Saturday, February 27, 2016

A Tropical Escape: Puerto Rico - The Last of it All!

     In the photos to follow we will revisit 3 locations, Crash Boat Beach (on the NW section of the island), Parque de Cavernas del Rio Camuy, and my favorite part of Old San Juan, Plaza de las Palomas.
     A rental car was the best as it allowed us to see and experience so much. I really enjoyed the trip, despite our camera issue and also sad news from back home. I love travel, especially when it is with my husband Tim, because no matter where we are I feel at home when we're together exploring a new place, seeing new sights, tasting new flavors, and the experience of something new.
     So please, enjoy the last of it all and safe travels if you are planning to explore somewhere new in the future!
At Crash Boat Beach in Aguadilla, or anywhere in PR-- there are no gulls. Pigeons stroll the beach, picking up scraps. At this beach though, pelicans plagued tables like oversized pigeons, pestering picnicking people (how's that for alliteration!). Brown pelicans were the species patrolling this beach.
Reminders on the beach about manatees in these waters! (Look but don't touch is pretty much what the title states)
So I had this idea to jump off the pier... I immediately regretted that idea as I of course became terrified. At this beach there are no life guards, so that made me nervous-- but did not scare me enough to rent some (kind crappy) snorkel gear and swim around for an hour so so. Sergeant Majors, those striped fish, were very plentiful.
I was SUPER STOKED to see this guy, a spotted eagle ray-- a shark relative and damn gorgeous. If it wasn't swimming out to sea, I would have followed it forever!
The pier people were jumping off of was home to various small coral and these guys-- sponges! Sponges are animals- they are sessile (don't move) and filter feed. They are favorite foods of animals like some sea turtles, which I did not see. Not all sponges are soft and luxurious, many contain silica spicules, which provide support to the structure of this spongey creature. So you don't want to just grab a wild sponge and start scrubbing... owwie.
A cruddy picture, but check the foureye butterfly fish! With eye spots, they can fool potential predators in the way many animals like butterflies do with false eyespots.
I was excited to see what I thought was a triggerfish, I found that this is a whitespotted filefish, a close relative of triggerfish. These fish feed on sponges, so this place was a buffet for him!
The pelican that almost bit me-- these birds were very much a product of improper interaction with wildlife-- someone has habituated these animals to getting food from humans.
The guy was hand feeding pelicans, had them on his arm and offering folks photo opportunities with the birds. It bothered me a bit, this is how accidents happen, no thanks! 

We arrived to the caverns at Parque de Cavernas del Rio Camuy early. Which seems like the best thing to do as many reviews reveal this place can get VERY crowded, making it not as enjoyable. There were 10 of us in our tour group and our guide was great. With a bit of a wait before the tour, I cautiously flipped leaves and looked for anoles. Under one leaf I found this assassin bug!
Stalactites reach down from the ceiling. Formed by limestone deposited by water leaking from the roof of the cavern. These caverns and caves were formed by an underground river, running below where we were. 
This place was very beautiful, eerie, and powerful all at once. The natural ways the earth can be sculpted is a pretty amazing thing, it makes me feel like such a measly thing- I am nothing against such forces!
Formations of rock and limestone are all made possible by water!


Natural springs bring crystal clear (and delicious) water out into the open from these exposed cliffs.
These cave crickets made the ones we found in the basement of my parents house look like child's play. These were HUGE.
We found that Tom Otterness- the same guy who has (very similar) sculptures on Roosevelt Island and in the 14th street subway station on the ACE line, he donated some small sculptures to the park!
Our Final destination was San Juan, we walked much of Old San Juan and found my most favorite creature! The Green Iguana! This one reminded me so much of my late Spike, in his size and coloration. He also gave us a lovely headbob, which resulted in squeaky noises from myself...
And we also saw plenty of anoles and even the ground lizards too!
My favorite plaza was Plaza de las Palomas.... plaza of the doves. It was hopping with pigeons and people feeding them, from vendors who sold cracked corn for the pigeons.
Pigeons covered trees but also occupied cubbies that seem to have been made just for them and their little chicks.

I love pigeons, and there were all different color varieties, ages, and different people coming here to enjoy this little plaza.
Puerto Rico treated us well, it was super enjoyable and we would recommend a visit- we didn't get to do everything we wanted, so I suppose one day we will need to return! If not for the wildlife but for the good coffee, food, piƱa coladas, and the vibrant culture!