Queen of the Jungle
By Aja Williams
My friends and I made the trek from our digs in the Isla Verde section of San Juan, Puerto Rico to experience a place rich in history. The only rainforest system in the U.S., El Yunque is filled with thousands of acres of lush greenery, worn nature trails and stunning waterfalls. Situated on a mountain, a far cry away from the touristy part of town, El Yunque was a place to drop your inhibitions and truly stay in the moment. As a city girl who thoroughly enjoyed parlaying on the beach and in the beautiful water of the Atlantic Ocean, I stepped out of my comfort zone and spent the day with nature.
Our tour guide was amazing. She drove us up the mountain on the narrow roads while sharing some history tidbits about El Yunque along the way. Nature welcomed us with songs by Coqui, a tree frog with a voice as loud as an opera singer, and the tropical birds couldn’t help but to join in. We reached the observation tower, Yokahu. At almost 1600 feet off the ground, we climbed to the top where beautiful panoramic views of the rainforest awaited. As I peeked over the tall trees with the ocean barely in my sights, in that moment, I felt like I was on top of the world. I was a part of a picturesque sight that I thought I’d only see in magazines.
We then guided ourselves down Big Tree trail ending with a dip in the pool below La Mina waterfall. Lightly treading water and trying to stay afloat due to the rocks under my feet, the moment felt surreal. I relaxed on the boulder sized rocks, scanning the happiness around me and posed for pictures as if I was going to be on the cover of Conde Nast Traveler magazine. We headed back on the trail to the next stop, bypassing river streams.
My date with nature ended at La Coco waterfall. I had only dreamed of the falls in places like Jamaica or Costa Rica, but here I was hiking my way to the top. Once I reached the top I stood toward the edge, at first a bit timid, but then fearless; crossing off another feat to share with my future children one day.
My name is Aja Williams, a new resident of Los Angeles from the DMV area. Inspired by the world, I constantly daydream about the places I want to explore. As long as I can remember I have always had a desire for travel, and as I get older my passion grows and grows. A few destinations on my wish list include South Pacific islands, Greece, Turks and Caicos, and Dubai. Travelling has inspired me to share my stories and I appreciate forums like Travel Noire that expose travel within the black community. I also love solo travel as it gives me the chance to connect with, depend on, and trust only myself. As I travel more, I'm working to go beyond being a tourist and become a traveller, by immersing myself in different cultures. My life motto is "just go!"