Friday, December 14, 2012

Puerto Rican Excursion

November 28

The ferry from Culebra to Puerto Rico runs quite a few times a day and in various formats.  We learned later that there are a number of boats but essentially they seem to fit into two categories:  the high-speed cat that takes about 45 minutes and the ferry that takes about 90 minutes.  The amazing thing about the trip is that as a foot-passenger, the cost is minimal at only $2.25 per person one-way.  We decided that for less than $10 for the two of us, it was a pretty good deal to go and explore the eastern end of Puerto Rico.

Up bright and early we queued up to get our ticket for the 6:30 am high-speed ferry.  Even before we were aboard, we were chatting with a woman in line who is a live-aboard cruiser currently anchored in Dakity.  The ferry to Fajardo, PR and a short taxi-ride would take them up to the Wal-Mart for provisioning and other errands and this is a typical cruiser's shopping trip in this area.  Once onboard, we were introduced to other folks heading over for the day and before the end of the trip we had met Sebastian who runs a day-charter from Culebra to go out fishing and exploring.  All highly recommended renting a car for the day since the ferry terminal is pretty-much in the middle of nowhere and not even really in Fajardo, so there is not much to see on foot.  Sebastian made a phone-call and before we knew it, we were all set up with a car and the driver was booked to meet us at the ferry to take us to the office.  In the process we got to see Puerto del Rey where Mowzer makes her home in hurricane season and then we were off to explore for the day.

Puerto Rico is such a large island that we knew we had to pick just one thing to do for the day, so we chose to visit the rain forest on the slopes of El Yunque.  This is a National Park that was developed in the days of the depression using make-work programs to build the infrastructure (roads, trails) and today there is a road to the top with various hiking trails and lookouts.  We stopped at a very impressive open-air visitor centre and then proceeded to drive right up as far as we could.  We discovered that the tour-taxis tend to take people to where they can make a quick walk to see something and then get back to the car without spending too much time.  Once we passed the last road-side attraction, the crowds disappeared and we felt like we almost had the mountain to ourselves.

It was hard to believe that these flowers weren't plastic!

View to south-east from Mt. Britton tower.  The clouds rolled over occasionally dumping a rain-shower.

This part of the trail actually was paved with concrete - not a bad thing when 200" of rain a year might have washed it away, not to mention hurricanes.

Not sure what this bird was but he was quite successful at fishing.

At the open-air visitor centre.
Here's a recommendation, if you ever find yourself in this part of the world, go for a meal at Lolita's.  Hand's down the best Mexican I've ever had - about half-way between the Wal-Mart and the turning for El Yunque, on the south side of the road.  ... and they have free wi-fi.

Five o'clock found us catching the ferry back to Culebra.  We watched the trucks getting packed in and then headed off under a rainbow.  Watching the full moon rise over Culebra felt rather an auspicious end to the day.