|Again the light and noise coming through our open windows,
combined with the comparatively early hours we were keeping, had us
up long before noon. We had breakfast at Roy's, a coffee shop owned
by the folks that opened Mary's in East Atlanta, where we were
served by Paul again. It's a cute place in a beautiful pink
building. The coffee is ok and they're expanding their menu soon.
A stump on the streets of Isabella II on Vieques.
Then it was off in search of another deserted beach. After another
bouncy drive down a long dirt road, we found the more arid portion of
the island where cacti poke out above the scrubby forest, reaching for
the sky. At
the end of the road we found a boat ramp poking out into a bay without
much beach to speak of, but we had passed several views of sparkling
beaches where one or two cars were parked, so we turned around and took
the first spur. Oh yeah,
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Ironically, we soon had company of others in search of solitude
(there was no other reason to drive down the long dirt road when
there are lovely beaches just off the pavement all over the
island.) Six or eight other folk soon "crowded" our inlet, but
the sun shone and the water was lovely. We had our toes in the
sand all day.
We had planned to hook up with Paul again and head to the
bio-luminescent bay, something everyone who had seen it raved
about. We weren't sure how to get there, or how easy it would be to get
to without an official guide, so we made a scouting run and couldn't
find the place. There wasn't a sign for it anywhere we could find.
Eventually we gave up and returned to Esperanza and Duffy's to ask the
locals. The bartender went off about how great it was but she repeated
what the guide books said - use one of the official tour services. We
decided Paul would have to check it out on his own, as he didn't get off
work until 8ish, and we'd go without him. We grabbed a bite at Duffy's
again, as none of the other places looked appealing.
I got the barbecue chicken sandwich, but I suspect they screwed
up the order a bit and put on the sauce from a curry dish on the
menu. It was strange, but good.
|EM opted for the tuna nicoise, which looked pretty tasty.
Then it was off to the bio-bay. We went with Blue Caribe Kayaks, if I
remember right, but there were several tour operators recommended by the
bartender. We and two dozen other touristas were given a lecture about
what we'd be doing and seeing, then we piled into a van at dusk and
headed off to an unmarked dirt road EM and I hadn't previously explored.
It ended at Mosquito Bay, aptly named as the bugs swarmed us
immediately. The guides handed out paddles and life vests and helped us
each into little plastic kayaks. I was surprised at how easy the things
were to maneuver.
"If you stick your paddle into the water already you can see it glow,"
said Jorge, our guide. At first it was just sort of a weird glowy haze
around the paddle. But as we paddled out into the bay, it got darker and
darker. We were lucky in that we were there on a moonless night, so the
darkness was intense. When we got to the center of the bay the guides
anchored the kayaks together and let us swim.
Holy crap, it's amazing. Unfortunately, I don't have waterproof or
underwater gear for my camera, so you'll just have to imagine it. The
water was really warm, as the bay is shallow and barely connected to the
sea. These conditions make this reportedly the best bioluminescent bay
in the world. There are single cell organisms in the water that light up
when they are disturbed, a strange, green light very reminiscent of
sci-fi movies. If you move your hand, leg, paddle or anything through
the water, and these creatures react like plutonium-powered lightning
bugs. Move your hand quickly and you disturb so many that it's bright
green glow. Move your fingers slowly and you can see the individual
lights darting away like tiny UFO's. Don't move at all and the hair on
your arm sparkles. I couldn't stop giggling.
Eventually we had to climb back into the boats and paddle back. One of
the guides mentioned that when it rains the whole bay glows. Just as we
got to the muddy mess that serves as a boat ramp, a storm came in and we
could see each individual drop of water forming glowing green rings of
around us. "Woowwww..." everyone said in unison.
Then we had to struggle through sulfur-smelling muck to get out of the
bay, pile into the vans all stinking of mud and soaking wet, and ride
half-blind due to fogged windows back to town. But I didn't see many
frowns. It was more than worth the $30 each and the few minutes of
Back in Isabella II, it was Saturday night and the only thing going
on was karaoke at Al's Mar Azul Bar. We found Paul, as well as
some of the drunken tourists and ex-pats we'd met over the three days,
drinking the night away as people belted out random tunes. One woman did
a dead-on cover of Louis Armstrong's "It's A Wonderful World." Christ,
after a day like that, even a guy like me could agree.