About Us

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Indiana, United States
Debt free empty nesters...ready to stretch our wings. Life is good and we plan on making it even better. This blog is mostly about our trips to Vieques Puerto Rico, with a few odds and ends thrown in about our life after the mortgage.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Uploading day...

We slept in the morning. The weather was overcast with some very light showers. We decided to hang around the house. I needed some time to try and get videos and pictures uploaded because of the huge backlog I now have. We even took a nap around noon.

Finally about 1:30 things cleared off and we headed to the beach. Once again it was Orchid where we going. Driving past La Chiva we saw a lot of cars at the turnouts...so I knew that my shelter would be taken. I was, in a way, wanting to build another one anyway. I wanted to make it a little bit larger. Sure enough when we got there a party had our shelter. I was glad...gave me a project. Lorrie began her sun worshipping.

Not long after I began working on the cabana Andre and Judy came down to watch the construction. Andre had hidden some really nice limbs for me down where they usually hang out. I went down with Andre and retrived them. He did a really nice job because they were just the right diameter. We walked back down to my construction site and Andre helped me with the lashing of the poles. We all stood there and talked for a long time. This was Andre and Judy's last day on the island. They were leaving tomorrow on their way back to New York. But it's not as bad as it sounds because they're only in New York for 3 days then they head to Mexico. We'll miss them a lot. Wonderful people. I wish we lived nearer to them as I so value their company.

After the good-byes  it was back to the construction project for me. I decided to go ahead and put some diagonal bracing on the cabana because it looked like a storm might be coming in. After that was finished I ask Lorrie what we should name our new Casa. She said Casa Corona. I liked it. So I found a palm branch and carved the name into it. We plan on being at Casa Corona early tomorrow. Here's a few shots of it:






 Hasta maƱana

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Leaving Quinta Jabali


I  awoke @ 6am this morning and started coffee. Had some of the bread for breakfast and prepared to watch the sunrise over Esperanza. I took a picture of it. We're not going to head to the beach this morning, but rather wait until we drop off our luggage @ Casa Dos Chivos. This of course means that I'll be building another shelter since we know the other will be taken.

Lorrie's up now. We're just sitting here drinking our coffee and starring out into the Caribbean, not saying a word. It's like our morning meditation. Funny how the ocean has the ability to cause one to pause like that. Nice cool breeze this morning and you can plainly hear the ocean waves crashing.

I  decided to take some video of the gardens at Quinta Jabali, they really are beautiful. Here's a couple clips:







Before we left we had to enjoy the outdoor shower one last time. We also used some of the sea sponges we picked up along Playa Grande:

Friday, February 25, 2011

International Rock Balancing Association


I woke up @ 6am this morning. Got up and started coffee. I had gathered some mangos last night. I found one that was ripe. Heated up some pancakes and sliced the fresh mango. Pancakes with fresh mango and syrup tastes mighty fine, especially when your eating them in front of a 180 degree view of the caribbean. Beautiful sunrise.

Lorrie and I decided to head out early. Our destination was La Plata. Needed to check on my shelter and do any necessary maintenance. We arrived @ La Plata about 8:15am. First ones there.

As I expected my structure was in need of some mending. I remembered a large wad of rope I had seen over on the north side of the beach. I went on the hunt to retrieve it. Lorrie was going to worship the sun.
Took some doing but I was able to free the rope. With plenty of rope I started working on lashing up the loose poles. Only took me 45 mins or so and she was rock solid.

A few more people had showed up and couple ask Lorrie and I if we had built the cabana. We told them we had and they commented on how aesthetically pleasing it was. We learned that they were Judy and Andre from New York and they had been coming to Vieques for 25 years. They've been wintering on the island for the last few years, spending the months of Jan and Feb in a rental.

The weather is perfect again today. Really nice breeze here at La Plata. I geared up and did some snorkeling, but there were too many waves to do any filming. La Plata might end up being our favorite beach before this trip is over.

