Sunday 14 Apr, Puerto Rico day 10: Travel full length of the island back to Cloudy Bay, via Hacienda Buena Vista, Ponce and a couple of supermarkets. Back to home-sweet-home. Cloudy, we missed you!
After a wonderful night sleep we are bright and fresh. Today we head across the full length of Puerto Rico west to east, back to Cloudy Bay.
As per the last couple of days, the morning sky is clear blue and the air cool and still. Soon the clouds will re-form over the highland area and stroud the center of the island from the sun, and add some rain.
We take the road in the general direction of Ponce, the 2nd largest city, central on the south coast. We do several more winding road sections over the highlands and meet several dead ends where we have to back-track. We guess there must have been land slides in the hurricane that have not yet been addressed.
After a couple of hours we arrive to Hacienda Buena Vista which is an old coffee and cocoa farm from the 1800s. We’ve seen several sugar cane or cocoa plantations but never one producing coffee. Its buildings are all wonderfully preserved including the water driven machinery for the coffee bean production. But sadly the tours in English are over for the day. Still, we manage to wander around and get the feel of the place, what coffee plants look like, how they grow best ( under a canopy of trees) and how the raw coffee beans were processed. This valley would have had numerous such farms in their days and production brought great wealth to the Spanish who ran things at that time.
There are several other coffee farms in the region, some still producing coffee.
From the Hacienda Buena Vista it’s a short drive down into the town of Ponce. We suspect it will be like any other town, rather bleak and run down. But instead we get a lovely surprise. The streets are clean, the buildings orderly and lots of wonderful architecture from a bygone day. Not quite up to Old San Juan, but pretty close. We wander the steers and wonderful town square with fountains and the cathedral in the middle.
And oddly, the old city fire station from over 100 years ago is also in the middle of the town square. It was used right up to 1989 but now it’s made into a museum and painted with red and black wide bands of color. It’s quite a center piece. As we take it all in, we come across a nice pizzeria and have probably one of the best pizzas we ever ate.
From there we take a quick look at the harbour and marina which is a further 3 miles to the south of the city. Surprisingly this area is absolutely mobbed with people, food kiosks, music and even some dancing. Looks like this is the local hang out for the city folk on a Sunday. MWe try to go into the yacht club but security gives us a firm “no, come back on Monday”. We heard this marina is not very welcoming, so we decide on the spot not to come here on our passage west.
Interestingly, offshore, we spot the super yacht “A” anchored off the Isla Caja De Muertos. Although it’s 9 miles away, “A” clearly stands out with its 3 enormous masts, each over 100m above sea level. Funny to see all these hundreds of town people here, completely oblivious to the fact that one of the world’s most interesting super yachts is so close by.
From Ponce harbour we make a direct line back along the highway, only to stop briefly at a shopping center and Walmart Superstore, where we buy a second soft bag for our journey back to Europe. Again we are amazed at the low prices in Walmart.
Finally, after 4 days away, we are back home to Cloudy Bay, which is gently rocking to the breeze where we left her. We are soon asleep like dead dogs in our cozy cabin.