Puerto Rico Land Trip
05 February 2013 | Salinas - Puerto Rico
Bert - Partly Clouded Warm 17 kn East Trade Wind
We had some beautiful anchorages in Puerto Rico but Salinas beats them all. The anchorage is very well protected, with no boat movement at all during the night. We are in front of a nice marina with all the amenities, but we don’t have a slip in the marina so no charge for all the stuff a marina can offer. Free internet, great restaurants and bars, a little town with a good grocery store etc. We used our bikes to go to town to do shopping for essentials and it was a nice ride. We are surrounded by mangroves with manatees in the water and in the background the mountains. This is the best an anchorage can offer. We arrived early on Thursday morning in Salinas after a night sail and we spent the rest of the day relaxing. We had work to do since after only running for a couple of hours our generator stopped working again and our solar and wind generator need some support to get us through the night (no sun and trade wind during the night). But the frustration took over and we decided to wait a couple of days and start to enjoy the most beautiful island first. Another good service of the marina is that an employee from Hertz is waiting with cars for people with reservations and has in many cases a car available without a reservation.
It was raining on Friday, that does not happen too often on the south coast and we took off to Ponce the second largest city in Puerto Rico some 25 miles east of Salinas. Besides the old town along the harbor with some buildings built from natural stone (see pictures) Ponce is just a large city and we did not care too much about this. So we took the route 123 into the mountains. This route is not a major road and soon we were driving on a very narrow, winding road with very sharps turns into the mountains. The road is complete surrounded by dense tropical jungle. However, due to the elevation it was very cold outside the car. That day it was 82 in the lower elevations but when we stepped out of the car on top of the mountain the car thermometer indicated a temperature of 56 with a very strong wind blowing through the valleys. The vegetation reminded us again of Indonesia and Suriname, countries we have lived in for such a long time. Dorothy and I agree again that we absolutely love Puerto Rico and we might consider moving here to a nice home in the mountains when we are done sailing and traveling. It is very difficult for me to describe the beauty of the island and the joy we had by driving around, but we hope that our pictures can do the talking.
We returned just in time to the marina to participate in the Friday night BBQ. The food was great, the atmosphere with a mixture of local people and cruisers and good music made it even more perfect. One of our posted pictures shows Dorothy with a rum punch; people, who know her, know that she rarely consumes alcohol, but she definitely enjoyed the rum punch. Although we were hungry it was impossible to finish our food so we took the leftovers with us for a great lunch the following day in our car in Old San Juan.
Yes, that is what we did the next day. We had a beautiful drive to San Juan over the mountains on a very good 4 lane highway. First we went to a West Marine store in San Juan where we did a lot of purchases for broken and needed parts and additions to our boat inventory. The store had the same inventory as the stores in Miami with similar prices. In Best Buy we purchased some computer stuff and a few DVD’s for our evening entertainment.
We crossed the bridge to Old San Juan and a new world opened to us. Old San Juan is a designated World Heritage Site by the United Nations. This area was founded in 1510 to protect the Spanish interests from attacks of the Dutch, English and pirates. Old San Juan is partially surrounded by the old city wall and two forts, The Castillo de San Felipe del Moro and Fort San Cristobal. The Spanish culture in this area is so much alive and walking in the narrow streets with all the beautiful buildings, most of them restored is an adventure in itself. We visited both forts which had a special memory for me since I did contract work for a company in New Orleans with a contract for mapping work for the restoration efforts of both forts in 1988. We had only one day planned and that is clearly not sufficient to explore this area so we added it to our bucket list to come back without any strings attached but just explore.
We had to go back to the boat with a list of chores to do. We did most of them on Sunday and finally I started working on the generator. When I found the problem it was a very easy solution; a relay that controls the fuel pump was loose and needed a band to keep it in place. The band was gone and the fuel pump only worked once in a while. With all the investigations why the pump did not work in an area only accessible to dwarfs it took me the entire day and bike ride into town since I dropped a fuel line washer. Hurray, the generator works and we are ready to move on.