Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Tuesday Travels: Puerto Rico, Day 1

(This picture is from the inside of the Clara Cava, it's the only good picture I got from the inside.)

You may have noticed that I wasn't around to blog last week! That's because I was in Puerto Rico!! Every year starting in 2005 my Holy Cross girlfriends and I get together somewhere for a couple of days. In 2005 we went to New Orleans, in 2006 we went back to HC for our 5 year college reunion, in 2007 we went to St. Louis, in 2008 we visited Philadelphia and in 2009 in celebration of our 30th birthdays we decided to take it up a notch so we decided on Puerto Rico. It was a blast, we had a great trip, fun conversation, and a good variety of activities. I definitely know how lucky I am to have such amazing friends in my life and I cherish that we are able to get together once a year and explore together. I decided to break down the blog entries about our trip into a 3 parts, one for each full day that we were there to explore. So this is Day 1!

We all arrived on Wednesday, April 8th at varying times and had a fairly chill afternoon and evening together. Thursday was when all the craziness began. When we're planning our trips, depending on how many days we have, we each pick 1-2 activities that are a "must do" for us and then we try to arrange the itinerary to accomodate everyones wishes.

The first activity we did on Thursday was to get up early and drive about 90 miles Southwest of San Juan to visit the Camuy Caves. You get there and have to wait for your number to be called. Then you watch a short video on the "history" of the caves and their safety rules for your visit. You then hop into the "modern & fun" trams and travel down 200 feet to Clara Cava the Cave that is open to visitors.

(The above picture is from inside the beginning of the cave looking back up to where the tram dropped us off.)

Once there you walk through the cave out the other side. Inside it is amazing. My pictures didn't come out because it was all lit up inside the cave and so they came out all dark. It was breathtaking. Our guide Hector, was incredibly passionate about his job. Kirsten and I were able to walk up front with him for awhile and ask him questions about caves in general and Clara Cava in particular. You could just tell that he loved what he did and he loved exploring caves.

(Meghan, Alison, Kirsten, myself & Amy wearing our hardhats as we came out the other side of the cave!)

(The view looking up from the other side of the cave.)

It was about a 45 minute tour but definitely worth the drive out there. I wish we could have repelled down the cave but alas maybe next time. The one thing I would say about visiting Camuy Caves is that you have to be patient. We waited about 80-90 minutes before our tour started so make sure to leave yourself plenty of time and if you're in a rush then skip it because you won't enjoy your visit.

Afterwards, we drove back East past San Juan and spent an hour at Luquillo beach. It took us awhile to figure out exactly where the entrance was and as we found out the next day we didn't even go to the real entrance, we were definitely at the local entrance, but we were there. It was beautiful (although very windy when we were there). Everyone was just enjoying themselves, drinking, eating, playing in the sand & water.

(Amy, Meghan and myself wrote our names in the sand and snapped the above picture before the water came and washed it away!)

After our hour at the beach we drove Southeast about 30 minutes for our kayaking tour of the bioluminscent bay. It took us awhile to find it as it was tucked snug away in this little fishing village but we got there with about 5 minutes to spare, which we spent running around finding the restrooms, changing, etc. We paired up: Kirsten & Alison, Meghan & myself and Amy was paired with Matt from Chicago who was in Puerto Rico on vacation with his parents.

The kayaking was amazing, we were kayaking in the dark with the moon shining bright towards a lagoon that was going to glow! The trip to the lagoon was pretty adventures as the current was pushing us towards the lagoon at a pretty good clip. Where we were kayaking was a pretty thin waterway with each bank covered with mangrove trees (let me tell you those things are pretty dangerous, not a lot of give!) After quite the adventure we arrived at the lagoon, a vast open body of water, that was still. When we swirled our hand in the water it worked up the tiny microorganisms and it glowed, when we paddled the wake it left glowed, it was pretty cool. We sat in the lagoon for awhile while our tour guide gave us the rundown on how the bioluminscent bay worked then it was time to kayak back.

Kayaking back was much more difficult as we were against the current, it took a lot of hard work, paddling & communicating to get back to the start but it was worth it. It was by far my favorite acitivity of the trip, although the caves were a close 2nd, it just was so peaceful. I love to kayak and it isn't something I get to do often, I hope it's something I get to do more often in the future!
After kayaking we had dinner at the Oceanview right near the kayaking start and then headed home. We left San Juan at 8:30AM and got back around midnight. It was a long day but it was so much fun. All are activities that I would recommend for those that are traveling to Puerto Rico. Just make sure to make reservations for the kayaking ahead of time!

1 comment:

Cathy P said...

Looks like you had a great time! The caves look beautiful!