S/V Delilah

A Blog to track the wanderings of the S/V Delilah, a 37-foot Tayana sailboat.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Salinas, PR

Sunday, 26 March 2006
Salinas, Puerto Rico
N 17 degrees 57.385 minutes
W 066 degrees 17.584 minutes

Well, it's been a while. Here' what's been happening...

First, I have to tell you about checking in to PR. We went ashore in Boqueron last Sunday, as required, to phone Customs and Immigration to tell them that we had entered the country. Of course, nothing is simple with U.S. Customs and Immigration--and Homeland Security. Even using the phone number for "weekends and after hours," we were unable to reach a human. I was, of course, convinced that we would be beaten with rubber hoses for not checking in promptly, even if it wasn't our fault.

Early Monday, then, we went ashore with David and Kim from Amanzi and phoned Customs. They told us to report to Mayaguez, a town about 40 minutes by car from Boqueron. A local taxi driver had actually followed us from the pier to the phone. Enough cruisers come through here that he knew exactly what we were trying to do, and he told us he'd take us. Cheapskates that we are, we asked about the bus system. He claimed that we could not get to Mayaguez from Boqueron by bus. "It's too far." And he claimed he personally knew people in Customs and would smooth the way for us. We protested that Customs had told us not to arrive before noon, as they were processing ferries. He suggested that he could get us through. "There's about 8 guys just standing around."

What else could we do? We decided to believe him.

The guy was a laugh a minute. First, he has 13 children. 13. Yikes. He likes to dance, you see. But, in his youth, he had trouble stopping at the dancing. Six wives. No more, he lives on his own. My favorite quote, though, when asked if he went fishing: "Nah. Them sharks is going to have to come out of my shower head if they want to eat me."

We get to Customs in Mayaguez and, sure enough, they are busy processing the ferries. We wait for a couple hours, then check in. They never even mention that we failed to contact them when we arrived on Sunday. But they did ask about Mexico...

Why Mexico, when we are in Puerto Rico? Jill did drive with some friends to Tijuana for about five hours back in the early nineties, and Jill's memory of the event is rather hazy. But when she tells the Customs officer that, yes, she was there once, he asks, "Did you get in any trouble while you were there?" This was a bit of a surprising question, and the officer didn't like the answer: "Well, I might have lost my passport around that time."

"You MIGHT have lost it??!!!" He wasn't pleased.

After a few explanations and a bit of prying, we found out enough information from the officer to figure out that Jill's passport was indeed stolen in Mexico twelve years ago, and must have been in use until recently. Somebody got caught using it! For what, we don't know.

That night, several of the boats in the harbor got together for a BBQ on the beach, and we watched a beautiful sunset over the dreaded Mona Passage.

The winds have been light enough all week that we have been able to hop along the notorious southern coast of Puerto Rico without any of the big swells or headwinds that one normally finds. We stayed one night off an island known as Gilligan's Island, after the TV show, but we failed to see the similarity, aside from a lovely lagoon between islands.

Then we spent a few days in Ponce, the second largest city in Puerto Rico, and in the course of 48 hours we spent down the thousand-dollar surplus we had been coaxing into the budget for the past two months. We split a car rental with other cruisers, bought tons of groceries and other provisions (they have Wal-Mart in PR), bought new glasses for Dean, new batteries for the boat, and several other outrageously-priced boat items at West Marine. Fortunately, we found another marine store for the batteries, so we managed to avoid West Marine's absurd 30 percent markup on those. There is even a cash and carry like Costco in Ponce, but you don't need a membership, so we now have a surplus of canned goods to last us until we get to Trinidad, including about ten cans of pineapple juice to go with the cheap half-gallon jug of rum we bought in the DR.

While we had the car, we took a quick trip over the mountains to San Juan to drop Kim at the airport. We didn't have much time to see the city, as finding West Marine took priority, but the view was we reached the top of the mountains that rise up steeply from the coast was well worth it. Looking west one could see a series of ranges fading into the distance, and down into the deep valleys you could see houses built along the slopes, one side of them angled out over thin air.

This morning we made our way to Salinas, a little resort town on the south coast, where we will relax for a couple of days before heading to the Spanish Virgin Islands (Vieques and Culebra) for snorkeling and swimming.


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