I visited Puerto Rico back in 2005 and had a blast but felt like I'd
done it all and wouldn't have gone back. But my girlfriend, EM, had a
friend living there so we decided to head down to visit. I booked the
flight through Travelocity and found the cheapest was through Spirit
Airlines. I vaguely remembered something about them being Delta's
low-cost subsidiary but didn't think anything more of them.
So a day late and $50-something dollars later, charged for changing flights, plus the $5/day we had to pay for parking since we couldn't possibly arrive there early enough on MARTA, we arrived before the fucking sun came up to make our flight.
It is now my personal mission in life to put Spirit Airlines out of business. I've never had a mission in life, so it's kind of nice. Fuck those fucking bastards.
At least the flight was uneventful. It was also spartan - no TV, no radio, no reclining seats, and you had to cough up $3-5 for a snack. Fortunately I had brought ample reading material for the vacation.
But the extra day had given me time to research a ride from the
airport to Fajardo, the town where the ferry is that would take us to
the small island of Vieques where EM's friend, Paul, was living. So when
we picked up our bags we found Angel, a Puerto Rican version of Kenny
Rogers, standing by. He speaks passable English and occasionally has his
partner, Mary, along for the ride.
Tired, grizzled and greasy after the early morning hustle, we boarded the ferry. It's a whopping $2 for a leisurely hour jaunt across brilliant blue waters - worth it for the ride alone.
We trekked through Isabella II, the less touristy town, yet the capitol of the island, to Media Luna, a charming restaurant where Paul was working. Apparently during the right season the joint is slammed, but off-season we were 2 of the 6 patrons in the whole place. A night or two later he had no visitors during his entire shift. A lot of places were closed for the season, but we didn't mind. We went to Vieques to get away from it all, so we'd rather there be fewer people and less to do than more. Winter months the island is full of northern tourists. In July the Puerto Ricans take their vacations and love Vieques. In early June it's not unbearably hot, thanks to sea breezes, and there's hardly anyone on the island - perfect.
We glanced at the menu and found the prices absurd so we settled for a drink before wandering on for more affordable fare. Unfortunately, we couldn't find anywhere open. In small-town Isabella II, few restaurants are open past 8 PM. Ironically, we ended up at bbh, Bravo Beach Hotel, www.bravobeachhotel.com, perhaps the most expensive joint on the entire island. They have a lovely tapas bar/restaurant overlooking their super mod/deco pool. The joint reminded me of something from The Jetsons or Barbarella - orange lights, white walls, minimalist plastic furniture, very stylish but I was far more interested in the food than the atmosphere. To start, we got one of their specialty drinks and an appetizer of olives and Manchego cheese - fantastic.
EM picked a grouper dish that was amazing. I had some other fish with carrots or something, but the photos don't look appetizing and the details of my dish are almost forgotten because dessert washed the memories away, a small slice of flourless chocolate cake with a ball of chocolate-chili ice cream on top of it. The chili powder in the ice cream made for a lovely spicy burn after the sweetness of all the chocolate, really delicious. (It's also the only place on the island to get sushi, if you're one of those people.)
Smiling, we trekked back to Al's to find Paul. Josh and company were there, also all smiles, socializing with locals, ex-pats and the few other tourists in the joint. But after getting up at 4:30 AM to make damn sure we caught our flight, we could only stay up so late. Soon we stumbled around the corner to the room and slept like logs, despite the early morning light that our thin curtains could not block out while blowing in the breeze.