Share The Adventure: This Intrepid Explorer Captures And Creates Extraordinary Nature Prints
If you were to delve deeply into the dense vegetation of El Yunque, the tropical rain forest of Puerto Rico, you might be lucky enough to find Raul Garcia. There's a risk he might have lost his way, camera in hand, but he is certainly in his element – and always finds his way home! Raul has dedicated his life to exploring this extraordinary, hostile, and spectacularly beautiful natural wilderness. In a passionate quest of deeply personal entrepreneurship, he created Yunque, an online nature prints and fashion brand with an unusual twist. Here, rather than a range of generic images pulled from many sources, visitors can discover a stunning visual feast – the result of a life-time labour of love. From decorative pillows to canvas wall art, Yunque's products each begin in adventure. The tale of this unusual brand is one that is certainly worth discovering!
Capturing The Wild Beauty Of El Yunque
Raul describes when the cloud forest first changed the course of his life with passion. In being taken to the upper, unspoiled areas of this vast and vital landscape for the very first time, he chronicles the moment as visionary, having felt himself within a “living mass of colours”. From that moment, pilgrimages into the deep, unforgiving, and yet bountifully generous heart of El Yunque became a great love affair. What began as the simple desire to capture the remote and exquisite locations in which he found himself transformed over time into the amassing of a treasure trove of more than 20,000 images. Traversing amongst huge boulders, vibrant river beds, and astonishing natural diversity, Raul knows that many can never see such wondrous sights except in the printed form. Thus, the concept of the Yunque store was born!
Facing Peril To Get The Perfect Shot
Capturing such spontaneous images has often drawn Raul into dangerous situations. He explains that taking the perfect image often calls for expeditions over several days. Nothing is edible in the forest, and visibility is low, making it hard to navigate. At over 2,500 feet, the cloud forest is bathed in 99% humidity each and every day. The terrain is steep, treacherously broken by landslides, and the undergrowth laced with razor blade sharp vegetation. None of these perils daunt Raul, however, who is even more dedicated to El Yunque since Puerto Rico was struck by Hurricane Maria in 2017. Extreme damage to the rain forest canopy means that tourists are still deterred from many areas. The trails were swallowed and lost to the forest. In reflection on the risks he takes to capture the images that make up the Yunque nature prints collection, Raul says: “There is a secret force behind the forest – a dynamic pulsating dark force that is at the core of it's beauty – it can only be seen and felt when you are totally beyond the thinking mind.”
Always Drawn Back To The Forest
Of course, the urge to embark on such adventures would not likely belong to an ordinary man. With a career as a software engineer under his belt, Raul's path has led him from studies in mathematics and mechanical engineering, to a 13 year stint in Silicon Valley. He was even ordained as a Theravada Buddhist monk in the TKAM Monastery in Boulder Creek, under the guidance of Taunpulu Sayadu from Burma. Wherever his studies or career led, he always found a route to escape into the closest wilderness, making his way to Rio Sabana park from his job with Microsoft in Naguabo, or the forest in Santa Cruz from Silicon Valley. The monastic undertaking perhaps seems more fitting as the monks make a vow to live and practice in the forest – having followed the Buddhas teachings and example for over 2,500 years!
Jose and Miguel in Rio Sabana Trail - the 'clean' part...
A Very Personal Product Range
The Yunque collections feature Raul's phenomenal, and ever-expanding trove of high-resolution images from the El Yunque rain forest, alongside his collections from ventures to the many beaches and islands of Puerto Rico. Yunque is a Print On Demand store, so there are no inventories or wastage. Shoppers can choose decorative pillows, canvas wall art, framed prints, phone cases and clothing. Each featuring the unique, adventure born, nature prints. Raul was excited to begin stocking a new type of clothing called AOP or All Over Print, which proudly display his stunning work. It is his hope that others will continue to be captivated by his glimpses into the intrepid world of El Yunque. He dreams of the images hanging in homes, hotels and offices, and worn by fashion enthusiasts who share his love of nature.
One of the many advantages of Print On Demand is that products can be created closer to the person who wishes to buy them, and Yunque makes the most of print locations all over the world. That Raul cares deeply about the work he does is evident, not only in the way he describes the places he explores but in the products he chooses to sell. With collections that aim to raise awareness of Global Warming, and celebrate woman – even featuring a range in tribute to the first all-woman space walk in October of 2019 – the Yunque brand displays pure heart. And so, Raul continues his explorations with his sons, Jose and Miguel, venturing out to capture more extraordinary images for this one-of-a-kind brand. Visit the Yunque store to share in their adventures, or even chose a little part to keep for yourself!