Sunday, December 12, 2010

Vieques, Puerto Rico

Pam and I left Tampa for San Juan, Puerto Rico on Wednesday morning, and arrived there just after 11am. We called Ilca, the taxi driver that had been recommended to us, and within a few minutes she picked us up, headed for the port of Fajardo. Although we initially thought we weren't going to make the 1pm ferry we ended up getting on, climbed to the roof, and relaxed for the hour long ride to the island of Vieques.

The view in the port of Isabel II as we arrived from Fajardo.

After getting off of the ferry, catching another taxi to the rental house, and getting our bags unloaded we took off for the malecon (main area of Esperanza). This was our first view of the ocean there, first to the east and then to the west (towards the setting sun).

We took a short stroll down the coastline, and just past a small pier we found this small beach.

A few minutes later we walked back to the malecon and had a bite to eat for dinner at the Trade Winds, right on the water. Not a bad view, eh? We walked along the little shops for a bit before heading back to the house for the night. Pam said that someone once told her that a vacation wasn't good unless it involved at least two forms of transportation, and we had already been through three that day (plane, taxi and boat).

Fried oysters at the Trade Winds restaurant.
The view from our dinner table.

My plate included whole snapper, red beans and rice, and fried plantains.

The horses are literally everywhere on the island, and although some say they are mostly wild we found out that this is not the case. I'm sure that some of them are, but most are the equivalent of a dog to someone (although rumor has it that when a horse does damage nobody seems to own it).

This was our 4:45am alarm clock each morning. Several of them live in the vacant lot across the street from our house.

Along the walk from the house (2 blocks from the ocean) to the malecon there is this huge rock that has been painted. There are many rocks like this around the island, but this is the only one that I saw that was "decorated". It is about 15 feet tall.

On the second day Pam and I took a mile long walk to Hector's By the Sea on recommendation from a local bartender. First we walked a mile up the paved road,

then down a long, winding, dirt road,

saw the ocean in the distance with horses grazing,

and as we turned a corner we were greeted by three seemingly wild (and uncared for) horses,

before arriving on the property of Mary and Hector. I believe that this is the most beautiful piece of land on the island. It is several acres of beautiful green land with horses grazing, and then a cliff with a path that leads to a secluded beach.

We were both in complete awe when we got to the bottom of the cliff and saw the beach below.

Later that evening we had tacos at Belly Buttons. They grilled the tortillas on the grill, placed our choice of meat on the tortilla, and then we topped them with a variety of local veggies and sauces. Seriously the most delicious tacos I have ever had.

On Friday the owner of our rental house took us to Isabel Segunda, the largest town on the island, and the location of the only pharmacy, the two gas stations on the island, and the only two ATM's. We took a stroll to the Playa Cofi, or Sea Glass Beach, and managed to each find several pieces of sea glass. The beaches here on the north side of the island are very different than the southern beaches (Esperanza), but equally beautiful.

On the way back from Isabel Segunda Kathy, our hostess, drove us to the western most part of the island, stopping to let us see Playa Grande. A storm was coming in from the east (as you can see), and it appeared to be raining in Esperanza. Even then it was absolutely stunning.

Friday night we made the trip to Sun Bay for the bioluminescent kayaking trip. Through Sun Bay and into Mosquito Bay in the dark of the night with only minimal moonlight, we kayaked out into the bay, tied our kayaks together (a group of eight), and swam in the water, completely lit up by the dinoflagellates that fill the bay. It was one of the most amazing and beautiful things I have ever had the privilege of doing. After two hours in the bay we took the bumpy truck ride back to Sun Bay, and then our guide drove us back to our house.

We left early (5:30am) on Saturday to catch the first ferry of the day from Vieques back to Fajardo, and then another taxi ride to the airport in San Juan. After a very long stay in the airport we arrived back in Tampa at about 10:45pm.

Vieques is an amazing place, and still mostly untouched by mass tourism. It's very different than being on the mainland of Puerto Rico, and the lifestyle is very relaxed. Everything definitely runs on island time. Being there, with Pam, was the best possible way to experience such a beautiful place, and we've both agreed that it won't be our last trip there.


The Mom said...

Had an amazing time with you. Love you so much.

Mom said...

Wow looks like you two had a great time. Hope you both have many more. Love you