14 December, 2016
So, Enterprise picked us up yesterday morning, and we were off on our adventure to the coffee plantation in the mountains. The highway headed north out of town was four lanes, but full of potholes and patches, making speeds over 50mph feel too fast. As we headed up the mountain, the small stream of cars thinned to nothing. Google announced our turn, and it was a good thing, as there were NO street signs. Kurt, the owner of Hacienda Pomarossa, told Suzanne that his farm would be found at kilometer 12.8 of this road. I use the term “road” loosely. Yes, it was paved, but barely wide enough for two vehicles to pass. The edge of the pavement dropped off 8” to the (not) shoulder, and in many places, was fractured off completely, a foot or so into the lane. In a few spots, the downhill lane was gone altogether, having washed downhill in some previous mudslide. That didn’t keep the oncoming drivers from racing down like maniacs, often coming around blind corners in the middle of the road, only to slam on the brakes and swerve over to their own side before they hit us. We mighta’ bought the farm, had the semi truck coming the other way around a blind switchback not had a very loud horn. We heard him coming before entering the turn, and it’s a good thing, too. He took up the whole road, the tractor and end of the trailer on the right edge, with the middle of the trailer extending over the inside of the curve on the left edge. I think that a very short, but explicit descriptive may have slipped from my lips, because Suzanne was laughing hysterically as we sat stopped on the road, the semi’s tires inches from my head.
We made it. Hacienda Pomarossa was perched on the side of the mountain, amidst a rain forest of vegetation. Kurt and his wife, Eva had an idyllic property-eight acres of coffee trees sprinkled among banana, mango, plantain, mandarin, orange and grapefruit trees. Kurt is German, but has lived in PR for 41 years, and has been married to Eva, a Puerto Rican, for 40. She is a self-professed city girl, and lives in Old San Juan, at their home there most of the time. Kurt loves the farm, but visits the city now and then. Works for them. Kurt toured us around the farm, and demonstrated his processing equipment. Unlike many small farms, Kurt does all of his own processing, from picking to destemming, peeling, drying, roasting, and packaging the beans. Definitely a labor of love, the end result being around approximately 6,000 pounds of gourmet coffee per year. After our tour and a talk about the history of coffee, we discussed our respective reading lists over a couple of cups. He is obviously well-read, and I got a couple of suggestions for future reads, as well as giving a few titles to him. We sat and talked about a mutual favorite, “1421, The Year that China Discovered America”, as well as a couple of others. After 4 hours at the farm, it was time to head out, as we wanted to drive over to Salinas and check out the harbor there. Google Maps showed us the route, and we were off. If the road in was small, this one was miniscule. No wider than a typical driveway, I couldn’t help but wonder what we’d do if we encountered a car coming the other way. We twisted, turned, and wound our way down the mountain, several times finding that we were on a drive heading up to someone’s shack, having gone straight when the road took a sharp turn. Finally, the “road” ENDED. Google showed a road ahead. But the trees and bushes belied this fact. Whatthe? By now, after 45 minutes of twisting and turning, we tried to backtrack after making an 18-point turn to reverse direction. “Do you remember seeing that shack?” “Did we see that rusted out truck before?” “I don’t remember this intersection, do you?” Google had completely redrawn itself, but by now, we didn’t trust her anyway. It’s pouring rain now, and getting darker. We came over a rise, and entered a section of road which was totally unfamiliar, running along the edge of a dropoff. There was a young man on a backhoe fixing the side of the road, talking to a kid on a bike. No habla Ingles. We managed to get through the language barrier, he barked some orders to the kid, who tore off on his bike into the pouring rain. Motioning for us to follow, we wondered where he was taking us. Ten minutes later, there we were, at the driveway to Hacienda Pomarossa. We took the original road home. It now looked like a turnpike. Kinda outta time, we stopped to eat at “Casa del Chef,” a restaurant that Jose had recommended. There, we both availed ourselves to the ubiquitous Puerto Rican delight, Mofongo. We’re talking mashed, then fried plantain formed into a ball, surrounding (fill in the blank) Camarones (shrimp), Pescado (fish), Carne (meat), Pulpo (octopus), Concha (conch), Pollo (chicken), or whatever. The whole deal is then drenched in an intense Ajo (garlic) salsa. Whew! After we waddled back to the car, we headed to the supermercado for fresh fruta y vegetales. We got back to the Girl just before nightfall.
Weather should be moderating tomorrow, so we’ll get off the dock and head out to Caja de Muertos. Our plan is to anchor there, and climb to the top of the island, then spend the night on the hook. There’s really no harbor there, just a little Bight on the southwest side. If the anchorage is too rolly, we’ll head 15 miles east to the bay in Salinas. Until then,