Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Painting the town ... Blue?

With our planned departure for the Dominican Republic quickly approaching in Wednesday, we decided to rent a car and get a few errands done.

Puerto Real waking up with the sun.

Managed to round up Ruben the taxi driver in sleepy Puerto Real this morning who drove us to the Mayaguez Mall about 20 minutes north of here. This is the third largest mall in Puerto Rico and includes a JC Penney, Sears, Walmart, and loads of smaller stores. Retail therapy time! The car rental was here as well so once we'd topped up on items that wouldn't hurt in the car all day we headed for Mayaguez.

First task on our list was to complete our Customs & Border Patrol check-out so we would have paperwork when we arrive in the DR. Mayaguez is a large industrial city and after driving along the waterfront we are so happy we didn't come up here with Mowzer. There is no protection in the anchorage and it would be noisy and rolly, and I can't say that the town was all that appealing either. Paperwork in hand, #1 was checked off our list.

Next task was to see if we could find antifouling paint in a boat supply store on the west end of Puerto Rico. Given that most of them are tucked away in little slack-water towns with no web presence this was no easy feat. I think over the day we probably visited half a dozen shops, each of which had great little hidden gems in their stores, but unfortunately no one had what we were looking for: four gallons of blue ablative paint, the kind that wears away over time and prevents slime and other wonderful stuff from growing on the bottom of the boat. Short of taking the 2½ hour drive to San Juan we were going to strike out. The real reason to buy in PR is to save on the 30% import tax in DR, but on doing the math we would have spent more of gas to drive five hours so it just didn't make sense. I'll go with #2 taken off the list, even if not successfully.

As per usual rain clouds threatened to the north, so we headed inland and south to do some real sight seeing. We were still on the hunt for marine supply stores but having taken San Juan off the list, we settled in to enjoy the scenery and Puerto Rico definitely delivered. We climbed up into the lower hills where we passed through bamboo groves. We arrived on a fertile plateau where we saw large farms spread out below us. Then we made our way down to the coast at La Parguera where there were massive salt flats that are now home to bird and nature refuges. To the west of La Parguera we climbed up again through the grassland of ranching country and even passed signposts that had been decked out with skulls of horned cattle. As the sun was making its descent, we arrived at the lighthouse of Cabo Rojo, the same one we passed a couple of days ago from ocean-side.

Bamboo grove where the power lines are the only thing holding them off the road.
On the outskirts of the town of Cabo Rojo, things were bustling.
On the other hand the town of St. German was like a ghost town, with many places boarded up.
The hills to the north where the rain clouds got darker as the day progressed.
Looking down onto the inland plateau.
All along the way today we saw horses tied to buildings, bus stops, in fields, behind buildings, and then this evening we saw someone riding one
The salt flats on the way to the lighthouse.
Those same salt flats from above.
Cabo Rojo as the sun sets, should almost be Cabo Oro.
Birds nested on any available ledge, not sure where this one is going and he caused quite a ruffling of feathers.
The beautiful Spanish lighthouse at Cabo Rojo - the most southerly point on PR.
And yes, we were both there ;-)
Looking west, the sun is starting to set.
Shutters are all closed for the night.
Time to head home.

Our final task for the night, and given that we had a car, was to do a final grocery shop and stock up on some more cheap(er) goods. I couldn't get a photo of the dinghy in the dark but needless to say, it was pretty much loaded to the top with the day's haul.

Tomorrow will see the return of the car, final prep of the boat and we plan to depart just after lunch. We have about 22 hours of sailing ahead of us as we make our way to the south coast of Dominican Republic, with La Romana as our intended landfall.

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