Friday, June 19, 2015

Birthday dive

It has become a tradition that Darryl and I go on a birthday dive. This year it was delayed a day because of our Birthday/Tuesday Adventure Day.

This year we decided to explore a new site to see if it has any potential as dive site for visitors. Sadly, no, at least not the part of the beach we dove. Getting in the water on "flat" day was an adventure for the two of us, both pretty experienced shore divers. Our original plan was to snorkel out and see was what was down there before we dropped under but the surface was too rough to snorkel. So we dropped early. And then spent a long time over a rock with little to see at nine feet. Then we swam a long way over a lot of sand to get to 30' and still nothing to see. That's pretty much the story of this particular site: shallow, rough and not much to see.

Not very promising as a dive site.

We still want to explore the other end of this particular beach. A preliminary dive there indicated it at least has some potential.

Stay tuned.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Day two, part two

The second stop on our Birthday/Tuesday Adventure was on the coast just east of Arecibo at La Cueva del Indio.

La Cueva del Indio is said to contain the largest number of petroglyphs found along the coastal zone, some of which are visible without climbing down into the cave. 

 Which is a good thing. Access down into the cave is by a wooden ladder. If I made it to the ladder, I would have been fine. But the "steps" to reach the ladder were slick and sand covered. Elaine hates heights and she especially hates to see someone she cares about on the edge. So out of deference I stayed at the top.

The cave is believed to have been a ceremonial site for indigenous peoples long before - maybe thousands of years before Columbus bumped into the island in 1493. The petroglyphs in the cave were made as part ceremonial rites. According a reliable source (it's on the Web - it has to be true, right?) the Planning Board of Puerto Rico designated Cueva del Indio as a Natural Reserve in 1992. Since then, the cave is managed by the Puerto Rico Department of Natural and Environmental Resources (DRNA). They try to maintain it for conservation purposes.

But the cave is only one of the attractions along the shore. The coastline is spectacular!

We only explored at little bit of it and only one of the beaches. Everything we've heard and seen tells us this is an area that needs a lot more exploration. There are several more Tuesday Adventure Days along this stretch of our North Shore.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Day two of my birthday week - a BirthDAY adventure

Yesterday was a Birthday/Tuesday Adventure Day to a couple of places we've wanted to visit and finally did.

First stop was La Cueva Ventana (the Window Cave) up in the center of the island. It's a very popular attraction that has become more "civilized" in recent years. It's on private property and the owners started charging admission a couple of years ago. Now there are (informed, educated) guides. Visitors wear hard hats and are given flashlights. Those changes are actually are good things. They've reduced the trash and the vandalism to this beautiful, historically important site.

Along the trail from the parking lot to the cave entrance, the guide talks about the geology, biology and history of the area. For example, this tree is known at the "Guardian" because it "protects" an entrance to one of the caverns.

At the cave entrance the group climbs a steep path down into the darkness. From the entrance to the Window (la ventana) is a 300' walk (it truly doesn't seem that long). Tat the end is a large cavern room with the window at the end.  From the lip of the window the the valley floor below is a nearly 800 foot drop. There are so many pictures of the valley through the window on Facebook it has become one of the iconic images of Puerto Rico.

The center of the island is like Swiss cheese, riddled with holes and caves. There are more that 2,000 known caves, only about 200 of which have been fully explored and mapped. (A friend of ours spends several weeks each year mapping caves on Mona Island, a tiny island in the Mona Passage between Puerto Rico and the Domincan Republic. He told me there are 225 caves on Mona. They've mapped and explored 210 of them. He said they have at least three more years of work on the island. And those are just caves above water. There are more below.) Many of these caves are important historic and archeological sites. Some, including La Cueva Ventana, have pictographs and art left by indigenous peoples.

Unfortunately, many of the caves also include "art" left more recently.

Part 2 of the Adventure coming later.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Day one of my birhtday week

Someone asked me if this was a "milestone" birthday. At this point in my life, they're all milestones!

Here in Puerto Rico we don't just celebrate birthDAYS. We celebrate birth-WEEKS, sometimes months, maybe "Hey, I have a birthday this year!"

My birth-week started with a surprise celebration last night at Ola Lola's. Elaine flat out told me she wasn't planning anything. But wait! I've been joking that this year a become a Beatles' song - I turn 64.

Many of you know Elaine's tradition of rewriting songs for special occasions. She just couldn't
get "When I'm Sixty-four" out of her head. And so, I present you with my birthday song:

It was an amazing wonderful surprise! The whole bar full of people sang along.

Thank you Susie Tobin for the photos. I was busy!