Saturday, February 22, 2014

San Sebastian Park

During the week it is nice to get out of the house in a good way (which means not shopping or trying to get something done). Going to the beach is hot and not really on a "favorite thing" list (unless for diving or access to the water for surfing or kayaking etc). I have started walking a couple days a week just to get some excess energy/frustrations out of my system and  I have a few places I rotate. I can go to the neighborhood drive-there-in-4-minutes basketball court with walking track, go 12 minutes or so to Moca Park (see blog post about that one), can go to the cushy walking track in full sun on the way to the San Sebastian pulgero, or I can go to this new one about 10 minutes away! I would love to go to the Guajataca Forest but don't think it is safe to go there alone.This newest park I found is behind the coliseum across from the San Sebastian supermarket (Econo I think). I was really surprised in a good way! My walking neighbors don't go to it and I have never seen cars go up there but I went to check it out.

I parked up by the tennis courts because there were a few cars there and I could see a worker doing some painting in a tower. I figured it was a safe place to park. I could hear tennis balls being swatted around and the courts were perfect - intact nets, good surface, covered chain link fence etc.  I parked and walked down to a cool suspension bridge and got to the trail. It isn't a substantial trail yet but you can see where they are working to make new trails. They will be extending them into the jungle hillside but right now there is a figure 8 of sorts and these weird semi covered platforms that look overly anchored. They also have weird stairs on them and at first I wasn't quite sure what was going on. I could see the trail going from place to place and lots of trees they have planted which will soon make a nice shady areas. There is an area of capa prietas, one of maria trees and some other trees I am not familiar with. It'll be very nice in a few years. I did a bunch of circling for 45 minutes or so. I didn't get bored since there is some incline (that's why I like Moca park too) and some shaded spots. Then it all came together for me...the tower, the platforms, the cables...this is a zip line park! I asked some workers and apparently it is open Saturday and Sunday for zip lining! It isn't like the Toro Negro zip lining place or any of the in-the-jungle ones but if you had kids it would be perfect and a blast!

Besides the walking trail and zip line platforms there are tennis courts, basketball courts and a pretty nice skate park. What a bee keeper and bee have to do with a skate park I do not know but a couple kids were biking and skateboarding in it. I liked the official "graffiti."

No day is complete though without something absurd - back in parking. Why do they insist on this? Ponce museum has a guard that will make you back in your car if you don' places insist on it and I will never understand why. No explanation makes sense. All in all it is a pretty nice park close to the house.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The Trails of the Guajataca Forest

On Sunday Jeff and I didn't have anything to do so we headed back to the Guajataca Forest which is our new favorite place. Diving has gotten kind of boring and the forest has 25 miles of trails we haven't yet explored. We have gone on a couple trails in the past - the trail leading to Cueva Vientos, the lookout trail and and trail number 30. We have also done a lot of off-trail "walking" looking for caves. We headed to trail 33. We walked around at an easy pace and listened to a lot of birds that seemed to be enjoying the cooler, cloudier weather. After that trail we took trail 31 and crossed over to 32 because we couldn't resist returning to what we know as Cueva Efrain Lopez on our GPS. Now there is an official sign to the cave that calls it Cueva Los Perez.

We entered and remembered it well. Something we noticed this time that we didn't notice the last time is a strange blue coating of some kind of mineral (?) on the rock near the entrance. We have seen this strange blue coating at one other cave. We wandered back into the cave a lot slower than usual since we were in shorts without gloves or knee pads or helmets or head lamps...only hand held flashlights (good ones) that Mr. I-Love-Batteries always carries around!

On the way back we went off trail whenever we thought we saw a dark area - possible cave. Nothing panned out. We continued looking while we drove out since there are many possible caves right alongside the road or down the embankment but you can't stop the car safely (crazy road). We did look into a couple obvious ones. I like this gold lichen or moss or whatever that we see from time to time. I took this photo of Jeff from inside one cave looking out at the covered picnic areas. Our plan is to continue to explore the park until we have gone on all the trails. Caving is always the first preferred activity, with diving as a second and now hiking. Hiking may even trump diving since we have done 700 dives or so here and are getting a little bored with it! So if you haven't gone to the Guajataca Forest you should give it a is one of the highlights here!

Friday, February 14, 2014

Caves of the Guajataca Forest

Last weekend we had a flurry of activity showing friends some local caves. We believe that caves are the most amazing things on the planet and that everyone, especially people in Puerto Rico, should go into at least one in their lifetime! Sunday's trip involved David (our best friend) and his wife Ramona and 3 grand kids. Believe it or not David had never been to the Guajataca Forest and he has lived here his entire life! We were more than pleased to introduce his family to the nice trails and very nice cave in this forest that is basically his and our backyard. We met at the trail head which is marked and maintained. The visitor place (with maps) wasn't open yet since it was Sunday but Jeff and I had visited the cave several times before. After maybe 40 minutes of walking we came to the entrance where we laid out the law about not touching things or taking things and the reasons behind that. This cave is visited by a lot of people since it is marked and easy to find and despite the damage visitors have done it is still very nice. We distributed lights and began a nice tour of the place.

After exploring the entire cave and seeing how excited the kids (and David) were we went down some other trails to visit other caves we knew about. We knew about 2 but found a couple new ones as the kids scrambled and starting to recognize what to look for. All 5 caves were along a trail! We did not even venture on the long walks to 2 other ones. Two of the caves were kind of walk-through caves and the others were small but bigger than we initially thought! We spent about 5 hours in the forest and enjoyed the day...we suspect David will have to bring the kids back to the forest in the future!