It's very warm here in Puerto Rico right now. During the dead of summer, we tend to stay inside with the air conditioner running full blast... but of course you know that I can't do that. I have to get out!! We've done some recent exploring lately, and we didn't want to drive very far for today's exercise... so I decided that we would take the road often traveled ~PR 184~ but today, instead of just zooming through, we would stop at the many little places we pass so many times. We packed up a picnic, made sure we had plenty of hydration for Bruce, and off we went!
PR184 winds up into the mountains quickly. It follows a series of small streams closely in many places. Much of the road is winding and narrow, and has limited opportunities for pulling over and looking around. But there are a few! And today, we stopped first at one of them. There's pretty much only room for one car (by American standards) and this spot is well used judging from the trash scattered around. But we scrambled down the embankment and found a nice little spot to hang out! This is only a few minutes from our house, and we could easily come here to enjoy a dip in the river! Bonus: There are big goldfish in the deeper pool before the rock dam!
Next stop, Vegas Place park! This is a very inviting spot, also on a rocky stream, where Locals congregate on the weekends. Today, we pulled in and found the parking lot to be completely empty. We walked down to the river beneath the overpass that leads to a neighborhood, and sat on the rocks. If you're still, creatures come out to play. We were very surprised to see SHRIMP! Bruce wouldn't believe me until he saw them for himself!
Shady spot for shrimp-watching
Spots like this remind me very much of the Texas Hill Country!
A few cars arrived as we were preparing to leave, and we spent some time chatting with a man who had lived in New York for some years. We enjoy getting to talk to people who have lived in both the US and PR, because they know how they differ. We always pick up some useful knowledge from them, and today was no different. Good times.
Abandoned ruins of a home with a view!
Off we went again, enjoying the winding roads and the forest canopy causing the sunlight to flash like disco lights! I'm happy to see the forest reclaiming these roads because they were cut back severely by Hurricane Maria. Today was a bright, sunny day, and very clear comparatively speaking. We've had some serious Saharan Dust these past weeks, but today we pulled over and enjoyed the real view!
Gotta take a Bandera selfie!
So of course we aren't really just aimlessly wandering... I always have an agenda. Today's agenda was to revisit the pool at Charco Azul. As we have recently discovered, the mountains are just a little bit cooler than the coastal areas, and this makes it wonderful for hiking. Many times we have visited this pool, and it has been too "cold" to swim. During the middle of summer, it's perfect for both hiking, and swimming! We brought along our picnic, and had a delightful afternoon here! It's only 30 minutes from home (if you don't stop and take pictures at every possible opportunity), and after today, we vow to visit more often! I'll shut up now so that you can just walk with me and enjoy the beauty of nature!
To say that it takes us a long time to walk such a short distance would be an understatement. But eventually we reached the charco. There were a few people there, but we quickly made friends and Bruce found a fellow history buff who was very knowledgeable about lots of things.
No really, it's kind of cold! But eventually I got in all the way.
Yes, the minows attack you!
Don't forget... this IS a repository for our photos!
The pool is bigger than it looks! Bruce is WAY over there!
While I crept slowly into the water, inch by inch, Bruce just plunged right in and swam around. The fish swarm around and pick at any bare skin, which sounds icky, but is really kind of fun. We enjoyed the warm (but not too hot) sunshine, the cool mountain pool, and conversation with new friends, until we began to prune up.
I made my way over to the puny falls. There was quite a bit more water rushing through here on our last visit, but the meager falls were easier to enjoy this way. I found myself a seat right in the middle and enjoyed nature's sauna.
Ahhhh this is the life!
Should have brought your water shoes....
From the top!
Petroglyph ~ Authentic or not, it's fun to see!
We got out of the water and spread out our picnic mat. Here we sat, enjoying the sweet mountain air, the happy sounds of families having fun, and the extreme good fortune that we find ourselves living in this magical place.
After a leisurely lunch, we packed up and began the easy hike back to the car. I swear there were different things to see, that somehow we missed on the first pass! We also took a bag that we filled with trash on our way out. Plenty of time for Bruce to stop and rest as we enjoyed the mountain forest.
A baby Christmas tree!
Walking the path with my trash collection bag. There wasn't too much on the path.
This dragonfly landed near me and posed for a photo-shoot!
Plenty of stopping places for Bruce to wait while I take pictures of EVERYTHING!
This one is so amazing I have to post two pics... First time I've seen this in bloom!
Ok 3 pics...
Back at the car, we were pleasantly energized by the fresh air and sunshine and exercise! We took one more detour before going home... The next town over is Patillas. We have lived here for almost three years, and have NEVER visited their town plaza!!! How can this be???
Old buildings and brick cobbled streets in surprisingly good shape!
Back at sea level, it's pretty warm. But this looks like it could be a nice place for a fiesta!
Every municipality has an old chapel.
Old movie theatre. I wish it was in business! Maybe some day it will be!
Many Puerto Rican municipalities have war memorials. They are VERY nice!
Well, we strolled around the nearly empty plaza for a while... quickly reminded that the temperatures are VERY different near sea level than they were in the mountains. Time to get home! I hear rumbles! We are so glad we got down from the mountains before any rain began. These streams are prone to flash flooding so it's always good to go early in the day, and to consult the weather. Lucky again! Thanks for hanging out with us!