While I was walking along the beach edge looking for some more palm fronds to add to the roof, I ran into Andre and Judy again. We struck up a conversation. It was then that I learned that they were the creators of the rock art gallery at La Plata. I explained to them how I had at first tried to force the rock into balancing, but had no luck. I then told them that it was when I just sat a rock, without forcing it, that it would finally balance. Judy then said to Andre "I think he's a candidate." Candidate for what, I ask? I then learned about the International Rock Balancing Association. It seems that Judy and Andre are the founding members.  It even has a secret handshake and a membership card. i have a picture of the membership card. I would show you the secret handshake, but it's a secret.
Judy and Andre told me I was their first member from Indiana and I could be president of that chapter. It was a hoot, I've never laughed so hard in my life. And I thought Rayann was crazy when she told me she was a member, 3 day prior. She also told me about the secret handshake. Well Rayann I can see you were telling  me the truth. BTW the International Rock Balancing Association has no membership dues and no newsletter. What great people Judy and Andre are.

Now if that wasn't enough I got to watch Judy and Andre give a new home to a land crab. It seems that they have been collecting shells that the land crabs like and then painting them with different bright colored designs. As we were doing my initiation into the Rock Balancing Association (and yes there really is a secret handshake which I did with both Judy and Andre) a few land crabs were moving about. Judy took out of her backpack a number of painted shells. She put one of the colored shells next to a land crab and we watched the drama unfold. At first the crab was drawn into it's shell, but it peeked a claw out after a few minutes. It then slowly fondled the colored shell, turning it over and measuring it with it's claws. Judy told me the whole process can take 30-45 mins. Then if the crab decides he likes the new shell he flips it over next to himself and quickly exits his old home and moves into the new one. I missed the part were the crab left his shell and crawled into the new one because I was running back to our cabana to get the video cam. I did manage to get the crab as he was leaving in his new home with a bright green swirl painted on top. Here's some video of it:





We stayed at La plata till 4:30. On the way out of Camp Garcia we saw a dead mongoose.

Stopped by the green store for provisions. They got in more Corona. We had bought a 12 pack of Michelob Ultra a day ago because they were out of Coronas. We'll donate the Michelob to Quinta Jabali. We just can't develope a taste for light beer. May have something to do with the fact that we brew our own beer back home and enjoy fuller body beer. Anyway...bought pork chops for supper, $3.65 a lb. A case of Corona was $36. Bought some peas, green beans and some more bread. Total tab was $44.

Spoke with Yvonne when we got back to Quinta Jabali. She told us it would be after 9am before we could drop off our luggage. (Yvonne is the property manager for Casa Dos Chivos). I then called Tyler to tell him we would be leaving sometime after 9am.

Grilled out the chops and Lorrie fixed the veggies. had a great meal, inside the house this time. Still had ice cream left over and it made for a great desert. Spent the rest of the evening watching the boats gather directly south of Quinta Jabali. We've noticed them out there each and every night.You can see their lights bobbing up and down. We guess they are fishing or something. Turned in at 9:30.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Chiva Beach gate closed

Tuesday

This morning we awoke at 6:30am, determined to get to Orchid early, especially given the effort I put into constructing our little cabana. Some coffee, eggs and the papaya we bought the day before was breakfast. Packed for the day day and we were off in a little over an hour.

We drove straight to the eastern beaches, convinced we would be the first ones and claim our spot. But as fate would have it the gate just past Caracas was locked shut? It was now right @ 8am and I thought maybe someone would be by soon to unlock it. So we waited. Someone did come by in a few minutes and they informed us that the USFW were doing some road maintainance and the gate wouldn't be opened until 11am (about the time we had been getting there the last few days). They also told us it would be closed until 11 on thursday, good to know.

So there we were, not sure what we wanted to do. We really didn't want to go to Caracas because we knew it would end up being packed given the road closure. We finally decided to head to Garcia (Playula). It had been our plan all along to swim out to the little cay off Caracas and Garcia. With plan in hand we drove to the Garcia gate.

The chairs we are using from Quinta Jabali are very nice. Having backpack straps and a backpack attached to the chair really helped on our trek back to Garcia. I have video of our hike.




When we arrived at the beach there were only two other women there. We spotted a shelter some had built down on the southern end of the beach. That is were we headed. It was a very nice structure and plenty large. We unpacked and staked our claim.

It wasn't long before the two women left and we had the beach all to ourselves. But that was fleeting as two more women showed up. They looked to be mother and daugher. They set up camp and got into their beach wear, minus the tops. They came down and walked right past us. Lorrie said "Well, I'm certainly not going to do that!" I didn't say a thing, as I knew what would eventually happen.



