Saturday, April 27, 2019

You've Gotta Get Outta The House

Shabby entrance to Balneario Punta Guilarte
We are trying to gain some balance in our new life on land and not have it just be all about work...  Not that living on a sailboat is ALL work, but honestly, it did seem like it at times.  We've done a lot to make our home here and are feeling the luxury of free time now.  And what better way to spend it than getting out in the sunshine and fresh Caribbean air on our bikes!

Puerto Rico has a lot of hilly areas which for me, makes biking difficult.  Today we set out with our bikes mounted onto the back of our SUV, and went in search of a flat place to ride!  Ever since we hiked to the furthest point on our beach and found what looked like a park around the corner... we have been hoping that it would be just what we're looking for.  As always seems to happen... it turned out to be so much more!

Very nice cabanas for weekend rental
After one false start where we drove into a neighbourhood preparing for a party... declining their invitation to stay, we backed out and drove on to the next left turn.  This one looked about right.  There is a long distance on flat road that leads to this park entrance, which today, we found standing wide open!  We entered and continued on through the park.  Things were looking good for a bike ride, but it would be nice to find a shady spot to park the car.

All things are connected... and soon we found a connecting gate, again wide open,  that led us to Puri's Tiki Bar, which we visited for dinner some weeks ago.  In the light of day we see that there is also a nice little recreation area that is part of the Park's System here, complete with a swimming pool and a lighthouse!  Spanish Lesson Mini:  Balneario ~ The word means "spa", but it is used here in Puerto Rico to denote public beaches with facilities!  There ya go!

So, we parked the SUV in the nice parking lot near the recreational centre and strolled up to the shady porch for a chat with George.  Turns out that my poor Spanish prompted a mini-lesson from our fellow American-turned-Puerto Rican and we had a lot of laughs.  George was a source of information and very friendly.  Hurricane Maria did a massive amount of damage to these park areas and he is a part of the repair crew.  Little by little, things are coming along.

The cabanas and the connecting boardwalk, as well as the information building and swimming pool have all been repaired and are maintained in top condition.  Kids of all ages were splashing and having a blast while set-up was underway for several parties.  Gotta love these party people!  George told us that yes, this beach area had been closed up until a couple of weeks ago, but now it has reopened to the public.  The cabanas in the area further to the east where we came in have not yet been repaired, but the beach is open.  I think we've found our bike-ride paradise!

Of course he is measuring the swimming distance in his mind...
We finished our little chat with George and loosened our bikes from the rack so that we could get to that bike ride.  It was already pushing noon and getting pretty warm, but we have come this far, we can't go back home without at least a short ride... Beginning with a buzz by the Punta Figuras Lighthouse for a closer look.

The Lighthouse on Punta Figuras
We wound our way out of the recreational area and took off in the direction of Punta Guilarte

Livin' large in the shade of palms!
As I mentioned, it was getting hot, so when I saw a shady spot near the beach, I led Bruce right to it.  We took a water break sitting in the sand, just watching the waves roll in.

Looking east to Punta Guilarte - which is the far end of our beach!
Looking west to Punta Figuras
After our rest, we backtracked to the car.  That's enough for today folks...  Load these bikes up and let's go for a PIZZA!  But first, while we're meandering and exploring our new surroundings, let's not pass this by this place again without stopping!  We pulled the car into the lot where this fascinating old sugar mill stands silent over the surrounding swamp.  Antiguo Molina de Viento is one of many reminders of the day when sugar cane was a major business on the island.

We climbed up into the ruins and found a hive of activity... BEES!  Inside the tower made of coral and other stones, you could see what looked like rectangular holes where wooden beams must once have fit to form floors.  Inside these cavities is the perfect place for bees to make their honeycombs and we could even see them in a couple of places.  My photos didn't turn out great, but you get the idea.
See the empty cavities where the beams once fit?
Nice skylight effect!
Bad photo, but this is honeycomb!
Looking up at the root growing down into the tower.  You can see the buzzing bees if you look closely!

What a fun day!  It seems that our old motto:  "If you wanna have fun you've gotta get off of that boat!" proves just as true for land life!

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