“If you could do it, I believe I can!” That attitude seems to have gotten me in trouble more than once in my life…. Mind you, I was saying this as I was starring into the innocent eyes of a 5 yr old at breakfast, on the terraces of the Luquillo Sunrise Beach Inn, as her mother was touting how well her young daughter had made it through a 45 minute hike up into the El Yunque National Forest, here in Puerto Rico. I was pondering that affirmation once more while realizing I was huffing and puffing behind a little 4 yr old boy heading back up the La Mina waterfall trail…. He was doing just fine, thank you… I had to stop a couple a minutes. With a painful pinch to my ego, I see the boy is now gaining more terrain ahead… Hmmm, am l really trying to compete here? Come on Aimée, grow up! I do confess putting off the “growing up” part of Life as long as I possibly could…
For my defense – concerning my physical abilities – I may have pushed a bit hard, mainly an uphill battle, with two hikes this first day into this magnificent rainforest, the only tropical rainforest part of the United States Forest System, also proclaimed by UNESCO as a Biosphere Reserve, part of the Man and Biosphere program. Size really does not matter here, as this may be the smallest forest in the US system but yet the most biologically diverse with numerous species of trees and plants found nowhere else, including endangered species such as the puertorican green parrot – that I have yet to spot to my great frustration. It is a very lush and green territory that “wows” me as it does 1 million visitors a year, exploring one of the sites on the exclusive list of Seven Wonders of the World.
My eyes were riveted to the moss covered trees, fascinated with the tiny dripplets of waters falling from every centimeter of greenery, waterfalls at every curve, from the most fine musical trickle to the thundering tallest, which is La Mina Falls. My senses are tuned into the wilderness, no matter the difficulty level of this elevated hike to the top of the mountain where less visitors venture out to. You walk in silence, pause a few minutes here and there, and take it all in. From the singing of exotic birds that you cannot see, however hard you try to look; the powerful and omnipresent chant of the elusive tiny Coquí frog that I was unable to capture on camera; the ongoing enchanting music of the water everywhere…
Close your eyes and listen thru these short audio and video files taken for your enjoyment ( try pressing both of the audio and video play buttons below at the same time for an even greater experience of the sounds of the forest ) :
Coqui Frogs singing into the night and surrounding nature sounds, Puerto Rico.
The musical trickling of water on the Mt Britton Trail, exotic birds singing in the background, El Yunque rainforest, Puerto Rico.
There are many reasons I came back to visit further this Caribbean island of Puerto Rico, as this is my fourth short visit, but hiking this mystical rainforest was the very first on my list. Ready to describe the different hikes with video footage and photos as witnesses, I’ll give you my best tips about visiting in the next posts covering my week-long visit to Puerto Rico, a Caribbean island offering much diversity of interests to the activity seeker as well as the cultural experience thirsty traveler.
Have you visited this marvel of nature that is El Yunque? Tell me your impressions and your tips by commenting below – would love to hear from fellow explorers!