I had no idea that El Yunque, located in northeastern Puerto Rico, is the only tropical rain forest in the entire U.S. Forest system.
The forest gets it’s name from the Indian spirit “Yuquiye” , which means “Forest of Clouds”. I felt Yupuiye winding his spirit between the trees, over rocks, in the fresh rain.
Home to over 240 species of trees and plants ( 26 of whom are found no where else on earth) and rare wildlife, the forest is truly special. We hike for a little bit, taking in the sights, sounds and rich smells of the forest in sensory abundance.
We arrive at our first waterfall, and our guide encourages us to get in water. Without hesitation, we strip down and get in the cold water. The rocks are extremely slippery, but we slowly make our way to the base of the waterfall. I shower under the immense power of Nature, and feel baptized by the earth.
We find the largest tree in the forest, and step off the trail to get a closer look. Like everything else here, the vitality is palpable, the tree alive and mindful of visitors lightly touch her exterior.
We come to an observation tower in the midst of the jungle, and climb the hundred year old steps to view the forest from a different angle. The lush green is never ending,the clouds majestic, the scenery sublime.
Our last stop is another waterfall, cascading against an immense boulder. We make our way past giant tree roots and muddy patches to the edge of the waterfall. As my brother is standing there looking content, I smile and think to myself…
“I’m glad he’s here with me.”