On March 23rd we sailed to Ponce (named after Ponce de Leon, its founder) and stayed at its local Yacht Club for a few days. We rented a car with Danielle and Ron of Lady M I to help re-provision our boats (us beer, them wine) and we explored Ponce.
It has a beautiful town square, Plaza de las Delicias, with a large cathedral and fountain. It has the Spanish influence with wonderful buildings surrounding the square.
Dick and I drove to the Museo Castillo Serralles on the hill overlooking Ponce, whose owner Juan Serralles founded Serralles Distillers that makes Don Q Rum. We had earlier driven to the distillery to see if we could have a tour and sampling. Unfortunately, they don’t offer tours but we were able to buy some samples at their store. However, we did enjoy the museum and the Cruz Del Vigía that is on the hill just above the castle. The hill had been used in the 19th century by the Spanish to watch for pirates. It now has a lovely Japanese Garden to explore.
We tried to go to the local art museum in Ponce but it was closed for 2009 for renovations. So with Danielle and Ron of Lady M I, we drove to San Juan, the capital of Puerto Rico, for the day. It is an amazing city, one that we would like to go back to and explore further.
The old section of town is very Spanish with lots of tapas bars, old forts and beautiful squares. San Juan was originally a walled city, founded in 1521, and we walked along part of the old wall, saw the one remaining gate into the old city and on to one of the forts: Castillo San Felipe del Morro. This fort is now a World Heritage Site. There is another fort in Old San Juan that we did not have time to visit; perhaps next time.
We stopped at a tapas bar for lunch just off one of the many lovely squares. There are classic statues as well as some more contemporary ones. My favourite was “Gato Jirafo”.
On March 21 we sailed around Cabo Rojo, home of the pirate Roberto Confresi, to Bahia Montalvo. We anchored just off Cayo Puerco (Pig Island) and were greeted by a bottle nosed dolphin. We are now officially in the Caribbean Sea.
We sailed into Bahia de Guanica and anchored off what locals call Gilligan’s Island (they say it reminds them of the island on the old TV show). We had a local style lunch at Punta Jacinto near the ferry boats.
That afternoon we celebrated arriving in the Caribbean Sea with champagne with Danielle & Ron of Lady M I. They are from Quebec City and we have been travelling with them since GeorgeTown. We enjoyed a bottle of champagne and Danielle’s home-made duck pate…