Puerto Rico Day Three: A Rainy Drive Through The Mountains To The Sunshine In The South
I awoke a little earlier my final day in San Juan, Puerto Rico . I always try and watch the sunrise and sunset on my travels. I knew I would have to walk to the other side of the massive walls of Castillo San Cristobal to see it. I was soon walking along the old city wall with it’s spectacular views of the Atlantic Ocean.
I was surprised with the many joggers I encountered. I have walked at dawn in many cities around the world but I would have to say I have not seen so many folks running in the streets so early in the morning as I did in San Juan.
I walked around the walls of Castillo San Cristobal and found the sun was still too far to the south to see it rise. And there were a lot of clouds obscuring the southeastern horizon.
It was still a fantastic view of the Atlantic Ocean and the Capitol of Puerto Rico in the early morning light.
I returned to my hotel via the cobblestone streets of old San Juan one last time. Here is a link to some more photographs from my morning walk. Puerto Rico Day Two San Juan Morning walk. February 10 2018.
I wanted to explore more of the Gallery Inn before I left. However I had to get to the airport to pick up my rental car at 8:30 a.m.
I wasn’t able to see all of the many rooms, filled with paintings, sculptures and other works of art, during my short stay. . There are also five famous Steinway pianos in this charming hotel. Nor did I even get to see the famous view of San Juan and the Atlantic Ocean from the rooftop lounge.
I did get to meet the gracious and talented owner, Jan. She is also a famous sculptor and artists. She is an ardent supporter of the arts and a strong advocate for protecting the natural resources of our planet.
This place was so much more than a place to sleep. Unfortunately, because of the beauty of old San Juan, and the hours I spent exploring it, that is just about all I was able to do . I am hoping to visit again someday. Here is a link to some more photographs of the Gallery Inn. Puerto Rico Day Three Gallery Inn February 10 2018.
I took a 15 minute taxi ride to get my car at the airport. I wanted a jeep but was told when I reserved my car they only had a Toyota Rav available. I was pleasantly surprised when a Jeep Patriot awaited me. I have owned a Jeep Cherokee for 20 years and love it driving it. I was happy.
I left the airport and began my drive on the roads of Puerto Rico. I had read many warnings in the travel guides about driving in Puerto Rico. They said some drivers could be aggressive. I found the highways pretty much the same as in the States. Well maybe the fact that there really are no rules about passing another car. And the side roads, now that was a different story.
I drove Highway 52, the equivalent of one of our interstate highways, on my way to Guanica Dry Forest on the southwest coast of the Island. It was congested at first but traffic became lighter as I approached the mountains.
Unlike in old San Juan, there were many sign of the damage from Maria along the way. Many traffic signs and trees were still lying on the roadside.
Unfortunately, it began to rain, which prevented me from enjoying the mountain scenery. I was able to still see the many fallen trees from the hurricane but it was not safe to pull along the roadside in the rainy conditions. I was able to stop a few times to observe the hurricane damage.
I had planned to stop in a few small towns in the mountains and walk around to see the extent of the damage. The rain changed theses plans. I still left the highway of at one exits but could not really explore the town because of the pouring rain. I did notice many electrical repairs along the way and saw many downed electrical lines.
I also saw many roadside food stands, most of them closed but I am not sure whether that was because of the rain or damage from the hurricane.
I returned to the highway and soon was through the mountains. As I descended to the southern side of the island the rain stopped and the thick forests became more sparse, and soon non-existent, I was now in a much drier climate, resembling southern California.
I drove through the city of Ponce where I left highway 52 and followed Route 2 for about 20 miles through some very picturesque towns and villages.
I next followed Route 116 through the outskirts of the small town Guanica.
This area is were Columbus landed on his second voyage to the New World. A town was established here in 1508 and it was the Capitol of Puerto Rico for a number of years. It was here that the first United States troops landed in the Spanish-American War. Lot of history here.
But it is also near the famous and rare Guanica Dry Forest Reserve, one of the last remaining in the world, and the reason for my visit.
I was now near the eastern part of the preserve and my hotel the Copamarina. I drove the narrow road and after a few sharp turns came upon beautiful views of the ocean.
More about this unique and beautiful area in my next blog post. Here is a link to some more photographs of my drive to Guanica. Puerto Rico Day Three Drive to Guanica February 10 2018.
‘You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.’ – J.R.R. Tolkien