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El Yunque was humid and uninviting at first. Large, potholes filled the entrance — this served as a warning for the treacherous road ahead. Most visitors see three spots in El Yunque – all of which are short jaunts off the main road – but I craved to experience the actual wonders of the rainforest. Not just the sights featured on the visitor’s guide.
I finally settled on the La Mina Falls hike. A 40-minute hike that penetrated deep into the rainforest brush. Coquis and birds harmonized together as we slowly walked towards the sound of rushing water. The paths were a mixture of textured concrete and stones to prevent visitors from sliding down the overgrown hillside.
When it began to rain, water collected in the path’s ridges making the path slick for those without proper footwear.
The Mina Falls was cool and crowded. Tourists slipped into their bathing suits and let out youthful squeals as the cool water splashed onto their shins. Most dared to take their smartphones into the waterfall’s wake to capture the perfect selfie.
The other views of the rainforest reminded me of the stories and tales I heard where creatures, such as tigers and monkeys, call home.
I drove Leo back to San Juan and then trekked back towards El Yunque. I drove mountain roads for hopefully the last time as I approached my new home. A bright yellow and blue oasis. The owners are also Minnesotan and chatted with me about their favorite places stateside.
Christmas lights on the porch illuminated the beautiful night skyline. From the house, you could see the twinkling lights of San Juan and Fajardo and in the morning the lush brush of El Yunque.
I had the upstairs of the tiled palace all to myself. Downstairs there was a couple from Hawaii — Cat and Forest. Cat was visiting Puerto Rico to get answers about her mother that passed when she was young. Both of them were self-proclaimed adventure junkies, who jumped at the chance to learn more about the beloved relative and witness Puerto Rico’s beauty.