Daily Archives: February 7, 2014

Ship ship ship

Substitute a ‘t’ for the ‘p’, of course.

Thank goodness we’re in Puerto Rico where it’s way easier to send things off to America. Except that we don’t have a car anymore. We dinghied over to the little fishing club next to the yacht club because the yacht club wants to charge $10 per person per day (!) and we refuse to pay that. Luckily the little fishing club is perfectly happy to let us tie up to their dock for free. The guy we met on the dock, though, told us we’d be better off taking the dinghy over to the other side of the harbor and tying up to the police dock where we’d be much closer to the post office. So we got back in the dinghy, rode over to the police dock where a friendly but heavily armed homeland security officer told us that no, we couldn’t tie up there, and also it wasn’t safe to tie up anywhere along that shoreline. Hmmm. He directed us to another tiny marina we’d barely noticed and said the owner is an American and very nice.

When we got to that marina a tall man with a Texas accent invited us to tie up and said he was about to drive in our direction and offered us a lift. His name is David and he’s a cameraman so we had lots to talk about as we drove and drove and drove and we got happier and happier that we weren’t walking this.


At the post office we packed up the autopilot and the clerk promised us it would get to New Hampshire on Monday. As soon as it was out of my hands my stress level went down a couple hundred points and we ambled our way back towards the boat, stopping in various stores along the way. We wanted to hook up with my cousin Jackie so we searched for a place we could email him from and that he could find easily. We settled on a Burger King, not my favorite place but it was on an easy corner. We got lunch and I fired off an email.

Why don’t we have a cell phone, you ask? Good question. This has been the bane of our cruising existence and we still haven’t sorted it out yet. At a couple of islands we bought local SIM cards for one of our unlocked phones, and we did the same when we flew back to Miami. But the phone that takes the regular size SIM died and we’re left with two unlocked iPhone 4s that take the miniSIMs. Those you can’t pick for cheap in the corner store. There are plenty of phone companies here but they all want a contract which of course we can’t do. We’ve explained our dilemma countless times whenever we see a phone kiosk but everyone just shrugs and says they can’t help us. So we have no phone. Or rather we have two phones we can’t use. Other cruisers seem to have worked this out with no problem, so we’re open to suggestions.

Anyway, we ate lunch at Burger King but didn’t hear back from Jackie so we continued on our way back toward the boat. As we got close to the Caribe Mall we recognized a little cafe we’d stopped at during the weeks we were in Salinas and had a car. Just as we walked past I heard someone calling, “Marce!” and there was my cousin Jose at the cafe door, looking quite surprised, as were we. He and his dad Jackie were having coffee and invited us to join them. They said they knew we were at Burger King and wished they could have gotten a message to us because the cafe is so much better and we agree. We just didn’t realize how close we’d been and you know how things look different on foot than they do from a car.

We had coffee and then drove back to the funeraria with them where we met another of Jackie’s kids, Jose’s older brother Gury.


Jackie gave us a lift back to our dinghy at David’s marina. Now we just have to wait for Raymarine to pass judgement on our autopilot. It’ll be a long weekend.

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A walk in the rain

Somehow hiking in a rainforest didn’t communicate mud, muck, and mire to my brain. I mean no one said let’s voluntarily slog through sucky mud with ankle spraining rocks on trails barely a foot wide while climbing up the steep side of a mountain in the rain. Serves me right for saying sure to a couple of younger guys who wanted a spot of hiking on a lovely Wednesday morning. I’m thinking carved walking sticks, mile markers, maybe even lederhosen and with a cold beer and mountain view as a reward at the end.

George, a fellow Manta guy, had a car and knew how to get to the El Yunque National Rainforest Park two hours north of Ponce. About a kilometer shy of the park, the road was blocked with traffic barriers and our decidedly limited Spanish wasn’t much help deciphering its warning. John on Bad Bunny said he thought it said something about an avalanche up ahead. Yep, part of the nicely paved park road had caved in under the edge of the pavement. We’ll walk if it’s all the same.



As we sauntered toward the entrance of the park we could hear water thundering out of sight down in the valley hidden by the crazy profusion of giant ferns flowers, and all manner of trees.



Stopping at nicely terraced pavilions with picnic tables we gobbled our sandwiches and were confronted with more warning signs. When asked, John said the sign had something about a challenging trail, as he fine tuned his carbon fiber hiking stick. Yes but…I trailed off as he bounded up the steep slippery entrance to the trail.



By the time Marce and I summited the twenty foot high mud slide, only a down payment, it began to rain again, the boys were gone. Never mind, it felt like we had entered an alternate universe where the rules of horticulture had gone remarkably mad and no longer applied to a new and wonderful world, dripping with water, moss, massive rocks and decaying organic material like a thick steaming matt hiding ice slick mud rocks and other stuff that I’d like not to think about. I mean do they have quicksand here? Anyone? Let’s see, is it, don’t panic, don’t struggle, someone might throw you a rope? Hey Marce do you have a rope?



Really, we definitely weren’t in Kansas anymore. This place has a decidedly beautiful Primordial vibe to it, as if the competition to survive would cause things…maybe unseen things…to begin to move towards you if you paused a little too long on the trail. I had to concentrate so closely on my footing that I could only look around occasionally or risk losing my balance and the drop off was a serious concern. It felt like at any moment a rock could turn or mud might squish out from under your foot or you could just plain lose you balance and simply disappear.



The boys waited for us at what we surmised was the summit. We have to guess because of the massive organic growth blocks any hope of a view. I asked George, “where’s my view?” He looked disappointed. It happens.

You’d think going back down would be easier and it was but it brought its own challenges like you really don’t want to build up any momentum what with the rocks, steamy mud and possible quicksand…I’m just saying, but any resistance to the buildup of speed instantly sent your mud caked feet squishing out from under you which soon saw us hurtling out of control down the mountain with a good head of steam up, looking for all the world, as Bill Bryson says, like George Maharis in West Side Story.


We unintentionally arrived back at the beginning of the trail before the guys did. They’d found a mountain stream and had a swim which would have been nice but we felt it was better to get down off the mountain with the same number of limbs we were born with.

We walked right into the stream beside the pavilions which by this point was more like a river and tried to scrub the mud off our shoes. That may take some time.


The walk back to the car was punctuated by the sound of eight squishing feet. I assure you dear escapees that the back seat of the little KIA rental never felt so good. We’ll all sleep well tonight…as a matter if fact, I just might get in a little practice right now.

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