05 December 2007

Fishy fishy fishy

December 5, 2007

We’re now in the hurricane hole of Puerto Rico, Salinas. We arrived here yesterday evening via Ponce and Isla Caja de Muertos.

We spent 3 nights in Ponce, anchored right next to the waterfront boardwalk, La Guancha. A tourist investment established about 10 years ago, La Guancha is a row of restaurants and bars, each equipped with its own loud sound system. The music started around lunchtime and stayed on until well after midnight. We joined the party on Saturday night but by Sunday afternoon we were ready for some peace and quiet. On Saturday we walked around downtown Ponce, visited the old firehouse and the Massacre Museum. In 1931 a group of Puertorriquenos vying for independence staged a rally in Ponce. The rally was met by the police force of Ponce and 19 people were killed. The Massacre Museum outlines the history of independence movements in Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico is a commonwealth of the US, and, similar to Washington, DC, receives economic benefits from the US but has no voting rights in the government. Citizens of PR are split 50/50 on the issue.

After touring the downtown, we spent a couple hours at the art museum which has a large collection of Italian religious works, a gallery of Dutch paintings and a gallery of romantic English paintings. Disappointingly, there is only one small hallway with Puerto Rican art. With History and Culture out of the way, we walked to the mall! Time to surround ourselves with mass-consumerism, and what better time than the first weekend of Advent?! Full-scale Christmas shopping was in progress along with a dance recital, sit on Santa’s lap, and a teeny-bopper fashion show. We topped the day off with a movie and popcorn.

The old firehouse in Ponce.

The central plaza in Ponce.

Ponce gets in the Christmas spirit with Rockettes and the parade of lights on the water.

On Monday morning, we weighed anchors and motored the short 7 miles to Isla Caja de Muertos, a State Park with a crumbling lighthouse, crystal clear water and great snorkeling. Merengue pulled into the anchorage a few hours after us and we caught up on our travels over some sundowners. We were both exhausted after scrubbing the bottom of Whisper, snorkeling and attempting to kite-surf (not enough wind), so we were in bed at Cruiser’s Bedtime, 9PM!

Yesterday, we planned to hike up to the lighthouse with Jim and Wendy, but it turned into a run since we were being chased by Isla Caja de Muertos airborne cavalry division . . . mosquitos! The view from the lighthouse was impressive though and worth the bugbites. We snorkeled around the gorgeous coral reefs on the northeastern side of the island and saw a large variety of coral and fish.

The view from the lighthouse at Isla Caja de Muertos.

Whisper and Merengue at anchor at Muertos.

Caja de Muertos
The wind seemed calm enough around noon, so we weighed anchor at 1PM and motored to Salinas. Of course, the tradewinds picked up by 2PM and since we didn’t want to raise the main for fear of breaking the mast (there are small, hairline cracks we need to get fixed…), it was a rolly, bouncy ride. It was worth it…we caught two fish, a yellow-tail snapper and a tuna! We met up with friends Yvonne and Carmelle on Taima and Jill on Phoenix III, both from Montreal, and we had a fabulous meal of fish soup, sushi, shrimp and salad.

Fish #1: yellow-tail snapper.

Kit Kat meets fish #2: tuna