I really enjoyed this next stop on our Eastern Caribbean cruise because we went to San Juan and hiked the rain forest. As you can see from the above picture, this port was a very big city. If you want to read more about the ship itself, click here, and if you want to read about our prior stop in Grand Turk, click here. I was excited to see another capitol that I never thought I would see, but I did not have time to tour it. In the below picture it is the small white dome with the small white pillars connecting it to the main white dome.
I really want to come back and just vacation here for a few days because while there were all the things a big city can offer such as restaurants and nightlife, you can escape and get out into the rain forest and hike. (I’m sure the beaches are great also) Our focus was on the El Yunque National Forest, the only tropical rain forest in the U.S. We took the excursion to hike the .7 mile trail Big Tree in the rain forest. It was a simple out-and-back trail so no getting lost! If you click on the picture, you can read the sign better.
In contrast to the Grand Turk excursion, there really was very little education on this tour so I was disappointed. I told you I was hard to please! The bus driver seemed to know a lot, but he never got out of the bus so he would say “See that plant on the left side, well, that is a [insert name]” and tell a little bit about it. However, we never knew which of the thousands of plants on the left side of the bus he was talking about! He picked up a younger man once inside the park, and this young man was the one that walked us down and then back up the trail without saying more than a few words about how much time we had once at the bottom of the waterfall.
The trail itself is incredible with a narrow, rough-paved surface where you could only walk in single file so we all took off single file, and these people really marched down the path. Now, I know I go slow, but it was so sad that you couldn’t stop and take pictures without stopping the whole line of us. On our way down it began to rain which being the rain forest wasn’t too surprising. However, at one point it began to rain like what I imagine a monsoon is like, with the wind blowing and the rain coming down in sheets. There was actually one point at which I could barely see with the rain blowing into my face and rivulets of water flowing down the bill of my hat. I did become a bit worried wondering if they had tornadoes or lightening that I should worry about. My camera got wetter than it would have kayaking that is for sure! I’m still glad I brought it though. At the storm’s worst, we eventually ran into our group all standing under a tin roof reststop although some people could not really fit and it was crowded. I couldn’t get my camera out to take a picture because of all the water. However, the rain soon stopped and we continued on. Now I know why the trail was paved because the water running down the mountain would quickly wear away any dirt trail.
The trail itself was a mix of uphill and downhill which was nice for variety, and when you got to the end, there was a waterfall there that you could swim in. As you can see below, people were wading around, but I really had no desire to get in because although the rain had pretty much stopped, we were already soaked, and the water was so brown with runoff it didn’t look very inviting. We were to spend a while there, but after grabbing a few pictures, the guide let us start back up on our own.
The return trip was my favorite part because we stopped all along the way and took pictures and just enjoyed the scenery which was just beautiful and we could enjoy the bird calls. I read another blog from someone from our ship who rented their own car and drove up there. That is what I want to do if we go there again because the ship did not pull out until 11 pm so there was plenty of time to get back.
It was a warm rain and we were fine temperature-wise with all the heat and humidity, but when we got back on the bus, we about froze due to the air conditioning. I really wasn’t ready to leave, but it was dark by the time we got back to the ship, and I have to admit it did feel good to get dry! As we boarded the bus, I took one last look at the view and vowed to return some day!