A bit about us...

We are a modern family of three, living on less than two acres with a 3,000 square foot garden that meets our produce needs and allows us to share with friends and neighbors. Our laying flock of chickens seems to expand each year as we raise chicks each Spring to replace older hens. This blog is more of a journal, if you will, for us to chronicle and share our experiences in the yard, garden and kitchen. It is our hope that along the way a few folks might learn something, be entertained, or simply enjoy sharing in our stories and the lessons we learn on a daily basis. I named the blog after the times when I am the happiest, when I am elbow deep in earth.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

A Week in Paradise: Vieques, Puerto Rico - Traveling there

The evening before we left, we dropped our dogs off to my mother so she could make sure they were looked after while we were away.  Our dogs love having visits with her and her animals, so it works out well.

Up before the sun, our friends, John and Chris, met us at our home to take Lexi to school and us to the airport.  They had offered a few weeks before to avoid us having to pay to park a car at the airport for a week and we could not be more grateful for their help.

We arrived with plenty of time to get some breakfast and make it to our gate to wait for our flight.  Traveling for work, flying has become much less exciting to me than it used to be.  However, on this day, I got to sit next to my favorite person in the world, which made the trip spectacular!

Mother nature did a fabulous job of reminding us whey we chose to take our honeymoon in the winter... snowing while we waited to take off, and causing the need for two rounds of deicing before we could do so safely.

A quick check of the weather app on my phone confirmed the disparity in weather that we would soon be enjoying.  A nice 55 degree gap in temperature would be a welcome change from the winter doldrums in Michigan.

Our first stop was in New York, at JFK airport, then we made our way to San Juan.  There, we walked for what seemed like forever to the very end of the airport, where we found a tiny part of the terminal devoted to the airlines that link to the tiny surrounding islands.

When we checked the Cape Air departure board, we did not see our flight listed, so we checked in with the desk to confirm our seats.  She weighed our bags and asked for our weights (yuck!) so they could determine where we would be sitting in the plane.

Since the plane holds only 9 people, they have to distribute weight evenly, both with regard to luggage and passengers.

The sun began to set as we walked out to our chariot to the island, meaning we would get to fly in the dark from one island to the next.  We marveled at the lights of the cities and the reflections on the water as we made our short flight to our home for the next week, Vieques, Puerto Rico.
When we arrived, we were a little taken aback (although we really shouldn't have been) by the tiny, tiny airport on the island.  There are no "gates,"  you simply collect your carry-on items out of the side of the plane and head into a set of double doors.  We think the little baggage claim captures the scale of the airport well.

Shane had called the cab company to let them know when we were boarding our plane in San Juan, so they could be waiting for us when we arrived.  Thanks to drama provided by some passengers who ultimately did not make it onto the flight with us, our plane left late and our cab had left.  No big deal, we could just call him to return, right?  Well, that was tough since we didn't have cell phone reception at the airport.  The security guard (there was ONE, for the whole airport) said in broken English that we might be able to catch someone in the office of our airline to use their phone.  As we danced around the circle drive of the airport looking for just a bar or two of reception to make the call ourselves, our pilot strolled out the front doors to head to her car (since she lives on the island).  We chatted with her briefly and she offered the use of her phone to call the taxi.  We were successful and finally had a ride on the way.

As we made the drive from the airport to town, we asked our driver about wildlife on the island and the horses we had heard roam freely about.  It wasn't long until we spotted some young horses walking along the sidewalks!  He laughed and told us that they tend to be pretty polite when moving around town, staying on sidewalks, but that they are less polite when out of the city and that we should watch for them on roadways.

Our rental car company was closed for the day, and we would not have a car available until morning, so we asked some questions of our driver to determine our options for getting a meal for the night.  He gave us some recommendations for places to walk to in town, pointing them out as we came into the small town of Isabel Segunda.

We were a bit startled by the presence of bars on the windows (and doors) of every home, restaurant and shop...relating this to what we know from home - bars on windows = crime.  Again, we amused our driver as we asked about them.  He told us it was simply an architectural hold over from the Spaniards that came to the island long ago who used them to keep unwanted men from climbing through windows to be with their daughters.  He said it had become a very practical feature during hurricane season, to keep debris from reaching the windows.

We arrived at Bravo Beach Hotel just before 8, and were warmly welcomed.  A super kind staffer had stayed late to help us check in (they normally close the office and go home at 6:30).  She gave us a quick tour and let us in to our room.

We took a few minutes to settle in, changing into warm weather clothes, and then headed out on foot to find dinner in town.  One of the first places we found was a place called El Yate, and there were just a few locals inside.  It didn't look very tourist friendly, so we kept walking.  Next we came to Cafe Mamasonga.  It was perfect. We headed upstairs (the kitchen is downstairs, the seating upstairs) and enjoyed some adult beverages and a great meal. We even bumped into a couple who had been on our flight from San Juan.  They have a house on the island and spend weeks or months at a time there.

With full bellies and happy hearts, we walked back to our room to turn in, eager to check out our surroundings the next morning.  Before calling it a night, we wandered out onto our patio and the pool deck to listen to the ocean for a while, taking into our lungs the warm ocean breeze and the lightly salty air.  What a great way to end a long day of travel!

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