Sharing the world


"Who's to say what's impossible?
Well they forgot this world keeps spinning & with each new day, I can feel a change in everything
And as the surface breaks, reflections fade, but in some ways they remain the same
And as my mind begins to spread its wings, there's not stopping curiosity
I want to turn the whole thing upside down

I'll find the things they say just can't be found
I'll share this love I find with everyone
We'll sing & dance to Mother Nature's songs

I don't want this feeling to go away"
-- Jack Johnson [Upside Down]


It was still early morning when I hit the highway east, but it was already toasty.  The mid-March heat created a haze above everything that wasn’t directly abutting the ocean.  Although I was broke & wanted authentic Puerto Rican cuisine, I had a late breakfast/early lunch at a Subway for the sheer purpose of #1 using their running water to brush my teeth and #2 hijacking their electricity to recharge my Canon. 
The Arecibo Lighthouse was well-marked & easy to find.  Along the harbor, fisherman already had their lines in the water, waiting for the day’s catch.  At the entryway, I told the young lady who worked there that I liked her earrings – and I really did.  I wasn’t buttering her up.  She saw me with my backpack & rhetorically asked, “You took a taxi here?”  Conflicted, I thought in silence for a minute.  Part of me was so annoyed by being nickel & dimed everywhere throughout the country – for restrooms at Cueva Ventana, for full service gasoline at most fuel stations – that I wanted to say “De acuerdo! a.k.a. Of course!  The moral side of me thought I should simply be honest and pay the extra $2.00 but the notion of paying to leave my car in a rutty, unpaved lot positioned next to a public marina irritated me, so I lied and affirmed the taxi question.  Who said you could buy the Earth then pull a profit from it?  It's difficult to side with people who seek monetary gains for what was here long before the human race arrived.

Encompassed within the lighthouse property was a small petting zoo, aquarium & pirate ship-turned-jungle-gym.  I leisurely ascended the red brick walkway lined with flora & noticed the lizards were still out sun-bathing.


Not quite to the tippy-top, the blindingly white lighthouse had a large deck that offered 360 degree views of the boundless sea.  On the east side, I watched people tackle the surf at what I imagined was a “locals only” beach.  There were no amenities, which deterred high-maintenance tourists; a colorful mural that resonated with dignity for the ocean: “La poza no se vende, se defiende a.k.a. the pool is not for sale, defend it” & it was at the end of an unpainted calle that just became swallowed by the sand.  With my bird’s eye view I coveted those people & their lifestyle for about 30 minutes, for on this random Thursday the families were lounging & surfing – the same thing I was supposed to be doing this morning in Aguadilla!



Inside the lighthouse were awesome artifacts: a restored cannon/cannonballs, a towering anchor, and a sturdy trunk that looked straight out of Antiques Roadshow.  Up the blue, spiral staircase that was only spacious enough for one person, I spotted a lone paddle-boarder & the city of Arecibo.

As I exited the Arecibo Lighthouse, a girl who appeared younger than me inquired – in Spanish – about the price of the attraction & if it was worth it. I always beam with pride when a local thinks I’m the expert!  It means I’m approachable, like I blend in with the culture & look of the region.  I answered, it was a fine stop, but a bit overpriced at $10 USD.

I returned to my home (the car) & consulted with my two best friends (Lonely Planet.& la mapa).  The travel guide apportioned one paragraph for Cueva del Indio a.k.a. Indian’s Cave and did not even bother to identify it on its map.   Thankfully, the entrance was indicated by a hand-painted sign because it was not across from an “Esso gas station” as published.

There were two other cars in the sandy lot that doubled as an estacionamiento, but a group of 4 boys – only one of whom looked old enough to drink alcohol – still charged for parking.  The muchachos a.k.a. boys suggested a guided tour with one, but I had been in Puerto Rico long enough to know this meant a guided tour with an unspoken fee attached.  I declined but they remained sociable and gave me an overview of which paths lead where.

By myself, the bushes shortly gave way to the coastline & -- from the bottom – Cueva del Indio resembled just another rock.  As I hiked upward, I minded the hundreds of small sinkholes that unfolded on the cave’s roof.  One wrong step could lead to a sprained ankle or a tumble into natural wells.