It's been all of 30 minutes, and yes, Lorrie is now topless.  Here's a picture of her below...she didn't know I was taking it.

I think I might try a bit of snorkeling now. Like I said in a previous post I've been writing these posts @ the beach in a notebook. Not sure when I'll have time to upload. No internet at Quinta Jabali.  Below is a shot of some driftwood on the north end of Garcia.


Well Lorrie ended up snorkeling with me. We went out to the cay and snorkeled the north, west and southern sides. I've got video of it. There were lots of sea fans and other plant life, but not much fish. Pretty wavy too.

Snorkeled out we headed back to the beach. Lorrie resumed her topless sunbathing I was on the hunt for the trailhead off of Garcia that lead to the cliffs. The trail is barely visable from the beach. It took me some time to find it. I took off on it and headed up the cliffs. After about 15 mins or so the trail started splitting off. I kept taking the right turns and found a secluded beach and two different vistas of the cliffs.





 It was breathtaking. A little hot and thirsty I decided to head back, I knew I had been gone awhile and Lorrie would be wondering where I was at (plus who wants to leave such a beautiful, topless, sungoddess unattended). So I headed back, doing what I thought was the opposite of what I did on the way in. After about 30 mins I realized I was turned around. Don't you hate that feelingl. I was more concerned about Lorrie worrying because by now I had been gone for quite a long while. On one of the trails I had noticed how one person had left pieces of red reflective tape to mark their way. Now I wished I had did the same. For now I started marking intersections so I knew which ones i had been down. One trail led me all the back to the gravel road. Finally I found my way back. It was quite the adventure. I have video of my trek. It's a long video, about 8 minutes worth but it really gives you an idea of what the hike is like:



We stayed at Garcia until 4:30. Full day having spent over 7 hours on the beach. Stopped by the Green store for a few more things and then back to the casa. The last of the burgers and ice-cream for desert. Turned in about 9:30.

Car Alarm

Tuesday evening

Stopped by the Green store for a few provisions, couldn't find coffee filters. I bought a bag of charcoal knowing I would exhaust what was in the garage at the house. We were tired, it had been a long day, so we headed back to the casa.

After passing through the gate to the property I saw that another horse was inside. I stopped the car and got out. I had Lorrie open the gate as I was trying to coax the horse back out. The only thing I accomplished was giving Lorrie a good laugh as I ran back and forth. The horse had no intent of leaving the property. Exhausted, I gave up.

When I finally pulled in at the top of the drive I somehow managed to set off the car alarm (no gas gage but plenty of alarm volume let me tell ya). Lorrie started laughing again. Having failed at my horse wrangling earlier as was determined to conquer this situation. I pushed every imaginable button on the key-bob, restarted the car, yelled at the car..and nothing. Lorrie is still laughing. In an act of desperation (I know the neighbors are thinking WTF!!) I popped the hood and disconnected a battery terminal. I was glad that was over.

The plan for the evening was to grill out burgers. Since we've been loading up on carbs we opted not to purchase any buns. The only problem was that we didn't purchase any condiments either and there were none in the house. So...we heated up the red beans and sauce that we had purchased 2 days prior, outside the Sun Bay entrance, and poured it over the burgers. It was surprisingly good. We did splurg and buy some Haagen-Daz strawberry ice cream for desert. Had it and two pina coladas by the pool.

It was a very clear night and Lorrie suggested that I get out the telescope, which I did. After some fiddling I was able to find (M42) the great Orion nebula. I showed Lorrie. She thought it looked like tuffs of cotten. One last pina colada and we turned in.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Catch Up Day

I was up early this morning, 5:30am. Got up, made coffee and prepared to watch the sunrise. It looked much cloudier today, a good day to hang around the house and catch up on odds and ends. Lorrie was up about 45 mins later. She made pancakes. We ate by the pool and watched the sunrise. I got a few shots of it:



After breakfast Lorrie decided to do some laundry. I began typing my blog entries. My plan was to head into town later and upload the text, maybe a few photos. A lot depended upon what kind of internet connection I came up with.

Since this is an odds and ends kind of post I'll mention  a few things about Quinta Jabali. First, the two things we like the most about the house. The view and the outdoor shower, in no particular order.



