Puerto Rico (February 6 – February 20, 2017)

haulout

Just as for every home, AfterMath needs regular maintenance, and we had planned all along to take some time in Puerto Rico for these chores. We also had made plans to see some of the sights we missed in our eastward voyage last spring, so we settled into the marina, Puerto del Rey near Fajardo, Puerto Rico, right away and got started. John changed the oil and arranged to have a one-day haul out while on the east coast of Puerto Rico. The services at the marina there were extensive, so it was perfect timing. The boat was in and out of the water the same day and we were thrilled that it all went so smoothly.

img_6539Old San Juan. One of the best parts of Puerto Rico is the people’s love of color.  Everywhere you look, there is color!
img_6552Castillo San Juan Cristobal, the fort that surrounds Old San Juan.img_6553img_6555img_6557img_6561img_6566Children flying their kites.  It is quite the sight to see!img_6571img_6574img_6590img_6592
img_6601img_6605The free tourist trolley through Old San Juan.  And this gentleman was so happy to be in my picture!img_6607img_6611img_6613img_6618

While in Puerto del Rey we also rented a car for a couple of days. One day was dedicated to shopping in stores that were much more familiar to us than those in the little islands had been. We went to West Marine, Advanced Auto Parts, Sams, and Walmart among others. When shopping has been difficult for the past year, it’s hard to describe how nice it is to be able to walk in stores that are large and have endless stock. The other day of having our own transportation was left for touring Old San Juan. While there, we enjoyed the sights, had lunch, and then had quite a scare.

img_6615Read below why this guard was so special to us!img_6630The full moon illuminated the mast on the sailboat opposite us that night.

We had parked our rental car in a parking garage, leaving quite a bit of my camera equipment in the trunk. After touring and having lunch, we went back to get in the car. We paid for parking and then took the elevator to the 5th floor, walked to our parking place, and, who would have thought, but the car was not there and the spot was empty! The car we had parked next to was still there. We went up a floor and down a floor, but we really knew we were in the right place by the stairs we had walked down to get to the street when we first parked. Hurriedly, we went back to the cashier where we had paid and told her that our car was missing. She called a security guard over and he walked with us telling us there was no way the car could have left the garage without the parking ticket, which we had with us. The guard told us to wait by the elevator, that he would find it. Just a few minutes later he came back and told us the car was on the third floor. We were both so sure we had parked on the fifth that there was just no question in our minds, but sure enough, there was the car on the third floor in the same position from the stairs we took to get down and next to a car almost identical to the one that had been on the fifth floor. As the guard walked away, we saw the sign that made us think we were on Floor 5. It was a speed limit sign that said “5”! Back in the car we could laugh at our mistake, but it sure was a nervous time. We were both more worried about my camera and lenses that were in the trunk than anything else!

img_5969-2Sunset at the Patillas anchorageimg_5977-2Moving along the southern coast of Puerto Rico.  I love the windmills!img_6014The lighthouse near Cabo Rojoimg_6021-2The houses aren’t big, but, oh, what a view!img_6688Along the streets in the fishing village at Puerto Real.  Again, color rules!img_6689img_6693img_6695This varnished house is just amazing!  img_6696img_6698img_6700img_6706img_6711The yellow building serves as a hardware store, lunch counter, and fish market.img_6713img_6714img_6718img_6721

We stayed in Puerto del Rey for a few more days before moving along the southern coast of Puerto Rico.  The first night out we stopped in Patillas at a lovely anchorage where the sunset was spectacular.   Then, the following day, we stopped in Ponce to get fuel, continuing to Guilligan’s island for the night before finally reaching the east coast near Cabo Rojo on Wednesday. Specifically we are in Puerto Real, a small fishing village that is full of color and fish markets. The Marina Pescaderia here is small and friendly and the owner, Jose, is unbelievably helpful. John called ahead and told him of two more maintenance jobs we wanted done that the contractors in Puerto del Rey did not have time for. Jose had people lined up for us for the day after we arrived and within two days all of the work was done. Again we rented a car, this time just for doing some sight seeing.

img_6633The lighthouse at Rinconimg_6034-2From the park at the lighthouseimg_6044-2img_6050-2Which way are they supposed to be going?img_6058-2img_6125-2Catch a waveimg_6126-2And….img_6127-2You’re sitting on top of the world.img_6153-2The Steps at Step Beachimg_6637img_6646Looking out at the dreaded Mona Passageimg_6650At the square in Rinconimg_6651The cemetery was full of color and beautiful flowers.img_6158-2As always, I like people the best.  

Saturday we made our way up the west coast to Rincon, where we had lunch and then went to a lighthouse park.   At the park, we were able to watch the surfers who love the waves that are a product of the passage that we dread, the Mona Passage. Nevertheless, the surfers were having a great time and we enjoyed watching them catch a wave and ride it to shore. After the park we went to a beach in Rincon called Steps Beach, presumably because there is one set of a few steps just sitting there for no apparent reason. The beach was gorgeous, of course, with sand that looked like gold powder.

img_6655The Arecibo Observatoryimg_6659img_6663img_6666The hole in the bottom is so that people can access the dish.  That opening is 3 by 18 feet.img_6675A shoe used for workers to walk on the panels of the dish.img_6682This is a rock from Mars, broken from an asteroid.img_6684John, learning to spin like an ice skater at the observatory.

On Sunday we finally made it to the Arecibo Observatory, an amazing and interesting place in Puerto Rico. It took over two hours to drive northeast into the karst hills where the observatory is located, but it was a drive that was well worth it. Arecibo Observatory, a huge radio telescope, was built in the early 1960’s and, to this day is the largest functioning telescope of its kind in the world. It is used for research in radio astronomy, atmospheric science and radar astronomy. The dish is 1000 feet across. Although the observatory has contributed much to our knowledge of space and astronomy, and has even been used to try to contact extraterrestrial beings, it is has also been used in TV and movies, probably the most famously in the climax of a James Bond movie, Golden Eye. We found it fascinating and were very happy we made the trip through those winding roads to the middle of nowhere.

So now we sit and wait. We are looking for a good weather window to cross the dreaded Mona Passage and to arrive in the Dominican Republic. Originally we expected to leave tomorrow, on Tuesday, but now it doesn’t seem to be a good crossing. Wednesday doesn’t look very good either, and we are determined to go when it is safe and comfortable. In the meantime, we will continue to enjoy Puerto Rico. For those of you who are looking for a warm, tropical vacation that is easy to get to, we highly recommend this island. There are beautiful beaches, lots to do, gorgeous sights, and the people are friendly and mostly speak English. Really, we believe this island is underrated as a vacation spot.

As always, please take time to treasure your friends and family, relax, and follow your dreams. Life is short, try to live it without regrets.

Here we are today:

2 thoughts on “Puerto Rico (February 6 – February 20, 2017)

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