I’m trying to learn Spanish, but most Puerto Ricans either speak English with almost no Puerto Rican accent or they wave over the cook, grocery bagger or gas pump attendant to speak for them. It’s hard to learn a foreign language when it’s just easier for them to speak English. We traveled to the hills of Guavate to a place called the Pork Highway. There are about 20 or so Lechoneras (little restaurants that roast a whole pig—Lechon—and sell lots of side dishes) on the Pork Highway. We stop at one where they roast over charcoal and I try speaking Spanish, but I say “we would like lechoneras and. . . .” She says, “no lechoneras, lechon”. I don’t get it that I’m basically asking her for the pork roaster. So we go back and forth a few times until I figure out that I need to be saying lechon, not lechoneras. She laughed, but at least she was willing to try with me instead of getting the other girl that spoke English as we learned when we went back the next weekend. Yes, we liked the Pork Highway a lot.
We rented a car for two weeks once we got back from a visit home. First stop was the Arecibo Radio Telescope Observatory. Stan kept saying he wanted to go to a big radio tower (or something like that, I can’t remember the words he used), which in my mind amounted to a big wad of nerd mumbo jumbo. But I’d heard about a telescope, the largest telescope in the world. I didn’t understand the “radio” part until I saw it and went through their presentation. I can’t even begin to describe how big this thing is. I guess if you watch James Bond, Golden Eye, you can get a sense of the size. It’s a great observatory, very informative and totally worth the effort to get there.
We hiked in El Yunque, a US National Forest, which is a beautiful rainforest not far from Fajardo. There aren’t a lot of hiking trails and most of them have a sort of rough concrete path. Not ADA acceptable, but you aren’t walking on mud and dirt most of the time. So while I was sweating profusely, I didn’t really feel like I was hiking. The short walk to La Mina Falls is only 0.8 miles and we heard we should get there early, so we did. It was gorgeous. Then we continued on the concrete path until we were tired of it and turned around. When we passed La Mina Falls the second time, there must have been 50 or 60 people in the falls. All I can think of when I see something like that is “how much pee is in that water?” We learned that “get there early” was a good idea and went up to other hikes on two more days and had many spots to ourselves in the early hours.
The last time we were in Puerto Rico in 2008 we didn’t have a chance to visit Old San Juan, where the forts are located. Wow. The massive walls and structures are throughout the city. It must have been an imposing site to anyone trying to conquer the island. Impressive.
We also walked through the cemetery.. I’ve said it before, in the Caribbean, the dead often have the best views right on the ocean or overlooking a bay. This cemetery is very old and has a lot of beautiful statues protecting and looking over lost loves My favorite was Arcangel San Miguel. He looks fierce.