El Yunque Mythical Facts
Puerto Rico original inhabitants Taínos religion had much to do with the original name of the Caribbean National Forest, the only tropical forest in the United States, with an elevation of 3,496 feet above sea level.
Taínos, name for the Indian tribe that populated the island, were pagans. They believed in many gods. They worshipped Nature above all and they saw in this magnificent mountain their Great Benefactor, god Yuquiyú. He lived in that throne, that white place always saw it covered by clouds, hence El Yunque, which means "white place".
This Great Benefactor was good to its worshippers. As the Spaniards invaded and stripped the taínos out of their women and gold starting in 1492, some flee to El Yunque seeking for refuge and protection, and the Great Benefactor answered the prayers of these believers.
Oblivious to the uncharted Island geography and topography, it was impossible for the Spanish settlers to go after the "rebels". Still today daring tourists (local and foreign) get lost as they steer away from El Yunque trails, so beware, be mindful and respectful of the Great Benefactor.
El Yunque Caribbean National Rainforest holds many rivers nurtured by its heavy rainfall calculated in 240 inches of rain per year. 100 billion gallons of water.
El Yunque harbors not only endangered species like the Puerto Rican parrot, its scientific name "Amazona vitatta", which by 2005 comprised 200 specimens, but many medicinal plants that grow wild among its many trails and uncommon trees. An example of this is the shrub Capa rose, classified as endangered in 1992. Among its medicinal plants are Ortiga brava, a diuretic, Urtica urens, used to ease nasal bleeding, and the Dacryoides excelsa, or Tabonuco tree, good for athletic injuries and osteoarthritis, among others.
El Yunque Fights The Hurricane
This Great Benefactor that is El Yunque has another great power: serves as deterrent against evil, specifically, Juracán (hurricane), evil god of the Taínos.
Yes, hurricanes are aptly named after the evil god of our pre-colombine natives. And Yuquiyú, the Great Benefactor, would deter the evil Juracán in response to the faithful prayers, offerings and ceremonies of the noble Taínos. Taínos, in fact, means noble.
So, whenever you make it to Puerto Rico and book an outing to El Yunque Caribbean National Rainforest, remember that facts and figures abound, but the spirit of history is so much richer and allows for a whole new perspective that should make your visit even more memorable.
Picture This Growing Wild All Around You
The Healing Side of El Yunque
The Goodness of the Great Benefactor
In Spanish, the flower above is called Miramelinda, if translated literally means Look Me Pretty. In English is better known as Impatiens, and besides its beauty and growing abundantly in the Caribbean Rainforest, exhibits many healing properties. This is one of an extensive list of specimens guarded by this nature sanctuary.
Its most common use is to treat poison ivy, or the urge to scratch. Its roots contain components effective in inhibitting human colon carcinoma. Its seeds have antimicrobial properties. Is useful in treating gastrointestinal irritations.
Rockhopping in El Yunque
My Son Rather Do This Than DS (Wishful Thinking)
Do's in Your Visit to El Yunque
1. Come early- Make it a point to get a bit before 9am if possible, if not earlier. I cannot describe how beautiful it feels to be there at sunrise.
2. Bring water- You should bring water wherever you go, but especially here. You'd think that because is the "rain" forest you won't need that much water. You will need some.
3. Dress comfortable but no flip flops- Go for comfortable snickers or the like, footwear that will stay with you if you feel like hiking a bit, for example.
4. Come ready to walk- Travel light, bring your sense of humor and your open mind. I will feel a bit offended to see children with electronic games, but what can we do?
5. Take photos a'plenty- This place is a wondrous world marvel, whether they recognized it or not. I'm yet to get me a great camera to take some awesome pictures there, sure hope you'd be able to beat me to it.
6. Sit around- Bum around, look around, look up...
7. Breathe in- Take advantage of the fact that more than likely you'd rarely find cleaner air.
8. Enjoy the view- Relax, look as far as you are able to.
9. Dip in- do dare to get in the water a bit, or all the way!
10. Buy a souvenir- Even when its financed by federal budget, any extra help is appreciated. Plus, there are many interesting books and studies related to this preserve that could come in handy for some school special projects, or maybe your own writings.
Don'ts on your visit to El Yunque
1. Drink alcohol- Come with all your senses.
2. Arrive after 3pm- Gate closes about 6pm, you missed out.
3. Wear long jeans- Jeans are definitely not proper attire, especially tight jeans.
4. Bring heavy bags- No need to, the trails are not really that long.
5. Steer away from the trails- Absolutely do not walk away from the trails. This is the best recipe to get lost.
6. Pull out the plants- Please do not anger the gods. If anything, is illegal, you will be fined.
7. Pollute- If your idea of fun is to throw cigarette butts on the floor and the like, stay home.
8. Cross the road without looking- Puerto Ricans (we, I) are crazy drivers. Do not take this sentence lightly. El Yunque lacks sidewalks in most of its roads. Walk safely.
9. Go rock hopping- particularly if you don't have the know how. Please do not come to my island to die.
10. Go alone- Is not fun and not safe to venture alone in El Yunque if this is your first visit. The idea is to have fun and a memorable experience, play it safely and you will.