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, April 5, 2015

A Week in Paradise: Vieques, Puerto Rico - Day 3

Becoming part of our routine was the same selection of breakfast choices, followed by me walking on the beach and Shane having a little morning lie down. The excessive sun had produced morning headaches for him, so this seemed to help. He'd take some ibuprofen and rest with his eyes closed for  a few minutes before we started our day. While I felt for his pain, it did provide me a chance to scour the beach for treasures before we even left. :)

We hit the road toward Playas la Plata and Platita, but this particular jungle area made Shane nervous, thanks to some reading he'd done about creepy crawly creatures that may inhabit the island, so we decided against stopping for a visit.  

Our first stop was at Playa Escondida. It was probably our longest beach stop of the entire week, was super private and just felt like our beach "home."  We'd picked up beach chairs at the hotel that morning to use, and use them we did. Well, Shane did, I had to walk and explore first. There was little to pick up here, but the scenery was magnificent.
If I had a way to take home this super cool piece of wood, I surely would have. It spoke to me as a gorgeous garden piece. I could see it laying among herbs or other plants....

The water here was so incredibly clear and shallow ... it was like ripply glass. Our only point of struggle here was how windy it was - I couldn't keep my cool new floppy sun hat on my head. That said, with it being almost 80 this early in the day, it didn't really matter.

There was one lonely palm at the spot where we could park and enter the beach, and it invited us to sit in front of it for a couple hours just listening to the waves and chatting when we felt like it.

If you are looking for a way to connect with your love, sit quietly on a secluded beach and listen to the world with one another. It absolutely filled my heart with joy and contentment!

It was really hard for us to leave this gorgeous spot, but we knew there was more exploring to be done and we wanted to make our way toward Esperanza for lunch... so we had to tear ourselves from the postcard perfect view eventually.

This image really captured Vieques for me in so many ways. The remoteness, the beauty, the serenity, and so on. I made it my lock screen and wallpaper on my phone almost immediately. The memories we made on this island and at this beach won't fade from my mind or my heart any time soon.

As we drove, we found ourselves at another unique spot called Punta Conejo. There was an adorable little uninhabited island (connected by a sandbar) there that begged to be explored, but there were signs warning against danger in the water and danger on the cayo.

I walked out to the water's edge, took some pictures and collected "sand" - it was really just crushed shells, no real sand in it, while Shane took pictures of me, seemingly defying the warning signs.

As it turned out, the little island I was eyeing for adventure was not the one we were being warned about, it was a much larger uninhabited island very nearby, but better safe than sorry, I suppose!

This picture shows both the smaller cayo and the one that is apparently still riddled with explosives in the background.  We took it from another lookout point just down the road at the very end of Playa La Chiva, a bit before we arrived at this beach tiny beach spot.

We decided against spending time on Playa La Chiva, since hunger was reminding us it was time to grab some lunch.

Again we headed to Esperanza for our meal, this time stopping at TradeWinds. We couldn't find parking there, so we went down to Belly Buttons, where we knew there was parking available, and walked back to the restaurant. They had the cutest sign at the bottom of their stairs asking all who enter to be courteous about not bringing in sand for them to clean up.

We sat "inside" (under a roof - in the shade), at the edge of the patio so we could look out over the water. Having been out in the sun at Escondida as long as we were that morning, it made sense to take a rest from the sun, especially since winters at home mean very little sun for us for many months.  We just weren't tough enough to handle too much exposure!

Lobster benedict caught my eye, so I thought I'd give it a whirl. While it looked fine, it was not impressive. Shane was equally unimpressed with his lunch, and the drinks weren't grand either. We left disappointed, as we had heard great things about their food.

Since we had parked at Belly Buttons, we thought a drink was in order (and a little redemption from our lunch disappointment couldn't hurt).

Apparently the neighbor dog "Boss" sneaks through the fence on the regular to come scavenge for morsels and say hello to the staff. He made his rounds while we were chatting at the bar. He's a shy fella just trying to make his way in the world.

After a beverage in the shade, we wandered East again to find some more beaches to explore. We found a little area to park at Punta Galindez.

There really wasn't a beach in a proper form, but there was plenty to look at. There was a cement pad that appeared to go nowhere, which we surmised was a Navy dock of some form for large boats, perhaps those carrying equipment or munitions to the island. We crawled over some larger rocks to a more open space where I could see what appeared to be a large red rock of some kind. When we approached it, we realized is was a rusty ball of metal... likely a base to a post that had been at that big docking area at one time.

