Skip to content

San German, Mayaguez and Aguadilla

May 7, 2013

Puerto Rico – Monday, April 29

Today I decided to drive around the west end of Puerto Rico, so I headed out and made my first stop in the town of San German, which is known as the city of hills. This is an old town with very narrow streets, many of which seem to be one-way. And sometimes people park their cars on the sidewalks, which are also narrow, and then the cars hang out into the streets. Add that to the hills and some blind corners, and it makes for some challenging driving! But I’m getting used to it. I found a place to park at the bottom of the hills, and walked uphill through the narrow little streets. There was such an old feel to the town with its squares and old churches that it sometimes seems as though life in town hasn’t changed in centuries! And as I was walking around, I ran across the Henry W. Longfellow Elementary School – I’ve run into tributes to him in Louisiana, Massachusetts and now Puerto Rico! There are also electrical wires all over the place – it seems like a lot of them, but none are buried or camoflaged, so they’re all hanging across the streets like some kind of decoration. One of my guidebooks had said the Iglesias Porta Coeli (Gate of Heaven Church)in town was the oldest church in the New World (under US jurisdiction) so I wanted to see it. The guidebook also said it was closed on Mondays – the rest of the week it was open for tours for a $3 donation. But I love the way these old churches are built, and I wanted to go look at it anyway. And to my surprise it was open, and although they didn’t do tours anymore, I was still able to walk around and look at old religious artifacts and statues. All the descriptions were in Spanish, so I didn’t learn much but it was fun to look around. The security guard didn’t speak English, but another guy did, and he showed me the courtyard where an original wall from 1606 was still standing, and described they layout of the former monks’ quarters. He also told me there was a church in Old San Juan that was a few years older than this one, but since I had come to town sort of thinking to drop off a donation here since I thought it was the oldest church in the New World, I told him I would have made a donation if they were still collecting them, but he said he can’t accept them anymore. So another donation idea failed! But I decided I’d check out the other church in Old San Juan when I got there.

When I was finished walking around San German, I headed for Mayaguez, one of the bigger towns on Puerto Rico’s west coast. I had to drive around a bit to find a place that looked suitable for walking, and then I found a big park with walking trails and it was also across the street from University of Puerto Rico-Mayaguez, so I walked on that campus a little too. The gray clouds were threatening rain, so I started to make my way back to the park, when I realized the university was next to the Tropical Agriculture Research Station – also known as the USDA Federal Experiment Station. And I had read that there were walking paths through the grounds for visitors, so I made my way inside a big imposing government building and got a visitors pass and guide, and the rain held off while I wandered through the grounds. I saw lots of different kinds of bamboo, lots of palms (including a peach palm that looked like it had peaches instead of coconuts in it), coffee bushes and lots and lots of other trees. No one else was out walking, and the rain held off so it was a really nice place to walk – I really enjoyed it. Then I crossed back into the park, and walked on those trails a little more, and ended up nearly finishing my walking for the day.

From Mayaguez I headed to Aguadilla on the northwest shores of Puerto Rico. This town is apparently known for its surfing beaches, and although I parked right by the water and did some more walking, it certainly wasn’t a surfing beach! Those beaches must have been somewhere else. It sprinkled a little while I was out walking, but I ventured out along the main street for quite a distance, still absorbing all the Spanish sights and sounds around me. After walking through 3 towns today, it looks like nearly everyone wears uniforms to school – the girls frequently in skirts, white blouses and vests, and the guys in pants of the same color and white polo shirts. It was easy to see kids from different schools because there was a variety of color combinations for different schools. I ended up walking an extra mile and a half today.

Then, since it was evening, it was time to drive across the top of the island, and make my way to San Juan. I used the 2-lane highway for over half the distance but there was a lot of stop-and-go traffic through many small little towns and villages, and eventually I had to get on the tollway so I didn’t arrive in San Juan in the middle of the night.

Back when Taryn made reservations to visit Puerto Rico, she had found a very reasonably priced bed-and-breakfast in the outskirts of San Juan, and I had added another couple nights there before they arrive, so that I would kind of have a home base. Even though I found the street the B-and-B was in, I had trouble finding the actual place in the dark. Most everything is behind gates on this street, and there didn’t seem to be any street addresses, and there’s not a lot of light, so I had to call them and the proprietor stood out in the street to flag me in. I ended up parking behind the gate, so, like countless other people, when I came and went, I had to open the gate and back out onto a narrow street and then close and lock it. Lots if people have electronic gates, which would certainly be the way to go on a daily basis! The B-and-B was old, but in a comfortable way, and it would be a nice little haven to come back to as I explore San Juan and the areas around it. I was happy to settle in.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Advertisements

From → Uncategorized

Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: