Sunday, October 18, 2015

Rope Swings & Waterfalls at El Yunque: Puerto Day 2

October 2015
My first rope swing. Won't be the last.

Exploring El Yunque

We left our AirBnb at 6:45am to drive around 90 minutes south to El Yunque National Forest to meet up with Montana Explora, a local outfitter that conducts adventure tours. I'd highly recommend them - but don't be scared off by your guides, who are crazy young! Sadly I've forgotten their names, but our lead guide was 22, and his assistants were 15 and 16. It was wild to think a bunch of 30-year-olds were entrusting our lives to these teens, but let me assure you - they had their shit together! Vastly different than myself at that age. That said, as you fill out the waiver, I saw two things I've never had to fill out before: blood type and religion! So if a massive accident occurs, they can give you a blood transfusion. Religion…. so they know who to call if you die!! HAHAHAHAHA!!! Crazy. But so worth it. Here's their website: 
This is what greets you at the entrance to the rainforest. A burnt up car that I presume was for drug dealing or robbery purposes. I've seen "Heat" and "The Town" - I know what these cars mean!
There's a healthy hike involved to reach the waterfalls, and we asked for one of the most physically taxing routes they could give us. At one point we were literally pulling ourselves up the mountain with vines. Fricking vines, Tarzan!

Odd routes. But that teenager in yellow sure looks chill.
This is one of many waterfalls that we got to play in! What I mean by that is we walked behind it, swam underneath it,   and jumped into it. Play time!

Jumped into waterfalls... and pushed into waterfalls...
Looking at the view, I felt like I had to bring back the 251 freestyle (a Mobile special).  Although I was scared as all hell of falling over the edge here, so this took about a million times to take. Our 15-yo guide was ridiculing me. Always cool to get made fun of by someone who can't drive yet.
We had two major rappels on the trip.
I tried to take a picture of my vantage point and the steepness of the rock. It didn't come out that great.
Just lounging.
This was the steeper rappel straight into the water.

This was among the many natural waterslides we were able to climb up and go down. It was completely random where they determined it was safe for us to play. I asked the dudes how they determined that, and he said trial and error. Lot of bruises in that methodology.
We jumped off this bad boy twice. It was around 27-feet, but I'd like to call it 30 to make it sound more badass. This was the 2nd time we jumped. The first time the rain started to come down and it looked like the apocalypse was happening. Which made it all the better. The tricky part of this jump is not the height, but your landing radius. There were rocks to the left, and a cliff to the right - so you really just had to jump straight. Not a big deal, but I'm a tremendous fan of large jumping radiuses as I'm not coordinated enough to handle small ones.

Padre's POV
Pete messing with the falls, trying to do the ill-advised face plant.
I have the bandanna because I was sweating like a hungover wild boar when we first got suited up. #GreatCaptionDBag #WayToRuinASweetPic
We went places we weren't supposed to apparently. All I know is those kids walked us directly past this sign.

This was easily the most precise cliff jump I've ever done. By this time, my GoPro battery died, so no more video, which is a total bummer because this is when our trip got much more intense. This jump wasn't that high - maybe around 20+ feet, but it was strategic. You had to jump far because there were rocks and cliff beneath you; you couldn't jump too far to the left because that was the mouth of the waterfall; can't go too far right because the current will take you towards another waterfall; can't jump too far forward because there's more rock; you also can't take a running start because it's too slippery. I don't know how many times we asked the kids - ahem, guides - if they were sure this was safe, but they continued to reassure us. Oh yeah, after you jump into the water, the dude at the bottom throws you a rope that you have to catch and pulls you ashore. It was nuts. And f'n rad.
After jumping off the previous rock, this 20-footer was nothing.

Our highest waterslide. The guide directed us to the right area, then let go as we slid into the waterfall.
Underneath the waterfall.
Three posers.

After we rock slid our way all the way back to the bottom, we capped off the trip with a rope swing. This was actually more intense than I expected it to be. I don't know what height it was, but you build up a lot of speed. Our main guide warned us how dangerous the rope swing was, which is saying something because he didn't stress the danger of all the other things we did. I gripped that rope tighter than saran wrap.
The entire tour lasted from around 8-5p. Go if you have the chance.
That night we hung in Old San Juan. Highly recommend La Factoria, a bar that continuously winds thru multiple rooms. It was a more age appropriate crowd for us, as it seemed like the streets were flooded with kids who ought to be watching Dora the Explorer.
Saturday night. Later!
GoPro Video:

Next: One of the most beautiful beaches you'll ever see.

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