February 2003

Greetings Everyone!

For those of you freezing in the Northeast and everywhere else, the weather is fabulous here! Temps are in the 80s during the day and then into the 70s at night making for great sleeping weather. There has been some rain, enough to keep the grass green but not enough to keep you from enjoying the beaches. We have new businesses that have opened and then the usual changes going on as expected this time of year.

Well the rumors are true – Martineau Bay is really opening this month! Wyndham has taken over managing the hotel and they will be officially open to the public on February 15th. I understand that there will be a ribbon cutting ceremony on the 14th and that Governor Sila Calderon will be here to visit the resort on the 19th. This is all very exciting for the island as it will create many new jobs and bring more people to Vieques. Wyndham owns or operates 6 other hotels/resorts on the main island of Puerto Rico so they know all the ropes of getting a hotel staffed and supplied. The facility has 156 guest rooms including 20 suites, two restaurants, a bar and lounge, spa and fitness center, tennis courts, pool, three beaches and a meeting house for conferences and special events. I have heard rumors that there will be some water sports available like kayak and sunfish rentals. Also rumored is a casino in the next year, the first for Vieques. Another rumor involves the possibility of a public golf course being built near the resort in the coming years. We will all just have to wait and see on that one but I for one would love to see a course here and I am not even a golfer!

There are other new businesses that have opened recently and 2 of them are restaurants. Bayaonda, located in Monte Santo, is perhaps going to be the hottest new place when word gets out. “What’s Happenin’” is late because I wanted to sample her menu before I wrote this! They just opened this past weekend. Wanda and Gustavo have created a lovely atmosphere in their pavilion and she is cooking up a wonderful and diverse menu. Last night she prepared a sampler of appetizers for us so we tried her stuffed clams, shrimp and squid cakes, stuffed grape leaves, her homemade Italian sausage and the baby octopus. All of it was outstanding and I particularly loved the sausage with the prune and smoked habanero sauce and the stuffed grape leaves. For dinner I ordered her lamb kebob, it was huge, and it came with a combination of mashed root vegetables that was delicious and very fresh, crunchy green beans. The others at the table ordered the crispy fish and raved about it. The best part is the prices are reasonable, appetizers for $6-12 and entrees at $9-20. She also has some nice desserts, which we sampled as well, my favorite was the green tea cheese cake. For now they do not have a liquor license, so it is fine to BYOB. They are open Friday – Sunday nights and plan on being open for lunch as well possibly starting this week. 

Tropical Baby is open for lunch in Esperanza and “Baby” is also doing an Asian Night on Tuesdays by reservation only as her location is very small and has limited seating. “Baby’s” motto is “eat right, feel right” and her menu concentrates on fish and vegetables. This is not the place to go for a hamburger, however, her veggie burger served in pita bread is wonderful. She has soups, salads, stir fry, and can definitely accommodate the vegetarian and vegan. She is also doing some smoothies with fresh fruit. “Baby” has extensive experience in the restaurant business, she was trained in France and has worked in Puerto Rico, Indonesia and Miami. For the past several years she has been doing consulting work, creating menus and suggesting changes for many restaurants along the east coast of the U.S. She has loved Vieques for years and is so happy to be living and cooking here! 

Playa Voltios is open in the Florida neighborhood and is the place to shop for surfing, skateboarding, and skating supplies. The owner, Juan Mercado, has a good selection of merchandise and carries the popular “Reef” sandals that many of us can’t live without! Juan said that his favorite store in Fajardo (on the main island) closed and he did not want to drive all the way across Puerto Rico to shop for the things he wanted so he went into buisness for himself! The shop is small but he carries “Globe” sneakers, skate boards, boogie boards, sunglasses, bathing suits and some clothing. He also has sport watches, fins, jewelry and wind chimes as well as other things in his store.

Hiz and Herz Beauty Salon is open for business on the Malecon. Owner Lillian Tepper had a small salon at her home but decided to expand and offer her services to a larger audience. Working in the salon with her is Marcos, who also had his own salon in Vieques. Both Lilli and Marcos are very good stylists and offer coloring and perming as well. There is a new nail technician so manicures and possibly pedicures are available as well. 

Spirit Within has opened in town and Barbara is selling some gift items as well as offering Reiki sessions. Her official grand opening celebration will happen on February 11, all day. For those unfamiliar with Reiki it is a form of the healing arts but very different from massage. It works more as an energy exchange, not a lot of rubbing and kneading of tissue. The sessions are incredibly relaxing and healing. Barbara is carrying the Puntamayo (not sure of the spelling) CDs that are very popular with music having a tropical influence. Spirit Within is located across the street from the Vieques Air Link office building in Isabel II.

For those of you visiting the island on February 12th make sure you head to La Sirena for the Goods and Services Auction. The auction is now an institution on the island with wonderful things offered to the public, all proceeds benefit the Vieques Humane Society. Some of the things that are auctioned include gift certificates to many of the local restaurants, Bio-Bay trips, hotel stays, local plane tickets, jewelry, massages, beauty services and lots more. Jimmy will once again be the auctioneer and will have a surprise assistant. Representatives of the Humane Society will be on hand to process all the sales. This is a fun event and one that everyone enjoys.

