Monday, June 22, 2015

Epic Trip: Puerto Rico

 Nathan and I were able to take an epic trip with friends Aubreigh and Matt on a cruise to the Caribbean in May.  It happened to fall over our anniversary and Aubreigh's 30th birthday, so what a way to celebrate.  We were gone 10 days, so I'll start out by highlighting each day by location. First day was really travel all day to get to Puerto Rico where we stayed at the Courtyard Marriott thanks to travel points.  We enjoyed a dinner at the beach-side dining area and awaited Aubreigh and Matt to get there.  The next morning we had to be at a park to catch the tour "Aventuras", an amazing trip to the Rio Camuy caves.  It started with the bus pulling up at 5:45am, blaring the theme to Indiana Jones, and literally rolling out a red carpet.

From there we head to a bakery (yep), to order a sandwich for lunch that we double zip-lock baggie, as well as pack our bag for the adventure.  Then we are off.  They've got a script sort of, and they are very entertaining while still being informative about safety concerning the gear that we'll be using.  Then we get the caves in the rainforest after an hour bus ride.  We go through another hour or so of equipment demonstration and practice, and then it is time! 
 Getting all ready, and that is one of the guides in the back doing a great photo bomb!

 We head down the trail, and you can see the "iron trail", seriously like an iron rod, that you would move your two carabiners along.  You also moved them along yourself, the guides weren't there holding your hand. If you tripped without being clipped in, it's a long way down.
 Some places on the trail had a wire below for your feet, and one above to hold, while you were of course clipped on with your carabiners.  But even that is a little scary.  Then we got to the zip lines...

 Nathan is clipping in here.  Guides did do that part which I was grateful for.  We had to zipline down three times on our way to the forest floor and the entrance to the cave.

 Then the last part (before actually going into the cave) was rappelling.  However, the last 100+ feet are free from the wall.  So just going down towards the entrance, suspended in space, and really you need to go because if you get stuck, it is hard to get you down.  Everyone in our group did great.  It was a tour though for those not faint of heart.
 A view of what it was like headed to the entrance, and an entrance in the bottom background

Check out this rappelling 

 We made it down!

Right before heading into the cave

So you head about 20 feet or so, and then it's "okay, jump into the water".  There was a river that flowed through that we floated on for a lot of it.  You could try to walk through but when it's waist high, it's easier and safer to float to try to avoid the rocks and debris that is brought from the river.  The cave was amazing.  There was a part where they had us all turn out our lights, then a minute later turn them on, and thousands of bats were flying deeper into the cave. 
 Here are a few bats on a wall 

The skin of a cave spider.  I put it on my arm to show a size reference

 Spectacular formations. And this gives you an idea of the water, this was a shallow part.

Now we have to climb out of here by climbing the exposed via ferrata section.  Literally climbing narrow to nothing trails, sometimes just the via ferrata (iron trail) and a rope, while you are again using the two carabiner system.  It was awesome!  Nathan carried our guides pack, while the guide carried a girl who had sprained her ankle in the cave on his back.  That guy was a champion climber.

This adventure was amazing, and it was only the first day!  Mud so deep it could suck your shoes off, big cave spiders, bats, floating an underground river, enjoying a sandwich 3 miles into a cave, oh and a 20 foot jump into the river below in the complete blackness (everyone turned off their lights, then you jumped!).  At one part we did both think, and separately, that we probably shouldn't do anything more dangerous than this as we do have three adorable boys at home.
A golden orb weaver spider.
Our boys love the show Wild Kratts, and one of the featured creatures is this spider.  I loved that we got to see it then in real life, it's pretty big too. 
Later that night we had an amazing dinner in San Juan at a place called Jose Enrique. 
I had the red snapper, and it was amazing.
This was just the first day! If we had gone home the next day, it totally would have been worth it.


Jennifer said...

That looks like so much fun!! I would LOVE to do something like that, though I don't know how I'd feel seeing the spider skin on my arm - it's a bit too realistic looking and it's a solid reminder of what exactly is crawling around inside the cave. But still so awesome!