My Journey To El Yunque


| msilverstein@queenscourier.com |

Photo courtesy of Matt Silverstein
Photo courtesy of Matt Silverstein

Last week my dad and I visited a very special place, El Yunque in Puerto Rico.

Every post I have written on here so far has been about something going on in our city. This time I decided to write about a special journey I embarked on while on vacation in Puerto Rico. I am glad that I had this opportunity to journey to El Yunque with my dad. It is one of those father-son bonding experiences I will treasure forever.

Last week my dad and I visited a very special place. We took a journey through El Yunque in Puerto Rico. If you have not been to El Yunque before, I suggest that you take a trip there soon. El Yunque is one of our nation’s greatest treasurers.

El Yunque is the United States of America’s only tropical rainforest. El Yunque is 28,000 acres and it has been a part of the United States National Forest system for over a century. El Yunque is located in northeastern Puerto Rico and is located on the slopes of the Sierra de Luquillo Mountains. El Yunque actually receives over 200 inches of rain a year in some parts.

El Yunque is home to 13 species of the Coqui frogs, and is home to the Elfin-woods Warbler & the Puerto Rican Amazon. The Elfin-woods Warbler is a bird that was actually first discovered in El Yunque. The Puerto Rican Amazon is a beautiful green parrot which is on the endangered species list. Our tour guide said that there are only about 900 Puerto Rican Amazon’s left in the wild.

Our journey to El Yunque started at our hotel. We paid about $60 each to join about a dozen or so people in a small air conditioned bus. Our tour guide was a native Puerto Rican who had been giving tours of El Yunque for about nine years. It took about an hour to get from our hotel on Isle Verde beach to El Yunque. Our first stop at El Yunque was La Coca Falls. When we arrived at La Coca Falls I turned to my dad and said that this place reminded me of Jurassic Park. My dad and I actually climbed up to the top of the little falls which was a few hundred feet off the ground.

Our second stop was to one of the trails at El Yunque. We walked around for about 45 minutes through the rainforest. The views were incredible. After exploring the rainforest we made it to our finals top which was Yokahu Tower. Yokahu Tower is an observation post at 1,575 feet up the mountain. After walking the 98 steps to the top of the tower, we were amazed by the views. I had never seen anything more beautiful in my entire life. Being a New York City guy all my life, you don’t see this type of natural beauty every day.

Every year about 600,000 people visit El Yunque. I encourage everyone to visit there at some point in your lifetime. El Yunque is a magical place and it is one that we must protect. El Yunque like other rainforest are in constant battle with human encroachment. I am confident that El Yunque will be preserved for decades to come.

This was a journey that my dad and I embarked on together. We developed so many memories that will last a lifetime. We never know when the journey ends, so we have to make as many memories while we can. If you have an opportunity to make a similar journey with your parents do so! I promise you won’t forget it.