Posted by: The Starfish Dancer | March 2, 2017

Another Dam Trip: Entry #5

It’s the end of another day of my Caribbean adventure, and another day well spent.  Our ship arrived in Puerto Rico this afternoon, which meant DW and I could have a leisurely morning.  We didn’t get out of bed until nearly nine o’clock, and if breakfast were indefinitely available, I’m not certain either of us would have gotten out of bed even that early. It’s vacation, and we are enjoying the slow pace.

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A little taste of what my day had in store, from the El Yunque observation tower!

My coughing has improved somewhat, which my ribs are thankful for, considering the way they’ve been taxed over the past couple of weeks, and notably eating isn’t really triggering them anymore.  It made my English breakfast of fried toast with scrambled eggs and beans with cooked tomato and mushroom that much more delicious. Of course, I forwent the traditional tea with my breakfast in favour of coffee and fresh squeezed orange juice, which tastes way better than the carton OJ I get at home. I don’t care what the commercials say, carton orange juice is not nearly the same.

After breakfast, we read on our verandah for a while. It’s definitely an upgrade I’m glad we made, and not only because it is good to have a convenient place to keep an eye on the horizon when the seas are stormy and I’m feeling queasy. DW was considering booking a last minute shore excursion, but decided to explore on her own in the end.  So as we docked, she made her way off the boat while I finished getting ready for my rainforest drive.

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I’m very glad that I decided to change my booking from the hike to the drive, as neither my lungs nor my ankle were up for anything too strenuous today.  I turned my ankle badly at roller derby a while back, from which it hasn’t fully recovered, and a rogue wave in Fort Lauderdale knocked my foot around and didn’t help matters.  I was, however, up for the drive to El Yunque rainforest, with Tour Coop and wonderful driver and guide Mitzi. She was very informative as we drove the fifty minutes through old San Juan, then the newer metropolis of San Juan, into Carolina. The bus was air conditioned though it was still a bit warm, and the swaying curves of the road combined with my motion sickness medication meant I was close to napping on the way up. Fortunately I managed to perk up after a few minutes outside at our first stop, the visitor’s centre at the rainforest where you could use the restroom, then head off for a short trail through the rainforest that took you in a winding circle.

It was nice to be in the lush green, surrounded by tall trees with the light glowing through, birds unseen high in the trees though heard in their lovely songs, with a murmur of wind.  I did see some birds, however; a couple of crowing roosters and at least one hen scratching her way through the leaves. There were signs that identified some of the fauna, and Mitzi had pointed out some of the local plants as well on the way to the visitor’s centre, like the trees with orange flowers called African tulips and the red ginger, now in bloom. The signs also pointed out some of the wildlife one might see while walking through the rainforest, including the Puerto Rican boa, if I recall the name correctly. Sadly, I didn’t see one, though I will be examining my photos closely just in case. I really love snakes!

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My little lizard friend

Though I didn’t see any snakes, just as I was heading back to the bus, I did manage to spot a lizard, which made me very happy.  I thanked him for popping out for a picture before I made my way back to the bus.  As the doors closed behind us, the rain began to lightly fall, though it stopped by the time we got to our next stop, the observation tower.

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The observation tower

Looming up like a castle above the trees (and at a high enough elevation my ears still haven’t unplugged), the tower gives you a near-panoramic view of the rainforest, blocked only on one side by the mountain peak. You can even see the coast, though it was a little hard through the clouds today!  The climb was a little daunting considering my cold, but I did it anyway and was so glad I did, even though the rain made the steps a bit slippery in places.

After taking pictures at the observation tower, we went to one last stop, which was a beautiful set of waterfalls, perhaps even the ones I would have swam in the bottom of had I made the hike. Still, I got to take lovely pictures in the rain – rain in the rainforest, what a treat! – since it began coming down a little more in earnest (though I wouldn’t quite call it heavy). I imagine the hike would have been in the rain, too, which might have kept hikers cool if they didn’t wear a rain jacket, but might have made for slicker terrain to navigate.  All in all, I was very pleased with my day.

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Also pleased with the day was DW, who ventured off on her own even though it made her a bit nervous.  She found a visitor’s centre nearly right away, and they gave her a map of old San Juan and some suggestions of where she might explore.  She made her way between two old fortresses, found a place called Pigeon’s Park with a gazillion of the namesake bird, and had sorbet that she practically had to drink, it melted so quickly. After about three hours, she made her way back to the boat to cool off in the pool, then slathered herself in sunscreen to get her tan on. Of course, this is when it went overcast.  Good thing she has lots to spare!

Since I’d only had my late breakfast, I was pretty hungry by the time the tour was over, so made my way back to the ship as well.  Had the port been close to a beach, I might have stayed out a little longer, but it is mostly shops I had no interest in buying things from, so I went back to the room.  DW was just getting ready for dinner as well, so I quickly rinsed the bug spray and sunscreen off in the shower and dressed for dinner in the dining room, since DW was up for joining me. We got to sit just the two of us again and share our day, so I won’t even hold the “oh, there ARE two of you!” against the host.  DW found it pretty funny.

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I ate turkey, but this is a crowing rooster in the rainforest. Because why not?

Dinner was delicious as ever.  I treated myself to two of the appetizer/soup/salad course because I’d skipped lunch.  A goat cheesecake and a mixed berry chilled soup.  I had a turkey course with an apple stuffing, root veggies and Brussel’s sprouts, and believe it or not it was the Brussel’s sprouts that made that decision.  I do like them and I guess they were calling me.  For dessert, I had a whiskey chocolate cake. It was an excellent decision.  After dinner, I killed a little time in the casino, in part because it was a non-smoking night, and I wanted to show my support for keeping things smoke-free (even though when I cough right now I sound like a thirty-year veteran chain smoker). I was prepared to lose $10 and only lost $5 (and killed some time while I was at it!), so I’m calling that a win. And when I came back, the room had been turned down so I have a swan on my bed.

Tomorrow’s excursion starts a little earlier, so I’ll sign off for now. I’m looking forward to more fun in the sun tomorrow. It’s supposed to be up to 28 degrees, so the sail and then beach time should hit the spot.  Until tomorrow!

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