The hot water in the house is an "on demand" type of set-up. The heater for the west side of the house (the one i shot the video in) has a habit of tripping the circuit breaker. I've reset it 3 times now. I spoke with Tyler about it and he was already aware of the problem.

Here's some video of the view.



The lighting for the house is state of the art (or at least the way we interpret state of the art). Every light in the house is on a programable dimmer, very easy to create a romantic ambiance. But from a practical sense some areas sorta fail. As is always the case, the novelty of a new house will wear off and one becomes a critic of functionality. Case in point, the master bath. There is only on round designer type of mirror and light is very soft. Like I said earlier it really creates a mood. But when you've got to put in your contacts there's just not enought light. Probably the least funtional part of the house is the sink in the master bathroom. It is a strange creation and nearly impossible to brush your teeth in. Just a few observations. We certainly don't want to come across as too critical. The house IS beautiful and is more a work of art than a place you would live in. We are also aware of how the intial plans for the house changed due to budget over-runs. And lastly it's  much more than we could ever afford to live in ourselves.

Before heading into town we decided to check out the pool at the house. I shot some video of it:



We left the house about 11 or so and headed into Esperanza. We decided to try Tradewinds so I could upload the text for the blog. The internet connection at Tradewinds was excellent this day and Dottie was working so very hard again.

We met a couple while we were there, Bill and Bev from Mass. The both took early retirement from HP and Bill is now a realtor. During our conversation Bill told me he had a fixer upper in Esperanza (Bill is a realtor in Mass). He gave me the combination to the key box so we could check it out if we so desired. We talked with the two of them for so long that we decided to head to Belly Buttons to get something for lunch. Suprisingly I was able to pick up the internet connection from Tradewinds down at Belly Buttons and it seemed even stronger. I guess my initial observations about the internet at Tradewinds was wrong. It's just very poor/not there in the rooms we stayed at.

I ordered the angus burger and Lorrie had a tuna sandwich from Belly Buttons. The angus burger was very poor. Neither of us were impressed. Price was $25, including tip, so not much was lost. After lunch we drove by the house Bill was selling. Yes it is a fixer upper. Just not sure I could ever bring myself to pay 180K for something I could buy back home for under 30K. I know, back home it gets down to single digit temps this time of year.

By the time we were down looking at the house it was mid afternoon. Lorrie and I decided to just head down to Playa Grande for the evening. I'm sitting here now, on the beach @ Playa Grande writing this. Rough surf is pounding away and a nearly constant tradewind has an ocean mist blowing on shore.

I took a few pictures and some video of Playa Grande.





and here's some video:



:-)

Vegetable Market

Feb 22


Vegetable market

We awoke this moring early. Watched the sun rise across Esperanza, drank coffe, ate eggs and had the last of that wonderful raison/cinnamon bread from the Green store. Didn't leave Quinta Jabali until 10am, you hate to leave at all.



Unsure of our destination today we headed into Isabel to procure gasoline. It seems that are rental has a non functioning gas gage. Topped off the tank and went by the vegetable market. The place was packed. Only one papaya, which we purchased. Left a little disappointed.

We took the road up by Casa Dos Chivos and on the way stopped by a house that I knew was for sale. It wasn't much but the view is spectacular. I think the asking price was just under 300k. Would need a lot of work, but the view is to die for. Hooked up with 997 and headed for the eastern beaches, first stop, Playa Chiva.

When we arrived at turn-out #10, our fave, there was only one car parked. So..things looked promising. There was though a lot of garbage on the ground where people park. Lorrie went to check out how populated the beach was and I decided to tidy up the parking area. I was glad to see that some garbage cans had been installed and that the large unsightly pile of garbage that had resided under a tree, the last two trips,  was gone. Now if only they would intall some instructions for the garbage can usage for visitors. I suppose it would have to be a kiosk, since reading a sign would involve too much effort. Anyway...the place looked soo much better after I picked up some.

Lorrie came back with a report that there were between 20-40 people on the beach, well beyond our tolerable threshold. She decided we should head to Orchid. We have, over the last 3 days, grown quite fond of Orchid. The snorkeling on both sides of the beach is very good and who couldn't love the rock art gallery. When we arrived at Orchid I counted 22 bodies. We parked at the only available spot, which was on the western edge. I immediately began work on a shelter.

