191 to 3: dia dos en fajardo

“191!” he shouted as we walked in opposite directions.

We started today with directions from our hotel, along with a highlighted map, to el yunque. I put the rainforest into the Google maps app and away we went.

Fun fact about the roads near Fajardo: the main interstate is circular. The 191 circumscribes the rainforest. We discovered this after we took the 3 south through flooded back roads with cows, stray dogs and chickens, all sorts including spotted ones and ones that look like Foghorn Leghorn.

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GPS said we had arrived. We hadn’t. We drove up 191, which wound its way up and up past vibrantly colorful homes and more dogs who were unable to provide us directions. One looked like Baxter from Anchorman; he also spoke Spanish.

We drove up a few kilometers and doubted we were in the right place. We drove down past the dogs and Pantone wheel of homes. Consulting the map on the phone, we couldn’t see any other route taking the 3 to 191 would lead to El Yunque. So, back up and up we drove. At this point the dogs were so irritated by our disrupting their naps, one was stretched out in the street begging us to end his days. Driving. Farther up the 191 we were about to give up when we saw a sign indicating we had arrived in the rainforest! There was no welcome center like our map indicated and three other cars. Not positive signs for a major tourist destination. We walked around and confirmed we weren’t in the verdad spot. On our way out we asked two men walking their dogs if they spoke English and how to get to the visitor center. One man told us the path was closed due to rain, but we had to take the 191 toward Luquillo/Fajardo.

We thanked him profusely and walked back toward our white hatchback speckled with what used to be bugs. “191!” He shouted.

Were it not for our “scenic” driving we wouldn’t have heard the birds, experienced the nearly desolate grounds and seen this.

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We followed his directions and then grabbed lunch, our first full meal.

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The less scenic route took about 20 minutes from our hotel. This route had signage, but no flooded roads, no exciting, S-curve roads, no wandering cows and no pooches.

The rainforest is amazing and free. We got our fill of hiking and nature photos. Our favorite spot was the lookout tower that highlights the breadth of the forest and glimpses of the ocean.

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