OK So I realize it’s been weeks since we went to Puerto Rico, but work is pretty crazy busy lately and I haven’t been able to finish my final Bab of Makan Angin Puerto Rico. In fact I was planning to write this blog in Malay and publish it on August 31st (Malaysia’s Independence Day). Since I have missed that deadline, I will just go ahead and write the entry in English so as not to show the world that my Bahasa Malaysia (or is it Bahasa Melayu now?) has really gone down the drain since secondary school.
This entry is a bit more random and rambly than usual. Sorry!
One of the places that was close to our hotel was an old fort called San Geronimo and I went for a walk to see if I could explore it. I could see it from our balcony even!
This is as close to it as I could get:
[[image:pr61.jpg:San Geronimo from ground level:center:0]]
Why, you may ask? Here’s why:
[[image:pr62.jpg:Prohibido el paso!:center:0]]
So we couldn’t walk into San Geronimo to check it out. It was OK. The weather was pretty, the sea was warm and inviting, it was a great getaway. Not being able to go into San Geronimo, de nada, si? And now here comes the rambling part of the entry. We saw a bunch of pretty birds there. This first guy played the air currents by the sea – he barely flapped his wing even once for the ten minutes that Vin and I watched him. He was just literally gliding way high up.
[[image:pr64.jpg:Gliding sea bird:center:0]]
This guy was taking a wind bath, at the table next to ours. He just stood there, ruffled his feathers and kept putting his beak into his wings to fluff it up and get it clean I suppose. Look how he’s clinging to the chair edge with his claws:
Can you spot the little yellow bird in these bushes? I saw him by Yokahu Tower and had to stalk him a little bit to get a good picture of him:
[[image:pr65.jpg:Little yellow bird:center:0]]
Then we also saw a bunch of lizards/geckos. From a biawak (iguana) in the middle of the road (sorry no picture of that one), to some of these little guys. It reminded me of the cicak (lizard) that attack my dad’s car with their poop at home in Sitiawan:
[[image:pr77.jpg:Cicak on a stalk:center:0]]
[[image:pr78.jpg:Cicak on a rock:center:0]]
[[image:pr79.jpg:Cicak on a leaf to the left of the tree trunk:center:0]]
[[image:pr80.jpg:Cicak on a branch, almost glowing in the flash:center:0]]
I know Hisham will appreciate my Puerto Rican cicak collection. 😀
Really, I was struck by how tropical everything was and so many things reminded me of Malaysia and helped assuage some of my homesickness. Take a look at this scenery we passed on our way to El Yunque. Could be any kampung in Malaysia, no?
[[image:pr67.jpg:Ivy climbing telephone wire:center:0]]
Not to mention all the pokok nyiur (coconut trees). It makes me feel so comforted and at home.
Look at what’s growing on this tree trunk. Didn’t we call these “duit-duit” (money) because of the coin-like shape of the plant? I remember playing with these behind the old Standard 1 classes of ACS Primary.
[[image:pr68.jpg:Duit-duit climbing up this tree trunk:center:0]]
This scene of the mossy rock surrounded by fern can also be found in Malaysia – perhaps by the rivers.
Bamboo is not indigenous to Puerto Rico, but they brought bamboo in and planted them on the hillsides to help fight against landslides and erosion. I tell you, all that buluh (bamboo) around me made me feel like cutting some down and making myself some lemang (glutinous rice packed in bamboo tubes then grilled until cooked)!Celebrate Raya early this year?? 😀
Look at the variety of fern growing on that big tree branch. Reminds me of the big trees that used to be around the old Sitiawan wet market (it’s been torn down for years now). I used to love it when my mum went into the market to buy groceries, and I would wait in the car with Hisham and just drink in those big shady trees with the ferns growing on them. My dad would of course try to get parking under the shady trees.
[[image:pr72.jpg:Fern growing on tree:center:0]]
These jejarum (needle) flowers were planted around the hotel.
Puerto Rico grows all kinds of bunga raya (hibiscus) plants, in many different colors. But what I found very interesting is this species of hibiscus that is called the Sleeping Hibiscus. This flower is not a bud – it’s the flower. That’s as open as it gets. It never actually opens up like a normal hibiscus, hence it’s name.
Of course there are plenty of fern plants of different species, from huge paku gajah (elephant ferns) taller than a man found in the El Yunque Rainforest slopes, to the tiniest little guys growing on rocks. The sight of these paku-pakis (ferns) and some of these pucuk paku (fern shoots) definitely starts my stomach growling for a good kerabu pucuk paku (fern shoot salad).
Also, our El Yunque tour guide Chipi pointed out these plants that are called “Morir y Vivir” (Die and Live). I started laughing and clapping my hands. These are the good old semalu (shy one) plants that grew in the playgrounds and fields of Malaysia! In Puerto Rico they say it dies and lives again because when you touch the leaves, they close up tight (dies) and then slowly opens their leaves again (lives). But in Malaysia, we call it semalu (the shy one) because when touched, it closes up and becomes shy, and only opens up when nobody is around. However, don’t forget – it’s a weed and has sharp thorns on its stems so don’t step on it barefoot!
All in all, Puerto Rico was a fun destination. I’d love to go back and explore Old San Juan, and maybe go kayaking in the bioluminescence again. It’s only a few hours away by plane and not a huge trip for us. The people were friendly, the seas were warm, the food was yummy and we’re surrounded by the kind of things that remind me of home (without the 24 hour grueling flight). What more could a Malaysian girl, far from home, ask for?
[[image:pr69.jpg:Ferny Puerto Rican dreams:center:0]]