Trip Report – Puerto Rico
Since we went there for my son’s wedding, I’ll skip that part of it (which included time in Old San Juan) and get to the five days afterwards, when we were actually doing the tourist thing.
Drove to El Yunque rain forest. The intro video was so-so, but the hiking in the forest was great. Highlight for us was the hike down to La Mina falls. Highly recommended. Then we drove to Fajardo (with a short stop at Loquilla Beach for a break). Did the bio-bay kayaking…tough to find, even with our cell phone and maps. There was a half-moon, so we were a little disappointed at first, but then the clouds covered it, and it was really cool. They did not let us swim, however — prohibited (even though our friends were allowed in a few days earlier against the rules). You need to be in good shape to do this -- the kayaking was hard going in (against the current) but a snap coming back.
Drove to Juana Diaz for the Three Kings Festival — very cool. Lots of costumes, music and religious pomp — dozens of craft tables — and the three kings themselves looked great. Apparently the actors are well-known throughout Latin America. Continued on in the afternoon to Ponce, which, due to the holiday, was pretty much closed down except for the Plaza las Delicias. Checked into the Casa del Sol. Somewhat disappointing. Our room with a bath actually had a private bath — across the hall. Also, although it was only a block and a half from the plaza, the streets were deserted at night and a little eerie. They did have off-street, secure parking, and everyone was really nice. Next time we'll stay on the plaza. Spent the afternoon in the plaza mostly — beautiful with three lovely fountains!
We first went to the Tibes Indigenous Ceremonial Center. This was an interesting archaeological site and museum (mostly pre-Taino), but the guide repeatedly made sexist, racist and anti-semitic comments. Following is the letter I have sent to them:
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On January 7, my wife and I visited the Tibes Indigenous Ceremonial Center. We found the museum fascinating and the outdoor site of great interest.
However, I must register a complaint about the guide, whose name, if I recall correctly, was [I have redacted his name for this post].
While he had good knowledge of the site and the history, he repeatedly used sexist, racial and ethnic slurs. These included (but were not limited to) comments about the stinginess and money-control of Jews and the plumpness and sexuality of African women.
Several of the people in our group walked away from him as he spoke because of that. We remained, rather than cause a scene.
This man is the public face of your establishment, and he does you a great disservice. I have family in Puerto Rico, and will continue to visit the island, but I will not visit your center again. I am sending copies of this letter to a number of travel web sites that I frequently visit, and I have told all my friends and family (here in states as well as in Puerto Rico) about this incident.
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In the afternoon, we went to the Hacienda Buena Vista, a very worthwhile visit to restored corn and coffee plantation. A demonstration of the water-powered corn mill and coffee separator was a highlight.
One more tip — on the plaza in Ponce is King Cream, an ice cream place. The ice cream is so-so, but the sherbets are phenomenal. We loved tamarindo (tamarind) and parcha (passion fruit). A whole pint, more than enough for several people, cost under $3.
We then did a walk around Ponce…many wonderful old buildings, and we got a personalized tour (we were the only people there) of the interior of several of them.
TRIP REPORT CONTINUED ON NEXT POST…
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Trip Report – Puerto Rico