Several weeks ago I went to Puerto Rico for my spring break. We have 10
days here in Maryland for s.b. Yeah! After a day of sightseeing mostly
around the port/harbor and the old section of San Juan my teacher friends
who live in P.R. drove me down to their home on the south coast of P.R. to
the city of Yauco which is about 20 minutes (drive) from Ponce, the 3rd
largest city in P.R.
Yauco is very charming and picturesque. It reminded me of some of the
towns in Italy: old (some bldgs. go back 300 years) and built up along the
sides of small mountains (hills really) and about 5 miles from the
sea. The flora and fauna is definitly southern Mediterranean except this
area has some coffee harvested as well as tropical fruits: the usual
coconuts, mangoes, bannanas, avocadoes, papyuas, limes, oranges, etc..
Ponce (pop. about 180,000) has several great galleries and a nice state
museum that features a collection of European art (all pre-19th
century) and art of P.R. from the late 1700s to present. It has some of
the famous Puerto Rican masks which are always fun and colorful - kind of
'Mardi Gras like'. I especially liked the beautiful landscapes and
village/city scapes of the late 19th thru. 20th centuries.
I recommend staying with friends or teachers (as I did) who are local
residents as they can take you to the nice more remote (less
busy) beaches. And the beaches are especailly nice on this south side (the
Carribbean side) of PR. The surf is less harsh than the north
(Atlantic) side and there are nice pplaces to snorkle on the south side as
there are a hand full of small islands and shallow waters out from the
shore line a ways.
Also check out the 'Yunque' tropical rain forest on the eastern side of
the island as its what much of PR. used to be like 100s of years ago
before development, farming and pop. increase. There is a nice
nature/visitor center in the park and beautiful trails to hike around to
see the tropical trees, plants and flowers not to mention the birds.
My friends kept me pretty busy going here and there for the 9 days I was
there that I didn't do as much painting or sketching as I would have liked
but did take lotsa 'pics'. Oh, and you will gain a few pounds there as
well. The food is great! -especially mom and g'mom's home cooking. And
then visiting all my friends' relatives - you know - just like old Spain
or anywhere in Europe or Latin America - they all bring out food and drink
for the guests. Very warm and friendly people. Lotsa dancing, music and
partying too! -that yeah, when I think back, I did as much of my own art
work as time permitted - hummm.... not bad.. think i'll go again this
summer. San Juan's OK, but I recommend the other Puerto Rico - the 97%
that is all the rest.
- Bob of Maryland
PS: US. Navy out of Vieques! Go find someplace else to test your
weapons! P.R. is too beautiful.