Vacation in Puerto Rico

May 16-21, 2002

We took a trip to Puerto Rico to visit Rachel's father, Gustavo, and his wife, Magda. They live on the slopes of El Yunque, just outside the formal borders of the Caribbean National Forest.

The first day that we were there, we drove over to Arecibo, where Rachel gave a talk. After the talk and lunch, Mike Nolan & Ellen Howell took us on a great tour of the Arecibo Observatory. We got to ride the cable car out to the receiver array. From up there, we really got a great view of the surrounding karst topography of the island.
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We also went inside of the large geodesic dome that houses a secondary and tertiary "mirror" for the telescope. The first picture was taken inside the dome with a flash, and you can see all of the reflective dots in the corners of the panels. About once a year they use a laser rangefinder with the relfective dots to make sure all the panels of the secondary are appropriately classed.
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The assembly was slowly rotating to view some other object during our tour. When the telescope is in a certain orientation, the cable car cannot be used. So Gustavo, Magda, & Ellen rode the cable car back down in the last available window, while Mike, Rachel, & I walked down the long suspended walkway (which was a little scary). The surface that Rachel is standing on may look solid from this angle, but is really a metal mesh, but as long as you didn't look down, it was a great little hike from the main assembly down towards the pier with the visitor's center next to it.
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The next day we spent at the Mastrapa homestead. While we were away at Arecibo, dogs had broken into the bird pen, and killed many of their chickens and ducks. So we spent the day putting down reinforced wire mesh around the perimeter, and making concrete to anchor the fence at the ground. After our work was finished, we hiked down to the river that borders their property for a swim in the cool mountain water.
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We spent a lot of time on their porch reading and eating tostones while the breeze kept us cool and the coquis chirped. Here are some pictures of the house, and the surrounding animal enclosures as well as some of Magda's flowers. There are also some pictures of the male peacock, Apollo, and the female, Julietta. You can also see one of the two cats, Lolo, spending some time on the porch too.
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I also took some pictures of the inside of the house. The first picture is inside la casita, a small guest house where we stayed. The rest are from the inside of the main house.
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On our last full day in Puerto Rico, we went down and visited the beach. I only have one picture of Rachel out in the sea, because after a swim and a picnic lunch, I ended up putting away the camera and taking a nap in the hammock suspended between two palm trees as the tide lulled me to sleep.

-Ross Beyer

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