The El Junque Rain Forest was about an hour or so out of the city and the road to it wasn’t very well marked. We took a couple of wrong turns before finding the way to the forest. No one was particularly concerned about getting lost except Lisa, who thought John should have been watching the road signs. (wives have a bad habit of blaming the husbands for getting lost)

However, we were not exactly lost, just off the beaten path and ended up in a little village, which turned out to be in the direction we had to go anyway. Personally, I think Puerto Rico could do a better job of marking their highways and roads, especially if they expect tourists to find anything. Luckily, we were in between rainstorms. They told us that it really pours and thanks to the narrow roads, etc. can be really dangerous. Obviously they don’t call it a “Rain Forest” for nothing.

After looking around the Welcome Station, and finding nice, clean restrooms, we drove to the top of the mountain to visit La Mina Falls. We wanted to see the falls, and also wade in the pool at the base of the waterfall. After parking the van, we, and several hundred other tourists, made the 30-minute walk down to the falls. The path was narrow and had steps made of concrete and stone. Down we went, one step at a time. These were not little dainty steps, they were made by men FOR men....big steps! I'm getting way too old for this kind of sight-seeing!

It took us 30 to 40 minutes to climb down to the falls…the pool was not very big and there were probably 50 others who were there. On the way down, Jennie had slipped off the path and turned her ankle on one of the rocks. We were worried that she might have sprained it but after soaking it in the cool water of the pool, it was still a little grouchy but not badly hurt. Austin and Jen had a great time in the pool, but the rest of us just watched.

On the way down we had seen little gazebos along side of the path and thought that it was very nice of the park rangers to provide a place for people to rest on the way up and down the path. Later we learned that they were shelters in case it started to rain...as they say "when it rains it pours" and water rushing down those steep paths would have swept you right along with it. When we left the parking area and headed for the path to the falls, we were told to remember the way we went down so that we would be sure to take the same path back up.

There were some paths branching off from the main one, so it was good it was brought to our attention. I imagine they all eventually lead back up to the top of the mountain, but somewhere in the jungle may be a little band of tourists who took the wrong path....and are will wandering around.

Going back up the path did not seem as bad as going down. Going down gave you the feeling that if you stumbled, you’d roll clear down to the bottom of the trail. Going up was just a matter of climbing and climbing and climbing. Remember those BIG steps! We (the adults) are expecting to have stiff and sore leg muscles tomorrow. Of course, Jenny and Austin just hopped up with no trouble.

We got back into the van and started down the road towards civilization. On the way down, we stopped at the Yokahu Tower, a 69 ft observation tower. The tower was made of stone, and the stairs wound around the inside. From the top we had a wide view of the north side of Puerto Rico from coast to peaks. We thought it was built to watch for pirates, but it was too far inland…later we were told that it was a weather observation tower but there were no instruments up there, so it must have been a visual observation tower.

Our next stop was to be the beach at Luquillo, but couldn’t find it. John was given instructions to “the prettiest beach in San Juan” but after an hour of driving through low rent and very poor districts, we gave up. Everyone was getting anxious about the area we were in. The only nice beaches were those affiliated with hotels, and were fenced in.

That evening we had dinner at a Chinese fast food restaurant…at least John, Ken and I did. Lisa and the kids opted for Subways.....the place was right next-door. The Chinese manager gave us the "evil eye" when they walked in with Subways but since the three of us had ordered food, and all of us ordered drinks, he didn’t say anything.

Our orders turned out to be biggest plates of Chinese food I’ve ever seen…Ken and I would have been stuffed with food had we ordered one dinner and shared it. But, we had our two-legged garbage disposal with us! Austin made a good dent in all of our dinners….a little rice here, some chicken there, a couple of hunks of broccoli….but, even he couldn’t eat it all!

When we got back to Wind Chimes, we began to pack our luggage and check our room to be sure we didn’t leave anything behind. Later on we played UNO for a few hours on the back deck of the Inn. It was a really neat place and close to food and the Tiki Bar. We played and relaxed, and then it started to rain....really rain. There was no thunder or lightening just buckets and buckets of rain. Gradually the deck started to take on water from the awnings and Lisa said, “My feet are getting wet!”

Yep, water was accumulating on the floor....time to head for home. We all got soaked running through the rain to get to our rooms...it wasn’t far, but we couldn’t avoid the raindrops. (we sang the B. J. Thomas song "Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head" as we zigged and zagged across the courtyard.)

Tomorrow we board the Golden Princess.

(to be continued)

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