After a night of laughs and stories over good food and drinks at La Concha resort, we were poised to go to El Yunque Forest the next afternoon and discover what everyone has been talking about. I was sort of excited. I didn't really know what to expect. I mean let's face it. I was born in the Philippines and I've seen many a tropical forest in my childhood. Plus I've seen The Island of Doctor Moreau. God! What a bad movie! So who wants to see a bunch of leaves in the middle of nowhere?
But what holds true, at least for me, is that my desensitization and mind-set is blown away by these travels and what is left is this wide-eyed innocence I've always thought I lost a long time ago! And just for several days, my insomnia stayed in America. For several days, my angst stayed in New York. And what is left is this open mind ready to believe in anything like an empty canvas ready to get splattered with every shade of green...(since we're in a forest) which goes really well with my olive skin tone btw! LOL!
So off we went. It was Pat, Liz, Timere, my sister Azzel and I. Aside from the really hard breaks our car had going through a very winding road combined with my newly made friend Pat's refusal to go under 20 mph, I felt this sense of cleanliness overtaking me. The ride up hardly bothered me. The forest detected that I needed a little detailing and oil change so he said "Here, have some of the freshest air on earth!" I took him up on that offer. As I breathed in, I remembered my affinity for tropical plants- the ones that never close their eyes, the ones that stay dressed in green all year reaching out to hold hands with the sunlight! And there they were, bowing as we passed them by.
After 15 minutes of driving up the mountain, we made our first stop at this parking lot. Pat said there was this waterfall we should see. And she was so right! I don't think I've really seen a big waterfalls like that. I might've been at some Beverly Hills mansion at a guest list only party where there's an impressive water feature in the backyard; but there's definitely no comparison to the real thing!
We put on more bug spray and off we went to trek the rest of our trip. We drove to another spot higher into the mountains and started hiking. We followed this dirt path for a good 20 minutes meeting people along the way, with smiles on their faces and this sense of friendliness in their voices. It made me a little defensive. Nobody does that in New York unless they want a dollar from you. Just kidding! New Yorkers aren't monsters. I'm probably just in a place where the air is clean. You hear nature all around including the coqui frog which is endemic to Puerto Rico. And it gives you a sense of peacefulness where everybody just puts their guards down. Plus it's good excercise. Most people we came across were huffing and puffing.
20 minutes of walking pass by and we finally came across our final destination. At least in retrospect it was our final destination. As we were walking up, the forest opened up to this bridge that led us down to this small beautiful lagoon with a glorious waterfalls on its side. Everyone was so happy and sitting on the rocks by the water. Some were actually in the lagoon. The water cascaded to the other side of the bridge where there were other small bodies of water where a few people were taking pictures. Timere and I didn't get the memo to bring our bathing suits with us. Thanks Pat!;) But I didn't give a crap! I was gonna go and swim underneath that waterfall!
Certain things are just presented to you in life. You accept it, or you turn it down. There was no way I was just gonna let that waterfall pass me by. I'm sure I'll come across more waterfalls in my travels, but this was my first one. And as much as it is a baby waterfalls, that bitch gave me a hard time trying to get behind it. I succeeded anyway. It might look a little ugly since water and wind was on my face and the flow of the water against my body was trying to push me away. But it was all worth it. I came on board this journey to El Yunque Forest being a passive visitor. But the Forest proved to me that I'm way more than just that; I conquered. Here's to you El Yunque, for sharing your riches of positive energy so we all can forget our fears, doubts and aggressions for at least one day! Salud!