Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Girls On The Loose And Bruce ~ Rainforest Edition El Yunque

Banded Caracol
No way could we go back home without driving the 20 minutes more to visit the REAL El Yunque Rainforest!

But first, we take you to a continuation of our morning coffee hour.  We are beginning to recognize the critters who hang out here!  

This Banded Caracol snail has moved all of 8 inches in the 24 hours since we last looked in on him...

While we enjoyed this morning's coffee, and a brief rain, we chatted with our resident Romeo... This cute little Anole Cristatellus - the Puerto Rican Crested Anole.  We have noticed that these Anoles come in a variety of shades and patterns, and their crests can vary as well.  They also seem to be somewhat territorial, as we see the same lizards in the same places, day after day!  

So this morning, just the same as yesterday, our Romeo was trying diligently to attract the favor of a certain petit brunette.  Juliet is small, and cute as a button, with a really pretty design on her back. I think our Romeo is smitten.  She, however, is still keeping her options open.  

Juliet is at the bottom left, and that's Romeo top right.

For a solid 45 minutes, she never moved... while Romeo wandered around, doing pushups and puffing his dewlap, jumping around on dew covered leaves and taking a little sip of water now and then.  Today, we have noticed another mating ritual!  Every time Romeo is within sight of the female, he begins to wave his tail seductively.  Even I got a little turned on...

While watching Romeo, we noticed that he has a busted nose, and we wondered what happened to him.  He continued entertaining us with his antics, until suddenly, Juliet zipped across to the other side of the patio and disappeared around the back of the door!  Romeo went over there, but she was still aloof, so he continued with his morning toilette.  And then....

See Bruiser on the corner top. Romeo is behind the door bottom
I guess we know now what has happened to Romeo's snout!  This beefy boy, Bruiser, appeared on the scene and Romeo fled back to the safety of his station behind the french door.  From there, he could watch what was going on, but had plenty of notice should Bruiser decide to come rough him up some more.  

Bruiser seemed confident in his virile superiority, and so began his pursuit of tiny Juliet unopposed... It was at this point, that we decided it was rude to continue with our documentary...

Bruiser has his eye on Juliet far below... I CAN'T LOOK!

LOOK!!! A BIRD!! This Reina Mora eyed our lizards briefly before vacating the area.

Snapping out of it... we remembered that this morning, we had to check out of our rainforest paradise.  But not before we took another little stroll around the grounds.  I was so happy to see that the Crepe Ginger has decided top flower for my personal enjoyment!  These are one of my favorite tropical flowers, not that all of the gingers aren't extraordinary!

Fairy houses
We packed our bags, cleaned out the B&B and loaded our gear and our selves into the car... before breakfast!  Our plan was to continue on up 191 to see if we could get into El Yunque from the south end... then to head off to brunch at a place I've been dying to try!  Yes, this trip is also about food!!

The drive up into the rainforest on 191 is nothing short of spectacular. There are B&Bs up there that we think maybe we might check out sometime... But today, we're only going for a look-see, and to kill time until the brunch place opens.  

We parked outside the gate-that-never-opens... and continued on into the official National Park grounds.  We crossed a river and walked down the road.  It is becoming more and more covered with fallen leaves, but it's still in pretty good shape for a stroll.  I remember coming here in 2016, and we had a picnic beside a tiny stream with itty-bitty falls and deliciously refreshing mountain water!  Who knows if it's still here or not...

Look at that crazy-awesome rock!!

The endemic Begonia Decandra

Heliconia Caribaea

Every wonder where babies come from?

Mata de Mariposa

Yay!  Our little tiny waterfall is still here!!

Walking through the sun dappled, fresh mountain air, is most soothing.  Of course, I have to take pictures of EVERY flower we see, and I've spent hours and hours enjoyed learning their names! I have found two really nice resources for identifying flowers and critters here in Puerto Rico.  

Photo credit: Mi Amiga, Sue

Can you see some tiny sparkles?
Of course, I slipped out of my flip flops, and climbed right on up to that tiny little pool. The waterfall might have been in somebody's private garden, but if you look close, you can see that there are treasures coming down from the mountain heights.  The gravel sparkles with little flecks of GOLD!  Now I'm not going to kid myself, I'm sure it's Fool's Gold (is it???), but I took one little piece home with me just in case I ever need a fall-back plan.  

