Puerto Rico’s Caribbean National Forest, as El Yunque is known, is an amazing sight to behold: almost 30,000 acres in size, and located in the Sierra de Luquillo, which is approximately 40-kilometers southeast of the city of San Juan, it was named after an Indian spirit, Yuquiyu, and is the only rainforest in the U.S. National Forest System.
More than 100-billion gallons of precipitation fall each year, creating the jungle-like ambience of lush foliage, sparkling leaves, spectacular waterfalls, shining wet rocks, and shadowy paths that really have to be seen up close and personal to be appreciated.
The Forest contains rare wildlife, too, including the Puerto Rican Parrot, the Puerto Rican boa snake, a multitude of lizards, and crabs, not forgetting the famous coqui frog, so named after its strange and unique vocalizations. El Yunque is also said to be the home of the deadly, blood-sucking nightmare known as the Chupacabras; a creature of infernal and terrible proportions.
I have been to Puerto Rico on a number of occasions to try and seek out the beast, something which has resulted in the discovery of some very intriguing accounts. I could cite literally case-after-case near-ad infinitum, but for our purposes (not to mention space!), I’ll list three.
Norka is an elderly lady living in a truly beautiful home high in the El Yunque rainforest that one can only reach by successfully negotiating an infinitely complex series of treacherous roads, built perilously close to the edge of some very steep hills. Although the exact date escapes her, Norka was driving home one night in 1975 or 1976, when she was both startled and horrified by the shocking sight of a bizarre creature shambling across the road.
She described the animal as being approximately four feet in height, and having a monkey-like body that was covered in dark brown hair or fur, wings that were a cross between those of a bat and a bird, and glowing eyes that bulged alarmingly from a bat-style visage. Sharp claws flicked ominously in Norka’s direction.
She could only sit and stare as the beast then turned its back on her and rose slowly into the sky. Since then, eerily similar encounters with such vile entities have haunted the terrified populace of Puerto Rico – and continue to do so. And they may have also attracted the attention of the official world, too.
On one of my several expeditions to Puerto Rico, a number of residents suggested it would be a very good idea for me to focus my attention upon the links between the beast and a former U.S. Naval base called Roosevelt Roads, located in the town of Ceiba, but which is today the José Aponte de la Torre Airport.
As far back as 1944, when the base was inaugurated, it was rightly perceived as being a place of prime, strategic importance – and particularly so if the island became the site of hostilities with unfriendly nations. And by 1957, Roosevelt Roads had been officially designated as a Naval-Station. To demonstrate its importance from a military perspective, the U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command (USNAVSO), had its base of operations at Roosevelt Roads. In January 2004, however, the Navy elected to relocate USNAVSO to Naval Station Mayport, Florida.
But: what about the link between Roosevelt Roads and the Chupacabras? According to the stories - which were coming from all across Puerto Rico - a number of captured, and very vicious, Chupacabras had supposedly been briefly held within a secure, secret facility at Roosevelt Roads at some point in the early-1990s, before being secretly shipped to the States – probably to Area 51, or to some similar desert locale.
And that, in various incarnations and to varying degrees, this was the story told to me by numerous individuals on the island only makes it even more intriguing.
Mention was also made to me that stories had been quietly circulating among the island’s inhabitants for years to the effect that there were some distinctly strange things going on deep in the rainforest at what was described to me as a secret monkey research center.
So the rumors went, biological-warfare tests, genetic manipulation and much more of a horrific nature was the order of the day, and that some of the unfortunate animals that had been experimented on had escaped from their confines and were running wild on the island.
At least a few of those animals, it was suspected by locals on the island, could have been responsible for the tales of the exploits of the Chupacabras.
And, for now, that’s where I’ll close things. But, over the next few months I’ll share with you more revelations on Puerto Rico’s most famous monster.
Nick Redfern is the author of many books on strange creatures, including Monster Diary; Wildman; and the forthcoming Monster Files.