Wednesday, July 17, 2019

La Zanja in Fajardo, PR

Elle: This morning, somehow, I managed to haul my butt outta bed at 6am for a 6 mile run. Honestly, every Saturday that I get up and out for my morning run I'm proud of myself, no lie. And I'm always a little surprised that I actually did it. But I got it done, and I gave myself some kudos and showered up. 

As planned, Sabrina picked me up around 10am, and we headed out for our Fajado day trip, east of San Juan. We wound our way into the beachy town and actually found a good parking spot right in front of the beach. Excellente. I had read about this hike, and I knew it was going to be a little challenging. And yeah, it was. Maybe even a little more than a little challenging...

If you plan on doing this hike, here are my tips to you.
Head to the beach and start walking along the beach to the right. This long stretch of beach is known as Playa La Matita. All along the beach were families camped out for the day. After awhile the throngs of people thinned out, and we kept walking. And walking. And walking. Around a bend, past the sandbar where all the pelicans hangout, through the mangroves. Then, at some point, there was a sign about a nature reserve. We kept walking past the sign onto the rocky portion of the hike.

There was some climbing over boulders and rocks, and eventually we got to the tip. There is a path that leads up the hill from the beach. Luckily, at this point, we ran into some people.

"Hola. Are we going the right way?"
"Yup, just keep going up, not far now!"

So we kept climbing up to a grassy area. Where to now? We walking along until we saw some more people who pointed us in the right direction. And then we were there. At the trench. Success! But wait... there's more.... how do you actually get into the trench? Yeah, it's tricky. Effing tricky.

From the top of the trench, you need to carefully make your way down the rocks, about 30 feet, to the water. There's no clear way of how to scramble down there, you just look, make a decision, and go with it.
At the bottom, there is a cave, which is great because it gives you a nice dry and shady spot to keep your stuff. The floor of the cave is rocks, so having water shoes is a good idea.

The trench!

We spent a nice while relaxing in the trench, watching the waves come crashing in and die, then gently roll water into the trench. It was delightful.

The walk back.
Oy, the walk back was hot, sunny, and sweaty. We stopped to take a break and took a dip in the water, which was super shallow, and uber salty. Ack, the stinging! If you've ever been in the Dead Sea, or any body of water that is more salty than the (general) sea, then you'll know that it's is part cool, because you float like a beach ball, but part pain, because before long, things start to sting. Like, a lot. So we got out of the water and kept walking back towards the beach center. Sweaty and salty. Oh, but of course there were no showers. Arrgghh! I had to use precious water from my water bottle to get as much sweat and salt off as possible.

At this point we were pretty hungry. So we drove to the surf town of Luquillo, and via TripAdvisor, I found The Green Cactus, a great little place for lunch. Fantastsic coleslaw!

At the Green Cactus with Sabrina, post-hike

Good day. Good hike.

Spelunking is Arecibo + boating to lunch

Puerto Rico day trip: Cueva Ventana + Lago dos Bocas

Dear Diary,

As I continue on my quest to explore the island of Puerto Rico, I planned out a fun day trip to Cueva Ventana in Arecibo, and got my friend Lisa to join me...

I started the day by hauling my bum outta bed at 7am for a solid, albeit short, 15-mile solid bike ride on Big Bertha, my trusty road bike. Afterwards, I showered up and prepared for Lisa to pick me up to head out for our exciting day. We wanted to make it to the 10:30am tour for the sake of the heat and also crowded-ness And after a short-ish 40 minute drive from our home base of Dorado, we arrived at the spot. There it was, just on the side of the road. We walked over to a hut and signed up for the tour. I got a discount because I had a PR license. Woohoo, glad my Puerto Rican license is really paying off.

Lisa and I were instructed to walk up the hill to where the tour starts. The forest was uber lush and tropical. Oh, and really effing hot. As we started the tour, the guide told us all about the nature surrounding us. It was a little annoying at first though because they make everyone wear hardhats. I have to say, when you are in the caves, it's not such a crappy idea, really. More than a couple of people hit their head on the low rocks, so the hat wasn't so annoying then. The caves are truly spectacular. I felt like I was on the set of the Goonies, I swear. Freaking amazing. And when you get to the 'ventana', what a view! I'll go ahead and let the pics do the talking here.

The Cueva Ventana excursion was fantastic, interesting, stunning, and a little challenging at times. And by the time we were done and handing in our hard hats, we had built up a bit of an appetite.
So, as I'm known to do, I had researched the heck outta this trip, and I knew that we could drive ~10 minutes and arrive at Lago Dos Bocas for a lake-side lunch. Which of course we did. There is a parking area where you can park and wait for the 'boat man' to arrive, which he did, after a time, and then he ferried us (and some other folks) to the restaurant, Paisaje Escondido.  We all climbed out of the boat, up the (steep!) stairs, and got a table at the open air restaurant. Great menu, view, service and food. Lisa and I had a spectacular time.

I did a write up on TripAdvisor for the hike and the lunch, just as a reference.

Webb: Did they have Rocky Road ice cream?

Elle: What is wrong with you? Yeah, I get your 'Goonies' reference. Weirdo.