My gold fleck

Mountain hair, don't care!

I had to lure Sue into the stream to help me get my gold down without getting my butt wet!

The Mata de Mariposa bears fruit!

The Puerto Rican Semi-Slug.  Wait, WHAT??

We continued on a bit further.  It seems that every time I say we will turn back at the next bend in the road... there's another bend up ahead! We noticed that there has been a mudslide on the side of the road, and the forest has simply continued growing right there where it landed!  Gotta love nature!

The mudslide has come back to life!

We did see a couple of raspberries, but we left them.  This is the flower that comes first.

Mexican Primrose

Time's up!  Heading back to the car to go EAT!!!

But wait... WHAT are these little butterfly things???

Turns out, they're young Begonia Decandra (see mature flowers above)

There truly is an abundance of awesomeness, all over this island! All you have to do is look around, and it practically finds you! But we are beginning to be ravenous, and looking forward to the whipped-creamy goodness that is the promised brunch... We drove the 25 minutes to Aromas de Kaffa, and were horrified to find their "cerrado" sign out! Not a light was on in the place.  Come to think of it... there wasn't a light on in town!  I quickly consulted their Facebook page, and much to my chagrin... they just posted an update.  Due to a power outage... they remain closed today!  

OMFG!!!  Now what!  I've got Susan looking at me with the stink-eye, and she's beginning to growl. Why is this happening to us??? We're good people.  We've been charitable.  Our Karma is shiny!

So, I consult the Google, and find the next place... and off we go.  Another 13 minutes, with Susan's mood rapidly deteriorating in the seat beside me.  I begin to have my doubts as Google takes us into a residential area.  We have arrived.  Nope.  Nothing here!  Well crap!

She's looking at me again... and I'm starting to become uncomfortable with that steely glare... So, I find yet ANOTHER place on Google.  Come on Google... don't fail me again.  

What is THAT???

I think Sue is going to hit me as I whip into the drive next to this magnificent tree for a photo!  I think it's actually a type of pterocarpus.  Pterocarpus indicus, or India Padauk, if you can believe the book I bought recently for this purpose... OK, on we go.  She's fading...

We arrive to the next, and final brunch place of the day, and hallelujah, they're open! I tell Sue to go on in and get us a table while Bruce searches for his mask... And... it was a wait, but finally, satisfaction.  El Kafe in Humacao, to the rescue!

Breakfast box for three...

It wasn't until after we had ordered, that Sue told us she wanted French toast, and so we had to take on more of this three-person-meal than we expected... But we made a valiant effort! Still with leftovers, we packed ourselves back home.

I think he's a Common Coqui
Just as I was relaxing with the washing machine chugging away, Susan called me to come down to her place.  URGENT!

Seems that when she collected her semi-wet towel from the post back at the B&B, she didn't notice the stowaway when she stuffed the towel into her bag. That is, until she began doing her laundry!!!

Sue knows I'm desperate to see these little guys, but I guess you have to sleep in a tent to be worthy of that honor!  Next time, I'm camping!!
This concludes our little staycation festivities.  We will DEFINITELY come back to Casa Parcha! And, we can't wait for our next adventure with our Amiga, Sue!

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Girls On The Loose And Bruce ~ Rainforest Edition Casa Parcha

Usually when we do staycations, or any other 'cations for that matter... I try to pack in as much from the "to do" list as I possibly can.  But here at Casa Parcha, much of what there is to do is to just chill!  Today, I gave it my best shot! 

First we began with a leisurely TWO cups of coffee (OK, they were small cups...) on our own cute little patio. The sun doesn't reach Casa Parcha very early, so we had an extended coffee hour. Slowing down gave us the opportunity to get acquainted with the forest creature flora and fauna that live here!  Were beginning to recognize the lizards!

Banded Caracol land snail eating this palm.

Crepe Ginger is one of the "spiral" varieties. 
We didn't want to wake Susan if she was still enjoying her comfey mattress, so we took a little walk around the grounds. 

This is the common area where tent campers can relax and dine.

Tent campers have this cute little kitchenette to use!

