I almost considered not writing a post about this stretch of Puerto Rico.
Not that this isn’t a great part of the island, or that we didn’t spend much time here. But most of our time was spent passing through on the way to somewhere else. With the exception of an animal shelter in Mayagüez, we really had no destinations planned for most of the west coast.
1. Boqueron and Bacalaito
Something happened on the way north out of Cabo Rojo. I’m certain that I was simply following the signs to the main highway when, suddenly, we were caught up in one-way, cobblestone, streets. We had every intention of making a quick trip up the coast to an animal shelter in Mayagüez, and this was certainly not going to help.
But should we stop? Of course!
Boqueron seems to be a pretty popular tourist destination. It isn’t large, and consists of maybe two or three streets packed full of bars, restaurants, and souvenir shops. It looked like fishing was a big thing in this area, but it’s all hard to tell based on our 15 minute speed walk through the town.
Although I cannot recommend much about Boqueron, there is a bacalaito stand just east of the tourist shops that should be a stop on anyone’s way through the area. Bacalaito is one of those unique, regional, treats that had been on our radar throughout the trip. Essentially a deep-fried cod (bacalao) tortilla with seasonings added. Not a very appetizing description, I know, but it really is good. Ours was huge, so plan on sharing with someone. You’ll also want lots of napkins and something to drink. They are greasy and a bit salty.
2. Mayagüez: Cats and Corn Ice Cream
Mayagüez is probably not on most traveler’s short-list while in Puerto Rico. It is a decent size city with a university, zoo, and lots of nice parks. It is also extremely hilly in parts. I wish that I had taken some pictures of the road up to the animal shelter. Certainly not a drive you’d want to make during inclement weather, or with too many other vehicles on the road. Narrow, twisty, steep, rough, and residential with lots of cars parked on either side.
The Villa Michelle Animal Shelter was one of our main goals throughout the trip. Originally we had hoped to contact someone and spend a little bit of time there, volunteering and helping out in any way we could. Unfortunately, we never were able to get a hold of anyone and decided to at least drop in and see what kind of operations it was. We have a fair amount of experience helping out at shelters and try to contribute a little bit whenever we’re in a new place. This time we didn’t get to assist with anything. We arrived fairly late, and all we could really do was visit with some of the animals and show them some love. We were the only visitors at the time, and it seemed like all the critters really appreciated some company.
This is something I’d certainly encourage anyone to do on a trip. Many places outside of the mainland US have little or no infrastructure for taking care of abandoned animals. This particular facility was limited, a little rough, and at the top of a really steep hill, but still one of the best shelters in the area. Places like this always need a little help. So, stop in, play with the kitties a bit, and be sure to leave a donation before you go. Most of these animals wouldn’t stand a chance without a shelter environment.
On a lighter note. Mayagüez has Rex Cream! An ice cream chain known for some quirky flavors. We had originally set our sights on a place further inland, some ice cream shop we had seen on Bizarre Foods, but they were no longer open. Oh well. Rex Creams are pretty common in this area, and they also have some unique flavors. We opted for corn flavored. It seems a bit odd, but is really quite good. The sweetness is fairly dominant with just a hint of something corny going on as well.
Rincón is fairly well known outside of Puerto Rico. The land itself is on a bit of a mountainside overlooking the west coast. It has the reputation of being a surfer, backpacker, and hostel kind of town. All of those things are still very true, but it is also pretty swanky too. We booked a room at the Lazy Parrot and were expecting something fairly down to earth, and maybe a little rough around the edges. Oops, we were wrong. Turns out to be one of the nicer resorts in the area. Normally I would be a little bummed by that. Part of what we like about PR is the rugged authenticity of most places. However, the Lazy Parrot managed to be really nice, without being all that pretentious. Sure, there was a huge pool with an accompanying hot tub. There may have been two bars, a restaurant, and a pizzeria with its own brick oven. But it was still quite cozy, and it did not have the sterile, overcompensation, of most places claiming to be resorts. If you’re going to stay in Rincón, you can’t go wrong with the Lazy Parrot.
We were only in Rincón for a night, but it certainly seemed like the kind of place you could stay a few days and find plenty to do.
Here’s my list of blog entries for Puerto Rico.
- Vieques: The Island We Couldn’t Leave
- El Yunque: Spanish for “The Yunque”
- Cabo Rojo: Southwestern Puerto Rico
- Lechon: You’ll have to be a stronger vegetarian than me…
- The Western Coast: Boqueron & Bacalaito, Mayagüez & Maize, and Rincón
- Bosque Estatal De Guajataca, y la cueva del viento: Guajataca State Forest, and the Cave of the Wind
- So, this guy has a waterfall in his backyard…
- Arecibo Observatory
- Old San Juan