Our sleep the night before we terrible. I’m not sure if it was the fear of cockroaches or the loudness of the air conditioner, but we were awake a lot that night. I turned off the air conditioner and opened the shutters and light poured in. The air is so wonderful first thing in the morning. I sat on the patio to write.
It seemed to take a long time, but eventually we made out way out the door. And so began the breakfast saga. As it started, all we wanted to find was La Frutera, a fruit stand along the side of the highway. We had a location and directions, but the map was way off and we were in the wrong direction. The streets were confusing and so congested, it was hard to get around. Eventually, after getting turned the right way, we did find it, a ramshackle pieced together hut with mountains of over ripe fruit and spider in webs covering the isles. We bought a near moldy papaya, a small mango, three vine ripened bananas and a papaya-pineapple frappe. The people were helpful and kind. And we loved that frappe.
Part two of the sage was procuring coffee. I knew a place a few kilometers further that sold mallorca and coffee. We found this place without incident. We stood in a ridiculously slow moving line until it was finally our turn. People all over the tiny bakery were scarfing down mallorca, which looked delectable. We asked for two and were promptly informed they had none. Whomp whoooomp. We ordered our two cafe con leche and left fast.
I knew of one more bakery that could help us and after much squabbling (we were clearly still hungry) we did get there. After waiting in another ridiculously long line we asked for mallorca and the server pointed to some breakfast pastries. What the what? In the end we got two boccadilos with ham and cheese. It was an adequate substitute. We were much less bitchy after that.
Finally we could be on our way to El Yunque, which was far easier to find than breakfast. Up, up, up the winding jungle road took us further and further into the mountain. We stopped at La Coca falls, which was very disappointing for all the hype, but you couldn’t tell that to the people who were so pumped to be there. Compared to Bridal Falls it was just a trickle! On we went to the observatory. We could see from the beaches to the island from our vantage.
Our final spot was Big Tree Trail. A paved walkway carved a path through the jungle. Heavy squat palms kissed overhead and ferns touched everything. Red dirt lined the trails. For twenty minutes we twisted and climbed until finally we made it to the waterfall.
I had always intended to swim beneath the waterfall. What I hadn’t anticipated were the crowds. Dozens of people watched and took pictures, while other stripped down to their bathing suits and jumped in. I must admit, I was nervous about all the eyes. But I made it this far, so I took off my clothes and edged my way in, down the slippery boulders into the cold water. I quickly found that where I couldn’t see a rock I couldn’t touch the bottom, it was 10-15 feet deep. So even though I only get chest deep into the water below the roaring falls, I was proud of myself.
We stopped on our way down the mountain at La Murella for an insane amount of deep fried food, then continued to the beach. For hours we played in the ocean, laid in the sand, drank pina coladas and ate passionfruit sorbet. This was the Puerto Rican life!
After showering and dressing we headed to the kiosks for another dinner. First we stooped at Ceviche Hut, where we ate toasted corn and fish ceviche in plantain baskets. Delicious. And our final stop was La Parilla for great sangria, fried local cheese with a guava sauce, and fried pork with yellow rice. Great, great and great.