Our little patio

The Pagoda Plant fascinates me!  The little flowers grow in a spiral...

But if you look from the top, you find THIS!

Shell Ginger growing alongside the pathway
Before too long, Susan found us, and we got dressed for a walk upriver to take a look at the public access portion of Charco el Hippie.  It is nice to have this part to ourselves, but it would also be nice to come here sometime on a day trip, just to enjoy the river.  It is close enough to our home to easily visit for the day.  

Of course I have to take pictures of EVERY flower along the way...  But you know what?  That's how I learn! And what I learned today, was that this is NOT a Bird of Paradise.  Nope!  It's a FALSE Bird of Paradise, and actually a type of Heliconia!  We are in Heliconia Heaven here in the rainforest!

False Bird of Paradise, Parrot Beak Heliconia (Heliconia psittacorum?)

Another new flower for me... this field of green with little yellow Pinto Peanut flowers popping up!

Pinto Peanut
All along the edge of the driveway coming in, there are vines with the property's namesake, the Passionfruit (PARCHA), growing profusely! I have rarely seen the passion flower, and was a little disappointed that we missed them, but this was my first time seeing the fruit growing. 

Canna Indica, or more commonly the Indian Shot

More Heliconia!

Somebody needs another cup of coffee...

Looks very inviting, doesn't it?  

Leaving the Casa Parcha property, we turned to the right and continued on up the narrow road to the public access portion of the Rio Blanco at Charco el Hippie.  Immediately we noticed the growing amounts of trash left behind by careless visitors. It's very disheartening to see.  People, just take your trash with you when you leave, so that these priceless natural areas can remain beautiful for all to enjoy!

We climbed down the path to the water's edge for a look around.  These huge boulders are simply fascinating to me.   

Sleeping Hybiscus

I would STILL love to find a coqui!
We took a couple of trails that led further upriver, but while it is nice here early in the morning before anyone else arrived, we knew this place would be filling up soon, and we have a perfectly lovely pool right outside our door!  So, back to Casa Parcha we went!
Plantain growing on the Casa Parcha grounds

Plantain flower

Lobster Claw Heliconia

Red Ginger

We sat down by the river, watching the lizards chase one another around, and waiting for it to get warm enough to swim... Eventually we talked ourselves into trying one more time, the Mexican Food restaurant we found closed the previous day.  So, we drove back into Naguabo and this time... we got lucky!  They were open!

Yes! They're open!  Everything is a little bit awkward with the Covid rules, but we got settled and figured out the menu... I will never hear the end of it from Sue, after I complained so bitterly when this place was closed and we didn't get MEXICAN food... then I ordered something that was NOT Mexican food!

Well, no matter!  Señor Ándale will get another chance... Everything we got was delicious!

With full and happy tummies, we returned to our place, and prepared to get wet!  By this time, the sun was high, and it was indeed getting warm.  Even here in the higher elevations, it still gets hot in the middle of the day.  

Sue got in first, and reluctantly, I followed. That water is cold refreshing! Taking my time, I was able to creep across the river, finding shallow enough places to walk so that I didn't have to swim. That would have required getting my whole body cold wet! I climbed up the huge rock on the opposite shore, intent on taking a closer look at the petroglyphs!


I do not know if the petroglyphs here at Charco el Hippie were actually created by the Taino people, but I have my doubts.  At least this one done by ELMO is more recent!
Looking back at the Casa Parcha property.

Me and Sue being Mermaids!

Sue took off swimming upstream...

We had an absolute blast kidding around out there!  The water didn't feel so cold once you got used to it.  The current was strong in spots, making it much easier to go back, than to go upstream...

Eventually we decided it wasn't right to have all the fun, so we returned to shore and kicked Bruce into  taking his swim.  He checked out the petroglyphs, and climbed a little higher to see what was on the other side... It's fenced, so back to the river he came.

We enjoyed the river until happy hour became official, then we retired to the patio to watch the changing light as the sun slipped behind the mountain at our backs.  It gets dark early, and quickly here in the rainforest!  A full day, preceded by a horsebackriding day, has left our bodies beginning to complain!  So an early bedtime did not seem objectionable....

Another wonderful day here in Paradise has come to a close!