Atop the pock-marked rock were expansive views of the ocean & I could see the Arecibo Lighthouse to my west.  To the east were 3 arches, nicely aligned (in the photo the second arch is blocked) although I later learned there were actually 7 total.  On plane, la cueva’s roof looked solid but[as you can see towards the end of the previous video & this one] there were sections missing.  One particular divot had been hollowed out by the Taí
no – Puerto Rico’s first people descended from northern South America – with rock slabs converted into large steps leading 15 feet down to a platform.  I sat there, feet dangling over the cliff, transfixed by the ocean’s rhythm.  It was like analyzing snowflakes: the waves perpetually undulating and slamming into the rock walls, however, no collision was the same.  Sometimes there was an explosion from the impact that sent a mist fifteen feet into the air; sometimes the surf polished the exposed rock, like a person spreading butter onto a piece of bread; sometimes cascades were created as the water diverged into thin, white veins only to plunge back into the sea. 


Also from the platform, was a shabby, wooden ladder fastened together by cords of rope.  I noticed there was a larger gentleman already at the bottom of Cueva del Indio so I figured if he didn’t bust the rickety ladder, neither would I.  On the sand floor of Cueva del Indio, sunlight punctured through the various sinkholes from above & the walls of la cueva were adorned with an abundance of Taíno petroglyphs.



Exploring this covered beach I found narrow pathways for water, a natural whirlpool that was illuminated in muted rainbow colors, the cave's namesake (a petroglyph clearly depicting a Tno indian), and a psychedlic pattern on la cueva's ceiling.  The design looked too decorative & beautiful to be natural.  It swirled around sockets scooped from the ceiling.  Oddly, no sunlight escaped the dugouts.  Only with my camera's flash could I see that these were upside down sinkholes (sounds like an oxymoron) inhabited by sleepy bats!
I climbed back up the deteriorated ladder & emerged to find the other visitors gone. As I made my way back toward el estacionamiento one of the boys who collected my parking money approached me with his dog close on his heels.  The young man – named Pito – simply started chatting and encouraged me to follow him.  He described all the fun to be had around Cueva del Indio like fishing (for fish and sharks).  Then, he showed me a small space with tidepools & the multitude of iguanas hiding on the green tree branches.  Without Pito, I would have walked right past the reptiles!  I was surprised to learn that iguanas can jump.  Pito was either showing off or sensed my disbelief, because he told me to be quiet & watch, as he attempted to catch one.  Sure enough, a split second before Pito’s hand closed around a medium-sized iguana, it launched itself to another branch!

I continued trudging along with Pito & his mutt, to the third arch from where I was able to see the remainder of the seven, stone arches.  Pito stopped leading at the fourth arch and we stood there, looking out at the infinite horizon.  Since the sun was directly overhead now, the water turned a transparent, azure color that revealed the massive rocks on the sea floor.  Pito told me to walk to the next arch, then look back.  I obeyed his instructions & was flabbergasted to see that I had been standing on a strata only three feet thick!  Here I thought I was perched on solid rock, but the ocean & wind had eroded everything but a weak strip of rock.

Before leaving, Pito showed me the other Indian at Cueva del Indio.  A formation that reminded me of the profile of La Bruja at Parque de Las Cavernas del Rio Camuy.
In el estacionamiento Pito, his canine & I rejoined the group of boys.  Though I refused a guided tour earlier, I sort of felt like Pito has hustled me by just appearing & giving me the tour anyway.  Puertoriquenos are always hustling!  Yet, I also enjoyed Pito’s quiet company and he showed/taught me more than I may have discovered on my own… so in the end I gave him a small tip.

The eldest chico offered to make me a drink at the kiosk there, but I declined.  The youngest muchacho started asking where I came from & what brought me to Puerto Rico.  Like everyone I encountered thus far, none of the guys could believe I was traveling solo.  Then, the same boy in the bright red shirt asked what I had experienced so far on this trip.  After I recounted the events, they all seemed in awe & I hoped maybe I had inspired them to explore their backyard.  I loved sharing my knowledge & experiences with them.  I was proud of all that I had accomplished in the last week & pleased to share Mother Nature’s secrets.  Before I hopped in the car, the same, youngest boy gave me one of the best compliments of my life.  He enviously said “Dang, I’ve lived here 12 years & you’ve seen more than I have in just a week!”

Comments

  1. That was a nice article on content Tourism Portal, really
    got to learning the detailed structure of a tourism content. Really a nice post, thanks for sharing this
    information.

    ReplyDelete
  2. You're very welcome! Thanks for the feedback Abi -- hope you can visit there one day.

    ReplyDelete

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