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Part 4 - Jul. 3rd - Day 17 - Sea Kayak Puerto Rico Circumnavigation

Updated: Jan 29

Puerto Rico - Caguas

I feel as though this one day stay in Caguas and Paradise Paddles was a change of gear from yesterday’s climb and drive. The restaurant is in a pleasant grassy field rimming a reservoir that runs through the middle of the town. There are many trees along the shore for shade and today there was a light cool breeze keeping both the heat and the bugs away. By the water are several tables with straw sunbrellas where I felt I could sit for hours watching the wind blow small floating islands of duckweed and water hyacinth.

I finally got to meet my friend here in Puerto Rico whom thus far I had only known through Facebook and some phone calls. I was curious to see what he was like in person; in his photographs he has a puffy face with a broad forehead, a sturdy barrel chest, and sports a beard shaped like a truncated pyramid that is wider than his face. When we finally met, he had the rugged mountain looks to match expectations, though I was surprised to realize how much taller I was than him. He reminded me of Gimli from The Lord of the Rings if Gimli had retired from Middle Earth, moved to the tropics, and swapped his battle axes for kayak paddles.

“Welcome to Paradise Paddles! Make yourself at home. There’s a shower for you to get all that mud off of you.”

We spent a few hours swapping stories about paddling adventures. I noticed he had three paddles tattooed on his lower arm, and when he told me about some of the sections still ahead of me I listened intently so I would know what lay ahead. “You have to be careful around Luquillo once you are back on the North side. Lots of corals there, the waves break over the underwater rocks, and the brake zone moves around a lot with the tide. Don’t get comfortable.”

Later that morning I drove around town to see what there might be to do. On the outskirts of town, I found a botanical garden. It was a good location to walk and stretch the legs, but unfortunately the place has been through some rough times. Hurricane Maria left no stone unturned in Puerto Rico. The Palm Tree Alley which should have had palm trees species from all over the world was just a bunch of stumps, the orchidarium had the roof nets blown off, and the water lily pond looked like a dirty bathtub.

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When I went back to Paradise Paddles in the afternoon, the place was packed with two events going on at the same time. One was some kind of corporate retreat. I sat close by to where they were having a presentation with speakers; it seemed like it was about some kind of self-help/ personal growth talk, but even after watching it for a while, I couldn’t tell what the point was.

The other event was a children's party with lots of young parents and little kids running around playing hide and seek and chasing after a soccer ball. Later a helicopter started hovering over the reservoir close to where we were, and everyone walked to the water’s edge to look. The helicopter flew away a little before swooping back for a close pass a few feet above our heads. At that moment someone one in the cockpit looked down the open door, reached inside to grab what looked like a large cement bag, and started pouring out the contents. A fine blue powder rained down in a cloud and everyone clapped and shouted out with joy. “It’s gonna be a boy!”

Sea Kayak Puerto Rico Circumnavigation


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