Puerto Rico
June 2007

Day 1
Vieques
Day 2 Day 3 Day 4 Day 4
Puerto Rico
Day 5 Day 6
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, that'll do. (Note: some browsers automatically resize the image to fit the window. Hold the cursor over the window until a zoom box appears in the lower right corner. Click it then use the scroll bar for a much bigger picture!)

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 ripples 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 discomfort.

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.

Day 1
Vieques
Day 2 Day 3 Day 4 Day 4
Puerto Rico
Day 5 Day 6

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