San Juan quarter a special souvenir for passenger

A quarter issued this year honors El Yungue National Forest in San Juan

SAN JUAN – When the Eurodam cruise ship docked in San Juan, passenger Robert Miller was looking for a specific souvenir.

Collecting distinctive 25-cent pieces for his grandson, Robert was hoping to find a quarter honoring El Yungue National Forest in San Juan. And he wanted to buy it in Puerto Rico.

“I thought that would be a fun thing to do,” he said. “It would mean more to find one here than someplace else.”

Forest supervisor Pablo Cruz explains the importance of El Yungue National Forest in San Juan.

Issued in January, the first new United States coin of 2012 was a quarter honoring El Yunque National Forest in Puerto Rico. Designed by Gary Whitley and sculpted by Michael Gaudioso, the quarter is the 11th in the series of America the Beautiful Quarters. The program started in 2010 and features five new quarters a year.

One of the most spectacular rainforests in the world and the only rainforest in the U.S. National Forest, El Yunque offers 28,000 acres hosting an extremely diverse bio system found nowhere else.

“It’s a very special place,” said Pablo Cruz, forest supervisor. “The aborigines of Puerto Rico used the forest for religious ceremonies. They would go all the way to the top to communicate with their gods.”

More than 100 billion gallons of annual rainfall account for lush plant life and an unusual tropical combination of sparkling leaves, glittery rocks and shadowy paths pierced by sunlight.

Forest supervisor Pablo Cruz explains the importance of El Yungue National Forest in San Juan.

“The diversity here is tremendous,” Pablo said. “It is the most biodiverse ecology system on earth.”

Until 1997, the rainforest was known as the Caribbean National Forest. The name was changed by an executive order signed by President George W. Bush. “The new name was chosen to better reflect the culture and history of the land,” Pablo said.

Yunque means anvil in Spanish and early Spaniards may have chosen that name because the thunderstorms they encountered in the region may have sounded like hammers hitting anvils.

El Yungue National Forest in San Juan is the only rainforest in the U.S. National Forest.

“The early aborigines called the area  ‘yuke’ meaning ‘white lands,’” Pablo said.

The coin features a coqui tree frog sitting on a leaf and a Puerto Rican parrot behind an epiphyte plant with tropical flora in the background. The other side of all the America the Beautiful Quarters contain the 1932 portrait of George Washington.

The coqui is a small “singing” tree frog that is said to sing the lullaby of Puerto Rico.  The frog population in the rainforest is one of the densest frog populations in the world.

Although I looked for Robert on our return to see if he had found his quarter, I never saw him. I hope his mission was accomplished and that his grandson will cherish the commemorative coin.

Photos by Jackie Sheckler Finch

About Jackie

Jackie Sheckler Finch fell in love with cruising 35 years ago when she rode the magnificent Mississippi Queen riverboat in its inaugural 1976 voyage. A newspaper reporter, photographer and travel writer, Jackie has cruised on large and small vessels on numerous rivers and oceans. Read more...

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One Response to San Juan quarter a special souvenir for passenger

  1. Mandy Exton (Mrs) May 30, 2014 at 12:00 pm #

    My Husband & I wondered if Robert managed to get the coin for his a Grandson. We were in San Juan in 2012 for my Husband’s 60th Birthday Year Celebration. The hotel we stayed at, had a lovely man called Jose working there who collected coins from different nations. We had nearly a full set of British Coins on us (1p missing), & after giving him a tip for looking after us so well at Breakfast every day, we gave him our coins.

    Before we left the hotel after 6 days, he gave us 2 x Mint 25cent coins in protective wrappers – a 2009 & a 2012 one that Robert was trying to get hold of. Jose also bought a commemorative glass & metal plaque on a stand to remind us of our stay. We had a wonderful time in San Juan, the people are really friendly, & we felt so safe. Especially as the policemen wear guns. I had just had spinal surgery before we went, & was using my wheelchair. The police were really polite & friendly to me. I even had a picture of me in my chair between 2 burly young policemen (I do this in most countries where they are obliging). We were there 19 yrs previous on our honeymoon, staying a night before getting a cruise, & I have a photo of me taken with a policeman back then.The locals are so helpful & friendly. Cannot wait to go again.

    If Robert didn’t get the coin he wanted, that he’ll go back & try again, it is a wonderful place to visit – we cannot wait to return one day.

    We were on Seadream 1 on a Transatlantic crossing in 2008, leaving from Tenerife, the most wonderful Yacht experience ever. Even the staff remember your name at breakfast the next morning after boarding. We met, & are still in touch with people that we met on that crossing. We will do it again as soon as we can. My disability was not a problem on board. They carried my wheelchair off & on at ports of call, & the staff could not have done more.

    Very Kind Regards,

    Mandy & David Exton

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