Another Day in Paradise

Today, I awoke with small pangs of homesickness. Funny how that which can seem monotonous and mundane on a daily basis, can be missed when absent. Or maybe it’s validation of what an enjoyable everyday life we lead? Whatever the cause, I’ll try to muster the strength to continue.

Smoothies at Roy's
Smoothies at Roy’s

Today, we try Roys coffee lounge for breakfast, a cute hostel, hippie looking shop with a fabulous outside seating area. Great smoothie and veggie omelet, coffee not so much. But, we got to watch the cats play and a service dog lounge in the sun, so a very decent morning indeed.

Wanting a taste of adventure before beaching it, we headed towards the sugar mill ruins on the western part of the island. A maze of roads that were littered with wild horses and old navy bunkers used to house arsenal back when the navy had run of the island, wove us deeper into the jungle. Finally, we saw a hand painted sign that called out the ruins. Hopping out of the jeep, we followed a small path into the thick of it and found the remnants of what used to be a thriving sugar mill. I’m not sure how the industry got run out of the Caribbean, but will have to research.

Sugar Mill Ruins
Sugar Mill Ruins

The ruins satisfied our history fix, so we headed on the the nature tour – basically a rickety dock that wrapped a quarter of a mile into the mangroves. Mike wasn’t impressed, but I thought it was pretty interesting, to be almost floating on top of the roots & amazingly alive swamp. So much so, I did a side plank!

Another day in Paradise
Another day in Paradise

The beach we chose for the day was picturesque: completely secluded, palm trees, white sand beaches. The quintessential beach day stretched before us and we read, collected shells and lazily dipped in the water when the heat got too much. Truly a wonderful day that continued as we made our way into Esperanza for a bite to eat.

We found ourselves wanting to try somewhere new, so wandered into Bananas, a bar restaurant right along the main strip. A few happy hour drinks later (not very good ones, FYI, but cheap) we found ourselves talking to a Denver couple! They lived in Morrison, he worked in the roofing business and they were around our age. Small world! We got his info, so would hopefully catch up while back in reality.

After a bite, we decided we were close enough to sunset to enjoy another beverage at our favorite jaunt, Duffy’s. And boy, are we glad we did! The sunset was spectacular and the company, even better! An English gentleman by the name of Sebastian, struck up a conversation that led to one of the most engaging we’ve had thus far. Turns out he had a magnificent vessel, a sailboat, he could take us out on the next day, for he didn’t have any other charter guests. We signed up then and there and bide adieu until tomorrow, going to bed with the open ocean in our dreams.

A hermit crab in his shotgun she'll home.
A hermit crab in his shotgun she’ll home.

Day 4 of the Vieques Vacation!

No alarm for us this morning! We decadently slept until 8 am…ahhhh vacation! Throwing bathing suites on (island attire) we headed into town to a new breakfast joint, Buen Provecho. Great vibe, awesome menu, coffee, homemade hot sauce, breads & bagels. And craft beer!!!! The owners hailed from Michigan & had lived in Colorado, so had stocked the place with great beer. Mike was happy and before we left, built a custom craft six pack to savor later.

Buen Provecho's bagel & smoked salmon
Buen Provecho’s bagel & smoked salmon

After our delicious breakfast we jetted to the silver beach in the Refugio Nacional de Vidal Silvestre de Vieques. Before we set our sights on the sand, Mike decided to go on an exploration to find an abandoned lighthouse he had read about on a blog. Did I mention this was in the restricted area of the park, where they used to test bombs!? Needless to say, after about 2 miles, we didn’t see any lighthouses, so headed back through the jungle onto the safe, paved road. Mike, always the edge-liver!

Silver beach
Silver beach

Our hot & humid hike warranted a swift dip in the ocean, so we immediately set our things up and grabbed our snorkel gear! There appeared to be reef on the left side of the lagoon, so we moseyed on over. It was spectacular! An underground aquarium, complete with a lion fish (which are so cool looking, just extremely poisonous). In the more shallow parts, closest to the shore, you can really see the most. Spectacular!

While the snorkeling was amazing, my book was getting good (and how often can I lay on a beach and read!?) so I vacated the water while Mike continued to explore, something he loves to tease me about: you should never snorkel alone!

When he had his fill of medellas, he was ready to go find something else. We popped in the jeep and drove to Esperanza to find Duffy’s, a cool bar on the main strip with craft beer! Victory to boot! Mike ordered a headwater and I a mojito and we were happy! The bartered was the cover model for the last edition of The Vieques Insider, a local magazine with all of the islands going ons. Pretty cool to be served by a local celebrity! Our hunger got the best of us, so we ordered a large salad with blackened grouper and Mahi tacos. The food was out of sight, the view along the boardwalk was phenomenal and the ocean breezes were magnificent.

We found Victory Headwaters!
We found Victory Headwaters!

That evening we had a Bioluminescent Bay tour, so decided to head back to our homestead and relax before venturing out. I did some yoga & Mike rested. The luxuries of vacation were at our fingertips!

Fully rested and ready for some bay action, we headed to town to wait for the Blackbeard Sports van. Town was quite busy, as it was Saturday night, and gentlemen say on corners smoking and drinking while the ladies chittted & chatted about. When the van came, we happily popped in and met a couple from Denver, another couple who had just left Denver for Massachusetts and another couple who was staying in Philadelphia to attend U. Penn. Small world!

The tour, although not very long, was extremely neat. As we kayaked out to the middle of the bay to hear the guides schpeal, fish glowed under our vessels, seeming to chase us. The microorganism that lived in the water were barely visible due to the powerful half moon that was out, but when our paddles sliced the water, the organisms glowed brilliantly.  The native settlers used to worship the fiery bay, thinking the bright creatures were the tears of their god. We got lucky with some cloud coverage, so were dipping our hands and feet in the water making their outlines glow.

It really was an amazing experience and there being only 5 true bioluminescent bays in the world, this actually being the brightest while the others are rapidly being destroyed by human pollution, it was a magical evening.

The beaches here are spectacular!
The beaches here are spectacular!