Monday, January 5, 2015

Breaking Free From Parguera

Though our engine rebuild was not totally successful, we owe our continued journey from Parguera to JBWeld.  This product may take us far and for years, or may give up at any port.  So we have ordered a new head from the Perkins’ folk in Tortola.  Meanwhile we cautiously edge further along as we wait for the 110 working days predicted for delivery.  Working days, a concept that causes concern when applied to island work.

Our first stop from Parguera was to Gilligan’s Island, more officially named Cayes de Cana Gorda. What a perfect first stop after a long stay.  Finally we were back with other cruisers, a concept we had not missed until we dinghied to Two Tickets to say “Hola”.  We were acquainted last March in Georgetown when we were scheming an approach to the Dominican Republic. Wow, people who get it.  People who recently navigated water, who understood why we live on a boat, whose approach to the next stop is all about the weather. Finally true birds of a feather!  Add to that scenario, a beautiful placid harbor with a lovely island to explore.  Gilligan’s is uninhabited and empty of people during the week.  We were able to enjoy not only the quiet of a weekday swim but the weekend camaraderie of the mangrove swimming channel as it filled in with ferry load after ferry load of local Puerto Ricans.  The channel is bordered by mangroves with a low current, 3 foot deep area for soaking, kayaking, snorkeling, simply communing with nature.  We soaked for hours, reviewing our adventures, projecting our future plans.

We were finally back to quiet days with nature, relying on our provisions, remembering what makes this a great lifestyle.  From Gilligan's we traversed to Ponce, the second largest city in Puerto Rico.  We found the harbor excellent for anchoring.  The weekend noise from the malecon (like a boardwalk) was insignificant compared to docking at Parguera.  Best yet, more cruisers.  All of us back on the salt circuit after waiting out hurricane season, most at Luperon.  We were in mecca, with Tiger Direct, a full sized mall, a cinema, marine shop and a complete grocery store within walking distance.  The serious, over-the-top delight of Ponce-- my vision of attending dance classes while cruising was fulfilled with $3 Zumba at the malecon amphitheater, Mon-Thurs.  Zumba uses hand signals to designate number of repetitions, so my minimal Spanish was not a holdback.  Zumba to Latin beat, SO MUCH FUN.   Though I did have trouble walking on the weekend:).  Taxis, people willing and able to meet us partway with some English. A welcoming demeanor, priceless.  Our six months in southwestern Puerto Rico were the rural experience.  We were now experiencing a more open and generous population.  In hindsight I remember moving to a rural area of MD as an adolescence.  The difference between Parguera folk and Ponce folk was the difference between rural MD and suburban MD.  Our saving grace in Parguera was the gringo population.  Those who were originally from the states, but now residing in Parguera.  They took us under their wing, transported us when we needed supplies, befriended us.  We will always be grateful to them.

A day pass to the Ponce Yacht Club was delightful.  A pool to die for, excellent internet, affordable prices if dockage was needed.  A trip to historic Ponce was accommodated via taxi and trolley, transportation. . . so valuable.  We enjoyed art—finally seeing Flaming June, a favorite from a childhood game called Masterpiece.  Housed at the Ponce Museum of Art.  The celebration of Three Kings, a recurring artistic presence in Puerto Rico, was explained in a current exhibit. Epiphany, the day the kings arrived with gifts for the baby Jesus, was once the day that gifts were exchanged rather than the earlier gift exchange at Christmas.  We enjoyed a chocolate milkshake at Burger King, a treat we had not had since St Petersburg, 2.5 years ago.  We were awed by the beautiful Christmas decorations at the Ponce mall, a mall to rival Westfield in the states.  Bilingual taxi drivers were icing on the cake.

When the weather opened for movement, we left Ponce for the beauty of Coffin Island, Cayo de Muertes.  This harbor’s beauty, a mere 2 hour motor from Ponce, is pristine.  Swimming, hiking to the active lighthouse, visiting with the DRNA caretaker were all pleasures we relished.  I could totally imagine living on the hook in the Ponce harbor, retreating to weekday solitude on Cayo de Muerte.  Or going highbrow at the Ponce Yacht club.  

Next stop is where we currently embed our anchor . . . Salinas.  This was our original hurricane hang-out plan before we stopped for the engine rebuild.  It is a pleasant, protected harbor bordered by mangrove cays, and beautiful mountains whose demeanor remind me of a calendar back-drop. I have to remind myself as we dinghy to the marina that they are real.  Always remembering a young ministerial date of yore who said that mountains are God’s thumbprint.  Bill, I say they may well be God or Goddess’  thumbprint :).  Whomever is credited, they are magnificent.  What the Caribbean has lacked in white sand beaches, to date, it has made up for with the amazing mountains.

As we walked the paths and roads to the grocery, in Puerto Rico, I often reflect that this could be a highway, a road in PA; in western MD, in North Carolina.  The mountains on the horizon. Only the temperature, fauna and flora, and time of year distinguish the scene.  That thought gives me comfort and intrigues me at the same time.  It is a unifying concept.

Salinas continues to nurture our spirit with a friendly welcome from cruisers who frequent Facebook, introduced us to Mexican Train dominoes, new project ideas and routes through town.  A shared ride to the movies, a Christmas Eve potluck, a Seven Seas Cruising host, Jonso, and a Mexican restaurant, Pancho’s. . . the Salinas charm continues while the yearly Christmas wind howls.

1 comment:

  1. I'll bet you just posted that today because you know all the CAE people are back at work after the holiday. Oh well, it was nice while it lasted. I'm glad you're having a good time though. It gives us pre-retirees hope. :)