Mountains, Mist and Mongoose

Today I returned to El Yunque, Puerto Rico’s biggest and most famous national park. It comprises 28,000 acres and lies southeast of San Juan. Although also known as the Caribbean National Forest, here it is known as El Yunque, coming from the Táino Indian word for “Forest of Clouds.” Today, I returned to hike a much longer trail which took me to the peak of El Yunque, the main mountain in the park which was worshipped by the Táino Indians. As I ascended, I discovered quickly why it was named such. By the end of the first hour, I was already walking through cloud and surrounded by a light mist. As I continued, the clouds thickened and began pour. I arrived at the top completely soaked. On the way back down, I took a side trail which brought me to the top of another peak, Las Picachas. It was there that I sighted the reason for many a warning sign around the park, namely the Indian mongoose. They were originally taken from India by the British and exported to a number of different colonies to kill rats on sugar plantations. Unfortunately, it took off before my camera was ready. I’m having a fabulous time down here in Puerto Rico and will celebrate the Feast of the Three Kings tomorrow.

La Mina falls where the Big Tree Trail and La Mina trail meet.

View from near the peak of El Yunque mountain.

Abanonded building in the rainforest.

About Chirol

Sir Ignatius Valentine Chirol (1852 - 1929) was a journalist, prolific author, world historian, and British diplomat. He began his career as a foreign correspondent and later became editor of the London Times. After two decades as a journalist he joined Her Majesty's Foreign Ministry as a diplomat and was subsequently knighted for his distinguished service as a foreign affairs advisor. Additionally, he wrote a dozen books on foreign affairs including The Far Eastern Question (1896), Serbia and the Serbs (1914), The End of the Ottoman Empire (1920) and The Egyptian Problem (1921). He is generally credited with popularizing "Middle East" in reference to the Arabian Peninsula with his book The Middle Eastern Question (1903). "Chirol" is a US citizen and graduate student studying Defense and Strategic Studies and government contractor. As with the historical Chirol, he has traveled to over two dozen countries and lived abroad for many years. Chirol speaks English and German fluently with basic knowledge of manyl of others.
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5 Responses to Mountains, Mist and Mongoose

  1. Pingback: MountainRunner

  2. Rommel says:

    Looks like a beautiful place. I’m jealous. Out of curiosity Chirol, have you ever been to a temperate rainforest like the ones in WA, Oregon and B.C.? I bet you would love Olympic National Park.
    Also, I’m curious – why do they have warning signs about the Indian Mongoose?

  3. Curzon says:

    Beautiful pics. Get a flickr account and batch upload them all!

  4. chirol says:

    Rommel: Because the mongoose are dangerous and very aggressive, which is the original reason they were brought (to kill rats in the cane fields). They also carry rabies and supposedly aren’t afraid of attacking humans.

    Curzon: I’ll have to once I return to Germany.

  5. lirelou says:

    Actually, Yunque is Spanish for “anvil”. It is possible that it is a Taino word as well, though I have never heard it described as such. Taino, by the way, is not the name of a tribe. It was the name of the noble class of Indians who inhabited the Island when the Spanish arrived. The four classes were slaves, warriors, shamens, and nobles (Nitainos), and it was from this las that the name was taken. The sad truth is that no one knows what the original inhabitants called themselves, as they disappeared within a generation. This is usually news to modern Puerto Ricans, as their vision of history has been formed by ultra-nationalist professors. They assume that it was the name by which the Tainos called themselves. El Yunque was presumed to be the abode of “Yukiyu”, the god of rain. (The god of storms was “Juracan”) Puerto Rico has another rainforest (“Toro Negro”) in the center of the island which is not as accessible as El Yunque, but which can offer an interesting trek for those interested in walking the mountains across the interior of the island.