ESCAPING ROUTINE + EXPLORING EL YUNQUE

I can’t stand routine.

Ask anyone who’s close to me, my number one struggle throughout my entire life has been to stick to a routine for a set period of time, and the longer that period of time, the more I struggle.

Don’t get me wrong, I see the necessity & value of establishing routines as a living, breathing human being in this modern world.

Not all routines are evil.

An infant needs a set routine for nursing - of course. You should routinely get your car serviced, routinely take the dog out -  absolutely! I understand the sense of structure and security in knowing that something will happen at an exact time on an exact day.

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The reliability of it all – I get it. 

But what happens when those routines aren’t self-imposed? Meaning, when another person (or system) is the one dictating your routine? Telling you where you have to be, what time you have to be there, what you have to do once you’re there, how you have to do it and when it must be completed.

I’m talking about the monotony of living in large, over-populated cities. I’m talking about the frantic, morning rat-race to sit in a cubicle from 9-5. I'm talking about making it a point to reconnect with nature, if even for a moment. 

Most of us live in a society which encourages us to stay in a perpetual state of every and anything outside of the present moment. It lies to us and tells us that if we're not in a rush, not focused on the next thing on your to-do list, if the next step in your daily, weekly or monthly routine isn't pre-planned then you're;

lazy.
irresponsible.
unproductive.

The desire to 'connect' with other living things is in our very DNA. We all long to have the freedom to do so and we have it (Yes, we all do!).  There's a distinct inner knowing and calm that we gain from being in nature. This is one of the reasons why I love, love, love El Yunque -- this is what it does for me.
 

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I make it a point to immerse myself in nature as much as possible. In fact, it's one of the main reasons why I'm relocating to California. While I'm a very short drive from Jones Beach on Long Island, Marilyn and I frequent drives out to the mountains in PA and of course I've been to my fair share of islands; I have a deep longing inside of me to live somewhere with no seasonal barriers (ie; SNOW!) that prevent me from connecting with nature with ease and comfort..

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But nothing, absolutely nothing comes close to the tranquility that I find when hiking in El Yunque, not to mention the near perfect photo opportunities. The light casts, foliage, colors and landscapes make for real life, living, breathing works of art...

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If you've never been, El Yunque Rainforest is located in Puerto Rico. Its a mountainous, subtropical forest with a vast range of both tree and plant species, along with a several bird species and tree frogs we all know and love, known as "El coqui." El Yunque spreads over some 28,000 acres and is the only tropical rainforest in Puerto Rico along with being the only rainforest within the US National Parks.

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(Above: 3,088ft. Marilyn at the base of the Mt. Britton tower, after our hike along the Mount Britton trail)

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(Above: A portion of the Palma de Sierra forest as seen from the Mt. Britton tower. If you look closely, the people on the road were taking pictures of me as I was also taking shots of them)

The Palma de Sierra forest is one of my favorite areas of El Yunque. The "Sierra Palms" grow among the steep terrains of the rainforest. The roots of this species of palm trees have managed to adapt to the unstable and over-saturated soil, (see below) allowing for groupings of the species to grow where other trees wouldn't be able to thrive...

  (Above: Sierra palm roots)

(Above: Sierra palm roots)

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For me, El Yunque is truly beautiful, sacred land. I always return from my hikes feeling renewed, inspired and ready to PAINT it all! My hope is that I've also inspired you, so, I encourage you to step out of at least ONE routine that's being imposed on you right now. Take a moment to connect with nature. Inhale it. Soak it in. Experience it and then drop me a note and tell me all about it. 

After all, routines don't provide you with awesome stories to tell :) 

© Lena del Sol Art & Wall Decor 2016

© Lena del Sol Art & Wall Decor 2016

It is not enough to fight for the land; it is even more important to enjoy it. While you can. While it’s still here.

So get out there and hunt and fish and mess around with your friends, ramble out yonder and explore the forests, climb the mountains, bag the peaks, run the rivers, breathe deep of that yet sweet and lucid air, sit quietly for a while and contemplate the precious stillness, the lovely, mysterious, and awesome space.
— Edward Abbey