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Journal entry: Feb 24 — Vieques, Puerto Rico
Day 12 of 2-week Puerto Rico road trip
The beauty of El Yunque and view of San Juan and Fajardo welcomed me this morning. The rooster crowed and other wildlife slowly woke up from their comatose state as the sun inched higher in the Caribbean sky. Today I’m making my way to Fajardo to catch the ferry for an overnight Vieques day trip. There, I’m going to bum on the beach and admire the island’s paradise.
Fajardo is a small coastal town, which is home to one of Puerto Rico’s 3 bio bays.
I parked in the lot for the ferry, bought my ticket and had hours before I departed to the small island. I walked by Fajardo’s pier and ventured towards the smell of food.
A small roadside kiosk was selling the best of Puerto Rico’s fried foods — sorullos, empanadas, plantains, the list goes on and on. I grabbed two sorullos for $2 USD and hunkered down at a rickety table. My heavy, green water bottle made the table waddle in the blistering morning sun. The kiosk’s tin roof my salvation that morning.
Locals began to the fill the shaded café ordering potato salad and meatloaf. Others order the deep fried delights boasted on the sign outside. Most locals also asked from their favorite sauce, mayo ketchup, which was also becoming mine as well.
I ate my sorullos in the shade of the tin roof and listened to the older men talk about the weather and their plans for the day. The waitress joked with a local asking whether the food was good. She teased him saying that it couldn’t be “just OK.” It was either “bueno o malo.”
On the cement boardwalk locals set up their carts for their daily business and others gathered around tables to chat. Palm trees gave them the necessary and adequate amount of shade. The ocean smells different here. It’s more earthy and muddy by the docks. The salt isn’t as potent as it was by the forts of San Juan, where the salty mist spray in my face.
Ferry ride from Fajardo to Vieques
My Uber driver was right, the ferry was rocky and nearly made a dozen passengers seasick. Everyone is kept inside the ferry. Passengers press their noses against the plexiglass to catch a glimpse of Vieques’ beauty. Some adapt quickly to the rocking of the ferry, standing still as marble statues. Others, like me, wobble and pray to get their sea legs sooner rather than later.
After 45 minutes, a little speck of land starts to emerge on the horizon. Travelers are forewarned by the number of ships and sailboats dotting the ocean waves. On the west side of the ferry dock in Vieques is Saint Mary and a small marina for fishing boats. She faces Vieques lighthouse with her arms raised towards the heavens. She prays for safe passage for the voyagers of the sea. The lighthouse is gray and stoic next to the bright color wheel of business and homes that decorate the rugged coastline.
Walking out of the ferry gates, visitors are plopped into a marketplace of pure madness. Autobuses (another form of taxis specific to Vieques) whirl near the sidewalks and honk their horns at travelers. Tourists jumble into large groups pointing and shouting in confusion. Locals join in the noise of honks and shouts begging the traffic to move and for tourists to get out of the way of their normal commute.
The horse ranch I’m staying at is a five-minute walk from the ferry. I make my way up the steep hill away from all the commotion.
The Airbnb I was staying at is no longer available for overnight stays, but they are still offering horseback riding tours.
On my way to Colón, a while tax van approaches me. The driver honks, shouts in Spanglish, “Mami, you’re going to get hit.” And tells me to hop in. He drives me to Colón for free and tells me his name, and that he’ll take care of all my travel needs while I’m on the island.
And that’s how I hailed down my own personal autobus while in Vieques. Ironically, with little-to-no planning.
Sun Bay is horse-shoe shaped with a large island in the bay’s opening. Sailboats drift pass and if you listen close enough you can hear the reggae music playing on the party ships.
I skirted the edge of Vieques’ National Wildlife Refuge where wild horses roam and graze. It’s one of Vieques’ many natural wonders.
Meanwhile, I take a dip in the Caribbean and soak up the sun. I arrived at the beach at 3 p.m. and the sun has already made significant progress in its descent.
But that’s when I most enjoy the beach. When the ocean’s roar is echoing across the sands.
I pick up my sandals and towel and decide to walk towards Esperanza in search of food and a place to watch the sunset.
Along the beach’s treeline, there are campers who are basking in the island’s raw, unmanicured beauty.
I am the only person walking the beach. My taxi driver wasn’t wrong in saying that Sun Bay was certainly that quieter beach. Undeniably a hidden Vieques gem.
I cross under an abandoned pier, now a weathered skeleton of what it once was. This is where the beach abruptly fades and town appears.
A colorful staircase appears where the beach is completely swallowed up by the sea’s surging waves. The staircase opens to a stone boardwalk where vendors are selling jewelry made of sea glass and shells. On the opposite side of the street, there are restaurants and tour guide shops that offer Jeep rentals and boating tours for Mosquito Bay, the brightest bio bay in the world.
The sun sinks deeper and is about the disappear behind the ridge where the lighthouse resides. The sky is painted in magnificent hues of purple and pink with a splash of orange, the same shade as the meat of a cantaloupe.
I watch the sun disappear under the column railings of the boardwalk. As twilight emerges, the streetlights flicker on above.
I order a piña colada from a nearby bar.
The sky fades into deeper shades of purple, then blue, before making my way back onto the board to flag down a taxi to take me back to my Airbnb.
If you want to witness another natural wonder before bed, venture to Mosquito Bay the world’s brightest bio bay.
My overnight Vieques day trip was nearly over. The next day, I’d had the morning to explore the city before returning to the ferry terminal.
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