Eve and Alec of Casa Vieja Gallery enjoyed a very well attended grand opening in January. Just about everyone on the island showed up to see the new gallery compound and the wonderful art exhibit. There were about 16 different artists represented and the work was displayed in the gallery, the adjoining office space and in the courtyard. A new exhibit opens on February 15th and is called Islands, the work displayed will highlight different island landscapes or island life in general. Be sure to visit the compound.

Be sure to make reservations at one of the many great restaurants for Valentines Day. I must say that in general it is hard to get a bad meal on Isla Nena. There is a lot of competition for business and all the restaurants are offering great food at better prices, much different than years ago! Flowers can also be ordered from Vieques Flowers and Gifts in Esperanza and Tom delivers as well. He also puts “market bunches” at the Morales Grocery store in Monte Santo for those that just like to have flowers in the house. If you want to cook your own gourmet meal for Valentine’s Day be sure to stop in at Chef Michael’s in Esperanza. He is closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays when he is off to the main island for supplies. He has a wonderful selection of cheese and crackers, steaks, lamb, cold cuts and lots of fresh vegetables, you just have to see it to believe it!

Well that about covers the local news, be sure to check out Vieques Events now online at www.ViequesEvents.Net  for more news of the island! It is a pdf file and you need adobe acrobat reader to read it. Unfortunately it does take time to download, but be patient, it is worth it!

[Webmaster's Note on Ferries to Culebra]
Travelers have been asking for a long time about whether there is a ferry that goes directly to Culebra. 
There is now. Service started on January 16, 2003 to ferry workers employed in Culebra to and from the island.
The ferry leaves Vieques at 6:00 AM and returns from Culebra at 4:30PM, Monday thru Friday. It is $2.00 each way. The only caveat is that the workers have priority, so if the ferry becomes really popular, get there early or you may have lost sleep for nothing. So far it has been lightly used. Updated 01-08-2004

Now, here is the calendar:

Daily Special Happenin's
Saturday. February 1 Chinese New Year Celebration at Crow’s Nest. Celebrate the year of the Goat! 
Special Menu. Call for reservations
Thurs./Fri., February 7&8 Verizon Wireless selling cellular phones at Centro Commercial
Sat./Sun., February 8&9 Blue Macaw at the Inn on the Blue Horizon closed for Private Parties
Friday, February 7 Fernando Ferrer performs at Oasis, call for time
Saturday, February 8 New Art Exhibit opens at the Fort, runs for the month
Kung Fu Theater, Southeast Asian Menu at Oasis
Tuesday, February 11 Grand Opening of Spirit Within, Isabel II. Reike and gifts to delight the mind, body and Soul! 9am-5pm
Wednesday, February 12
“Goods and Services Auction” to benefit the Vieques Humane Society. Dinners, trips, bodywork and much more to be auctioned at La Sirena at 7pm. (light menu available)

Remember to order flowers and make dinner reservations for Valentine’s Day.
All restaurants appreciate nightly reservations
Friday, February 14
Prix Fixe Menu at Island Cafe with a rose for the ladies!
Ladies get a free glass of Champagne with dinner at La Sirena
Special Menu and Live Music at Tropico
Tequila Shot performs at Oasis, call for time
Saturday, February 15
Birds of Vieques and Puerto Rico Exhibit opens at Vieques Conservation and Trust
“Islands” Art Exhibit opens at Casa Vieja Gallery, La Hueca, from 5-8pm
Wyndham Martineau Bay opens
Monday, February 17 Presidents Day
Saturday, February 22 Greek Gods and Goddesses Night at Oasis, Greek menu 
Sunday, February 23 Ferry to Culebra (tentative) usually leaves around 8am. Call 741-4761 for conformation
Remove All Month
 Weekly Happenin's
Sundays  Paella Special at Trade Winds
Mondays Conch Specials at Island Café
Pool Party at Oasis 4-7pm
Reggae Grill Night at Chez Shack
$1 Medalla Night at Banana’s
Sunset Happy Hour 4-6pm at La Sirena
Tuesdays Happy Hour at Island Café – drink lottery
Asian Night at Tropical Baby, reservations needed
Michael Martin Acoustic Duo at La Sirena
Wednesdays Rib Night at Tropico
Siddhia Hutchinson Gallery open house 4-7pm
Newly formed bridge club meets at 11AM. Please
call Nonna at 787-741-3358.
Thursdays Live Music at La Sirena, Caribbean Steel Band
Oldies Night with Captain Martin at Mar Azul
Fridays Shrimp Festival at Tropico
Live Music at Oasis, different band weekly
Saturdays Paella Special at Tropico
Cockfighting at Gallera Puerto Real starting at noon

Thanks for your support and enjoy the island!


PS: If there is anything you would like to see in the newsletter or have any feedback please email Ask Judy. Thanks.

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