Sorry about the tardiness of the article. Judy asked for me to sub for her this month, and, as I just got back from
annual Webmaster's trip to the Enchanted Isle, how could I say no?
My travel to Vieques this year has been overshadowed by the horrific disasters perpetrated on the US and the world by Terrorists from Afghanistan. While this has been a cause of great confusion, fear, and apprehension for all of us, the best thing we can do for ourselves, our country and the world is to get our lives back into some sort of order.
I left plenty of time to catch my flight in Jacksonville, and although security was much more strict than in the past, if we follow a few basic rules, travel can be virtually hassle-free.
Leave your nail file at home; take emery boards.
Don't pack a razor. You can buy them at your destination.
Leave your jack knife at home.
Note: Or you can take all of the above by checking your baggage through.
on Image to enlarge
Pirata to PR
Pirata to Esperanza
Pirata: the only guard rail
the old bunkers
a long and winding road
The flights are still fairly empty, so the security checkpoints don't take a long time to get through yet. If you've been to San Juan previously, you know that the return passage security measures that the rest of the US is now enforcing have been in effect in San Juan for a long time already, so there is no change there. Only heightened alert. My laptop was put through the x-ray screening a second time by itself, and then given
a couple of additional tests before it was returned to me. It took about ten extra minutes to get through, but when you get to the airport
three hours early expecting delays, it helps kill time. There's no curb side
checking, but the American Airlines check-in wasn't any more of a zoo than it
After spending the night in San Juan with a friend, and a wonderful dining experience at "Salas" in Old San Juan, I continued to Vieques.
Vieques was wonderfully green and red with flamboyant blossoms. And while the mangoes are past, limónes, papaya, avocado, anónes, and breadfruit are available, and plentiful.
My rental car from "Steve's Car Rental" was awaiting me at the airport as always, and I was off on my
plesantly lush and green, but brief drive to Esperanza and the "Trade Winds Guesthouse". Harry and Janet have been my Innkeepers, since we moved from the island a few years ago. After settling in, I was off to visit with friends and customers.
To say there are no crowds right now is an understatement. Even the overstated protests have been put on hold for patriotic reasons. Even before the WTC tragedy the protests were a non-issue except to the press and the participants.
In this slow time one has the run of the island. There are no crowds at any of the beaches. Some of the restaurants have cut back their days open (except Bananas), but there are still plenty of places to eat. There are some newly remodeled places also. Richard's Café in Isabel II is the most noticeable of these. Duffy's is being perpetually remodeled, although to do anymore, he'll either have to go out over the ravine on stilts or up. I met the gang from the Oasis Bar & Grill that took over the restaurant at the Crow's Nest and have to say, the food is great, the service excellent, and the wait staff friendly. I also got to try Chef David's cuisine at the Trade Winds just before he shut down for about a three week vacation, and have to give him a gold star too.
And then there's Mar Azul… In addition to serving far too much tequila, Al has managed to put together a pretty good kitchen with a cook doing some good "down-home" cooking. I had the special, homemade chicken potpie, and while it was the last thing I remember
of the evening, it was just like mom used to make, "real tasty".
I also went out to the western end of the island where Green Beach is located and did some riding around in
the newly opened areas. Lots of new potential for beaches, if one goes looking. It's an adventure and you're sure to find some uncrowded, if no uninhabited areas. Many of these are on the south side, and all the roads I drove on, except those right by the beach, were newly paved! Not very wide, but newly paved.
I also took a ride up to the top of Mt. Pirata. WOW! What a ride! Seems like it's straight up, because it is. This ride is not for the faint of heart or a clunker of a car. Sorta like climbing Mt. Washington, but much steeper. 4 wheel drive recommended! Anyway, there are some great views from up there. It's the highest point on the island. And when you get to the top, there's no turn around, just a locked gate and a drop-off on both sides. Here is where a three-point turn turns into a 10-15 point turn. Once turned around, it's sort of like looking down the tracks of a roller coaster, but a lot prettier. Oh, did I mention, you should probably do it in a SMALL 4Wheel Drive car with good brakes? I spent half of a day just cruising around; I never even spent any time at the beaches that day. Business, you know.
I talked to some of the real estate people and they told me that titles are coming through on the Villa Borinquen area, and a lot of land seems to be opening up on the island that wasn't available before. Construction doesn't seem to be slowing down either.
But it is still a great place to get away and I enjoyed my stay very much.
I dropped in on Lou at 18°North a souvenir shop in Esperanza. Things were
slow, so we talked a while. I also visited with Peter at Kim's Cabin in
Esperanza to see what the fashion conscious Caribbean traveler should be wearing
I also visited with Juan Silva, a local artist, who does a lot of great work. He is responsible for the Cultural Festival posters and many other works funded by the municipality. As well as being an excellent artist and graphic designer in his own right, Juan and his wife Michelle have opened up a shop in Isabel II, one block west of the main St. on Calle 65 de Infantería called GRAFICO. In addition to everything else, he and
Michelle manage to find the time to design some really unique gifts and tee shirts. If you want a gift or tee shirt that is truly from Vieques, please visit them.
We have a new Kayak-Master on Bio-Bay this year. His name is Pooch. He's
witty, informed, and will give you a really fun tour of the legendary
Bioluminescent Bay. He's also fluently bi-lingual.
It was good to see all my friends, Dottie, Everett, Sheila, Casey, Pete, Lou, Tio Roberto, Elí, Scott, Peter, David, Colleen, Patty and Denny, Pooch, Ray and Kate, Al, Claritza, Steve, Richie, Barry and Diane, James and Billy, Alta, Joey, Michelle and Juan, Barry and Cindy, Cindy and Greg, Dennis and Helen, Stanley and Siddhia, Sandy, Paul, Jane,
Alec and all the rest of you who have fallen into the void of my brain. Those of you I didn't see, I'm sorry. Next year's another chance.
And Judy, I want to thank you for all your help in the past year, and while this isn't as good as your cypherin', I did enjoy taking the helm for a month (or two weeks), proving that the What's Happenin' newsletter is truly on "Island Time".
To all of you, I had a great time, Thank You. Even you AL! I think…
Jim for the What's Happenin' team
PS: I finally figured out how to tell the difference between a male and female
If there is anything you would like to see in the newsletter or have any feedback please email
Ask Judy. Thanks.
If you have read some of the past letters by Peggy you will be familiar with the "must do" things here. If you have not read them I suggest that you take a few minutes to browse through them to become better acquainted with life here on the island. She has filled her columns with lots of "things you need to know" and I don't want to pass on the same information month after month! <click here for the archives>
If any of you would like to see something specific in this newsletter please contact the webmaster and I will do my best to investigate for you.