Friday, April 18, 2014

Old San Juan

We sailed from Culebra to San Juan, the capital of Puerto Rico. Most people sailing to the Caribbean will rent a car somewhere near Salinas or Fajardo and drive to San Juan, since it's out of the way to sail there, unless of course you're us, and it's time to turn around and head back north.

We went to the San Juan Bay Marina (there are no anchorages there), and were clearly out of practise at docking and using pilings, and thus ensued a 45 mins comical (for those watching, not really for us) attempt at docking, with me putting on my cowboy hat, trying to lasso a piling (and failing). In the end, we kind of made it, unfortunately bending a stanchion in our success. We were surprised to see the boat Funny Things that we had met in Georgetown, who had a similar experience that ended with their son jumping onto the piling to get the line around, and then falling into the water. Good to know we're not alone! They're kids are not enjoying the cruising lifestyle as much as they'd hoped, so they are making San Juan their temporary home, enrolling their kids in school there.

We visited Old San Juan, which was definitely one of my favourite places in Puerto Rico, and I could see it being a great place to live or go to university. It feels a lot like Spain, with it's beautiful 16 & 17th century Spanish architecture, gave it a very European feel. We walked around the two castles and forts, but couldn't go in with Dexter, which was too bad namely since it was crazy hot (weather said it felt like 43 degrees!), and we were melting. Luckily we were able to sneak Dexter onto the free trolley which minimised some of our walking. While waiting for the trolley, a man playing an accordion stationed himself beside me, and I'm not sure why, but he freaked Dexter out, he was not a fan of that accordion!

Old San Juan has a wall built entirely around it to help keep their enemies out. There is one "barrio" outside the wall called La Perla, which we saw while we sailed into San Juan, standing out with colourful buildings all along the Atlantic coast, beside the most beautiful cemetery I've ever seen and the San Felipe el Morro Castle. The neighbourhood was so colourful but also very poor. It used to be full of crime but the community has been actively trying to overcome it with art and music. And it's seems also that have an abundance of cats and roosters, Dexter narrowly escaped a showdown with some angry roosters.

In the evening we were on our way to the grocery store when we walked by a fine arts cinema and spontaneously decided to see a movie (the first movie theatre we've been in almost a year!). This was hands down the nicest theatre I've ever seen, we were the only people there, and the "concierge" that worked there would literally break into a sprint in order to reach any door before me to open it. We saw the Dallas Buyers Club, and it was a nice treat, and brief trip back to"real life".

But back to the open seas, as we need to be getting a move on. We left San Juan and went back to Samana in the DR. We did 197 miles in 36 hrs, and were flying with the engine off, very much enjoying downwind sailing. As the sun was setting, we had a pod of dolphins swimming with us, and the one of them began doing crazy jumps in the air, showing off for us. We had never seen something like that it the wild, it was truly amazing!

The view of the forts and La Perla from the outside


Dexter was not a fan of this guy!
Santa Maria Magdalena De Pazzis Cemetery




La Perla










It's the circle of life!!!!

Not gonna lie, this was very loud and a bit intimidating!



This sailboat was at our marina and is so jam-packed, they even have a washer and dryer in their cockpit!




       The most luxurious cinema!

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