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PUERTO RICO    DIARY  2

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           From Diary 1 - and all over, I now head on....
11/3 2019.
The night was dominated by heavy showers, and the morning have its part. Never the less, I have planed to strike in Ponce, and it is on the other side of the mountains, on the southern coast. I follow the northern highway to Arecibo, then I turn into the mountains. I get a few heavy showers along the road, and it look like the mountains  get their part.

 It is actually more the two mountain routes, connecting the north- and south coast, that I target. The first one is a true mountain road, winding its way through the cast mountains. After some time, it turn into the narrow PR-123, and despite the lack of sun, it is a great drive. However, I fail to make any good photos.
Some of the peaks are almost barren, but a bit further down, it is really dense and green. I stop a few times, but balancing around with the umbrella on the narrow but well used road, is not really easy.

As I finally reach the other side of the mountains, they maintain their greenness, and the rain only take longer breaks. A bit of sun have a tremendous effect on the photos, although the landscape is less fantastic. I do a few short walks, but here don't seem to be any plants, I haven't seen before, except the impressing Brugmansia. Central mountain road PR-123

I reach Ponce a bit before noon, and it is not really that impressive. It is a rather large town, but a lot of buildings are torn down or in the process. But it seems like they actually are working on it, and the centre around the square do have some magnificent old buildings.

I park a bit outside the centre, and walk back, doing a few of the side streets as well. At the big, tree covered square, I look for a cafe. I see the big Santander Bank and the church along with some of the other impressive buildings, and then it start to rain, just as I reach the only cafe. I get a big egg and cheese sandwich and a mug of coffee, and take my time.

When the rain stops, I see the last little bit of the square, and the odd looking fire station: Parque de Bombas. The central fountain is so misty on this moist day.
Then I find my way back to the car, and set the GPS for the other cross-mountain road. I start to rain again, but I see some blue skies ahead.
Ponce
The first bit is east on the coastal highway, and then into some other green mountains - or the same, just a bit further east. I find PR-151, and it is yet another great mountain road.

The mountains have been cleared many years ago, and they are now covered in yellow grass and a few cows. Further up, they turn green and are still covered in trees. I stop a few times to capture the great views - or at least try. Unfortunately, the entire roadside is lined with scattered houses, and even the more remote mountainsides have their share.

As the road descents on the other side, more grassland are found. Here, it is more green, but here are still only a few cows. I make it home by a parallel road to the big one, and it is not even six, when I get there. I have now pretty much seen the island, as there are fare from connecting roads all over. Many are blind roads, heading into a canyon. Central mountain road PR-151
All
that is left, is the few things I want to see in the capital. It seems to be dry in the morning. The central mountains and Ponce.

12. I get a slow start on the day, trying to avoid the morning traffic. It is a great sunny day, and my first target is the huge market of Mercando de Rio Piedras. It is close bye the main capital, but is a suburb. I park the car at a bit lot, and do a tour around the area. Here are a lot of shops on the sidewalks, but nothing real interesting.
The market building look quite new, and inside, it is modern. I find a barbershop, and get a needed hair- and beard trim. Then I do a loop around the huge foodcort, then the fruit stands and alike. It is way too modern and clean to be interesting. Though, I do fail to find cooling at the butcher shops.

I find the "six lanes in each way"-road towards the centre, and get out on the island, on which the old town is found on. At first, it look like a fairly modern town, but quite nice. I find my way into the older part, and a place to park the car.
In here, I walk the real posh Paseo de la Princesa. It is along some of the huge fortification, and here are some real nice buildings too.

It end right at the pier, and I see some more than a meter fish, in the crystal clear water, right under me. I start walking along the old wall, and here are many of the characteristic small guard towers. I have see the picture of them thousands of times, as it is on every number plate. It is also the motive of many souvenirs.

I loop back into the old San Juan, and it seems like almost all houses are brought back to former glory. Here are some nice squares with trees, fountains and statues along with small shops. One square have a lot of pigeons, and the wall is dotted with their nests. I try to make photos of the great looking old houses, but they are too tall, the streets too narrow and the cars too many.

Every now and then, there are great views over the harbour. Some of the smaller alleys are filled with cafe tables and customers at the restaurants. I find my way back to the waterfront, and the long walk between the sea and the tall walls. Here are even a perfect little beach.
When I look down into the water, it look like a aquarium, and a rather filled one too.

