El Yunque — Wednesday, January 3, 2007

January 4, 2007 11:39 – 11:39

Casa de Loma—Wednesday, January 3, 2007
Yesterday, we visited the Caribbean National Forest, known historically and locally as El Yunque, named during the time of the Tainos. The Tainos purportedly believed that their god resided in El Yunque. The Tainos were basically wiped out after the arrival of Columbus, Ponce de Leon and others. At the time, over 1 million Puerto Rican parrots resided on Puerto Rico. Now, there appear to be fewer than 100, most of which reside in El Yunque. We didn’t see any at all. Good job, Europeans.

Images of El Yunque

Above, Karen & Katie are leaving the visitor center, El Portal.

Above, from El Yunque, a tropical rainforest, there are great panoramic views of the Caribbean Sea.

Above, African tulips abound throughout Puerto Rico. A sac that protrudes from the base of the blossom smells like urine. Hence, the locals call it a pee flower.

A local custom involves the groom throwing his bride into a raging waterfall. If she survives, she kills him. Observers of this custom have no children. Just kidding. The couple above ignored the signs warning of danger, slipping, falling, and exhorting STAY ON TRAIL. DO NOT CLIMB ON ROCKS in both English and Spanish. Apparently, they could read neither language.

Lunch at roadside dive

While in El Yunque, by about 2:30, we were getting lunchy. We eschewed the National Forest Service’s offerings and chose to dine at a local establishment. Katie had fried chicken and beans and rice, while Karen & I had meat and shrimp tacos. The latter were quite good, although, if a shrimp had ever been anywhere near my taco, it must’ve tiptoed away without leaving any traces. I’m guessing that a local dialect uses the words shrimp/camaron to refer to something else


At about 4, we had finished our tour of El Yunque, and decided to head for a casino, since Katie had never been to one. We drove to this resort on the northeastern coast of Puerto Rico, called Paradisus. It’s this lavish luxurious resort that charges like $500 a night, but, hey. The price includes toilet paper, meals, and recreation, apparently.

At the casino, I staked Katie to $5 worth of quarters. She took up residence at a slot machine, and proceeded to invest the quarters, one at a time. Karen & I did likewise. Early on, I hit a $5 or $10 jackpot, and was ahead. I was determined, however, to stick with it either until I hit a big payoff or ran out of quarters. Some 20 minutes later, Karen & I were out of quarters. Katie, on the other hand, had hit several jackpots, and was a couple dollars ahead. She paid back my stake, which I promptly invested into our tolls drawer in the car. A net of about $8 in the hole, we scurried out, leaving the casino behind.

Wal-Mart and Pollo Tropical

After the casino, we decided to drive a little north and west to see a 17th century church in Loíza. It wasn’t all that impressive, however, and I didn’t take any pictures. Like the rest of Puerto Rico, Loíza is inhabited by people who’ve discovered that they can talk on their cell phones and drive at the same time, but who have chosen to talk instead, and to assume that the car can drive itself.

With Loíza in the rear view mirror, we made our way southeast to our favorite local Wal-Mart and Pollo Tropical

We bought the cheapest ice chest Wal-Mart has—$ 5.47—and a few sundries, then went to Pueblo (supermarket) and picked up a few more sundries. Finally, we went to Pollo Tropical and bought carryout chicken, and headed back to Casa de Loma.

Dead Like Me

Katie has some accumulated episodes of Dead Like Me, which Karen & I had never seen. So, we watched two of them. It’s an amusing fu(k-filled sit-com that airs on HBO or Showtime, I gather. We also decided to do some laundry, and this morning, I’m now the proud owner of a number of articles of clean dry clothing.

Today is moving day. That’s why we needed an ice chest. Our mission is to be out of here by 11 am, and on the road and on the way to our next house, up on the northern coast a little west of San Juan in an area named Dorado. The house there is in a gated community and has no pool. It also purportedly has no internet, but does have air conditioning.

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