Sunday, April 10, 2016

Two Lighthouses In Two Days

Honey could you pick up some bananas on your way home from work?
We are pretty cheap.  Generally we try not to spend money on unnecessary things but we've found that sometimes that means that we miss out on a lot of fun stuff.  When you think about it... why go cruising if you aren't going to get off the boat???  So when Jose, the owner of the marina we're staying in suggested a couple of fun things we might do while we await the arrival of some boat parts... we took his advice.

Rental cars are pretty cheap here and Marina Pescaderia keeps a couple on site, which makes it VERY convenient.  We picked one up on Saturday afternoon and hit the road to Rincon.

Driving in Puerto Rico is kind of fun.  There are people at the traffic lights selling random stuff... like bananas.  The mountains are just beautiful in the distance and the hills are a complete change from what we're used to.

This is the second car rental we've had here in Puerto Rico.  The first day we pretty much did mundane things like provisioning, taking the cat to the vet to attend to her travel requirements and looking for boat parts.  This time it was all for FUN!

Mangos on the ground
We got off the highway on our way to the little town of Rincon to our north and the driving got much better!  We drove narrow streets through tunnels formed by hundreds, maybe thousands of huge mango trees.  There were mangos all over the sides of the road.  I wondered why nobody was picking them up but maybe if you're so used to mangos that you're sick of them, you don't care if they lie on the ground and rot...

Bamboo on the left.
This side of the island is so green and lush and... tropical... It's like driving through my mom's old greenhouse, only the bamboo and other tropical plants are HUGE!

We had some clouds and before long, it began to rain.  We were headed for the Punta Higuero Lighthouse near Rincon, PR. with plans to arrive just in time for the sunset... unfortunately the clouds got in the way... but the views were still pretty awesome!

Surfers waiting for that big wave...

Looking South

Isla Desecheo

Our sunset

Obligatory lighthouse selfie
Pouring down rain!
Rincon is a cute little town with lots of tiny hole-in-the-wall restaurants and bars.  I picked a place called La Cambija on Google and although it wasn't on the water as I had expected... it was GREAT FOOD!  Maybe it was because I didn't have to cook it myself, maybe it was because anything wrapped inside of a fried flour tortilla has to be good...

Maybe it's because running for cover in the pouring rain makes EVERYTHING better!  We were both soaking wet by the time we ran from the car parked down the street... This place was busy!  But we were seated right away and just in time for happy hour!  SCORE!

Salt Pans to our left
The car rental was for 24 hours so the next morning we took off to see the second of our two lighthouses.  I think this is a record!  This time we were going south to see Faro Los Morellos de Cabo Rojo.  The drive is much different from yesterday's terrain.  Most of the areas we saw were very dry but more hilly until we reached the peninsula.  On our way as the land narrowed, we could see salt flats!  We found a place to pull over and take some pictures, and then a bit further on there was a tower that overlooks the whole operation.
Salt deposits around the edges of the lagoon from our position shown above

National Parks provide this viewing tower

Looking back from where we had come

Zoom to the Salt Flats where you can see the red color from brine shrimp

Piles of salt

I'm not sure why shirts are so important here...
The lighthouse in the distance
Across the street from the viewing tower is a small museum.  I went inside and began to look around.  The attendant told me that if we wanted to see the lighthouse further on, we should hurry because they limit the number of people who are allowed inside... so we tore out of there headed south on the increasingly narrow and rough road.

We parked the car but weren't really sure where to go next.  We didn't see any kind of sign showing us where the path to the lighthouse was... so we just started walking in the direction of some loud music.  At least there must be people there... we can ask around.  We reached a beach that curved around a little pocket-bay.  Locals were enjoying their Sunday.

We were pointed to a trail that lead around the rocky shore, evidently one of many that lead eventually to the lighthouse.

We wondered as we viewed the mouth of this secure little bay if this would be a possible anchorage...  There were lots of rocks outside the mouth  but it looked like maybe there was a way in with settled weather...
The mouth of the bay

Heading up the hill toward the lighthouse

Almost there...
We reached the lighthouse on the back side but were happy to find not so many people there.  They were still admitting visitors.  The lighthouse structure was restored in prior years and the entire facility was in superb condition.  It looks like they are preparing to convert it into a museum or educational facility inside.  This place would have been a really swanky home for earlier lighthouse keepers.

Looking up from the ground floor

Back toward the front door from the tower steps

We were only allowed to the roof

Looking back along the peninsula 

The little bay and the Caribbean beyond
The tiny door to the top

The coastline here is just breathtaking.  We stepped outside of the lighthouse onto the wild and windy ledge, getting as close as we dared to the cliff... We could see fallen rocks and cracks that may be tomorrow's fallen rocks... if we're lucky.  There were iguanas living in holes who came out to see us.  They were very tame and let us get close before they nonchalantly climbed over the edge and disappeared.

