Thursday, 19 March 2015

On coco frio and reef fish

I had planned to withdraw some more cash today (it being payday and all) but didn't give too much mind. I left Mayaguez on route 2 before leaving it at Aguadilla. I rode along the waterfront observing surfers and their antics. I left what I think of as Aguadilla proper by a lovely, but climbing twisty road shadowed by lush vegetation. It made for a cool but slightly humid climb.

Not too far from a slightly sleepy airport, I found a Banco Popular with a ATM. For some reason, it rejected my debit card. I tried my credit card as well and got the same result. I headed off hoping I would come across a more international bank such as Scotiabank (they have them here) or Santander. However, as I was down to less than $10 USD in terms of hard cash, I was a bit nervous.

I had turned the corner into the metaphorical home stretch along the North Coast. The trade wind was now in my face and progress was slower. As well, the sunburns on my arms began to bubble so I slathered on quite a lot of sunscreen. As well, I opted for a coastal bike path for a bit. All this combined to leave my legs with a lot of dust and sand on them by the end of the day!

The bike path ended at Isabella (named I assume for the back half of Ferdinand and Isabella).  I had steep climb and push to back on top of the bluff where the town center was. There, in a square surrounded with neatly painted buildings I found a Santander ATM from which extracted lovely money! I celebrated with piƱa colada sherbet at Rex Cream.

Later, I stopped to try coco frio at a roadside stand. I wasn't expecting the coconut juice to come in a half gallon plastic jug!

I found my hotel in Hatillo. (The "h" is silent.) The desk clerk knew me nearly on sight as she was the one who had taken my reservation the day before in which there had been mention of my bike. ;-) She tried to sell me on the hotel's pool though I was rather more interested in the (public) beach beyond the stand of mangrove trees behind the hotel.

After doing the day's hand washing of clothes, I set off in bathing togs, mask and snorkel in hand. There was a lovely sandy beach in a small lagoon with a little barrier reef of its own.  I waded in, then swam with my head down. The bottom was sand for a bit with little to see, until I noticed a fish foraging on the bottom. Your genuine, real life, wild, tropical fish. For someone brought up on a regular diet of nature documentaries, this was muy cool. And as such a person, I knew there would like be more fish nearer the rocky bits. Which indeed there was. I even think there was some "brain coral". The fish were of an assortment of about a dozen species, some with bold yellows and blues, others drab silver. They were mostly shaped a bit like spades from a deck of cards of their sides. The exception was one fish about a foot or more long that was long, slender and had a lean and hungry look about it. I can't say for certain but it looked a more actively predatory fish than the others, possibly something in the barracuda family. Unlike the other fish, it hung near the surface.

That swim was a definite highlight of this trip!

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