El Yunque Tropical Rain Forest

We liked Antojito's so much Wednesday night we decided to stop by on Thursday morning for breakfast. We had the same friendly server. Again we had the place to ourselves. The only creatures around to enjoy the morning were blackbirds that came to bathe in the fountain.

Here are a few more pictures of the interior, the parking lot, and the owner's house.

The small town of Rio Grande is the gateway to El Yunque National Forest, part of the U.S. National Park System.

 This is the sign at the corner of the twisty road down from the heights to the main drag of Rio Grande, not far from the road to El Yunque.

This is the sign at the corner of the twisty road down from the heights to the main drag of Rio Grande, not far from the road to El Yunque.

 

The national park is well-maintained with a spacious parking area and a Visitor's Center that is huge, attractive, and full of useful information.

 The entrance to the Visitors' Center

The entrance to the Visitors' Center

Spain ruled Puerto Rico in the 19th century. In 1876 king Alfonso XII created this reserve in the Luquillo mountains, setting aside over 11,000 acres. The indigenous islanders believed the cloud-capped peaks here was the home of a good spirit, Yokahú. They prayed to this benevolent spirit for protection from the bad spirit, Juracán (Hurricane). The prayers and protection must have still been working during our visit, luckily. Right after our visit the island was drenched by two tropical storms in rapid succession, 

Here are a couple of Dail's flower pictures from the rain forest, still blooming in spite of the drought.

Touring the park is a drive-and-park, get out and look, repeat process unless you're a super intrepid hiker or biker. We didn't qualify so we took the drive and park route. I'll skip our shots of La Coca Falls due to the drought-inspired trickle of water. Searching Google images will give you better views with más agua.

Our next stop, Yokahú Tower, gave us magnificent views from the peaks all the way to the sea.


 

The view from the top of the tower was magnificent. Here are a couple of panoramic shots:

Better still, here's a video from Dail that gives a 360 degree view.

We descended the tower, cranked up, and drove on. We made a stop at a trail to La Mina Falls. The trail was well-kept and commodious.

Here's the intrepid traveler on the trail:

The heat and humidity soon turned us around. We headed back to the car and finished the driving loop through the park. It was time to head for Rio Grande and a souvenir shop. This one had above-average items. It had artist studios behind the displays in the store.

It was time for lunch. We drove back toward San Juan then headed down a small road into an industrial area where we found a different kind of Latino cuisine and beverage.

Maybe it was the margarita and the good Méxican food that brought on a desire for a siesta. We whiled away the rest of the afternoon reading until the bar at the apartment opened and I was able to use the coozie I'd picked up at the souvenir shop.

A gorgeous sunset marked the end of our next-to-last day in Puerto Rico.