This one ran toward me... I think he was going to push me over the edge!

See our shadows far below?

We actually saw this light shining every 20 seconds when we crossed the Mona

It seemed like I was much closer...

We retraced our steps back to the car and left the area just as a solid line of incoming traffic began to appear.  Our timing had been perfect!  Next on our agenda was a drive up into the mountains for a nice lunch.  Jose had suggested La Katumba Lechonera for their weekly pig roast.  We enjoyed the winding and steep mountain road as much as the meal!

The road narrowed and continued to wind around the hills...  Bruce began to wonder if Google was leading us astray... just as our destination appeared up ahead.

We went inside not knowing exactly what to expect.  Jose had advised us to arrive early because sometimes they run out of food... It was about 11:30 and there were only a couple of other people seated at the long banquet-style tables on the patio.

The proprietor spoke limited English  but we understood that we should follow him out the back door... to where the pigs were being removed from the spit.  My pictures didn't turn out great (camera malfunction) but this kind of gives you the idea... It was a dark sinister place where bodies were being hacked into manageable pieces for our consumption...

Trying not to think too much about it... we returned to the store and ordered our drinks.  With cocktail in hand we found places to sit outside to wait for the food.

Pork, arroz con gandules and casava

Pastel de Yuca  Kind of a tamale with yuca instead of cornmeal

Pastel de plantain or banana
The food was traditional and quite foreign to us.  We tasted everything, but some of it was beyond strange... The two tamale looking things, Pastels... one was yuca and the other was some sort of banana or plantain, filled with pork and fish respectively.  The fishy one was just TOO fishy... the pork yuca thing could have been better with some more filling...

The meat was very good and flavorful through and through.  The rice was DELICIOUS with capers... and the cassava was interesting. It was like potato but with a more creamy and rich texture.  The flavoring was slightly vinegary and quite good.  We did our best to eat the huge pile of food but ended up taking a lot home for dinner.

We enjoyed the company of two men who were from Puerto Rico but had lived in New York for many years.  It was a lot of fun hearing about their younger years growing up here.

This chicken cruised the aisles all during our meal.
Horse parking lot...

After lunch, we continued up the mountain for a bit to see the view.  We could hear hundreds of roosters crowing even though it was mid day...  The air was still and the pictures do not do the view justice...

The car didn't need to be back before 4 pm so we had a little more time to explore.  We stopped in Boqueron to check out the anchorage we would be visiting in a few days.  There is a very busy tourist zone just up from the dinghy dock with bars and restaurants FULL of people.

The dinghy dock and anchorage

The bridge over the canal which leads to the marina
We wandered around Boqueron and stopped for a drink at one of the bars.  People were buzzing around everywhere.  We hoped it was because it was Sunday and that the place wasn't this crowded always... Maybe our stop at this anchorage will be a short one...

One more stop on our way back to the marina... at the cemetery.  We love to poke around in these old places and look for stories and ghosts.  The graves were all above ground and seemed to be double-deckers.  We walked around for a while and never saw anything very old so there must be an older cemetery somewhere around...  The oldest we found were somewhere in the 80's.  I let myself just go but never found any ghosts...

The inhabitant of this one has escaped...

And thus ended our 24 hours-with-a-car on the west coast of Puerto Rico!  Time to get back to the boat and gear up for some boat projects.  Parts should be her tomorrow and as soon as we finish with that, we will be moving on again.


  1. Curious how the Mona Passage went, or is an entry missing? Really enjoying your preview of our future travels.
    Thanks, Bill from Tucson

    1. The Mona was super smooth for us and yes, I'm a bit behind and out of order... Will try to get caught up this week. There's just so much going on and so little internet access... Thanks for the kick in the pants! Hope all is well for you... I'm looking forward to news...

  2. Good morning (for ME anyways, Tammy!)

    I'm just curious...what camera are you using? When Tracey and I travel (sailing in the future!), we use a digital SLR for "good" pics, and our camera phones for others. Most newer camera phones have a "panoramic" setting that literally takes 180 degree photos, albeit, slightly distorted. You may want to try something like that for those awe-inspiring vista shots!
    Cheers to both from both, and safe, speedy passage!

    1. We mostly use a point and shoot Olympus Tough Stylus as it has both in and out of water capabilities and takes pretty decent pics. I don't use all of it's functions as I can't seem to find the time to learn them all... It has panorama but I haven't been very happy with the way they always seem to wobble or have choppy effect. The other camera is a panasonic Lumix, very cheap just for a backup. It's panorama function is too sensitive for me to get a picture at all... let alone a good one. You've reminded me though to use it for some of these big scenes. Will try to do better! Thanks for your comment and for getting through my lengthy posts!