Monday, November 24, 2008

Puerto Rico, La Isla del Encanto

Sunday November 16

This morning we traveled to downtown Aguadilla and saw the center of town. After an authentic Puerto Rican barbeque style lunch of rice and beans and fried sweet plantains, we went swimming in the Caribbean at Playa Crashboat.

Beautiful Playa Crashboat

Monday November 17

Today we hiked El Yunque National Forest, the only tropical rain forest in the United States National Forest System. We hiked along lush forest paths with palm trees and tropical flowers.

Early morning view of the ocean from behind our house before our trip

Cliffs to the ocean behind our house

Coca Falls in El Yunque

View of El Yunque Tropical Rainforest

Mountains of El Yunque

La Mina Falls
Flowers in the park

Tuesday November 18

This morning we shopped at the Mayaguez Farmers Market for papayas, pineapple, oranges, and sugar cane. I sampled some fresh made papaya and passion fruit juice. We bought coconuts which were freshly chopped open by machete while we waited, and then drank the refreshing coconut water inside.

Oranges, pineapples, papaya, bananas, coconut, avocado, and many more

Varieties of root vegetables, banana leaves, and other vegetables

We visited Mayaguez Old Cemetery. Family and heritage is cherished.

Later we swam at calm Buye Beach in Cabo Rojo until sunset. In the evening, we traveled to an outside park with gardens and sculptures and live music.

Wednesday November 19

Today we visited Arecibo Radio Observatory, the largest single-aperture telescope ever constructed. It is difficult to capture the scale of this magnificent structure. Arecibo telescope was used to determine the rotation rate of Mercury, the first solid evidence of neutron stars, the first binary pulsar, and made the first direct image of an asteroid.

Arecibo radio telescope

Tropical flowers at Arecibo

In the afternoon we visited the Taino Ceremonial Center at Caguana, sacred site of the indigenous people of Puerto Rico. Sacred petroglyphs adorned the ancient rocks.

A Taino couple sang for us a song about the sacredness of our Earth.

Taino man dressed for sacred ceremony

Thursday November 20

Today we swam in the rough waters of Jobo Beach, a favorite beach of surfers. We watched pelicans dive for their dinner.

Whitecaps and rough waters

On the other side of a large rock formation the waters are sapphire blue and have even stronger currents and waves.

Cliffs plunging to the ocean

Late afternoon sun

Friday November 21

Today we visited San Germán, the second oldest city of Puerto Rico, after San Juan.

Porta Coeli (Gateway to Heaven) Church, built in 1606, is one of the oldest church structures in the western hemisphere.

Beautiful architecture in this quaint town

Another historic Catholic church.

Later in the day we went to La Parguera, for some ocean kayaking to a small island where we snorkeled and saw purple sea fans, purple and yellow fish, angelfish, sea urchins, and beautiful coral formations.

Ocean kayaks

View from the island

In the evening we went boating in the Bioluminescent Bay. When swimmers agitated the water, a blue green light was emitted by micro-organisms in the water. They looked like sparks of tiny stars!

Saturday November 21

We spent the morning and early afternoon swimming in the aqua waters of Playa Crashboat.

In the evening we went to a Quinceniero party, to celebrate a fifteenth birthday. We had plenty of food, socializing, talking, laughing, and of course, dancing!

This Quinceniero had an Egyptian theme!

Later we said goodbye to Puerto Rico. We had a wonderful time in "La Isla del Encanto", which translated means "The Island of Enchantment." We enjoyed the lush rainforest, beaches of crystal clear water, the warm and welcoming islanders, and the history and music of this stunningly beautiful island.


At 9:34 AM, Blogger Laura said...

Your trip sounds amazing. Especially the sea kayaking part! I lived in Puerto Rico for a couple of months when I was a child and your post brought back some memories!

There are so many good links on your blog!

At 7:46 PM, Blogger Jennifer said...

Wow, your pictures are great, it looks like a wonderful trip.

At 8:01 PM, Blogger Racn4acure said...

Anne, It sounds like a wonderful trip. The photos are beautiful. You got to experience such a variety of things. And your pictures captured things so well, gave us all a real taste of your wonderful trip. I hope you will always have many great memories of your trip. Art

At 11:16 AM, Blogger Robert said...

Hi Anne!

Your pictures are wonderful! You have an eye for composition and framing. Thanks for keeping track of names and places. Something I neglected to do. :-)

Hey look! There's the picture I took of you behind our house. Shows you were really there. ;-)

-- Bob


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