Big Changes in the Arecibo District

We’ve had our noses to the grindstone for a quite awhile and decided on a recent holiday weekend we simply had to break the cycle. We headed along the northern coast through Vega Baja, Manati, and Barceloneta, finally ending up in Arecibo.

Near La Boca in Barceloneta we could already see major changes either completed or under way. The public space, El Malecon had been completely re-imagined with a busy new adjacent restaurant, El Bohio del Gran Pescador. Like all new restaurants in Puerto Rico, the line was at least 50 people deep. Further down, another well known restaurant was reaping the rewards of the area’s revitalization. What once was a near ghost town was now flush with hoards of patrons.

We had only driven a third of the distance to the “Birth of the New World Statue” and things were already drastically different. As we meandered in what was now stop and go traffic you could see modern road-side stands, re-opened businesses, the promise of pasteles off a side street, coco frio on every corner and 100’s of families enjoying the playa. It had only been three months since we were last here, with so much progress in such a short time, it was astounding.

stand

About a 1/2 mile before Cueva del Indio we spotted a new restaurant on the left, Camaleón Bar & Grill, busy but not insanely so. Directly across the street is the “Gasolina Beach Club“, a large lot with shade trees, a large clearing for helicopter tours* (we took the helicopter tour and had a blast) and a restaurant in the back. They frequently have concerts and various entertainment events as well. The restaurant is two storied with a wide veranda over-looking the playa. The views are gorgeous, it’s the perfect place to grab a plate of fried guilty pleasures and an ice cold beer.

sign

porch

I should mention at this point most of this progress is funded by Pan American Grain, for better or worse, depending of what side of the issue you are on. If you didn’t know, Pan American Grain’s products are ubiquitous throughout the island. Brands such as Rico rice, Gasolina and Mami cafe. They are the financial backer of “Terra Vista Parkland” and all that encompasses, including the previously mentioned restaurant, beach club and tours. “Terra Vista Parkland” will be a developed park surrounding the Columbus statue. To view the park’s future plans check out their video.

helicopter

view 3

view 4

While in the area, we noticed Cueva del Indio’s original paid parking lot was corded off (temporarily?) and a much larger adjacent lot was available. We aren’t entirely sure Pan American had anything to do with it, but it had their stamp on it with similar decor and landscaping.

I’m not sure how I feel about the project itself. On one hand it’s an obvious financial benefit to locals in the surrounding area. I can see traffic becoming a nightmare but there are also plans to widen the road. Widen it how is yet to be seen, PR’s back roads don’t leave much wiggle room. There are groups protesting the development and a petition going around. From what I have read they are keeping the environment in mind, but will they truly? It’s not like corporations haven’t broken promises in the past. If you have any further info on the subject or just want to share your perspective, let me know in the comments, I would love to hear from you.

statue far viiew

*Helicopter tours are $35pp but you need 3 people for that price. If you are a couple or going solo you have the option of waiting for additional people to show up (who will also agree to ride with you) or you can pay for the empty seat(s). We opted to pay for the third empty seat. Bonus short video of our flight.

Parador Guánica 1929, Guánica

While visiting the South East part of the island we decided to stay at Parador Guánica 1929 which is situated on Ensenada Bay. The exterior is beautifully restored and seems to melt into the sunset during golden hour. We loved everything about the exterior and the staff were so welcoming. There could be some modern upgrades (wifi that works for discombobulated travelers :) ) to the actual rooms but the views alone are worth every penny and we came away with a very memorable time.

 

 

Llamas en Puerto Rico!

These guys were hanging out in someones back yard right across the street from the Santuario Schoenstatt in Cabo Rojo. They were super friendly and very curious about the two weirdos staring at them.

 

Cabo Rojo

Traveling around the Southwest of the island, completely different terrain and energy over here, having a blast.

The Old Highway, Arecibo

We had read on another blog that Hwy 123 aka “the old highway” held some interesting views along it’s winding road so we decided to see for ourselves. I believe, but am not certain that this also used to be called Arecibo Road where “the cut” could be found. I’ll have to do some digging on that…

Our plan was to meander a bit, find the suspension bridge and then head over to Utuado to visit the Parque Ceremonial Indigena de Caguana. More about the ceremonial park coming up.

We head over to the newly built Hwy 10 (replaces hwy 123) going south and before long find the entrance to the old highway. There are staggeringly tall bamboo plants at almost every turn creating a much appreciated break from the sun. The road has been neglected for some time, not to mention narrow, both good excuses to take our time.

You’ll see above a graffiti design on a boulder that is ubiquitous in Puerto Rico. So much so, that I have been documenting every instance I spot the red, white and blue graphic. We call it “broken scissors” but I have yet to find out the meaning or attribution. When I feel like I can’t possibly find another, one pokes out from behind some weed encased building or remnant. Itś probably just some tagger with too much time on their hands but eventually I WILL find out.

Along the way we spotted what must have been a dozen or so piglets trotting down the road after its mother. Of course there were the obligatory chickens, dogs and turkeys as well.

We finally arrived at the suspension bridge, of course we had to cross and get our feet wet in the river. It was very….bouncy to say the least. With that out of the way, so to speak, we head over to the Caguana Indigenous Ceremonial Park. To be continued..

 

Metalworks, Ponce

Random home in Ponce, Puerto Rico, love these iron gates.

The Ferry to Vieques

As part of our mini-vacation we headed out by ferry to Vieques to see what remained after the military were forced off the island. We got there pretty early and easily bought our tickets and waited. Once on board you can opt to stay in the ice cold quarters or feel the blast of wind and salt air on your face. Guess where we ended up!

Vieques!

 

El San Juan, Isla Verde

Taking a mini vacation in Isla Verde with family & friends, everyone went a little alcapurria crazy in Piñones.

Red, White & Blue, Viejo San Juan