Ensenada to Caja Muerte, Puerto Rico

Ensenada to Caja Muerte, Puerto Rico

Saturday, November 29, 2003

Ensenada, Puerto Rico - Nov 29, 2003 (BGSW)

We stopped at Ensenada because it sounded so nice in the pilot's book.  All right, because I wanted to.  I was hoping to see a non-tourist town here.  We did.  I actually thought Ensenada sounded familiar, like a famous place.  That must be somewhere else, because this isn't a place many people would visit.  Our pilot's guide describes shady, tree-lined streets and the atmosphere of early 19th-century America, but I think his mental picture of this is different than most people's.  Keith points out that there are some trees along the decaying roads.  And when I think about it, the 19th century was the height of the industrial age, and there is a large, derelict factory overshadowing our anchorage ;-)

We stop for a drink at the only place we can find, a garage with a neon sign and some beer posters.  The people are very nice, and one local man who lived in Connecticut for several years (Westport & Norwich) buys us each a beer.  Keith points out the young waitress's top as the most interesting sight in Ensenada.  It laces down to her belly button to reveal attention-getting cleavage created from startlingly little working material, by what must be a really industrial strength Wonder-bra.  Keith says it must be pushing fat around from her back to make that cleavage.  There are dead fish hanging from the ceiling on tattered yarn.  We radio back to First Light and Aditi not to bother to stop in Ensenada.  

Keith is so put off by this whole experience that we skip Gilligan's Island, also known as Cayos Something and head east even though the wind is dead against us.

Caja de los Muertos Island, Puerto Rico - Nov 30-31, 2003 (BGSW)

Okay, it's named after a coffin (literally, "box of the dead"), but it's beautiful, beautiful, beautiful.  This tiny island is surrounded by glowing aqua water, a patch of sandy beach, deserted rocky stretches, another tiny island that is a protected refuge for a some unknown bird, a deserted and beautiful lighthouse, and lots of hiking, climbing (not for me with recovering ribs but nice to see), and rock-scrambling.

Caja de los Muertos approached from the west.

We arrived yesterday & instantly headed for the island.  Actually, Keith couldn't wait to dive into the crystal blue water.  He swam almost all the way to shore from our anchorage about 200 yards off the southeast cliff.  About halfway to the beach, he remembered my broken ribs and that I can't swim one-armed and can't get the engine from the mount down to the dinghy, so I'd be trapped on the boat while he explored the island.  It took him another 50 yards to turn back, but he did.  It was somewhat touching, as I could see the whole mental -- and physical -- struggle quite clearly from the boat.  

We hoisted the engine and dinghied in together.  We found that what looks like an adorable resort is an even more adorable park facility, with a tiny museum, bathrooms, fishing pier, and trails all over.  We returned to the boat for a leisurely pasta dinner, regretting the fish that got away on today's passage but hoping for more tomorrow.

Solace is silhouetted against the sun as we head back for dinner.

I spend the morning hiking and rock-scrambling along the edge of the island while Keith goes for a swim, then catches up on lost sleep on the boat. Around midday, I clamber back to lounge on the beach. I read a book with the waves breaking over my feet while Keith heads over to fish from the pier.

The rocks along the coast.

Solace from my beach chair.

Playa Pelicano, or Pelican beach, on the west coast of Caja, is perfect to stretch out on -- under the rocky cliffs, it's totally sheltered from the prevailing easterly trade winds.

Keith swears he's seen fish under this dock.

We can't wait to climb up to the old lighthouse.

...and Dec 1, 2003 (BGSW)

We spend the morning hiking up an incredibly rocky and beautiful trail to the lighthouse.  Having forgotten bug spray, we're unable to take any pictures of the trail because we can't stop for more than a moment before mosquitoes dive-bomb us in squadrons.  The bugs probably aren't that bad normally but they're heavy right now because of the recent storms.  It reminds me of Crane's Beach in Massachusetts where you can call ahead to get the bug count before you go.

"That's the biggest darn hermit crab I've ever seen!" says Keith.  "Can I keep him?"

Can you find Waldo (me)? We're almost to the lighthouse -- the breeze is back and the bugs are gone so we can stop for a picture.

Getting closer!

The view from the light toward the coast of mainland Puerto Rico is spectacular. Keith poses me in the middle of it.

But the view to the southeast is absolutely amazing. 

The pink roofs are the park facility, which are home to two park rangers, a marine biologist, and a cook.  They work seven days on the island...then they're off for two weeks.  What a work schedule!!