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|Being as this is my site, I felt I needed to contribute a
little something to it, and, as I haven't been back to Vieques in 2½
years, I needed that "island-time" fix. So, at the height of
hurricane season, off I go.
Arriving in San Juan brought memories flooding back of a less traveled carpenter coming for the first time many years ago to this foreign country. No Spanish language skills, just "si" and "no" to his vocabulary. Luckily, and to my embarrassment, many of the people spoke English.
One airport transfer and a half hour later, I arrived by small plane (my first) in Vieques. The view from the airport was spectacular. Puerto Rico loomed in the background of this quaint setting separated by the most beautiful patch of topaz blue and emerald green water I had ever seen. There was nothing like this in New England. Even the waters around Miami weren't this incredible, but I digress.
I arrived in Puerto Rico this time (late September) to what seemed like a far greener island than I remember seeing before. The flight to Vieques on Vieques Air Link was calm. As we flew into Vieques, I noticed the same lush vegetation. If it's like this now, the winter season should be incredibly beautiful.
I picked up my car rental from Steve and headed over to check into the Tradewinds. It was sunset, as can only be experienced in the Caribbean. Cindy and Greg (old friends and "the staff") got me into my room. Then, I was off to find something to eat, as airline food doesn't fill one's mouth these days, let alone the belly. First stop and always open, "Bananas" for my first Barrilito (my favorite Puerto Rican Rum) in over two years. Dinner with Richie was in order, as it was about the only place open and an old haunt of mine. Richie is the bartender and always full of information. From him I found out who was open, and not and who was on-island. Some of the names were new to me, but it's been a while.
I left there satiated, and headed to the main watering hole on the north side of Vieques, Mar Azul. They've added a sunset deck and a much larger bar. Al is the affable owner and we had mandatory welcome home drink(s) and toured his new additions.
The next morning I was up at dawn and went out scouting the island. The island awakens early to avoid the heat of the day, so I was not alone. There were fishermen on Sun Bay (the main beach), and kids on their way to school. The island was a buzz. Everywhere the lushness amazed me.
I spent the rest of the day visiting with friends, and managed to squeeze in a little time at the beach. This time of year, you'd be hard-pressed to find a beach with a half dozen people on it. Sun Bay had six people on it's one mile stretch of beautiful palm-lined, white sand beach. The next beach, Media Luna, had two, and Navio had me. It doesn't take long to get fried down here, so don't forget the sunscreen!
Before heading home for a little siesta, I stopped by Siddhia's Gallery to say hi. She has been doing great things with the gallery. You'll have to stop when they open for the season.
After siesta, I was off to La Campesina for dinner. Barry and Diane were closing at the end of the week for a month (opening in November), but were happy to feed this wayfarer (and anyone else that wandered in). They were the only "fine" dining establishment open this evening, and the food was great. Their seafood is always fresh and their meats the best quality, and Barry can whip up a great dining experience with the help of Diane, his wife, and Michelle, their gringa waitress gone native.
The day complete, I retired to the deck of my apartment for a Barrilito nightcap.
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... over San Juan