16 December, 2016

Hola Muchachos,

So here we are at the Marina at Palmas del Mar.  Palmas is a planned community that was started around 1975.  Currently, there are 3,500 housing units here, ranging from single family, detached homes to multi-unit condos, spread over 2,700 acres.  Approximately half are occupied year-round, half are second homes.  This gated community has 25 smaller gated enclaves within its’ boundaries.  There are 20 tennis courts (clay, grass, and composition), an equestrian center, a Catholic church, grocery store, (two) eighteen-hole golf courses, a spa facility, some 16 restaurants, a K-12 elementary school, a Wyndham Hotel, casino and on and on.  The marina will accommodate yachts up to 175’, although the largest here at present is merely 115’.  We’re here because we thought that it’d be a safe place to leave The Girl when we flew home for Christmas.

Our first afternoon was spent cleaning the salt off “Alizann”, picking up our mail, and meeting the neighbors.  Over the next few days, we spent a lot of time walking and exploring a small part of the grounds.  Saturday night, the week before Christmas, featured a (Christmas) lighted golf cart parade, which culminated in the central plaza where the party was just beginning.  A live band kicked ‘em out until the small hours, interrupted occasionally by a few torrential rain showers that blew through.  Although the language presented a bit of a barrier, Suz and I understood the smiling and dancing without any problem.  The girls were loving the line dancing, doing the “electric slide” to the Puerto Rican beat.  At one point, I looked around, and to my surprise, noticed that all of the guys were on the sidelines with just the ladies (and I) dancing-oops.  Next song was a slow one, so the disturbance in the Force was quelled as the men returned to the floor.

There are only 5 of us out on the end of “B dock”, and 2 of the boats are unoccupied.  That leaves Dave, a guy from the U.S. mainland who spends his winters here on his boat, Susan & Peter, Canadian sail boaters who have wintered here in the Caribbean for the past few years, and us.  Of course, we share some sips and stories.  Suzanne enlisted Dave to take care of her garden (Basil, tomatoes, and various herbs) while we are gone over Christmas.  He was looking forward to having his daughter from the West Coast come for a visit over the Holiday.  Peter and Susan were also expecting company, as their daughter was flying in from Toronto, expecting a two-week sail to the Spanish Virgins.  Getting the Girl ready for our absence required doubling all lines and placing chafe protection all around, while leaving extra lines in the cockpit just in case they were needed.  Our spot on “B Dock” was right on the traffic pattern to the fuel dock for the marina staff (not a coincidence), so we figured that if there were any issues, the guys would notice.  Finally, we left Roberto his Christmas gift of a couple pounds of Mahi filets, and after digging out our cold-weather clothes, we’re ready to roll.

That pretty much brings up to the 20th of December.  Luigi picked us up promptly at 06h00, and we were off on our adventure to the San Juan airport.  The traffic thickened as we neared San Juan, and the rain and poor road surface didn’t help matters, but we arrived at the airport 2 hours ahead of our flight.  It was a good thing, too.  By the time we got through the lines at agriculture inspection and baggage check, we really appreciated our “Global Traveler” status at TSA.   

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