All I had brought with me this trip was a Leatherman. Somehow I had lost my folding saw at home. It took roughly 11 bows to build the hut. I noticed one woman watching me as I constructed the shelter. After I had thrown on the last of the palm fronds she came over and told us how kewl it was to watch me build it. It took all of an hour to construct and we'll use it all week. Everything you need to build one is there on the beach, including rope. As Lorrie and I walked down the beach people would come up to us and comment on our little hut. Many ask if we were in training for "Survivor".



I'm sitting here writing this entry in a notebook (I'll type it later for entry into the blog). The only thing I could wish for would be a couple more Coronas, I just finished the last of what we brought today. There's a steady breeze which is the most perfect temperature and the azul color of the water looks unreal.



:-)

Monday, February 21, 2011

Fresh Mangos

Feb 21


Fresh Mangos

We missed the sunrise this morning because we slept in. We had a breakfast of boiled eggs and coffee. I had noticed on the drive up to the house yesterday, what I thought were mangos under a tree that's along the drive. I decided to walk down and check it out. To my delight there were ripe mangos laying under the tree. I grabbed a couple to take up and show to Lorrie. We sliced them open and ended up eating both. The were/are delicious. While we were sitting there by the pool, eating our mangos and drinking our coffee ( and I literally mean "our" coffee as we brought our own beans and grinder like we always do) that same peace that we had @ Orchid the day before came back to us. This time it was here to stay.

Our destination for the day was Orchid beach. It had always been our plan to snorkel both sides of Orchid. So after a quick stop by the Green store for provisions (Coronas and some of that wonderful bread) we headed out.

When we arrived at Orchid there were only a few other people. We claimed the same palm frond lean-to that we had used the day before. It didn't take me long to gear-up and head out and snorkel the east side of the beach. I was amazed at how expansive the reef was and all the fish that were present. I stayed out about 45 mins and then went  back to report my finding to Lorrie. After a brief rest we both headed out to snorkel the same east side and saw lots of fish. Saw our first ray up close. It was beautiful. Looked to be about 4 foot across and tip to tail must have been over 8 feet. We were close enough to see all the spots on it. As luck would have it I didn't take the video cam with me and got no shots.

We stayed at the beach for 3 hours, the weather was perfect. Lorrie was in need of a lanyard for her sunglasses so we decided to leave and head into Isabel hoping to find the lanyard @ Blackbeards. No luck. All they had were the really thick ones that she doesn't like. Since we were already in Isabel we decided to try Coconuts for our evening meal. We had never eaten there before and had read all the raves about it.

We arrived at Coconuts @ 5pm. We walked into the outdoor seating area and asked a young gentleman wearing a Coconuts shirt if they were serving yet. He said not until 5:30, but the bar was open. Having 3o mins to burn we decided to walk down to Morales, which is very near Coconuts, to see what kind of provisions they had at that store. We were pleased with the selection and decided to go there after eating at Coconuts. So...back to Coconuts as it was nearing 5:30.

We walked back into the outdoor seating and seeing no host to seat us, we sat at a small table. One other couple came in after us and was seated by a woman. I watched her take their drink orders. Still waiting we noticed a gentleman walk in, he had a small table setup where he was selling necklaces and such, he walked into the bar area and spoke with a young man. As he walked back past us, he said "They'll be right with you", I thanked him. In just a few minutes the hostess arrived at our table to inform us that we were sitting at a reserved table and all the tables were spoken for. Feeling a little embarassed, we apolgized to her. We had no idea we needed reservations. She said it had just been crazy all week. As we were getting up she said to hold on a minute and that maybe she could squeeze us in. I thanked her. She came back in a few minutes and said that the table we were at wasn't reserved unitl 7pm a full 1.5 hrs later and she thought it would work. I certainly thought it would work too.

