Sunday, January 5, 2020

Other People's Vacation Pics ~ Part I ~ Cabo Rojo, La Parguera

Having family and friends come to see all of the wonders our Island offers, is a special treat for us.  We love exploring, and then showing off our favorite finds to whomever shows up!  This means we get to go to some places multiple times, but that's OK.  It's always different as we see familiar places through the eyes of others.  

A mixup with the car rental left us with a BIG SUV to run around in!
My brother and his wife brought their two girls to the island to get out of the winter cold.  Sure, it's never THAT cold in Texas, but it's still colder than it is here in the Caribbean.  They spent a couple of days enjoying the north side of the island, then we drove to meet up with them as they made their way around to the southwest. 

Laura found a really cute little boutique hotel on the outskirts of La Parguera, and we were able to get a room there for their second night.  La Jamaca has few rooms, and is very family oriented, unlike many of the hotels in this area.  La Parguera is a total party town, but here, we are far enough away from the fracas to allow quiet enjoyment of the facility, and still be close enough to several of the main attractions.  As soon as Bruce and I checked in, we met the family at the pool to discuss our options.  Soon, a plan was hatched, and we all piled into their huge SUV to roam the SW part of the island!

The first stop was the salt pans in Cabo Rojo. I was a little disappointed as the awesomeness I had been describing to them was not to be.  The salt pans weren't pink, and there wasn't a lot of salt buildup for them to see.  You just never know what you're going to get, so going many times can give you a more well rounded experience.  Today, we did walk out to view the salt pans, and were able to visit the small museum to see some history.  The kids bought some sea salt, and believe it or not, that ended up becoming the most treasured souvenir from the trip!  

Looking across the salt flats from the Mirador

Walking between the salt pans

Next stop, El Faro Los Morrillos, or the Cabo Rojo Lighthouse. I love taking people here, even though I've never found the lighthouse open to tourists.  The stunning view from the cliffs is the draw for me.  

Today, we walked along the cliff trail to see another of the most visited sights here in Cabo Rojo, Puente de Piedra.  This is a new spot for me and Bruce, and one we will add to our tourist repertoire. The walk is somewhat hot and dry, so bring some water.  But the view is worth it, and depending upon where you park, it's really on the way back to the car anyway, so you might as well make the loop instead of retracing your steps.  

The scent of these tiny flowers fills the air!

Our cute little room!
Back to the hotel room we went to get cooled off and get ready for the next event and the reason we are in this area at all.  In La Parguera, there is a tour company, Aleli Tours,  that takes small groups out in a skiff to one of three Bioluminescent Bays in Puerto Rico.  We have been to the other two, but this one is special.  This one, we get to snorkel IN the Bio Bay!

Of course this has to be done at night, and that is the reason that Bruce and I haven't done it before.  It really requires that we stay in the area, as it's a long drive from our home for a nighttime activity.  Plus, the added bonus is that we get to experience the La Parguera night life.  At least, the beginning of it.  I think that the late night crowd would be too rowdy for us!

The dock our tour leaves from

I had my reservations about this.  Being in the water at night is not my favorite thing.  Nor is being cold.  But I assure you that my fears were unfounded.  The boat ride through the bay was delightful. We got to see the homes that line this bay all lit up for Christmas, since the holidays run through the end of January and 3 Kings Day... It's probably always festive here, remember I mentioned that it's a party town!  But from the water, we got to peek inside these expensive homes, always fun!

Well folks, I tried to get you photos and video of the magical Bioluminescent Bay... but it just can't be done.  There are advertisements online that show the glowing water, but it is really nothing like that.  When we arrived in the Bay where the dinoflagellates live, Captain Ismael cut the engines, and we scrambled into our snorkel gear.  

The Bay does not suffer from as much of the light pollution that the Fajardo Bio Bay does, so the atmosphere here is quiet and dark.  After a moment of trepidation, I slid over the side of the boat and into the surprisingly warm, silky waters.  One deep breath seemed to dispel all of the remaining jitters I had been feeling, and I sunk my face into the water and began to swim around.  

As my hands reached forward to pull me along, I could see a glowing cloud around my hands and arms. It's like a ring of fairy stardust sparkling weakly in the dark.  The more vigorously I paddled, the brighter the glow.  I flipped over onto my back so that I could look down at my legs as I finned along.  Again, my legs were encased in a glowing cocoon!  The tips of my fins left a comet trail for a moment in my wake. 

THIS!  THIS is awesome!  When everyone was in the water, we could see the glow encapsulating all of our bodies, and the trails left behind us as we moved and splashed around.  It was amazing!  We swam around at leisure, with no feeling that our time was limited.  The little ones were a bit reluctant, but us adults were having the time of our lives.  Because there was some moonlight, Ismael told us that tonight was maybe a 6 out of possible 10 on the awesome scale. WOW!  What would a 10 be like???

To make sure that we got the best experience, Ismael brought out a tarp and hung it over the side of the boat.  We swam up under the tarp where there was absolutely NO ambient light, and did as Ismael directed us.  We scooped up the water and brought our hands up into the air in front of our faces, to watch the little sparklers fall down our arms.  It was simply magical. 

Eventually we were ready to leave, and this meant we had to get our bodies back into the boat.  Thankfully it was not as difficult as my mind had made it.  What a wonderful thing to do!  This will for sure go into our touristing book as a favorite!  Just remember, when you plan a trip to see us, check the moon phases, and come during a time when it's going to be dark!

Back on land, we dried off and put on our street clothes, and decided to take a spin around the Malecon to see what we've been missing all of these years.  There weren't very many people around, but still more than when we arrived.  I think this is a late night kind of place, so it was perfect for us to be here before the party crowd showed up.  There was food and drink and trinkets... and cotton candy!  I can NOT pass it up.  

My own eyes were equally fixated...

Cotton Candy as big as your head!

Three Kings!

We enjoyed the festive atmosphere and the stroll.  The kids picked out some trinkets, and I enjoyed the heck out of the giant ball of Cotton Candy, although I had to eat it fast.  If you've ever had cotton candy in a coastal Caribbean town, you know that the humidity consumes it faster than YOU can!  But it was good.  And this day had been GOOD.  

I am SURE that Mark and Laura would have loved to stay longer, but we were riding together, and some of us were beginning to fade.  Off to our cute little hotel for a good night's sleep and tomorrow we would be at it again!

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