Thursday 22nd March 2012
After a good night’s sleep in a very calm anchorage, we dropped the dinghy and went ashore to get some showers. Having paid our $20 and filled out a lengthy registration form to get our visitor’s passes from the yacht club, we eventually found the shower block and were extremely underwhelmed by them. Not at all clean, broken doors and showers, rotting wood peeling off the wall behind the washbasins, no mirrors… There were workmen in the gents, supposedly refurbishing, but they certainly had their work cut out! Anyway, we decided we would give them a shot, after all we had paid $20 for the privilege. Steve was lucky in getting warm water, I was not.
We went back to the office and asked to see the manager. He agreed to see us and after a 20-minute wait, invited us into his office. We suggested that they were overcharging for the use of their ‘facilities’, especially since they also did not have a dinghy dock, but expected you to tie up anywhere there might be a suitable space! We also suggested that $50 to use their fuel dock for an hour, whilst also buying their diesel, was too expensive, especially as this could not be offset against visitor’s passes in the same way that it could be used against slip fees. He was unsmiling and surly, and although he listened to our complaints, was unapologetic and simply repeated that they are a private yacht club and not a marina. He was totally unable to grasp the fact that this is immaterial if you are offering services to the public. As we left we heard the four people from a recently arrived yacht being told that if they wanted to hire a car and have it brought to the yacht club for pickup, they would first have to pay $10 each for visitor’s passes.
So, having done the honourable thing and allowed him a chance to answer our complaints, we do not feel bad about giving the Ponce Yacht and Fishing Club a big thumbs down and a somewhat negative write-up on Noonsite.
We then took a taxi into Ponce and were dropped off at the main square where this rather garish red and black striped building houses the Museo de Bomberos (Firefighters’ Museum) and the Tourist Information Office. We enquired about tours around the town and were sold tickets at $2 each to ride the Chu Chu Train! Bargain! We were driven around the main sights of the town for 45 minutes – an interesting ride that would have been more so if the microphone had been working and we could have been told what we were passing! The driver stopped a few times when traffic allowed and shouted a few words at us, but, poor chap, he seemed to be more frustrated by the whole thing than the rest of us who simply enjoyed the ride around town! One of the interesting things that we did notice was the abundance of wrought iron railings which covered every conceivable entrance to a property. We felt it must be like living inside a cage as all windows, doors and balconies were barred. One can only assume that crime is an issue and everyone wants to protect what they have.
The Museo be Bomberos in Plaza de Delicias, Ponce Even the inside is stripy!
The main town square, the Plaza de Delicias, has a wonderful fountain at its centre that is a delight to watch. The lions pick up the theme of the town’s founder, Ponce de Leon, and are to be seen in various places, including on the main bridge and in the City Hall. The buildings that surround the square are all very different, some very grand and ornate, others rather bland, but all well-kept.
The fountain at the centre of the Plaza de Delicias… guarded by a lion on each corner.
It seems that firefighters are held in high regard in this town that seems to have had more than its fair share of big fires that have ravaged it several times, and one way that they show that regard is to reward long and excellent service with a home – painted red and black of course!
The Chu Chu Train. Ex-firefighters’ houses.
We spent the usual amount of time trying to decide what flavour ice-creams to have, and then wandered over to a park bench to enjoy the sunshine and surroundings. We bumped into Doug and Dorothy from Rigel, who had checked in at the same time as us, and they offered us a lift back to the harbour, which we gladly accepted. On the way back we stopped at a very large cash and carry and picked up a few supplies, none of which were alcoholic for a change!
Yesterday we chilled out on the boat, and went ashore around lunchtime to find lunch at one of the little places along the shore. We tied the rib to a little jetty where there were other dinghies and congratulated ourselves that we had not needed the yacht club’s ‘dinghy dock’ facilities. We had lunch of fried chicken and plantain kebab and empanada, washed down by beer. Most evenings so far here it has rained for a while as squall clouds pass over, and yesterday was no exception. Steve decided to make a note of all the places our canvas is leaking and to treat it when it’s dry!
This morning Steve first treated the canvas with waterproofing (it should dry for 24 hours before getting wet again but not much chance of that!), then took the rib ashore to get some fried chicken takeaway for lunch. He arrived at the jetty to find a daytripper motorboat whose owner was very angrily untying the dinghies tied up there. Fortunately he could not let them go as they were also locked on with wires, but he then got out his penknife and started trying to saw through the wires! He was very abusive to Steve, saying that it is a private jetty and the dinghies were in his way. Steve thought he might end up towing haf a dozen ribs back to Scott-Free if the guy succeeded in setting them adrift. Eventually the guy calmed down and his two younger staff apologised for him and offered to look after our rib while Steve went to get lunch. Once Steve was back at the boat we decided that maybe leaving the rib there was not such a hot idea!