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El Yunque National Forest- Living in the rainforest

7 Things I Learned Living In The Rainforest Mountains Of Puerto Rico

7 Things I Learned About Living In The Rainforest:

I love nature! Don’t you?

I grew up spending a lot of time on my grandparent’s farm in Poland. I don’t mean just visiting, I mean I spent the first five years of my life on the farm and then every Christmas and summer vacation until I was 14 years old. So, I’ve always prided myself as a “get your hands dirty” kind of girl. As an adult, every year, I looked forward to the summers, so I could go camping. I love camping and I do mean camping: tents, rustic campsites, the whole bit. So, I was very intrigued by the opportunity to live at the skirt of the rainforest here in the Luquillo Mountains (La Falda Del Yunque – as the natives call it). But what I learned after living here, surprised even me..

First let me say, that we’re not exactly roughing it here. We live in a beautiful house, with a beautiful view, in a beautiful neighborhood but we are surrounded by nature and the rainforest. The El Yunque National Park back entrance is literally less than two miles from our current home. So, we get a good feel of what it is like to live “en campo” or in the country here in Puerto Rico. We have some of the rarest birds in the world living in a tree in our front yard and we share our breakfasts with the lizards, so with that in mind…

Here are the things that surprised me about living in the rainforest:

  1.  Bugs and critters

    catapillarThis was the first major shocker. I am no stranger to bugs and they usually don’t freak me out but (OMG!) the size of these buggers here is crazy! Some people are afraid of snakes, some people are phobic about spiders, and I DESPISE ROACHES! I’m not exaggerating, I hate them, hate them, hate them. Nonetheless, I did expect to see them in the rainforest. What I did not expect is their prevalence and their size! They are enormous and they fly! UGH! Everything that creeps and crawls here seems to be on steroids, it’s huge, enormous, and ugly – I am not a fan. I’ll tell you even more about this in a future post because there is just too much to list it all here. Suffice it to say, living in the rainforest comes with living with bugs to a far greater degree than I ever expected – and I thought I was prepared!

  2. Birds

    Birds- living in rainforestI have always loved birds. My entire adult life I’ve had pet parrots and I think they are festinating. There is an abundance of birds here in the rainforest and they are beautiful as well as entertaining. But what I didn’t know was how territorial they are. We are on a 4 acre lot here in the mountains of Luquillo, so we have quite a few beautiful trees in our yard, and every day (especially in the mornings) we watch the birds fight wars over the trees. Multiple species build nests in one tree and then they spend their time fighting for territory over them. They can be quite vicious to each other – it’s incredible. I even witnessed a large dove try to knock baby Fishers out of their nests – luckily the parents showed up and managed to chase the intruder off.

  3.  WiFi

    wifi living in the rainforestWiFi and Internet access here, well… it really sucks. I mean we experience outages daily, sometimes several times in one day. It makes it really tough to work online but we manage – we learned to always plan ahead and never get in a position of having to have something done last minute. Good chances are that the internet will go out and it can’t happen, so rather than being stressed we accept it and plan for it to make life easier. I have to tell you though, that if it’s like this here (in the US), I can’t imagine what it would have been like in other countries – I expect far worse…

  4.  Utility Outages

    Uitilities living in the rainforestLiving in the “country” presents its own challenges in Puerto Rico, as I assume it would anywhere else in the Latin American world. We have had several electric and water utility outages. Electric is not so bad because it forces us to slow down and we can use candles, so it can be pleasant. We also have a grill for cooking and extra ice in the freezer at all times, so as long at the outages are short, it is not a big deal (and they have been short so far). Water is a little bit tougher to live without. We have water collection cistern, for emergency water, but that is really only good for flushing the toilets – good but not enough. We learned that having several jugs of drinking and wash water is an absolute must and waiting until the outage happens is not advisable – we purchase the water ahead of time because the grocery stores will run out.

  5. Peaceful but lonely

    frogs - living in the rainforestPuerto Rico is not a quiet island and living in the country is no different. The type of noise you hear is different – bugs, frogs, birds, dogs, roosters, and cars – but I would not call it quiet. It is, however, far more peaceful than the beach or town and it is relaxing. We love the serenity of it but I must admit that it gets kind of lonely. We have met all of our neighbors but everyone pretty much keeps to themselves. Oh sure, we can say high to the little elderly man across the street or chat with the next door neighbor for a few minutes but it’s overall very secluded and somewhat isolated. Of course, we have the additional problem of a language barrier that certainly doesn’t help but in general, the mountains are a lot less lively. About the only human action we hear is the church up the mountain that sings pretty loudly during their services a couple of times a week.

  6. Weather – breeze

    weahter living in the rainforestBefore we moved here, we were told that it would be cooler than the beach area and also much breezier. We have not found this to be true, at all. In fact, we get far less breeze up here in the mountains than we did on the beach and so even though the temperatures are about the same, it feels hotter to us. This would not be so bad if we had air conditioning, but we don’t, so guess what? It’s going to be a HOT summer! The reason that the breeze is not as strong here is because there are so many trees that block it. It makes sense right? Well, we didn’t think of that and just believed what we were told. On the upside though, there is no salt in the air, at least not in the amounts that you find on or near the beach, so electronics do not get destroyed as quickly.

  7. Expect the unexpected

    Lightening living in the rainforestThis is probably the most valuable lesson we learned here: to always expect the unexpected. From the utility and internet outages to 3-foot Racer snake crawling across our patio; from termites eating through the wooden curtain rods to grill’s gas tank malfunctioning, we learned to prepare (the best we can) for the unforeseen. But most of all, we learned to go with the flow and take it all in stride.

So, overall, do we like living in the mountains? Yes we do.

Do we want to stay here or move back to the beach? …..the jury is still out on this but we are leaning toward the beach. We liked the lifestyle better and we didn’t have the hassles of all the outages.

What about you? What type of lifestyle do you want in your abroad adventure? Want to explore the nature and “country” living or beach or something else?



About Joanna

is a Polish American living in Arizona with her husband Tim. She is a founding partner of JTR Tech and she is proud to be a professional geek. She had dreamt of living abroad for many years. So, she and Tim created AbroadDreams.com to document the process of making their dream of moving abroad come true. They spent 2 years in Puerto Rico and several months in Spain and Poland. Now they are exploring the American Southwest.

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  1. Excellent entry – very honest look! My preference would be to live somewhere in town, in a quiet, leafy neighborhood. Perhaps with cobblestone street. 🙂 I’m not terribly social, but having neighbors makes me feel a more comfortable.
    No AC, huh? You guys are tough. I do not mind heat, although I do sweat buckets, but heat AND humidity make me really miserable. I can’t event think – my brain turns into sticky goo.
    I can imagine that power outages can be a drag, even if one does not try to run a business via the Internet, but as long as they are short, you just take it in stride and plan accordingly – like you guys did.

  2. Hi Guys! Have you camped in El Yunque yet?? We have one more year left on our tour here in PR and I’d like to at least do an overnight camping trip in the forest.