Puerto Rico Day Four: An Unplanned Hike Into The Guanica Dry Forest
After returning from my visit to Gilligan’s Island, I was soon driving on the narrow and winding route 333 toward the town of Guanica. I was headed to the unique dry forest that is located in this area.
I was headed to the ranger and visitor center in the Guanica dry forest. However, I soon came to a gate across the road. I spoke to some young folks who were also disappointed to see the gate blocking their entrance into the reserve. . They told me they believed the reserve was closed because of damage from the hurricane.
I turned around and decided to look for a gas station while I was near the town of Guanica. This was not as easy as I thought. There are not many gas stations in Guanica. I finally located one and found it was full service. I haven’t been to one of them in years. I filled my tank and returned to the resort.
As I struggled uphill in the hot afternoon sun I came to this sign along the trail. I wasn’t sure what it said but I knew something about a century or 100 something and a Guayacán. I had no idea what it meant. .
I descended a steep and rocky trail, the longest 200 meters I ever walked. The trail led me to the shade of the mountainside where I found this large tree.I later learned it was El Guayacán Centenario a 700 year old Guayacan tree.
I sat on it’s large roots and under the shade of it ancient branches and thought of all of the history it had seen. A member of the Taino native American tribe could have sat here long before any Europeans set foot in the New World. Or a member of Christopher Columbus’s crew could have seen it on his second voyage, He landed near this area. Or so many other folks over the years. After some reflection I walked the steep 200 meters back to the trail.
I continued upward and was soon in the shade of the mountain side where I found taller and greener trees. The shade provided much needed relief from the sun. The temperature must have dropped 10 degrees.
It was a different world. The air had a different, more earthy smell to it. And, as I walked further into the forest, I encountered swarms of these striped butterflies hoovering in the air. It was almost magical and like something from the movie Avatar.
I was surprised and delighted to have walked into this new environment, so different from the harsh dry conditions from the start of my hike. I decided to turn on my cellular service on my phone and check Google Earth maps to see where I was. I was surprised to find I was nearing the Guanica Dry Forest Reserve main park ranger and information area! This is were I tried to get by car earlier in the afternoon! I had walked my way into the dry forest!
I still had about a quarter of a mile climb to reach the parking area. I was tired and thirsty from my hike in the heat, but there was no stopping me now. I continued my upward walk up and again saw sunlight as I neared the top of the mountain.
It was a refreshing walk while in the shade of the mountain but once I left that shade, I found that, even though it was now late in the afternoon, the sun was still intense and the temperatures still in the mid 80’s.
I was glad to reach my car and return to my air conditioned room. After drinking a few bottles of water and a long cold shower it was now almost time for dinner. I walked out to watch another beautiful sunset.
And sat down for another great meal of ceviche and mofongo on the beautiful island of Puerto Rico. After dinner I spent some time sitting near a fire on the beach looking forward to another day exploring the dry forest. Here is another link to some photographs from my afternoon hike. Puerto Rico Day Four: Afternoon hike February 11 2018.
“It is not so much for its beauty that the forest makes a claim upon men’s hearts, as for that subtle something, that quality of air that emanation from old trees, that so wonderfully changes and renews a weary spirit.” –Robert Louis Stevenson