Puerto Rico……….

March 8, 2012

wow, it’s been a long time.   We have been on the go, and experiencing some wonderful times.              We arrived in Culebra, and anchored just outside of Dewey, so I could go for a swim, before going in to the main harbor.    We then went in to anchor, and rush over to the ferry dock to meet the kids coming in from Puerto Rico.  Jill (larry’s daughter, her husband Dan-who did the offshore leg with us coming down, and daughter Isabella).  They arrived nearly on time………..island time, and we made our 1st important stop–the Dingy bar for their 1st vacation cervesa (beer).

Culebra is a small island in the Puerto Rico territory of the US.  It is a lovely island, enviornmentally conscious-(as much as they can be- with financial and logistical and political corruption limitations), and really beautiful friendly people.

So the afternoon we arrived to pick up the kids, Larry went with them to get the cervesa, and I went over to the dock to bring the dingy over to The Dingy Bar-aptly named.  While getting in the dingy, I see the Customs Immigration guy pull up in his truck, and chat with another cruiser.  When he leaves, I ask the cruiser why he had gone to customs, and he said we have to check in to Puerto Rico.  I am thinking that it isn’t necessary, as they are a territory of the US.   When checking in anywhere—that is mandated to be the 1st order of business by the captain, before anyone else gets off the vessel, and any thing else is done.

so the next morning, Larry and I hike over to the airport where the Customs/Immigration/Homeland Security office is, and proceed to begin check in.  The customs guy says……….”didn’t I see you on the dock yesterday afternoon??”  shit—-busted..   me  “Ahh, yes, you did.”   so he said we are in violation, could get a $5000.00 fine, or just a written warning, and then next time a big fine.   So I told the truth, we were late for the ferry to pick up the kids……….blah, blah.  It was kind of the truth.  So luckily he was a nice guy, and let us go………..this time.    Seems they have gotten much more strict since 9-11.

The next morning we did some shore exploring, and shopping, and then headed over to Culebrtia, a beautiful island just a few miles away.  We grabbed a free mooring, and all jumped in to do some snorkeling around some really awesome coral heads.  The next day we went over to Flamingo Beach for some time at another beautiful “secluded beach, where you might be the only boat in the anchorage”  Well, the beach is indeed beautiful-fantastic………….but by no means secluded.  We arrived on the 1st day of a holiday weekend, along with at least 1/2 the boater population of Puerto Rico. The cruisers call them the Puerto Rican Navy!! They have huge, fancy motor and fishing boats, and sardine themselves in lines just off the beach.  The boats are all loaded up with family and friends, and they have a blast.  All are very friendly and helpful, and everyone gets on just fine.  The blasting music gets a bit tiresome, but it’s all part of the party!!

The next few days, the kids did some beaching, and exploring, and we went to some outer islands, working our way to mainland Puerto Rico.  We had beautiful weather and great sailing.  We also showed the kids what it is like to spend a couple of nights in really rolly anchorages.  We all rolled out of our bunks bleary eyed in the morning.  They were not impressed.

We went into Sunbay Marina in Fahardo, rented a car, and began our land adventures.  We rented an economy car for the 5 of us, so now we know how poor sardines feel in that little can!!

We rode through San Juan in the middle of the morning, getting lost alot.  Finally we got on the main road for the north shore and headed West.  We passed thru modern industrial areas and then little villages where they were still tying up their horses to the hitching posts outside the little market.  All of the towns have a main square with a church.  Beautiful architecture, and usually well cared for with pride.  The north shore is pretty rugged, and we happened up some areas where they were surfing, and riding wave boards.  The shore line is really rocky, so it looked really big, and really treacherous.

Oh, to be young again………………

The next day, we went to visit the Rio Camuy Cave Park near Lares.   This is a natural area of 2000 caverns with stalagtites and stalagmites that was discovered not too long ago, and has been opened as a park.  Only 500 of the caves have been explored, and we went right down into some of them.  It was truly amazing.   We had to take a trolly way down to an area, and were then met by a guide.

I couldn’t do it justice with a description.  I will try to add some photos.

Later, we were driving around looking for a waterfall that we wanted to see, and happened upon a “winter festival”.  This place was off in the middle of no where, lots of people, all dressed up, with lots of local food, a craft fair, and again….really loud music.  I believe that the local knew that we were ‘from away’, and we were welcomed like long lost friends.

In our driving around the island, we were at times along the beach, other times high on mountain ridges with fantastic vistas all around, some great roads, other’s with pot hole that can compete with Maine roads in winter.  Everywhere we stopped for directions, or gas, or snacks, or whatever, people were very friendly and helpful.  When we attempt to speak in our terrible spanish, the interaction is even better!!

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