El Cansado in El Yunque

Monday, October 10, 2011
Río Grande, Rio Grande, Puerto Rico
Today we spent most of the day at the El Yunque National Forest. El Yunque is the only tropical rain forest in the U.S. National Park system. It has trails, waterfalls, swimming and look out towers. We were pretty excited to see what it had in store. It's located in the Luquillo Mountains, which is on the eastern side of Puerto Rico. The cool thing is that our resort is only 15 minutes away! Although there are over 240 species in the forest, we only saw a few snails, some lizards and a bird. Poisonous snakes or other scary animals are not in the forest, as well as "scary monsters," which one little girl asked her mother about in the gift shop.

Both Kate and I slept remarkably well last night - majorly out! Neither of us got much sleep on Friday *(before we left) or on Saturday (the night we arrived) . We left the resort a little after 9 am and headed to a little hole in the wall called Isamar's Bakery for breakfast. The food was really cheap and very tasty. We also had cafe con leche (coffee with milk).

It was recommended in my Fodor's guide to stop at the "El Portal" before heading into the forest trails. Here, we received a lovely park map from Jesus (hay-zeus), who asked if we were hermanas (sisters). This was the second time we were asked that! He also told us the Mount Briton Trail was tough and mostly uphill, but we, as Wisconsin girls could handle it. Hey, thanks Jesus! We stopped at the gift shop and made our merry way along.

After driving all uphill and on very winding roads for around 10 km, we parked and headed up the trail to the Mt Briton look out tower, which was over 3,087 feet in elevation. Holy cats! The trail was steep and got tiring, but it was peaceful and shady. I was a sweaty beast, but it was worth the trek . The views from the look out tower were amazing. The morning clouds had started to roll out from the island, so everything was clear and we didn't get rained on. After making our way down, we got in the car, stopped for more water and made our way to the Big Tree Trail that would lead us to La Mina Falls.

Once we did this trail and came upon La Mina, we changed into our water shoes (lots of slippery rocks!) and got in! The fresh, clear rain forest water was COLD, but it felt good after all that walking. After getting back to our fire red rental car, we changed and headed down the mountain to take some more pictures. We stopped and had linner (late lunch, early dinner) at Muralla, another hole-in-the-wall (I think there were actually holes in the wall) with good, cheap food that only accepted cash.

It was very cool to experience the forest. At one point I said to Kate, "you don't see this in Wisconsin every day." And she responded, "you don't see this in Wisconsin any day."  :)

We got back to the resort and decided to relax on the beach/near the pool. Both of us were pretty beat and had sore feet, as we hiked more than 3 miles of rugged trail. But it was fun and felt good after a day of mostly sitting. We ordered room service tonight so we could just chill and so I could (unfortunately but necessarily) grade some assignments.

Tomorrow we plan on heading to Old San Juan, which should be a ton of fun!

Hasta la vista!


Scott Bader

Looks like a lot of fun!! Thanks for sharing the pictures. So you say grading assignments?? What....are you some kind of teacher now??


Yes, we are having a great time! I have been teaching an online class for Lakeland for a few years now. So yes, a little grading here and there. :)