Puerto Rico Vacation – Part III

Day Two in PR kicked off with a trip to the interior of the island, where we found Gozolandia Falls. We didn’t know what to expect, as the description of the place almost made it sound like some dude had waterfalls on his land and started charging people parking to leave their car in a field so they could go swimming. Thankfully, it was much better than that.

For $5 a car, you could walk down to two different waterfalls on a concrete sidewalk and stay as long as you wanted. Honestly, if it was just the one waterfall, it was more than worth it, but having two to go explore was even better. The water wasn’t particularly warm, but the lower fall was shallow enough for wading, so the kids mostly focused on that area rather than the falls themselves. I finally dipped in for the second waterfall after walking around enough and getting kinda hot. Still, it was definitely worth the visit and we’d recommend it!

After that, we drove another hour to Sandra Farms Coffee to check out a coffee plantation. Getting to this place was a bit more sketchy, as the mountain roads weren’t particularly safe and the oncoming traffic wasn’t all that patient with the idea of “staying on one side of the road.” We eventually got there and initially struggled to find where exactly we were supposed to go (small operation…), but after calling the number on the sign, we could hear the voice on the other end speaking up at the house on the nearby hill, so we trekked up there.

The gentleman we spoke with, Israel, reminded us a lot of Heinrich from Heinrichshaus in St. James, MO: an old school dude who’s been doing this for years, knows what works for their product, and is happy to talk your ear off about just about anything. A group of relief workers also showed up for the $15 tour, so we headed down the hill toward their operation to see some of the machinery as a storm came in, keeping us in a relatively small building talking about everything from coffee to Puerto Rican statehood. It was scheduled as a 2 hr tour and, based on what we saw, it probably didn’t need to be that long, but with how much Israel talks about…everything…it’s understandable! We learned a lot and had a great time! Unfortunately, they didn’t have any coffee for sale because Hurricane Maria decimated enough trees that they don’t have anything ready and likely won’t until October. Still, the coffee he made us at the end of the tour was probably the smoothest we’ve ever had, so we’ll definitely be buying whatever we can once it’s available. They’ve also been putting some of their coffee in some chocolate candies, so we bought some of those to bring back home (the kids were big fans of that stuff).

Speaking of which, the kids did such a good job during this day that we took them by a grocery store in Quebradillas to pick out a treat to have later that evening. By the time we got back to the house, there wasn’t much time for leisure, so we watched some TV, got dinner going, and hung out for the rest of the night!

When we decided to come to Puerto Rico for our vacation, especially giving us as much time as we have available to us, I made a push for us to visit the Arecibo Observatory. It’s more centrally-located on the island and isn’t trivial to get to, so it isn’t exactly “on the way” to all that many other sights in Puerto Rico, but the sheer scale of the thing made me think it would be worth it. Also, they appeared to have a museum, of sorts, with some kid-centric activities that would hopefully hold the kids’ attention.

Ultimately, we weren’t disappointed! It cost a bit more than the previous day did, but we got to watch a brief video on the history of the radio telescope, as well go on the VIP tour that took us down to the control room where real live scientists were studying solar flares. It’s obvious they’ve made some upgrades over the decades, but for the most part, they’re still using a lot of the same equipment that has been on-site since the 1960s. Definitely some impressive engineering!

After that, we went to a restaurant in Arecibo called El Buen Mofongo to try some more local-ish cuisine. Mofongo is, I guess you’d say, “mashed plaintain,” so it has the consistency of mashed potatoes (kinda…), but a distinct flavor. I had mine with a flank steak while Brooke had hers with fried pork. It was very good, though the service could have been a bit better! It seemed like the wait staff needed more than just two people attending all of the tables in the place. Still, we were glad we went!

By the time we got home, it was 2:00-ish and we were ready to chill, so we went down to the beach that’s about an 8 minute walk from our house to kill some time. I came back up the hill and tried running (in short, there are a ridiculous number of hills up here, as well as loose dogs…no bueno…). After another stint in the hot tub, it was time for dinner and another relaxing evening!

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