Tuesday 9 Apr, Puerto Rico day 5: Outboard purchase then visit El Yunque National Forest and the south east coastline.
Our fist port of call in the morning is the Suzuki dealer in Puerto Del Rey, where we buy the 6HP outboard. As we can’t lay our hands on a 20HP, of any brand, across the whole island, we have decided to buy a small backup engine for now and get a 20HP once in the USA.
So while we will be mobile again, there will be no skimming across the water for long dinghy trips. This 6HP will be a bit of a plodder, but much better than rowing. Rowing the RIB in calm conditions is OK, but any wind and it’s just plain hard work if it’s anything more than a few 100m.
With the engine jammed best we can in the boot (trunk) we set off up the nearby mountain to explore the El Younque national rainforest park. As we climb the steep winding road the vegetation gets greener and greener. It’s like that fresh spring green that it’s so vivid almost hurts your eyes. The views back down to the east coast plain are wonderful. And looking upwards there are several very long water falls cascading down the mountain side. All really very pretty.
There are 2 routes up to the top. One from the north and one from the south, apparently joining at the peak. We chose the south and got it wrong. 3 miles from the top there is a very substantial road barrier with a sign saying “closed to vehicles to save road maintenance”. Seems like a silly excuse … why don’t they just say no vehicles allowed in Nation Park. So we can’t drive to the top 🙁 Instead, we settle to take a short hike up the River Blanco to a pool and a waterfall where a group of people with very large cool boxes seems to be determined to drink all their supplies, and make a pile of cans next to them.
Since we couldn’t hike higher, we fly the drone to try to capture the scene and water cascades. Then drive back down the same way we came up.
Next we aim to see the golden beaches that are around the SE corner, near to Punta Tuna. These lie just to the south of the marina we are in. Lots of lovely beaches here all backed with dense palm trees. Other than small villages, there is zero development on any of them. We visit Punta Tuna light house which seems to be the same grandeur design as the wrecked one we saw on Culebrita. It has the same small tower surrounded by a large building with tall rooms and a majestic entrance way. Again we wonder why they were built like mini mansions?
At Escondida Beach we suddenly spot yacht masts. There are several at anchor in a small but sheltered bay with a quiet beach next to several restaurants. Good to know, should we decide to come around the south side when we make our passage westwards. On that note we take out the iPad and look at Navionics to see what other bays are along this coast. There seem to be another very sheltered one 20 more miles along the coast, so we decide to take a look. Not our best move as we run into heavy rush hour traffic around Arroyo where there seems to be lots of large pharmaceutical industry. And when we finally arrive at the bay, it maybe sheltered but does not look nice, nor are there any yachts at anchor there. So we cross that one off!
The sun is now going down so we get onto the highway to drive back. Enough of small winding roads for one day. We take the same route over the mountains and stop in a supermarket on the way to top up with fresh fruit and veg. It’s so cheap compared to the Virgin Islands and we were getting a bit desperate for fresh produce. Enough of unhealthy roadside fast food! We gorge ourselves on apples and bananas for the rest of the journey.
Back at Cloudy Bay we are again exhausted. How can driving about be sooo tiring?
Before we go to bed we discover the freezer is only -4degC. Oh no, looks like the fridge gremlins are on us again. But we don’t have the energy to do anything about it tonight. Sleep is the only agenda!