The East Coast Tour Via Highway 3 & 53
Beautiful Las Croabas..
The small crowded town of Las Croabas has a very nice central plaza. Something to be proud of. Like all these small towns, they have their tight, one way streets, usually devoid of signs. But hey, the locals know which way to go, right?
More than once, I’ve found myself going the wrong way since cars are often parked in both directions on both sides of the street.
Just below Las Croabas is Playa de Fajardo where ferries run between the islands of Vieques and Culebra. Security is very tight there and I got told “photography was not allowed” by a gruff port agent. So I moved along. I got shots of the bay and shoreline while the morning light was still good.
Running south down Highway 3, I skirted around Ceiba and Naguabo. One of the key things I wanted to see was Monkey Island (Cayo Santiago), just off shore from Playa de Humacao. Its a behavioral research facility with about 500 Rhesus monkeys running around free. I had read that you could not go to the island directly, but boats would take you around it to observe from off shore. There is a large wooden dock there the locals fish from, but I had no luck at scoring a boat ride. Maybe another time… At that point I fired up the video camera for the next leg of the trip. Highway 3 turns into a most picturesque route. The vistas were gorgeous. I did run out of video memory before I could shoot it all so I will have to come back to get the rest. It eventually connects with 53 which is basically a 4 lane divided highway.
Moving farther west and south, I took this past Humacao, Yabucoa, and Manuabo. I got back on Route 3 instead of taking the new tunnel through the mountain and took it out to Patillas, before getting back on Highway 53 again. I needed a ‘pit stop’ so I stopped at Burger King for a salad and OJ in Guayama. Really. Public facilities are far and few between out on the road… ya take what ya can get!
There are lots of small food vendors and funky out-door bars serving ice cold beer, here in PR. More about them later on.
As much as I would love to shoot some Fine Art type images, I did not bring the gear to do that. There are tons and tons of old buildings in various states of dilapidation. Perfect subjects for creative images. I will be back.. Arrg!
I had mentioned early on about how clean San Juan was for the most part. Especially in the tourist areas. As I moved away from there, it did start to slip. The occasional trash and junk litters the countryside. Dead cars are abandoned on the spot and are eventually stripped to the chassis. These hulks sit off the side of the road until the government comes along and gets rid of them. That can take a while. I’ve seen many crushed cars on their way to the scrap yard.
Its nothing to see a brand new municipal complex built right next to something that looks like its part of an inner-city slum. I can see that these problems are tackled at a local level as some places are more pro-active than others about trash and junk.
PR is a very kicked back place. Not much happens in a hurry. Especially once you get outside San Juan.
Also, most home owners make a genuine effort to keep their places up and looking nice. Puerto Ricans take most pride in their ‘rides’ and in their homes. Puerto Rico is what it is and what you make it. I would never expect it to look anything like the mainland US. That would be too depressing in its own right. I’ll stop here with my rant…
Something else worth mentioning, my ‘Mio’ Road GPS unit worked great… I scored it on sale last fall from Radio Shack because it covered ALL 50 states PLUS Puerto Rico. I did piece together a funky sun shade for it since it had to mount to the dash. It was very handy at defining the main road where there were no signs. It also did a good job with the local streets too.. I was able to avoid many dead-ends with it. A great tool for exploring.
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