We left Cabo Real to head to Ponce on Monday, 4/22.  It was a pretty easy trip and we arrived by early afternoon.  There is one marina there, Ponce Yacht and Fishing Club, that we were hoping to stay at so we could leave the boat to go to San Juan for a few days.  We arrived and anchored then took the dinghy over to the office to inquire about a slip. We were a bit nervous about docking after our experience in Samana and I noticed there was an open slip on the t-head that looked like it would be pretty easy to navigate.  But given our Meraviglia luck,  I figured there would be no chance that we would get that slip.  God was smiling on us however as without even asking for it, we got assigned to that slip which was a huge win!

On Tuesday, we picked up a rental car, rented an Airbnb in San Juan for the next few days, and ran some errands for boat projects. On Wednesday, we left midmorning to head to San Juan until Friday.  This was the first night we have slept off the boat since we visited Kat, Nick, and Gabby in Atlanta the first weekend in February. I am not going to lie, in retrospect, this might have been a bit overdue.  But leaving the boat is complicated- it needs to be in a marina and not at anchor which we do infrequently. Sleeping in a dark bedroom with air conditioning and having a full bathroom with a rain head shower felt extravagant and much needed.  And mind you, this place was not fancy at all but it was in an amazing location.  We parked the car and did not need to move it the entire trip.  We were walking distance to Old San Juan and walk we certainly did!  That evening we found a great little spot, Bacaro, and had some excellent Italian food which was quite a surprise and a nice start to the trip. 

On Thursday, we got up and walked to get some coffee and breakfast.  We went to Bertha’s Bakery and had amazing breakfast sandwiches and cafe con leche.  We planned to go and walk the trail out to Castillo San Felipe del Morro but Bob knew I have been lamenting my gray hair and need for a haircut so he convinced me to try calling some places to see if by chance they could fit me in.  I had not had a haircut/color since I left Brunswick in February so was definitely overdue. Imagine my surprise when OM Studio said yes, please come at 11am! So I went to the salon while Bob did all of our boat errands to pick up the parts and supplies we needed. The salon was amazing- it focused on curly hair styles and the stylists and clients alike all had naturally curly hair.  I have always struggled with my hair and often hairdressers have focused on how I straighten it.  It was so refreshing to have someone understand how to cut, style, and care for curly locks! Great experience and such a sweet stylist!  Bob picked me up and we went back to the place to drop the car and regroup for the afternoon.  We decided to start with visiting Castillo San Cristobal. The San Juan National Historic Site includes Castillo San Felipe del Morro, Castillo San Cristobal, most of the city walls, the San Juan Gate and Fort San Juan de la Cruz across the entrance to the bay.  Castillo San Cristobal reminded me a lot of Castillo de San Marcos in St. Augustine, Florida.  We explored it until almost closing time then wandered back down in the streets of Old San Juan and had dinner at Cafe el Punto

We were sad to check out of our Airbnb on Friday morning but took some time to do some more exploring before heading back to Ponce.  We started at Kaffe Haus for breakfast and they made the most amazing lavender latte! We then walked the Paseo del Morro, a scenic trail leading to Castillo San Felipe del Morro, a 16th century Spanish fort. The trail was great, right along the water. We saw a large iguana and more cats along the way.  Cats are absolutely everywhere in San Juan! The fort is surrounded by a huge green space that is beautiful.  We saw people flying kites, picnicking, and lots of children having fun rolling down the hills.  Truly a beautiful public space.  We finished up our visit and headed back to the car to begin the trip back to Ponce.  While we were sad to leave, we definitely felt the trip was a nice break and helped us get ready to go back and do some needed project work.

Back in Ponce, we spent Saturday, Sunday, and Monday doing boat projects and provisioning. Projects included: plumbing a vent for our aft diesel tank, rebuilding a shelf in our lazarette for our autopilot ram, adding anti siphon loops to our bilge pumps, adding a seawater strainer to our fridge/freezer water pump, replacing our broken wheel brake, adding a larger circuit breaker for our fridge/freezer circuit,  and making a sun shade to go over our cabin and the back deck.  We also cleaned the boat inside and out while we had access to fresh water.  Finally, we visited Sam’s Club and the grocery store to reprovision.  For those who have been following Bob’s lack of cereal and pretzels,  we were able to get cereal but sadly pretzels were lacking at both stores!  We left Ponce at 3am this morning and are currently at anchor in Salinas.  We were excited to realize this morning how close we are now to the Spanish Virgin Islands!  Hopefully we will be in Vieques by the weekend!