Journal: Feb. 21 – Ponce, PR
The crow of the rooster wakes me up — just like the old days on the farm. I stumble out of the bedroom weaving blindly towards the coffee Rosanna promised. To my surprise, a whole feast was waiting for me. A small good morning note also accompanied my surprise. This started to feel like visiting a relative, relaxing and comfortable.
Unfortunately, I had to leave my new found extended family to continue exploring the depths of Puerto Rico. Off I meandered towards La Soplaera — a beautiful waterfall nestled in the mountains.
Up a windy and pothole-fested road I drove. A bright yellow bridge and sign beckoned me towards the falls. I didn’t expect the majestic slight I was about to see. Bright, rickety, yellow handrails outlined the rocky path. The footprints of other adventurers before me also helped me know which stones to trust and which to avoid. I climbed the uneven boulders and rocks until I caught a glimpse of the water cascading through the jungle vines. I could hear the bubbling water calling my name. I shimmied across makeshift concrete balance beams and over the final boulders until I was able to see the waterfalls in all its glory. A pool so clear it could be home to mermaids sat calm and rippleless. There was no one for miles.
This slice of paradise was all mine.
I dipped my growingly muscular legs into the water and was bit by the ice cold prickles. My feet begged me to relieve them of such pain. The blistering sun beat down on my shoulders, encouraged me to push onward.
I sat admiring this pool that seemed to be part of a fictional tale for most of the morning before sauntering my way towards the car to dive into a completely different cultural experience.
I changed out of my damp suit into clothes more suitable for the occassion — a dress. I felt like Tarzan with my towel wrapped around my waist as I changed my dry clothes in the center of the rainforest. The banana trees and ferns making a makeshift dressing room around me.
In my seashell dress I drove to Ponce.
In Ponce, I wanted to see the Spanish architecture. See the history of the people whose hands helped shape this island.
The brightly colored Spanish museums and businesses made up the city’s central square. As the city branches out, the influence remained, but the buildings became less impressive and vibrant.
Retelling the events makes my stomach tighten into knots and a mild wave of nausea similar to car or motion sickness hit me.
I expected to see a ranger center loomed overhead, after every curve I made on the mountain road. The view, as I weaved closer and closer to the heavens, was holy. Rain occassionally showered my car and made the pothole infested muddy roads slick. The clouds inched closer to the mountains edges. Hugging them. The locals whizzed around the mountain’s treacherous edges like experienced NASCAR drivers. I let out a scream of terror as a large semi clamored towards me.
I never did see a ranger center, nor did I see a gas station, which was much needed. The KIA Rio scraped into the station on fumes with me at my wits end.
Once I dared to pull over to admire the beautiful view and the colorful abodes that speckled the lush greenery. THat didn’t end well. Immeadiately, the Rio sank into the soft earth. It took about minutes of shimmying back and forth to free my wheels from the mud’s clutches. I prayed a lot that day. I prayed for safety and guidance. Most importantly, to reamin sane.
After retreating north towards the beaches and expressway, I picked up Leo to see more caves. We stayed in Hatillo in Angel’s home. The same lilac and pink walls welcomes us and lulled us to sleep.