Saturday, July 14, 2007

Rio Camuy Caves

Friday was our first full day in Puerto Rico and we set off west of San Juan to go visit the Rio Camuy Caves and the Radio Telescope Observatory. We'd read that they could both be pretty crowded, especially on summer weekends, so we tried to get an early start. The owner of the guest house said that we'd be fine if we got there by 10:30, so off we went. We got there a little later than we had wanted - we were aiming for more like 10, but crazy PR roads and heavy rain didn't help.

The roads in PR are generally very good, but they have an annoying habit of adding and dropping lanes without warning. I'd be driving along and all of a sudden, hello, I'm merging with the next lane - no signs whatsoever! Or, I'd think I'm in the right lane ready to exit and, whoops, there's another lane of traffic appearing. It's a bit disconcerting, especially in the rain.

Anyway, we got to the caves and got our numbers and then our tickets (you get in based on your number when entering) and then we waited. And waited. And waited some more. Then we had lunch and waited even more. Then finally our numbers were called and we got to see the video about the caves. Then we get in line for the trolley down to the caves - we're going to be on the next trolley. When - drip, drip, drip - it starts to rain. They suspend the trolleys while its raining. A and I head for shelter while M and D try to wait out the rain. After a bit, M joins us in the shelter. D said that all the Puerto Ricans headed for shelter and only the crazy tourists stood out in the rain (somewhat sheltered under a tree, but still their shirts were all soaked).

Finally the rain ended and we got to get on the trolley. On the trip down to the caves I could see why they suspend running the trolleys in the rain - it was very steep and somewhat slippery as it was.

The caves are rather open and airy as caves go. There are even plants growing in them, that's how much light they get. Here is M in front of the cave opening, from the inside.

We went through the caves to another large opening on the other side. There was a "waterfall" trickling down the face of the cliff. Our guide claimed it was special youthful mineral water and that it was clean and pure and wonderful. So we all took a handful to sip. Then I filled our water bottle - the kids wanted to bring it home with us as a souvenier.

By the time we got done with the cave tour, it was too late to go to the observatory. Had we realized just how long it would take to get on a tour, we could have gotten our numbers, then left to go see the observatory and come back to tour the caves. But that's hindsight...



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