The next day, we decided to go to a limestone cave because it was raining. Everyone I have talked to about rain in a tropics has said that it’s not a big deal–there’s a little sprinkle and then it clears up. I beg to differ:
Of course, it didn’t rain like that the whole time. The rain came and went with confusing frequency. I am used to clouds pulling in, settling over an area, raining steadily for a long time, and then going away. The clouds in Puerto Rico appear suddenly, pee on you, and then disappear. It’s disconcerting. Kyle and I got soaked more than once.
So we went to a cave. To get there, we rented a car and drove. There are giant flowering bushes everywhere you look: trees covered in what look like hibiscus blossoms, orange magnolia-like plants, pale-pink jacarandas, bright yellow crepe myrtles, and so on. I saw coconuts and breadfruit and other weird fruits all over Puerto Rico. A typical hillside might have a maga tree, a wild cotton plant, a fruiting plantain, palm trees, and vines. In the middle of all this tangle, a horse may be grazing, or someone might be holding up a land crab for sale at a roadside stand.
Typical countryside that in no way illustrates how pretty it is there. That is a maga tree to the right, I think. Imagine it covered with red flowers.
Pretty girl with her schoolmates
A large, but typical, house
The cave was closed because the generator was dead and there was no power. I knew this was a possibility, so we went to the largest telescope in the world, which was a few miles away. It’s the Arecibo Observatory, owned by Cornell University. It’s a giant satellite, the kind that takes pictures of galaxies and the close-ups of Mars.
It was humongous. It’s built on a giant sinkhole, and my pictures don’t get the size of it very well, so here’s an aerial view from Wikipedia:
Imagine if they took the girders and cables off the Golden Gate Bridge, strung them across a crater-sized hole of a football field, and you’ve got the observatory.
It made me wish I had gone into sciences.
I am totally going to go there.