Gateway to Riches



When we reached Puerto Rico, our first stop was Mayaguez on the west coast to check in with Customs and Immigration.  The two officers who greeted us were by far the kindest we’d ever come across.  They filled us in on where things were and told the children everything they 'must see' while in Puerto Rico. 

When we were ready to venture out, they even had a taxi called for us and warned us not to pay over $8.  The dock where we had to disembark from our dinghy, however, was far from the nicest we’d encountered.  Along the cement wall were huge, black fenders, which left their mark on anything that touched them.  By the time we’d crawled up the wall and fenders (there was no ladder), we each had nice black smears along our elbows and knees.  The dinghy itself, after sitting there for half a day, also got a handsome black mustache along its entire bow.  The officers felt bad, saying, “We’ve told them we need a ladder here for a long time, but they haven’t built one.”  Gotta love government prioritizing...

Note the huge, black fender of death
Cool jellyfish that floated by while we waited for Mark to finish paperwork.
We felt like we’d hit the jackpot when the cab pulled into a strip mall, complete with Kmart, Sam’s, and a movie theater!! 

It was a huge treat to see a movie while it was still in the theater, so we made it a point to make the 1:30 showing of The Croods (in English with Spanish subtitles).  Most people in Puerto Rico speak very fluent English, so it was a fun middle ground for me.  I could eavesdrop and practice translating, but still communicate easily.   Many times, I would begin a conversation in Spanish, and they would switch to English automatically.  I’m not sure if they were saving me from my rudimentary Spanish, or wanting to practice their English.  The former, I’m sure!


There were many things to see and do while in Puerto Rico.  It is a beautiful country.  As we moved along the south coast, we visited Boqueron, Guilligan’s Island, Isla de Muertos, and Salinas.  We also rented a car and took trips inland to see San Juan, Arecibo, and El Yunque National Forest.   Each trip offered rich learning opportunities, making for many “field trips”.

BOQUERON

A cruiser stop, for sure.  The town itself is very small, but it is said to have a wild night life.  When we dinghied into the dock, we were welcomed by a group of cruisers enjoying cold Medellas (local beer) and exchanging stories.  It seems that many boaters have come here and never left!
Seagull parking lot by dinghy dock
local sailboat in the harbor

GUILLIGAN’S ISLAND

Mangroves surround this park, making it a calm, shaded getaway for locals.  A ferry brings them from the mainland, and they come loaded with coolers, chairs, swim floats, and dominoes!  Picnic tables and shallow water make this a wonderful spot to spend a warm afternoon.  The kids played for hours on the paddleboard and kayak in the calm waters. 

We also met some windsurfers who love the winds that come through the bay every afternoon.  A retired Microsoft guy, 64, originally from Germany, lives here and in Seattle part time each year.  He finally bought a home 9 years ago, and loves windsurfing every day he can.  He offered free, private lessons, but none of us were brave enough to take him up on it!  We witnessed up close and personal just how fast those things can go!  Several came gliding by our stern as we were anchored!

Guilligan's Island Ferry
Local family enjoying dominoes
Riding through the mangroves
Windsurfer's paradise!

ISLA DE MUERTOS

A small, protected island located off the southern shore.  We hiked through cacti forests to reach a lighthouse, which was built in the early 1800s.  The climb was long on a hot day, and we’d only brought one waterbottle!  Oops.  But it was nice to have some more down time with Meryl and Walter from Flying Cloud.  Elizabeth took photos the entire way up, and Michael was hunting for termite nests.
View from the lighthouse
Cactus up close (photo by Elizabeth)
Walking and talking! (photo by E)

SALINAS

A popular hurricane hideout filled with cruising boats and locals.  The Marina de Salinas offers laundry, showers, and a great bar where we played many games of dominoes with our buddy boats SeaSchell, WindLass, and Flying Cloud.   Elizabeth and Michael were excited to find a small playground, something they haven’t seen since our time in Charleston, SC!  The conveniences available quickly made this our home base.  From here, we rented a car to travel and provision. 

Playing dominos with s/v Sea Schell & s/v Wind Lass.
Farkle while we wait for laundry!
Our friend Denise gave E a beautiful hairdo!
A trunkful from Costco!

ARECIBO

The largest radio telescope in the world, built in the 1960’s is located in this tiny town.  It literally sits in the sinkhole among lush mountains.  The telescope is used to locate and track things in space and also to listen for any activity.  It was an unbelievable sight! 

An interesting science museum is also on the property.  Elizabeth was intrigued by the laser replica of the Gregorian Dome, and how the telescope needs a certain curve of its disk to receive the messages at the right angle.  Michael loved the cloud machine!  Later that same week, we were doing school and Elizabeth found the Arecibo telescope in our Children’s Encyclopedia that we use!  Love it when that happens - actually experiencing what we read in school firsthand!

Mark and kids overlooking telescope
Blurb in Usborne's Children's Encyclopedia about telescope
Blowing "clouds" around
More Puerto Rico Field Trips to be continued on next blog including a video.....

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