Author: chuck (---.bstnma.fios.verizon.net)
Date: 08-12-09 18:12
I've now camped at Flamenco Beach Campground two successive summers for just under a week each time, most recently the last week in July; this is a summary of the trips. Last year's trip was just my daughter (then 16) and I, this latter trip she brought a friend. Each time, we camped in section D. We originally thought we were in Section E, the furthest section from the parking lot, our goal because of its reputation as the quietest, but actually we were in D. It seems to us that Section E is not really the quietest after all, since it seems to attract large groups intent on getting as far from the parking lot as possible so as to allow some serious partying. Section D seemed to have a disproportionate share of Gringos like ourselves, and certainly had the lowest population density of all the sections. On our last night there, however, a group of 6 or so college age folks showed up, locals from the “big island”, who were intent on getting very drunk and partying. I’ll spare you the details, but after making it a point to converse with them early on, I felt comfortable asking them to quiet down and even offered to turn down their boombox for them. They ran out of steam around 1 or 2 a.m. A set of showers has been added to section D, making three sets in all for the whole campground, and adding a little convenience. The showers don’t have “warm water” but it’s temperate enough that it doesn’t feel like a cold shower.
On our first night there, a Sunday, there was a large (like three or four cruisers) police presence. According to the new campground administration person, every possible type of trouble had occurred during the weekend - lots of theft, fight, etc. We heard about one group that attempted to carry off an entire tent, lock, stock and barrel, as well as people going into tents. The administrator guy, named Eric, was intent on tightening many of the rules.
The wind at Flamenco was consistently off the water, so the waters were a bit roiled. I took a couple trips over the hill (25 min each way) to Carlos Rosario to snorkel, and the more favorable wind direction resulted in much greater clarity. But the snorkeling at Flamenco was still great. I did spot turtles at each beach, hawksbills, I believe, some colorful (bicolor, maybe a stoplight, too) parrotfish and a very attractive trunkfish. Went around the large rock outcropping that separates carlos Rosario from Tamarindo, upon the claim by a fellow camper that it was fantastic, but it actually was less exciting (except for our getting to watch a turtle at great length) than everywhere else. I think “fantastic” is a claim that’s very immediate-local-conditions dependent.
Unfortunately, the trip was marred by some mishaps. First off, we flew from Ceiba to Culebra ($35 one way), but one item of luggage disappeared, and, partly because Franklin the tent-rental guy and his helper met us at the airport (it was late) and were helping us stuff luggage where ever it would fit in his van, I didn’t realize it was missing till we got to section D - we had six bags altogether, so I should have realized that a count was necessary every step of the way. The airport had closed, and when I called in the morning, the luggage was gone, and wasn’t at any of their three facilities. It had my own tent, brand new & spiffy, along with virtually all the camping gear, the snorkel gear, the lanterns, cell-phone chargers, even a pair of ipod speakers for the girls to entertain themselves and any new friends they made. So far, Flamenco Air has washed their hands of any responsibility for it because I left the airport without reporting it. I managed okay, though, just sleeping on the beach covered with a sheet at night. Was a little hard and sandy, but awesome to be right by all that beauty, and I'm almost, nearly 100% certain I heard the sound of llamas frolicking in the foam.
Tip #1: count your bags.
After going snorkeling with my cell phone, I realized I had become prematurely senile. Tip #2: soak in distilled water several times, shake out, then soak in drygas to absorb more water, shake wicked hahd, then wrap in napkins & leave it in with a triple-ziplocked mixture of rice and a pound of salt for a few days. It sort of works.
I tended to be up late (until the beach-strollers had mostly left) and getup early. One night, I had forgotten to put the cheap snorkel tube and mask I got to replace the stolen ones in the girls’ tent, didn’t want to disturb them once I discovered the stuff so I just set them on the picnic table - it was very late. In the morning, the young Austrian women next to us reported that earlier, at 6 am, they saw a young 14-ish boy passing through the campground grab them and stuff them under his t-shirt. When they confronted him, he denied having anything: they had to grab him and pull up his t-shirt. It was kind of them to do so under the circumstances. I also had 2 cheap sring-mesh tents taken - they were in the trees across the path/roadway from our tentsite. I guess so many people leave coolers and such behind – things they don’t feel like lugging back - that campers just go through after people have left and grab anything that’s not claimed or nailed down. Someone quoted a supposed Latin American saying: after 3 days it has no owner. Make that 3 minutes. In 6 or 7 trips to Puerto Rico with as many as 4 kids and 1 wife, I’ve never had anything taken. Maybe I’d become too incautious. Tip #3: be watchful & wise so you don’t have to be paranoid.
A little transportation note: we took the 7AM flight from Culebra to Isla Grande, and I was told that it’s one flight that would definitely leave on time, because it had to pick up one of their pilots at the other end for him to come to Culebra. It worked! Leaving that early forced us to be efficient in packing up, and we had the whole day to enjoy in San Juan.
That’s all the news that’s fit to print. Thanks for reading!