Puerto Rico and Family Time

Most of our time in Puerto Rico was spent waiting and sometimes worrying. We fist arrived in San Juan Bay to get parts for our prop then we sailed to Fajardo and waited for my family to arrive. After they left we sailed back to San Juan Bay and waited while we had our fuel injector pump removed, cleaned and then re-installed. Worrying if my family would have a good time, waiting for our fuel pump to be fixed and in the end it all worked out.
We sailed to Fajardo a nice little anchorage on the west side of PR. It was a protected area to anchor the boat and it was close to El Yunque, the rain forest and a town with amenities.

My brother Russell and my sister-in-law Tee were the first ones to arrive on Thursday evening. We had moved our boat to a marina, Puerto Del Rey. We know that when hosting people new to a boat, a night or 2 in a marina can help them acclimate. We can also use electricity to clean and ready the boat for visitors and fill up on water and fuel.

On Friday my niece Brittney and her boyfriend Michael arrived in San Juan. Russ and Tee had rented a car for the week so we piled in on Friday morning and took the scenic route to San Juan airport to pick them up. Russ and Tee were going to check into a hotel for part of their stay so we thought we’d check that out first. Their bed and breakfast was in Ceiba a town not far from Fajardo and we had no problem finding it. The problem came when we decided to take route 191 up through El Yunque, the rain forest to go to San Juan. The map shows the route goes right through the heart of the forest, what it doesn’t show is that it’s gated and impassable for cars. So after our long detour back around we made it to San Juan in time.

Since arriving in Puerto Rico I had read about the open market Mercado de Rio Piedras and had wanted to visit but needed a car to get there so we stopped there first. What an adventure. This was a farmers market on steroids! The guide book made it sound like the market was an outdoor affair but that wasn’t the case. It was in a large building, several square feet of fruits, veges, meats, sweets, breads, souvenirs, and I’m pretty sure I saw some kitchen sinks for sale. We sampled some fruit we could not pronounce and bought some we didn’t remember the name of, we ate ice cream sold by vendors with carts on wheels and found the best gingerbread cookies I have ever tasted. The market was a lot of fun and well worth the trip.

The next day we all took a sail from Fajardo to a near by island, Vieques. We had talked to some locals and others we had met on our journey so far and Vieques Island was a recommend stop for nice beaches and an eclectic vibe in Puerto Rico. Shawn and I weren’t all that impressed with the beaches but there were some nice restaurants and some nice people we met on the island. We spent the night on a mooring ball in Esperanza Bay and the next day spent several hours swimming and trying our skill on our make shift sand up paddle board or SUP. Our SUP is actually a sailboard, but we were never really able to sail much with it so we took off the sail and bought a paddle and voila we now have a SUP. After a fun day of too much sun for some and too much sailing for others we headed back to our anchorage in Fajardo.

Russ and Tee had booked a hotel for the rest of the week so we wouldn’t be too crowded on the boat.
Our next adventure was El Yunque the rain forest. We stopped in at the visitors center first and armed with our map and Jaxson’s energy we headed out to the trails. We hiked to a couple of waterfalls and an observation tower and left the top of the peak hike to more serious hikers. As it turns out it was very good that we went to see and hike in the rain forest when we did. A few days after we visited the area there were some heavy fast rains and part of the forest is still closed, due to mudslides and flooded areas.

We rounded out the family visit with another trip to Old San Juan. We had wandered around for a bit when we first picked up Brittney and Michael but I felt they definitely needed another day to see everything. Shawn and I had been to Old San Juan a few times already and while we sent my family to visit, San Cristobal, one of the forts, Shawn and I went to check out the Museo de las Americas. This little museum was not very expensive ($3 per person I think) and was jam packed with neat exhibits. Four were permanent and four were traveling. One of the traveling exhibits was about art and fashion and how a particular artist transformed another artists’ medium into fashion. Another exhibit was about latin music and the many effects it’s had on american culture in 4 major cities. I thoroughly enjoyed our visit and would recommend it to anyone going to San Juan in the future. After we met up with the family and worked up our appetite souvenir shopping we forged on to one of the many recommended restaurants, Vaca Brava. Somewhat of a tourist trap, yet still enjoyable, Vaca Brava’s speciality is meat, and a lot of it. Vegetarians beware this is not a restaurant for you. All of the items on the menu are huge, and by huge I mean one selection from the appetizers and one from the entrees fed 7 hungry people. Along with the size of the portions, the display in which they bring them out is different from any other place I’d eaten before. Ours came on a spit over a bed of sides while some were virtual towers of meat, the higher the better. It all turned out to be an enjoyable and fun meal.

Shawn, Jaxson, and I have been away from home since November and it was so good to see some of my family and have them come and enjoy our boat. The week came to an end too soon. So soon that Jaxson wanted to go home with Russ and Tee to see his grandpa and all his friends. The upcoming weeks were going to be a lot of hanging out waiting for parts to be shipped and the boat worked on so I agreed to send him home before us. I know Shawn and I will miss him terribly but he wanted to head back to Kentucky so much that I finally broke down and bought him a plane ticket to fly back with his Nanna and Uncle. I know I’ll regret sending him but I think he’s ready to go. I just hope I’m ready to let him.

The next few days after my family left it rained. It rained a lot and sometimes very hard. We hung out on the boat reading and working on some inside projects for awhile but by the weekend we were ready to go explore.

On Saturday we rented a car and headed to Guavate to Hwy 184 The Routa del Lechon or route of the roast pig. A highway to heaven for pork lovers! Our plan was to stop in as many lechonerias (places that roast pigs) as we could, sampling a small portion from all along the way. This turned out to be a daunting task but one we four were willing to tackle. The day was rainy and overcast but that didn’t deter our porcine quest. We stopped at several establishments eating a bit from this one and a bit from that one, throw in some ice cold Presidente beer and a mojito or two and the day was perfect.

With our motor now starting every time we turn the key and our prop turning more smoothly it is time to head further south to see where next our sails and the wind take us. Shawn and I only have a few more weeks of our trip left so we are looking forward to our next port.

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