Thursday, January 8, 2015

A Healthy Departure fromPuerto Real

OK. It ain’t all beaches and banana daiquiris. After our arrival here in Puerto Real on New Year’s Day, Junie and I developed separate and different illnesses that kept us out of circulation for days. Junie’s malady was of the gastrointestinal variety and, eventually (after several days), drove her into our supply of onboard medicines. Fortunately, before we left North Carolina, we had a discussion with our doctor regarding our upcoming trip. He hooked us up with some key prescriptions that could, potentially, come in handy on our adventure. One of them was Cipro-blah-blah-cin – specifically for the type, severity and symptoms that Junie was experiencing.

Before she could begin recovering, I came down with a nasty head-cold, upper respiratory thing that took me out. I don’t get sick much but this classic head-doesn’t-fit, brain-swelling, chills-in-the-night, oh-great-now-I’m-coughing bulls%#t is awful. I spent one entire day just sleeping in the cabin. We have been traveling for months and this is the first time we have had to deal with being sick on the boat. Why we had to do it at the same time, I do not know. So far, we have not traded illnesses. 

We did try to get out. We walked a mile to the north one morning to find a pharmacy. It was closed. But we got lunch at the bakery next door. Two days later, we walked a mile south to another pharmacy. It was closed. We went into the market next door but we both felt so rotten that we were only focused on getting back to the boat before something bad happened. We bought coffee creamer. We did not take any pictures on either of these walks because we were so preoccupied.

I’m sure that our marina neighbors all thought we had become boat hermits. But, finally, we both turned the corner on our sickness and crawled out into the brilliant, warm Puerto Rican sun (sorry to all of you folks back in the frozen US -  couldn’t resist that). As we recovered, things have gotten progressively better.
The late afternoon view from the marina out into the bay.

Roadside produce!
We really like it here. It is a unique blend of old culture, semi-rural but nice. Of course, it has a lot of familiar US businesses and characteristics but, at the same time, is nothing like the US. A little bit of Spanish is all you need to get by here. Most people speak some of each. The number of roosters crowing in the morning is amazing. The pigs, goats and horses in people’s yards (or in the street) is fun. And the endless stream of local fishermen passing through the market is always interesting. Paulette, from 'Seamantha', has found, and shared, amazing local places to get fresh bread, pork, seafood and produce.

Yesterday, one of the longer term residents in the marina, Bob, offered to take us to the grocery and a Walgreen’s (which was open). We offered to take him to lunch in return. Which we parlayed into a trip to a lighthouse, lunch overlooking the beach and a tour of the Puerto Real area! When I say Bob is a longer term resident, that does not imply that he is a long time resident. Bob has been around the world, literally, twice on his sailboat. This is just his latest stopping point and he has been here longer than us.

The roads to the lighthouse took us through natural and commercial salt ponds - one of the oldest 'industries' in the caribbean. When the Europeans arrived, they found the local Taino indians working the salt and let them keep doing it for the good of Spain, England or the boss-of-the-day - as slaves, of course. 

Salt in-process

Salt. No snow in sight.

The lighthouse is perched atop Cabo Rojo – the point of land, not to be confused with Cabo Rojo, the town or Cabo Rojo, the county – and is one of many positioned along the coast of Puerto Rico.   It is a beautiful location with views out across the ocean and across the rugged corner of the southern coast. 

For us, it is also a preview of our next upcoming leg. We will, shortly, move the 12 miles down the west coast to this corner and anchor in the bay west of the lighthouse. From there, you can see the ocean around the corner being whipped up by the tradewinds without being beaten up. We will then get up early the next morning, before the winds pick up, and jump around the corner, move a few hours along the coast and get into an anchorage around noon. We will spend that afternoon, and maybe several more, watching the palm trees sway in the breeze and reading e-books. Sounds tough, right?

Here you see the lighthouse...

and this is what the lighthouse sees. East...

...and west. We should be anchored out there tomorrow.


On to lunch at Annie’s Place at Combate Beach. We sat out on their covered deck, right over the water and had traditional Mofungo, served in wooden bowls. It was awesome. And incredibly filling. No surprise since the bowl is lined with mashed yucca and plantanos then filled with savory broth and meat or seafood. Lobster and shrimp in our cases. 

Then back to Bob’s boat to pick his brain regarding places to stop as we travel from here towards the Virgin Islands. We got some great stories from his other journeys as well. We spent the rest of the afternoon there and had just enough time to grab a shower so we could – wait for it – go eat again!

The current residents near the end of Pier One at Marina Pescaderia all got together for some tapas and drinks at Vaiven, the small restaurant  right on the marina property. Ken and Sylvianne, Bob, John and Paulette, Junie and I had a wonderful evening eating out under the sky. Ken supplied the Thermacells to keep the bugs away so that helped the evening last. We are all going, basically, our own ways on our own schedules now. But, we are all going in the same direction so we will cross paths again. We are all, also, anxious to get out of the marinas and back to anchoring out.

With that in mind, tomorrow we will check out of here and move south to that spot I mentioned by the lighthouse. We are not sure what our internet access or phone coverage may be. I will post stuff when I can but you can always track us!

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