Toro Negro

How I hate it when I wait so long to write about something that it becomes completely irrelevant.

I had an anxiety attack yesterday for the first time in more than two years and it had nothing to do with the earthquake that Puerto Rico had on Christmas Eve (talk about a reality check, on CHRISTMAS EVE!) or the amazing hike that I gave myself as a Christmas present last Sunday.

Well, the earth-shake found me in the exact same position as it predecessor;  in bed, computer in front of me.  This time it took me a mere fraction of a second to realize what was going on, that and the fact that it was actually two earth-shakes one right after the other made it feel like this one lasted forever.  It felt weaker than the other one (and by that I only mean this time I didn’t almost fall out of bed, still, I had to hang on to it and objects shook exactly as strong as they did before) but that didn’t keep it from making my chest hurt for about half and hour.   I now have proof that one of the few things that scares me out of my mind is earthquakes.  I hate them bitches.

Cell phone services collapsed on all companies except AT&T and it was very uncomfortable to spend such a Christmas Eve without being able to talk to family and friends.

All in all, just trust me when I tell you, one thing you DON’T want to feel on Christmas is an earthquake.

To cheer me up and also, because this week I’m on vacation (I would be cheery about this, but I’m dealing with some heavy stuff that makes the vacations hard to enjoy) I went on a hike.  And it was not any hike;  it was the biggest hike I’ve done to date.

I went to Toro Negro State Forest!

It was an adventure from beginning to end.  The beginning felt particularly risky because the road that I used was, as I had been warned, something of a TERROR.  A tiny, fiercely winding thing turning up and down the huge mountains, collapsed terrains from the rains on one side, the steepest precipices I’ve ever seen on the other and so lonely and deserted that it’s been known to be the place of several murders.  All fun!

I got so tense and nervous through it that I don’t remember most of the views from it but I can recall vividly the pain in my neck and the pressure in my nose.

At some point that road, PR-149 gets you to Jayuya (that’s a town), where the roads are still bad but at least there is civilization, you know, normal houses along the road and not just ruins of what looked like the shack from the Texas Chainsaw Massacre.  This made it much more fun.  Except for that one moment when I noticed I was going in the wrong direction and, subsequently realized I had passed the right turn and had to go back some thirty more minutes into the Road of Terror.  But this time it lead to the forest so, it wasn’t as terrifying.  Sort of.

After some additional twenty minutes of repeating “WHERE is the darn entrance darn it!”  I found the first parking spot and then it dawn on me that, I had been IN the forest for fifteen minutes, I just didn’t knew.  But I felt something because I kept looking up and saying it LOOKED as if there was something up there, and yes, something was the terrain surrounding the trails. Hee.

I tackled the biggest trail because I figured it was the best idea and man, was I right.  It was the ONLY trail I could do.  I can summarize it very accurately by saying it was AWESOME.  And very beautiful.

I just read now that the map they give you in the office is useless, but I figured it out after walking half an hour when I found the first fork in the trails and then confirmed it afterwards when I wanted to take the trail leading out into the main road and took the wrong one adding an additional forty five minutes of upward-hill walking to my plan and to the two hours I had already done.  That last bit was the roughest, I had to pace myself (ten minutes walking, one resting) and I stopped looking around just to furiously check my watch every thirty seconds hoping it would magically move forward and take me to my car.

Just as I finished the trail I saw a very young couple that was STARTING it.  At freaking three in the afternoon.  They stopped me to ask me to “porfavor tomar foto?” and then I understood, they were American and insane.  They were from New York and I asked them in very high pitch, exhausted voice “what ARE you doing HERE in Christmas?!” and they said it’s cold in New York.  I was all like, precisely crazy people!  They seem more scared than glad when they heard that I spoke fluent English too.  It was funny.

There’s a food place very close to the main office of the forest that has all kinds of good, homely, native food and it’s almost obligatory to eat a huge chunk of smoked pork there.  I mean, after almost three hours walking the least you can do is stuff yourself with some tasty food.  I saw another two couples of Americans there and I just have to say, GPS’s systems are awesome because I live here and I had no idea how I got there, but this gringos seem to pop up in the weirdest places with these faces like driving through deserted, horribly unsafe roads is so normal you’d think they’ve never seen a highway.  I figured they don’t even know their lives were in mortal danger at all.

Lets see… after that we went to a museum of coffee (I know about three of these in the island, but I bet there’s more) in Jayuya and drank awesome coffee and talked with the owner and I basically wanted to spend the night there with the coffee beans.  Preferably right inside the coffee bean holder.

And then we crossed that town and the one next to it making a semi-circle and coming out to the highway right on the other side of our town.  This is some of the road we covered.  I don’t know how I drove that much without getting grumpy.

This is my favorite picture of that day:

And that’s basically all about that.  I hope your Christmas had no earthquakes and your presents didn’t require your leg muscles to scream for help.


3 thoughts on “Toro Negro

  1. geekhiker says:

    Sorry about the anxiety attack. Hope the stressors that are in your life right now vanish with the new year.

    Looks and sounds like a pretty awesome hike. And the drive sounds cool, but you have to remember that I’m one of those rare L.A. people who drives a truck and likes going on crazy mountain roads! And I’m kinda jealous of your post-hike meal, too.

    Of course, now I don’t know if I’ll ever visit PR, since you’ll just make fun of me for being a “crazy American”. 😉


    • narami says:

      Thank you Hiker.

      Honestly, it was beautiful! I hated the drive, with passion, but mostly because it wasn’t safe. AT ALL. I mean, it’s all cool until something happens and like I was saying today, if the car had broken down I would still be there waiting for someone to come by and even then, they would mostly likely take my car and murder me.

      Dude, the whole time I was so glad that I learned (mostly) how to get there because now I know EXACTLY where I’m taking people that want to hike something other than El Yunque National Rainforest. And I know you would have more common sense that the pair of gringos I saw there.


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