It is a long walk, and at some point, it turns into nature, but the path continues out towards the fortress. The coastline is protected by some strange volcanic rocks, made up by different types of lava. Besides from the Green Iguanas, here are some large lizards along the coast. The walls are under attack - by plants. They are weeded, and the entire fortress look real well maintained. More Old San Juan

I follow the coastal path all the way to the graveyard, and then find my way into the fortress; Castillo San Felipe del Morro, a Spanish fort from 1539. It is real impressive, and in great condition. Here are a few small exercitations, but the share size of the construction is the main sight. It oversees the huge natural harbour, and was a key to the Spanish dominance here.
I walk a lot around, and try to capture some of its greatness, with my little camera. When I give up on that, I head back to town by the huge lawn on the peninsular.
More El Morro fortress

I find lunch, and then do a lot of loops around this great looking old town. At five, I figure I got sun enough for one day, and I sure have pictures enough, showing how hard it is to get these huge buildings into a frame. I pass some magnificent buildings on my way back along with a single cruise ship.

I stop by the grocery on the way home, and think I'm in luck; I can get my trousers in the washing machine. Well, they get the liquid soap, but there are now water. And it might take a day or more, before it returns. I get offered another place to stay or a days refund. I rather have my trousers to ware in the morning. I have water enough for cooking, but a shower would have been nice. Mercando de Rio Piedras, Old San Juan and El Morro fortress

13. I have see the things I came to see, but I have one more full day, and I head out the the corner, I haven't seen. It will roughly be a tour around the south-western coast, then over the mountains home. When I clear San Jose, the hills turn real nice green, but here are still scattered houses. When I reach the coast, it is closed societies for the rich at first. I head a bit further south, and then the beach is open.

The road leads into the green hills time and time again, and they are beautiful. I reach the beach at a little river and its lagoon. Here is a large egret and none else. I do a walk along the beach and find a few surprisingly colourful sea shells. The road continues being a minor, but sealed road, passing through huge green meadows or swamp land. Here are only a few cows, most seem undisturbed.

The next beach I find is in a little town, and here, the light tower; Faro de Punta Tuna can be visited. It offers a great view down to the rocks underneath and the perfect sandy beach further on. I find my way down to it, and it is sand, sand and only sand. A few plants have found roots, but not many.

The next beach I find is made up of rather sharp rocks. It have some great looking palms a bit inland, and I do another walk.
I pass a few small towns, but drive straight through. I have bought bananas and biscuits, and sit at one beach and enjoy them along with the view.

The next beach is where a little river meets the sea. Here are nice sand to one side, sharp rocks to the other. While I walk on the sandy part, picking shells, five Brown Pelicans fly over my head.
I head inland, but the acacia are only cut for cattle or goats, and not worth the effort.

I have concluded the circle around the island, and head a big back to find a small mountain road; PR-184. It starts along a river, and here are some great views. I end up sitting on a rock in the river, feet down in the not that cold water. Striped fish are everywhere along with some small ones.

A bit further into the mountains, I find the lake. It look quite natural, but it have no path along the side. Then the mountains get wilder and steeper, and here are fantastic. Some canyons have a lot of tall tree-ferns, some peaks offers great views down the lower hills and even to the sea.
I stop a lot of times to make photos and do small walks. A big valley have a lot of Bromeliads on the trees, and I find the river from time to time.

I reach the pass, and on the other side, the sun have gone, and the vegetation start to be dominated by bamboo. Considering the amount of work I have to do, I call it a day, and head home. The water is back, and that calls for a shower! When I check the ticket for the mornings fly, it is at 11;01 on the 14. but FEBRUARY!!! Well, I just have to order another one, which at least is possible, although twice as expensive. The South-Western Coast and PR-184 Mountain Road

14. I only have to drive to the car rental company, wait for them to open, get a lift to the airport, and I'm of to The US Virgin Islands.

Puerto Rico is a nice island, and I fail to figure why people claim: It is dangerous. It have some real nice nature, lovely people and it is easy to access. I have taken 1542 photos (
HIGHLIGHTS) and driven 1481 kilometres. It have not been as expensive as I thought:
 

EXPENSES DKK US$
Shared*  (part of a 92 day tour) 1.071 160
Flight to here 1.045 156
Rental car + gas + highways 2879 430
Entrance 137 20
Hotels 750 112
Food 479 72
Other: Gear, souvenirs 218 33
TOTAL: 6.579 982
*) Error flights+London, return DK, insurance, vaccinations, guidebook, gear i.e.

Photos   Map & Plan   Diary 1  2