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Nature, History, Family and other things

2009 August 13

I just got back from a brief family vacation in Puerto Rico. Since my 7-year old had never visited the island, I decided to play tour guide so she would “discovery” the Island.

In order to experience different sites and sounds, we decided to venture outside of the San Juan Metropolitan area. We started with a visit to El Yunque National Forest, the only rainforest part of the U.S. Forest Service. This area of 28,000 acres is well known for its biodiversity. More than 100 billion gallons of precipitation fall each year. My daughters were truly impressed by the luscious greenery and sounds of the rainforest. I had to convince the little one that the chirping came from little frogs, the coquis, not birds. We all enjoyed El Yunque. It has the potential of being designated as one of the new 7 wonders of the world!  Definitely has my vote!

Another escapade took us to the southeastern town of Salinas which faces the Caribbean Sea. My daughters were struck by the rich aquamarine colors of the sea. We had lunch at an open terrace restaurant right at the coast. The children were entertained by a family of crabs that was playing on the sea-bathed rocks.

During another day excursion, we walked through the cobblestone streets visiting the historic sites of Old San Juan including forts, museums, and a pigeon park. A short film at the San Felipe del Morro Fort described the role these forts had played in defending the capital of Puerto Rico during Spanish colonial times. After exploring the historical venues, we enjoyed tropical flavored Puerto Rican snow cones commonly referred to on the Island as piraguas.

During the course of our vacation, we took time to visit with family, attend my high school reunion, and enjoy the beaches. When it was time to bid farewell, we took one last drive along Piñones, an area along the northern coast outside of San Juan to enjoy some Puerto Rican culinary delights (alcapurrias and bacalaítos) which we washed down with some fresh coconut water. We drank it straight from the coconut. It was truly a memorable experience.

We packed many events during our brief sojourn in Puerto Rico. We’ll have to schedule day excursions to visit the karst region, Camuy Caverns, and the bioluminescent bay in Vieques. Next time.

About the author: Lina Younes has been working for EPA since 2002 and chairs EPA’s Multilingual Communications Task Force. Prior to joining EPA, she was the Washington bureau chief for two Puerto Rican newspapers and she has worked for several government agencies.

El Morro bridge and beach closeup of bright red flamboyan flowers Sentry box over the ocean dense green jungle foliage Lamina Falls flowing through the jungle trees

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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6 Responses leave one →
  1. Jose Sanchez permalink
    August 13, 2009

    Mrs. Younes:
    I am glad that you had the opportunity to enjoy your visit to Puerto Rico with your familily. On bahalf of fellow puertoricans I thank you for making public your visit to some of the most spectacular places in the Island. Don’t forget to visit Camuy Caverns and Vieques on your next trip.

  2. lyounes permalink*
    August 13, 2009

    You’re welcome. Definitely needed more time to visit other wonders. Camuy and Vieques top thelist for a future visit. Saludos.

  3. Johnny R. permalink
    August 14, 2009

    When will you ask yourselves the question: How many people can the island of Puerto Rico support? How many people can planet Earth support? When will you finally realize that a growing economy on a shrinking planet has no future?

  4. Lina-EPA permalink*
    August 17, 2009

    Yes, population growth has adverse effects on natural resources. As the forever optimist, I am hopeful that human beings will use their knowhow to develop more sustainable solutions to address these challenges. It’s not the government that has the golden answer to these questions. It’s all our responsibility. We should all act to save energy, water, recycle and use our resources wisely. You can start by making the pledge to Pick5 in favor of the environment: or in Spanish:

  5. Johnny R. permalink
    August 17, 2009

    I know how the system works. A growing population provides the low-wage labor that creates the growing wealth of nations, onward to the Moon, Mars and stars. But our planet is slowly shrinking with each volcano and earthquake, so it cannot support a relentlessly growing economy. Thus, growing human appetites are on a collision course with the Earth’s shrinking resources. To survive we need to discipline ourselves by peacefully reducing our population and recycling 100% of all waste and garbage. If not, humanity will perish in its own overcrowded filth.

  6. Lina-EPA permalink*
    August 17, 2009

    I know that balance is essential. Anything in excess will further strain habitats, ecosystems, resources, etc. Nonetheless, I’m a 3/4 cup full kind of person. Can’t help it.

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