Thursday, February 27, 2014

And like always.... it's winding down....

As we are nearing the end of our trip, I think I’ll bring you all up to speed on where we’ve been and what we’ve done.  On Tuesday we left Mom’s and headed west.   First destination, Cabo Rojo.  Made it there, cute little town ~ Boquerón, and found this great little eatery ~  Galloways….. Sweet little sea side restaurant in Boquerón... and it is....                      

The food was great, I was able to get an actual salad. A chicken ceasar salad!   Years of experience has taught me that when In Puerto Rico and I order a salad, I usually get a wedge of iceberg lettuce a slice of tomato and some thousand island dressing. (aka catsup and mayo).  Good salads are hard to come by on this sweet little island and like gold when we find a place that serves one.  Jay and Trace had fish or something or other and the drinks there were second to none!   The rum was flowing, drinks were good.  The entertainment was great… we had these large, extremely large fish swimming around, and the fun was in the feeding them.  Playing with my fisheye lens, I took what I think is one of the more fun pics of the trip.

After eating we went out on an adventure.  Headed down the road to find a beach, any beach. We ended up at a park.  Apparently a national park, National Wildlife Refuge.  Beautiful seaside park, with cabins beach side to rent.  Since it’s winter right now the place was pretty empty.  Just us and the birds and occasional perro.  

We spent the day in the sun, on the beach.  A sweet little inlet, very much like the ones we know on Vieques. 

On the road again, heading east.  I am so twisted with my directions here.  I always associate the shore on the east coast, not the north or west or south….  It was supposed to be a simple trip from Cabo Rojo to Ponce, but like all our road trips here on the island, the actual roads don’t match the roads on the map,  the signs are either covered by foliage or nonexistent and it ends up taking much longer that anticipated.

Made it to our hotel in Ponce and headed out to explore the town.  Given it was the night before Carnaval, not much was going on.  We did get the lay of the land, ate at the Ramada in town and headed back for a good night rest.  I did learn I can be a Martini girl at dinner.  Seems the drink I really wanted wasn't in season.  So I ended up with a Lola Martini.... Tracy said given it was made with Rum,  Rum and fruit juices, there wasn't any trace of martini in the glass, I did love it though.

Wednesday we spent the day by the pool resting up for Carnaval!  We headed into town around 3, grabbed some pinchos, and mask shopping. 

We had the treat of the trip when we started talking to one little shop owner who had a beautiful art gallery upstairs.  Tracy convinced the owner to give us a private tour.  Wow!   The artwork was beautiful.    It was a hidden gem… beautiful paintings, huge ornate masks.  We learned a little about the masks and how they were made and how they are valued.  The most expensive are the most ornate.  Like with teeth, and tongs, and many horns.  He showed us one for a few thousand dollars that is being sent to a designer in Florida.  We wanted to buy a mask or two, but the cost and the difficulty transporting it made us decide not to.  Jay did buy a pretty painting of a yellow flamboyant tree by Ponce artist Jorge Romero.  He decided to have it shipped home and carrying it would not have worked. 

 After our food and shopping we found the best seat in town (AT 4pm!) in anticipation of Carnaval starting at 7:30pm!  Crazy right!  Right!   It was fun!  The masks were incredible.  What was really fun was walking around afterward seeing all the young men dressed in the costumes.  We even found a puppy dressed up!

It was a long night, made it home really tired.  This morning we set out for our final adventure and adventure it was.    The front desk staff gave us accurate directions to the Tibes Indigenous Ceremonial Center.  An ancient Ceremonial site uncovered in 1975 after tropical storm Eloisa.  Before the storm and eventual excavation, it was thought the the Tainos were the first tribes of Puerto Rico.  This finding showed that there were pre-Taino tribes dating back to 300 AD.  The site was incredible and our tour guide, Louis Martinez was a walking college course on archaeology with a little botany thrown in.  He also knew how to entertain.

We saw a replica of what the village would look like, however this was not a site where the Igneri or Saladoids (the pre-Taino’s) lived.  It was where they celebrated and or worshiped.  It was kind of like a town square.  We saw and experienced trees with fruit they used as red and yellow paint.  There was even a tree whose leaves when crumbled turned into soap.  Louis showed the us the berries the kings used to help them speak with the gods, the Jojoba beans.   Tracy took notes on all we learned.  I’m sure he would explain it all in much better detail than I could here.
One neat tree we saw, and none of us had ever seen anything like it was the tree with what looked like thorns....  
Louis cut one of the thorns off for us to examine.  It created not only a yellow dye but a beautiful clean, light scent.... Hmmm, how can we bottle this. Louis said there is no need to when you have Ralph Lauren for men and women.
Louis told us about a coffee plantation, “just down the road”.  Of course in search we went of the elusive Coffee plantation in Puerto Rico.  

Last trip, Tracy and Kosti spent 5 hours in the mountains searching for a coffee plantation.  We spent another 2 today to no avail.  I am not sure what it is with me and mountains, but I just don’t enjoy the rides.  Again, twisty turny, two way traffic roads, one car width.  Crazy… I had no options but to buckle up and try to keep my eyes closed and not look out the window, and the steep drop beneath us.  We did happen on a thick bamboo forest.  That was neat.  I’ve never seen bamboo so old, large and so much of it!    We never did find the plantation that was “just down the road”.  I am beginning to believe there is no such thing as a coffee plantation in Puerto Rico!

Bamboo in the mountains but no coffee!

We’re down to our last few hours together.  Time to eat, relax, pack .   We have long trips ahead of us.  Tracy will leave the hotel tonight from Ponce at midnight to catch his 4am flight out.  Then wait catch a bus out of Fort Lauderdale home, only to wait until Kosti gets out of work to pick him up.... He has almost 24 hours of traveling ahead of him.   Us.... Here's hoping we get snowed in here!  A girl can wish.  Planes perhaps not flying due to weather, crazier things have happened!  Until next time, thanks for reading.    

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