Saturday, October 11, 2014

Parque Forestal La Marquesa

We and the other senior couples spent a few hours today at Parque Forestal La Marquesa. This park is located up in the hills above Guaynabo, a very populated suburb of San Juan.The city has built a beautiful road up into the hills and has also invested money by putting in an aerial tram, a tram that drives up the road, a butterfly pavilion, and a bird aviary. There is also an observation tower with beautiful views of San Juan. I think more attractions will be added to the park over time. 
Elder Bennett, Elder Eakle, Hermana Eakle, Hermana Porter, Elder Porter, Hermana Lee, Elder Lee, and Elder Scott set off on a Saturday morning adventure in the beautiful hills above Guaynabo. The Wentzels joined us after this picture was taken. I didn't know we were supposed to be in standard missionary attire. I guess we are the rebel senior couple.
The butterfly pavilion just had monarch butterflies, but there were a lot of them. They were growing more in a a lab near the pavilion. 

The aviary has tropical birds. I think most are brought in from Central and South America. They were quite tame. 
This one turned around and stuck its face right in the camera as I was taking the picture. 
Another obviously beautiful and colorful bird.

This one came up and tried to bite off my big toe when I wasn't looking. Then it started following me around. 
The view from the aerial tram. The camera doesn't show the vibrancy of the bright orange flamboyan trees. 
The aerial tram going in the other direction. 

Heading back down the hill. I think the longer I'm in Puerto Rico, the more I am becoming accustomed to the lush greenery. This scenery just looks so normal now. I think Colorado and Utah will look very flat and brown when we return.
The observation tower is up at the top of that hill. We rode the street tram part of the way up and then had to hike a very steep path. I think I will be sore tomorrow. 
These trees are soooo tall. 
Elder Scott riding down the tram. 
We live next door to those tall building right in the center of the picture. The thing that looks like a crane is really an observation tower next to one of the hills near the science center in Bayamon. The science center hasn't been open since we have been here. You can see the ocean off in the distance which is actually about 5 or 6 miles north of where we live. It's not a swimming beach area because it's just the harbor next to Catano. I zoomed in a lot so it's really not that close. 
The hotels and condos along the shore in San Juan are off in the distance. It's rather blurry because I zoomed in as much as possible. 

My first attempt at a panoramic photo. It is too small to see, but Bayamon is off on the left and San Juan is to the right. 

Friday, October 10, 2014

Random Pictures

Here are some random pictures of life in Puerto Rico:

Giant letters that spell "Ponce" greet drivers as they enter this city on the south side of the island. We thought it would be appropriate for me to stand between the C and the E.

Here I am in the C.

This is the center of Utuado which is up in the mountains. We were here waiting to help move elders to a new apartment. Almost every town has a square with a church next to it.

This statue represents Christianity being brought to the native people of the island.
Elder Bennett demonstrated changing a tire at the last leadership council meeting. The leadership council consists of zone leaders and sister trainer leaders.
This note on my desk made my day last week. Missionaries do not have dryers, but in this case due to a special situation, one is required. Unfortunately, after buying one, it's not heating up. We don't know if it's the dryer or the wiring. We are going to have the technician and an electrician get together and try to figure this problem out. 
Our apartment doesn't allow dryers to be vented outside. I guess they don't want holes and dryer vents and lint on the walls. So I rigged up my own contraption with a bungee cord. Hot, wet air blowing directly into the apartment is not pleasant when it's already 80 or 90 degrees inside. 
We got a flat tire driving home from Fajardo one afternoon. The always capable Elder Bennett came to the rescue with Elder Scott assisting. 
Needless to say, his white shirt wasn't white anymore after this. I enjoyed a nice phone chat with my sister while we old missionaries let the young elders take care of this. 
This sign was hanging on a classroom door at a church. I like the term "Rayitos de Sol" or Sunbeams.
And this must mean "Choose the Right."
Piggies at lunch.
Hermana Sow joins in. 
The always busy Plaza del  Sol. We have three malls within two miles of our house. They are all very similar. They remind me a lot of 80s malls in the US complete with arcade places and lots of teenagers. 

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Conference Sunday with the Caguas Zone

I don't know if any parents of missionaries have come across this blog, but in case they do and they want to see more pictures of missionaries instead of scenery, I thought I'd try to do a better job at posting pictures of missionaries. I'm not supposed to identify them without permission, but I think the pictures are okay. 

We ate lunch between Sunday sessions at the Wentzel's apartment in Caguas. It was pretty cozy, but they have a lot of patio space. Here are some pictures: 

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Our first trip to Vieques

On Thursday, we took the ferry to Vieques to do a little work, but it was mainly a pday. The work was exchanging a car and visiting the missionaries' apartment. There are two elders who serve on Vieques. I just realized I didn't take a picture of them! Next time! Vieques is 8 miles from Puerto Rico and is 21 miles long and 4 miles wide. About 14,000 people live there. The ferry ride is about an hour and half and leaves from Fajardo which is also about an hour and a half from where we live. We had to buy the ticket to take the car on the ferry in advance. We left our house about 7 am. 

Getting close to the shore.
The missionaries' house in Vieques. They keep it very clean!
Esperanza Beach. The beach here is pretty narrow and has a lot of seaweed, but it is still beautiful.
We ate lunch across the street from Esperanza Beach. This area reminds me a lot of the north shore of Oahu. There are a few small open-air restaurants and bars. Fall is definitely the off season because it's hurricane season.
Vieques has a lot of wild horses especially on the south side. We even saw a few wandering around the main town. 
Horses enjoying a day at the beach. They seem to live an idyllic life here. 
Sun Bay Beach. This is where we actually got in the water. John swam for about ten minutes, but spent most of the time keeping Elder Bennett company since he couldn't swim.
The other side of Sun Bay Beach. The water is very clear and warm!  I saw a few white and yellow fish and a very large starfish. It isn't really a snorkeling area. We will have to find a snorkeling beach next time. I love snorkeling.
More Vieques horses.
We had to have the car back to the ferry by 5 pm. We drove around the island a bit and then headed back into town. This is a view from Count Mirasol Fort which was built in the 1800s.
More of the view from the fort.
Esperanza Beach
My first ever selfie with Elder Bennett and Elder Eakle. Elder Bennett goes home on the 23rd and President gave him permission to go with us. Missionary life won't be the same without him, but he's served his two years and it's time to move on. We won't be getting any replacement office elders so it will just be us old folks.
All of the beaches we saw were pretty deserted. I think they need a senior couple on this island to help out the two elders. I'll volunteer. We could spend half of the time on Culebra.
Elder Eakle is always fascinated with the cannons at the Spanish forts.
Count Mirasol Fort
The building where the Vieques Branch meets.
Waiting for the ferry to go back to Puerto Rico. We got there at 5, but the ferry didn't arrive until 8 instead of 6 as scheduled so it was a long wait after a fun day. 
Loading the trucks and cars on the ferry. The ferry going over was pretty big and the passengers had to ride inside. The ferry going home was mainly for freight and the passengers could sit on benches on top in the open air. The ride was a half hour longer, but much more pleasant outside. The stars were beautiful out in the ocean.