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curiousx

Tour With Ellis...  www.tourwithellis.com...recommended, again

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Posted (edited)

We had such a great time on our 3 outings with Ellis this past February.  We had used his services last year too and this year was just as much fun, if not more.  So I just have to write about him again.

 

This year he took us first to the magical Caguana Ceremonial Grounds.  This is a well-preserved archaeological site where the indigenous Taina had their ball courts, performed rites and made astrological observations some 800 years ago. Our visit to this peaceful location way up in the hills was enhanced by the historical and botanical insights of a National Parks Service guide as well as by Ellis himself, drawing on his own extensive  knowledge and studies.

 

From Caguana we want to Lago dos Bocas, a very large artificial lake not too far from Arecibo.  There, Ellis found a boat that took us across to one of the restaurants that edge the lake.  The food was less than memorable but the Pina Colada was the best (and prettiest) we had.  Another highlight was the return trip on the lake, where the skipper took us on a leisurely cruise of the perimeter, allowing us to see houses and restaurants set back in the hills.  Sadly, a number were in ruins having suffered irreparable damage from Hurricane Maria in 2017.

 

For our next excursion, we had asked Ellis for a Beach Day, and he obliged by showing us a variety of attractive options.  The one we chose was a sandy shady bay near Loquillo well served by ‘kioskos’ serving local delicacies like octopus ceviche, salt cod fritters, corn sticks, fish tacos and more.  

 

Before reaching Loquillo, though, Ellis helped us cross off a bucket list item from our last trip by locating a traditional vejigante coconut mask-maker.  He found him in his colourful workshop in Loiza, one of the two or three towns on the island where the craft is practised.  The workshop was tucked away in a back alley.  Masks of all sizes, hues and shapes filled the walls.  The artisan was generous with his time and happy to have us taking pictures as well as making purchases.

 

Our third and final outing was to the Botanical and Cultural Gardens in Caguas, another beautiful setting recovering well from the hurricane damage which had closed it to visitors last time we were there.   Ellis had thoughtfully booked a guide to give us a trolley tour of the gardens’ various zones including  its statuary, park areas and botanical treasures. It would have been a hot long walk otherwise. 

 

Of particular interest were the traditional ‘grandfather’s home’ or ‘jibaro’ and its herb garden.  There were also a little jewel of a museum containing the gravesite of an important Taino woman discovered on the site, and the slave quarters for the old sugar mill that were later repurposed as one of the island’s first public schools.

 

On the way back to Old San Juan, we stopped off in Guavate village to enjoy the local pig roast activity (yum) and salsa dancing.   It was Valentine’s Day and the place was hopping, notwithstanding the cloudy sky and deluge that rained down for a while (the only rain that we saw in 10 days, BTW).

 

Ellis, as always, was punctual, courteous and relaxed.  His van is extremely comfortable and his driving impeccable on even the twistiest roads.  A more thoughtful host we could not imagine.  We hope to return to Puerto Rico ready for more adventures with him.

 

Ellis has a new website because his Facebook page has been having some issues lately.  So, the best way to contact him is through the website:  www.tourwithellis.com.

 

P.S.  here is a my review from last year.

 

 

 

Edited by curiousx

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