El Yunque

El Yunque is the national rainforest of Puerto Rico that is located in the northeast part of the island. There are many different websites or tour groups that will take you to El Yunque but we had our hotel call for a cab to take us. Many of the tours start very early in the morning, like 7 or 8am, and that was just not an option for our vacation. Luckily, the cab driver we had was very familiar with the paths of El Yunque and was prepared to show us around.

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It took about 45 minutes to drive there from our hotel, so if you thought that Puerto Rico was a small island please realize now that to travel around you must be prepared to take drives for hours to see certain things. When we arrived the guide made a few stops, the first being a waterfall where many other tourists stopped to take pictures. Our guide had a great personality and so he told us that we should go behind the fence, climb on the rocks and pose for the pictures. We all laughed, joking that we were posing for a family portrait or our senior pictures.

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Then we headed up the winding mountain to see the view from the top. There is an observation tower that we climbed and it provides an awesome aerial view. I mean, check out these pictures!

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Next, we headed to another waterfall that was hidden inside the forest. It was much smaller but the best part was getting our faces painted. Our guide was very excited to show us how the indigenous group from Puerto Rico, los Taínos, used certain rocks that break apart easily when rubbed against another. When added with water the powder turned to a paint-like silt that dried quickly after applied to our faces. I needed the warrior paint to prepare me for what we were about to do next…zip lining.

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I was extremely nervous to go zip lining and not because I am afraid of heights but because I fear falling to my death. But my friends talked me into it and since I had already spent the money, I knew I was locked into my decision.

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We got our gear on and I was already trembling. My friend asked me to take a picture of her and I could barely hold the camera still. Luckily, the guides took us on a hike through the forest where they told us about the history, showed us some poisonous and nonpoisonous plants and we saw snails that live on the trees. (I was kind of upset that we didn’t see any coqui frogs on our trip, but I guess I’ll have to go back.) The hike helped ease my mind for a bit, that is until we got to the first platform. Here is a picture of me “before my death.”

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When we were ready to go, I was determined to go last. If I saw that all my friends survived this feat then I could too. Once I was harnessed in and lifted my legs to hang there, I was no longer scared. It was relieving to feel all my inhibitions escape my body and stay were I left them, on some wooden platform in the middle of a rainforest.

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Overall, we had spent an hour or so going through all 7 platforms for zip lining so once we were finished it was time to head back to the hotel. I know there was a lot more we could have done and seen but it was plenty for one day. So if you plan on going to El Yunque, be sure to plan accordingly and give yourself a whole day to be there.

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