Category Archives: Vieques

Road Running with Roosters

 

In Utah, it was renegade cows.  On St John in the U.S. Virgin Islands?  Wild donkeys on the patio gave room service a new twist.  There were wild chickens in Bermuda.  And the diminutive island of  Vieques in Puerto Rico often had the feel of a petting zoo with a menagerie of animals wandering at will.

Running the roads of Vieques took sharp eyes and a little bit of nerve.  Thick foliage gave the narrow roads a corridor-like feel at times, and we quickly learned that rustling noises to either side could portend the appearance of a chicken, or more likely, a whole flock of wildly speckled fowl.  It was equally possible that the chicken noises would, instead, reveal wild dogs or horses.  And so our morning run was undertaken with a greater degree of focus, defensive agility and with our leg brakes at the ready.

Horses and chickens were harder to read than the seemingly well fed and sociable stray dogs, but the tethered horses in the schoolyards did look like a better ride than the typical yellow bus.

In the end, our best response (beyond some impressive vertical leaps) was to run to a beach. Come to think of it, not such a bad strategy at all…

*Most of these photos are lower quality images taken with my cell phone and are not “click-able” to a larger image this time.

“Tracking Turtles” (underwater video from Isla de Vieques)

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Sea Glass on Sun Bay

Sun Bay didn’t get a lot of our time.  Nothing against the sand on that beach —the shores of Isla de Vieques are simply alternate slices of heaven. We had found more private digs on Silver Beach around the corner but appreciated Sun Bay’s alternate view of the little island we swam to in pursuit of a sea turtle.

Sun Bay was the meeting point for our kayak/swim tour of Bioluminescent Bay (more on that later).  More significantly, it was the best beach we found for collecting sea glass.

Sea glass?  It’s basically recycled garbage, but this is a truly artistic reprocessing.  During a stay at Cape Cod, I found publicity for a sea glass festival in Hyannis, Massachusetts. And with a couple of Google clicks, I discovered that the annual festival is not an isolated incident but a major hobby and business for many ocean lovers. The “Shard of the Year” fetches $1000 at the North American Sea Glass Festival.

Sea glass is ocean burnished bottle fragments and chips of glass. Bottle stoppers, marbles, channel markers, thimbles —tossed and tumbled by the ocean until finally washed up as smooth startling bits of color amidst seaweed and shells at water’s edge.  I’ve found them along the shores of disparate seas.  On beaches in Cape Cod, Bermuda, Hawaii, St John, Puerto Rico, Spain and… Vieques.  My aunt’s artful scatter of the glass over a patio table a few years ago  breathed inspiration to me. And so, I gathered my own colorful treasures at Sun Bay.

At Sun Bay we had to get choosy, tossing the similar in favor of the unusual. So much beautiful glass, so little space in our moderately sized hands. At home we arranged the bits of vibrant glass amongst seashells, coral and sand in sea gardens we create in glass bowls to commemorate beach trips.

And with a glance at the glass, I’m back on the beach…

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Call It An Adventure

Getting to and from Isla de Vieques from Puerto Rico’s main island was more of a challenge than any of the adventures I’d actually arranged for our August travels. But what’s a trip without a few surprises along the way?  It’s the unplanned events that usually prove to be the real memory makers.

We had planned to be on the 1PM ferry to Isla de Vieques from Fajardo, Puerto Rico. I’d padded our schedule to allow for the iffy ticketing and parking situations I had read about online. By the time we had wheeled our luggage  from the ticketing building to the terminal across the street, I was feeling pretty pleased with myself. Securing our ferry passage and getting the rental car into long term parking had been quite the test, but we had made it.  And I figured we were at least next to the correct boarding line if not actually in it.

But the boat broke.

Mechanical failures had already reduced the ferry pool from four vessels to only two running daily between Culebra, Vieques and Fajardo on the main island of Puerto Rico.  And while the initial announcements optimistically indicated a “delay”, it was soon clear that “delay” was but a euphemism for a very uncertain situation.  “Delay” didn’t mean the ferry would launch later that day or even on that same day at all.  The gentleman relaying the official announcements was non-committal.  The ferry might run later.  But it might not.  He shrugged.  He smiled. He shrugged again.

Eventually came an announcement that the ferry to Culebra would also be “delayed”.  Because it would be pulled to transport those of us traveling to Vieques.  Our ex-ferry, the  Atlantis, doggy paddled its way to the derelict side dock, and our comandeered boat docked in its place.  It lingered there after we’d boarded, however, to scoop up those arriving for a later Vieques bound ferry that would never arrive.  By now though, we were philosophical.  We’d made new friends.  We’d sustained ourselves with heavenly mango sorbet.  We were on a boat with a functioning engine. When we pulled from the dock and out into the harbor, there arose a stadium-worthy cheer…

Of course, we’d have to find another way to get off the island once we actually got there.  But that would be an adventure for another day…

One choice move toward resolving an unforeseen travel “event” is to take a deep breath and mentally label it an adventure.  This shifts you solidly from being a victim to stepping up as a problem solver. And reframing the situation may allow you to actually enjoy the experience. Attitude truly is everything.

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