Yesterday was about as perfect as it gets. Highlights included a visit to the Ayala Crafts Workshop, a hike in El Yunque National Forest, a refreshing swim at Luquillo Beach and dinner at the neighboring rustic kiosks, and a nighttime kayak trip to see the bioluminescent bay near Fajardo.
Our first stop was at the Ayala Crafts Workshop in Loiza to check out the folk art of Raul Ayala. Ayala is a member of the musical group Los Hermanos Ayala and a master artisan of vejigantes.
Vejigante masks and costumes are worn by people dressed as vejigantes, or people who represent 11th-century Spanish Moors, in Puerto Rico during the time of Carnival, as well as during the festival, or carnival, of St. James in July. Vejigante masks date to the 1700s Spanish traditions, and represent a spiritual battle between the Apostle James and Spanish Muslims.
After purchasing a couple of Ayala’s beautiful masks, we made our way further down the coast to El Yunque. EL Yunque is a designated UNESCO Biosphere and the only tropical rain forest in the U.S. National Forest system! Imagine a place that gets 100 billion gallons of rainwater a year! We enjoyed a great hike while taking in the lush vegetation and the many beautiful waterfalls along the modernized trails.
Afterward we headed to the beautiful Loquillo Beach to cool off and freshen up with a swim in the ocean. Because we arrived late in the day, we didn’t get too much time to relax in the water. However, by this point we had worked up a pretty mean appetite and we were looking forward to eating at the renowned rustic kiosks next to the beach. I’m not sure how many food kiosks there were, but it seemed like the line of eateries stretched out at least a quarter of a mile. There was so much amazing, traditional Puerto Rican food to choose from. This stop was definitely a highlight of the trip for me!
To end the night we headed further out to Farajo for a kayak tour of the bioluminescent bay. The luminescence is caused by micro-organisms (dinoflagellates) that glow whenever the water is disturbed, leaving a trail of neon color. Because there was a moon, the bay was not nearly as illuminated as one would have hoped. But still, the two hours navigating the kayaks under a star filled sky was amazing.
All in all, this was the perfect last full day on the island. Our flight back to the States departs tomorrow afternoon, so we have limited time for much else.
|From Puerto Rico: Day Six|
– Devon Akmon