Mayaguez, Puerto Rico
Boricua's Third Largest City
Mayaguez, Puerto Rico is a beautiful city, as cities go.
I'm sitting looking out a window through the second floor balcony toward the hills and mountains to the east of the city.
If you check out the picture below, you should get some idea of my view, although I don't think pictures ever really do justice to beautiful landscapes.
I'm not very fond of cities, but I find them more bearable here, in Puerto Rico, than in the States. I think the tropical beauty helps somehow.
As I mentioned above, Mayaguez is the third largest city on the island, and the church we are working on is in the heart of the city.
We live in an apartment on the second floor, over the current church, while we're here, and Dennis and James spend the majority of their time working on the new building being constructed next door.
I'm sure within a week or so, he'll be giving you his impressions of this trip, but he's too busy now to get them finished. So, for now, you'll be getting mine instead.
If you notice the bars over the windows in the picture, they are called "rejas" here, and they aren't just to avoid crime, they are also decorative finishing touches to the buildings, and an important part of their culture.
When I first came to the island I was told they were a Moorish tradition brought by the Spanish when they originally settled. But, they do serve a double purpose by making it more difficult for thieves to rob the houses, as well.
Mayaguez, Puerto Rico
Location and Climate
Mayaguez, Puerto Rico is located on the west coast of the island, almost equidistant between the north and south sides. It takes about two or three hours to drive here from San Juan, depending on the traffic, if you fly into the international airport in San Juan.
But there is a smaller international airport at the old Ramey Air Force Base, located in Aguadilla, on the northwest tip of the island. It is only about a half hours drive away from where we stay. This trip, we were able to arrange to fly in there, making the trip on this end much shorter.
The climate is very close to ideal here, in my mind. Almost every morning dawns clear, and cool at this time of year with temperatures in the upper sixties to low seventies.
However, within a few hours of sunrise temperatures have usually risen to the mid to upper eighties, where they remain for the rest of the day.
Although it sounds warm, it isn't usually uncomfortable if you're outside in the shade, or in a house with good ventilation, due to the constant breezes. During the daytime they usually blow from the mountains to the east, and then in the evening, they reverse and come in off the ocean, to the west.
Frequently in the afternoon we'll have showers, and after it rains, the humidity usually increases, especially if it is only a brief shower. So, if you're trying to work, that is the most difficult part of the day.
When I first came to the island, back in 1979, air conditioning was almost unheard of, and every one was accustomed to the heat. But today, most businesses and offices have air conditioning, so people are less well adjusted to the warm temperatures. However, it is always a more difficult adjustment for visitors, than it is for those who live here.
Probably my favorite thing about the climate is the low occurrence of cloudy weather. Unless a hurricane, tropical storm, or tropical wave is going over, which rarely happens, you never have to deal with cloudy days here.
As I mentioned, you may have an hour or two of showers in the afternoon, or early evening, but the rest of the day is beautiful with sunshine and lovely white fluffy clouds, which eventually may build into those afternoon showers.
However, those showers keep everything green, and the flowers blooming without affecting the overall impression of lovely weather.
I greatly prefer the climate here, to that of Indiana, where we frequently have four to seven cloudy days out of every week. As I've grown older, I've found cloudy weather more and more difficult to deal with.
Mayaguez, Puerto Rico
Our Location and Nearby Attractions
To the south of the church across the street is a grocery store called "Mr. Special". It makes getting food while we're here fairly easy, but you need to learn when to shop.
Shopping in the afternoon and early evening is a big mistake because of the crowds. You may stand in a line far longer than the food is worth, at least in my opinion. But shopping early morning is usually a breeze, and since it is so convenient, that's usually when you'll find me buying food.
Also, in the morning I usually walk for exercise, and hand out tracts at the same time. There is a lovely park about a fourth mile away where many people go to get their morning exercise.
I join them, and offer them "un regalito", the tract, as we pass each other. In all the time I've been handing them out, I've only had one or two people actually refuse them, unless it is because they already have one, I've given them the day before.
There is a canal that runs to the west of the church. The park where I walk is on one side of the canal, and on the other side is a park designed for people to ride their bicycles.
Occasionally I will walk through it, instead of the other, just for a change of pace. I don't like it as well though, because it is mostly cement and tends to be very hot, unless it is very early in the morning.
About a half mile to the west of our location, is the Mayaguez, Puerto Rico city square, with its traditional Catholic cathedral, and other city buildings. There is frequently live entertainment there on the week-ends.
These are the near-by attractions in the city, but when we take time off for site-seeing, not more than once a week, we usually leave the city and go to the surrounding areas.
There are several lovely beaches within an hours drive of Mayaguez, Puerto Rico. To the north is a lighthouse at Rincón, and also a great surfing beach.
To the south is a beautiful swimming beach called "Boquerón". It also boasts a beautiful Marina, with condos and resorts close by as well.
Additionally in Cabo Rojo there is another light house with a gorgeous white sand beach close by, and salt flats where they dry sea salt.
We enjoy visiting the nature reserve there and buying some salt, although we rarely visit the lighthouse, due to an entry road with potholes big enough to swallow small cars. Once we tried to go, and they had repaired the road, but the last time we tried, it was in horrible condition again.
Mayaguez Puerto Rico
Lodging and Dining
I can't give personal recommendations about the lodging since we've always had a place to stay when we've come to Mayaguez, Puerto Rico, but I can tell you there are many great places to eat.
Our favorite restaurant in the whole island is located in Aguadilla, only about a half hours drive to the north. It is called Cielo y Mar (Sky and Sea in English). It sits on a bluff overlooking the ocean, and the town of Aguadilla. The view can't be beat, and the food is just as good. We've already been once this trip, and I'm hoping we'll make it back again before we leave.
However, there are many other good restaurants available in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico. We usually enjoy Pizza at the nearby Pizza Hut, at least once during the trip. We also enjoy visiting Pollo Tropical, and El Meson if we're in the mood for Puerto Rican food.
To the south along the ocean on Route 102, there are many seafood restaurants with a lovely ocean view. Our favorite there is called El Bohio (The buoy in English) which also serves excellent seafood and steaks. We've usually visited them at the invitation of church members who wanted to treat us, but lately we've taken to going on our own if we go to Cabo Rojo.
Hotels aren't hard to come by either. I know of three or four within a five mile radius here in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico. I'm sure there are others I'm not aware of, as well.
Mayaguez, Puerto Rico
Although we don't come to Mayaguez, Puerto Rico for pleasure, we certainly enjoy our visits here. It is a lovely city with many attractions.
Its biggest drawback is, it is situated in a tsunami zone, so were an undersea earthquake to occur, the city could be wiped out in a few minutes time.
However there are high enough hills close by to provide safety, unless people were unaware of the danger, or unable to reach the hills due to traffic jams.
To us, the biggest attraction of the city is Iglesia Bautista Nueva Vida (New Life Baptist Church in English), the fundamental Baptist Church whose building we've been helping build for the past few years.
It is only at this church, and others like it, that people can find not only direction and pleasure for this life, but the good news of the gospel, that will teach them how they can spend eternity in a place far more beautiful than even Mayaguez.
Our hope, and prayer, is that this church will be greatly used of God in the coming years to reach this city with the gospel.
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