This place was really cool and we felt like we'd found a treasure in stopping here. While there was very little sand to sit in or collect, there was a shoreline full of smooth black rocks. Like every other small section of beach, this one was unique in its own way. The water passing over the rocks made the absolute coolest noise.

We took some video so we could listen to it again later. Check it out (make sure your volume is up) - it sounds like someone pouring out a bag of marbles over and over again. So cool.  It really makes me want to find a noise machine we can load with our own audio (Shane took audio recordings at most of the beaches.) - PLEASE forgive the random image at the end of the video... it's something YouTube has control over since that is where the video is housed. :-/ -

There was a little sand... I found it (and brought some home)!  Just look at the beauty on Vieques.  Good grief.  Gorgeous plant life, incredible views everywhere you look, a huge variety of geological points of interest, incredible weather, I could go on... but I'll do it in pieces.

Here's one more view of this super cool spot on the island. This is one place I will make it a point to return to, taking time to sit and listen and let the waves wash away worries, concerns and frustrations.

We headed West to explore a little more and found ourselves at Pata Prieta - also known as Secret Beach - which we found funny.  It was anything but secret. There were a fair amount of people there swimming, sunbathing and snorkeling.

I'd had way too much sun exposure, so I sat on some rocks in the shade and watched my sweet husband bob around in the salt water to cool off and rinse the burn of the sun and sand off his skin. The wind was calm now so I was warmed through, even in the shade.

The sheer number of people at "Secret Beach" was a bit much for us, which I am quite certain would have been downright hilarious to most, since there were likely not more than 20 people there besides ourselves. We had gotten really spoiled by the empty beaches elsewhere on the island and preferred that environment to this.  Ultimately, we decided to explore a bit more before heading back to clean up for dinner.

Our next stop was a place on our little map called Bahia Tapon. It showed paddle boarding here, so we thought it might be a nice calm bit of water to relax by. Well, we were partially right. The bay was very calm and pristine, surrounded by mangroves, but with zero beach and only one small break in those to access the water. We parked by this access and followed a small path through the jungle and mangroves, hoping to find some beach at the end of said trail. On the contrary, all we found at the end of the trail was, well, the end of the trail. It really led to no where, so we headed back to the Jeep. It was starting to get later in the day and we were spent from our adventures, so it was time to head back to the hotel for showers and rest.

We had grown accustomed to hearing the roosters crow about town, but as we drove back to BBH, there was a "crow-off" occurring in the streets. There were at least two roosters vying for territory rather loudly. It's hard to say if there every really is a winner in these contests, but they are entertaining nonetheless.

Once clean, we decided to walk back into Isabel II and try out a place called Al's Mar Azul Bar. It was right at the edge of town and we'd been by it many times, so it was time to see what it had to offer. As we began our stroll into town, with the sun setting in the west (a bit northwest, really) we walked past this momma and her babies out scratching up dinner as well. I am still not sure how so many chickens thrive with all the wild dogs and cats about.

We turned the corner of a now familiar street and headed down a hill we had walked and driven down repeatedly now. This road made me nervous EVERY time because it is especially narrow and there is always a jeep parked in a spot that made it hard to see if anyone/anything is coming the other way on the hill. The locals seem fearless about the roads and their relative lack of width, but I never quite got comfortable with it (although I did get a little less nervous, if that counts!).

We passed the ferry dock and crossed the little bridge that leads to the main part of town, just as the sun was setting over the water. Good grief, what an amazing view. Al's is just past this little bridge, so this is the same basic view you have from the patio seating area, which was, understandably, already full when we arrived.

We settled into seats at the bar, ordered from a not so friendly bartender and began to check this new place out. There were license plates all over the ceiling, including several designs from Michigan, so we inquired of a man, who seemed to work there, as to how they came to have so many from our home state. He was a tall, somewhat portly man with a long salt and pepper beard and a slow gait as he moved about the restaurant. He said, "Well, this is my bar, and I have a lot of visitors from home, and I am from Michigan." He indicated he was from Royal Oak, but when pressed more closely admitted he was from Berkley, just as Shane is. They spent some time comparing notes, although the age gap was a bit too large to have common friends or social connections. He had purchased the bar from Al a few years back and moved to the island, escaping the weather in Michigan. His brother followed and helps him run the bar.

We had a nice time visiting, but were really underwhelmed by the food, drinks and the grumpy bartender, so we didn't spend as long as we initially thought we might that evening. We weren't really ready to turn in yet, so we stopped at Cafe Mamasonga (just across the street) for a drink before heading back to BBH.  Their rum punch and house made key lime pie made the perfect end to another great day in paradise.

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