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Random Pictures from PR

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Fish and pelican at the marina in Ponce. The interior of the old church at St German.  Said to be the second oldest church in the western hemisphere.  I assume they mean 'Christian' church when they say this, otherwise I think some Native Americans might have something to say about that claim...  Sunset at Lighthouse Park in Rincon.
 The fire truck at Las Bombas in Ponce.
 A market in San Juan.
 The sun sets over El Morro.
 The cathedral in Old San Juan.
 Another El Morro sunset picture.

Driving to San Juan

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I apologize for the length of time it is taking me to get this done.  I have had an upper respiratory infection since I returned, and have been mostly sleeping.  That said, here goes.

After three extremely pleasant days in Rincon it was time to head back to the big city.  We drove Highway 2 back to San Juan.  Along the way we stopped at a grocery store and picked up some crackers and cheese for lunch.  We sat in the parking lot of the supermarket and looked at the sea while we ate.  Here is the view.
Yep, in PR even the supermarkets have nice views.

We made it to San Juan with no problems, turned the rental car in, and took a cab to our hotel.  Our hotel was Villa Herencia a very charming small hotel half a block from the main cathedral in San Juan Viejo (Old San Juan).  The location could not have been better.  This is the central courtyard.

 The next day we took a very fun market tour with Flavors of San Juan.  This was a great tour.  Our guide not only took us to the market and explain…

Rincon is Cool

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Long story short, Rincon is really cool.  There is, really not a whole lot to do that is not ocean related.  They are famous for surfing and the like.  I don't surf, and am not a fan of swimming in the ocean (do you know what lives in there?) but even so, I really liked it.  It's a very laid back kind of town, and every body seems to live and let live there.
Down near the hotel was this small marina which had long since had the sand close off its access to the sea.  I can't imagine that made the locals really happy. I am sad to say that we didn't try this place until our last full day there.  This is called Steps Quick Lunch.  Steps is the name of one of the beaches, and this place is on the short spur to the beach.  They sold empanadas, which were pretty good, and also the ubiquitous PR snack food pinchos, which is grilled meat on a stick.  We tried the steak and the chicken and they were both amazing.  At $14, it was the cheapest and one of the best meals we had the…

The Road to Rincon

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After having one last breakfast at the fabulous Café Café CocinaCriolla Espresso Bar we checked out of Hotel Melia and headed west on Highway 2 for the drive to Rincon.The southern coast of PR is very dry compared to the rest of the island, and it was very interesting how much different it looked.Nothing like a desert by any means, but you could certainly tell it was dryer.
We stopped for a bit in the little town of San German which has a very cute town square, which comprises the San German Historic District.
We also walked through the small religious museum in the main church on the square Iglesia Porta Coeli, which is supposed to be one of the oldest churches in the Americas.




After walking around for a while, we were hungry, although it was only about 11:30.We could not find anywhere in town to eat, since restaurants in PR seem to open right at 12 for lunch.We had planned on driving part of the Ruta Panoramica (Panoramic Route) through the mountains, but we weren’t sure we wanted to d…

Ponce Museum of Art

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We also went to the Ponce Museum of Art, designed by Arkansas' own Edward D. Stone.  Personally, I think the building is butt ugly, but that's just me, YMMV.
 That said, it is a fantastic museum, one of the best I have visited. It's not huge, but it is very well organized and have a fantastic collection.   They have a very extensive collection of works by Emilio Sanchez, who I was not familiar with, but now am a huge fan of.

We were allowed to take pictures without flash, so here is a picture by E Sanchez.  As you can see he was primarily concerned with the interaction of light with objects in the environment.


We also went down and saw the coast.  There were brown pelicans there, and some very large fish.  I don't know what kind they were, but the one in this picture is about three feet long.
Overall, Ponce was fine.  It was not the greatest place we visited in PR, but we are glad we went.  In retrospect, two nights (instead of the three we spent) would have been plent…

Ponce

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We arrived at Ponce and checked into our hotel, which was Hotel Melia.  This place is very old, and has been run by the same family for over 100 years.  The rooms were a little dated, but it was clean and affordable, and the people working there were great.  It also has an absolutely unbeatable location right on the main square.  The main square is, of course, dominated by the cathedral.
 Ponce also has a lot of really cool architecture in the historic center.  Here is a typical street scene.
 The main attraction is the Parque de Bombas, the old firehouse.  This structure was built for an agricultural exposition, and later served as a firehouse for a long time.  It is said to be one of the most photographed buildings in PR, and you can see why.  Inside is a small museum to local fireman.
We also took a tour offered by the museum which took us around the historic part of the city by bus, while a tour guide explained the sights.  Our tour guide, Israel, was fantastic!  He was friendly,…

The Pork Highway and Tibes

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We flew into San Juan, and just stayed in the San Juan Airport Hotel the first night, since we wanted to make picking up our rental car easy.  The airport hotel was fine, if a little dated.

We rented through Charlie Car, a local Puerto Rican business, and they were really great.  We took their free shuttle from the airport, and picked up our rental car. We had originally rented a small SUV, but thought better of it, and changed to a compact car, in this case a little white Ford Fiesta.
We then left San Juan and headed south on Highway 52, which goes though the central mountain range and towards Ponce, our first city.  On the way, however, we took a detour and drove down the famous 'Pork Highway' located in the middle of the mountains in a town called Guavate.  If you have seen any cooking or travel shows where they go to Puerto Rico, you have no doubt heard of this place. Every weekend, people come from all around to these little restaurants called lechoneras to eat lechon, or…