picked out some rocks. Then he gathered us together and wet a section of the pavement with water, and rubs the rocks in the water. Paint-like splotches appear:
[[image:pr58.jpg:My hand in the foreground, Chipi’s in the background:center:0]]
[[image:pr59.jpg:It gets brighter when it dries:center:0]]
I also climbed down into the river and put my hands in the water.
Here’s Vin relaxing at Coca Falls.
[[image:pr53.jpg:Don’t lean back!:center:0]]
And to close this entry, a picture of the Coca Falls. Tune in next time for more Makan Angin Puerto Rrrrico!
[[image:pr54.jpg:The Coca Falls:center:0]]