One of our good friends from college, Nate Barkus, decided to get married in Vieques, Puerto Rico. This was very nice of him, because it meant that we were able to get away from a long and snowy winter here in St. Louis and enjoy the beauty and beautiful weather of Puerto Rico.
We made nearly a week of the trip, spending three days on the main island of Puerto Rico and two days on Vieques. We would have loved to have spent more time on each.
On our first day, we spent lots of time in the interior and west end of the Puerto Rico, particularly at the Arecibo Observatory and Caguana Ceremonial Ball Courts Site, where there are ruins of the indigenous Taíno people. The observatory was fascinating for both of us – it tied into both my experiences at Space Camp and Jenny’s former work at MIT Haystack Observatory. The ball courts site was interesting in many ways, for the plant and wildlife (calabash trees and geckos everywhere), for the surrounding geology (limestone Mogotes), and for the petroglyphs that remain. Unfortunately, the Spaniards slaughtered the local culture before the anthropologists got there, so we don’t know what the petroglyphs mean.
The island of Vieques, where the wedding was, is incredibly beautiful. Parts of it were used largely as a US Naval bombing range until very recently, so the entire island was never really developed for tourism. While that starting to change, it’s still possible to come across wild horses on the road or see completely empty perfect white sandy beaches. It was amazing.
After returning to the main island, we hiked for a while in the only tropical rain forest that is part of the US National Forest system.
We spent all of our last day in the interesting Old San Juan area. There was a lot more interesting than I expected, with some really impressive old Spanish forts defending the port, the city, the island, and the entire Caribbean.
Finally, here’s a bit of video showing two different sides of our first day. First, a short video of the Arecibo Observatorio radio telescope. Later, Douglas clowned around with his Uncle Casey.
All in all, it was a very fun trip. We were able to geek out at the telescope, relax on the beach, hike in a rain forest, and explore a historic city. Not a bad combination.
All of the pictures from the trip are available at http://finneytravel.shutterfly.com/.