We had an appetizer of some sort of squid salad, I know there's a proper name for it but I cant' remember now. It was ok...nothing special. For an entree each of us had some sort of slow roasted pork with pickled green bananas and pigeon peas. The pork was just about perfect, very well presented. We ordered the home-made ice cream for desert. That was some of the very best ice cream we've ever had. We tried three flavors. A goat cheese that tasted like cheese cake, some sort of apple sorbet that was undescribable and a mint chocolate chip. All in all, one of the best meals we've had on the island. Bravo Coconuts! Total bill, including tip, came to $72.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

"Was-bunds"

We stayed on Orchid for 3 or 4 hours, not sure we didn't pay attention (that's a good thing and means that the island is working it's magic). We drove back to Esperanza for a quick fumigation of chlorine gas while we changed cloths in our room at Tradewinds. Then we headed to Lazy Jacks. We felt like pizza and according to popular opinion, Lazy Jacks is the place. Ricky was the man behind the bar taking our order while mixing an endless stream of "painkillers". We ordered a meatlovers pizza and yes it lived up to it's reputation. Well done Lazy Jacks.

After we finished the pizza and were enjoying a couple Coronas, three ladies sat down next to us. The one closest to Lorrie struck up a conversation with us. We learned that she was from Philly and was divorced after being married for 38 years. She wasn't bitter about the divorce at all, she just didn't have any use for her ex, AKA "Was-bund". That was the name the three ladies used when referring to their respective ex's and yes all three were divorcees, one having only been divorced for a few months. Lorrie and I got the biggest kick out of listening to them talk about their "was-bunds". The lady that was next to Lorrie, the one that struck up the conversation and was doing the lion's share of talking, was particularly vibrant. A handsome woman that radiated a love of life. Lorrie ask her what her age was. (Funny how it seems women can get away with asking that, but it's almost a felony for a guy to ask that taboo question.) Anyway, she told us she was 75 years young! We were both awe-struck. It absolutely didn't seem possible. We talked with her for a long time.

By now it was getting late and we both were really tired from the day. We decided, relunctantly, to head back to Tradewinds. We both were secretely hating the thought of spending an entire night in the "gas-chamber".

Wish us luck!

:-)

Quinta Jabali

Feb 20


"Quinta Jabali"

First I have lots of pictures and videos to upload...I'm sitting here at Tradewinds loading text. Check back because the video and pictures are amazing. Also..there may be some confusion with the continuity of the blog due to the fact that I'm entering 4 days worth  of posts at once....

That said

The drive up to Quinta Jabali is extremely steep. It is all concrete and I was amazed that they were even able to pour it. Tyler told the drive cost 80K. The maid had yet to arrive and prepare the house for us, we were very early. We dropped off our luggage, got a quick tour of the house and headed to a beach just down from the house that Tyler suggested for snorkeling.

We we arrived at the beach, which really is directly down from the house, the surf was rough but we knew at the very least we could try out our new snorkel vests. So..with snorkel vests on we headed out into the water. As we had expected the water was just too rough to snorkel. There were lots of sea grass and sand making visability poor at best. The snorkel vests worked fabulously though and it was a good thing because we were both really tired from our night in the gas chamber.

After we got out of the water Lorrie walked east down the beach and found a patch of black sand beside some cliff faces. We're not sure but this may be Playa Negra. We also watched some guys head out off the beach and do some spear fishing just off the reef. It looked as though they were having some luck. By now is was after noon, well passed the time the maid said she would be finished, so we headed back to the house, keys in hand.





The house was really beautiful but rather than explore every nook and cranny we opted to take a nap, the chemical hangover just wouldn't let up. After a nap we were both famished and still having that dull, lack of sleep, head-ache we opted to just drive to Island Adventures and grab a quick/cheap bite to eat. We both orded chicken fajitas and suprisenly were both very disaappointed in the meal. That's a first for Island Adventures as we've eaten there many times. The bill was only $24 so not so much lost.

After the meal we headed back to the house to get a real nights sleep.

Tyler

Feb 20th morning


TYLER

With pounding heads we got up and packed, anxious to get some coffee and shed the burden of the last 7 hrs. Along with the room at Tradewinds comes a continental breakfast. The breakfast was fine, the coffee was theraputic. While we were finishing up breakfast I noticed I had missed a phone call the evening before and after cross-checking it with the one Michael (Quintal Jabali) had given me, I saw it was from Tyler the property manager.

Oh, one thing I need to interject about Tradewinds (and then I promise to let it rest). Although they advertise high speed internet, it's only available up in the dining area. Nothing in the rooms, well at least the one we were in.

So...I called Tyler about 8 am, appologizing for the early hour. He said it was no problem and he had been up for an hour. He then ask when we were checking out. "as soon as possible" I said. He said he could meet us at Tradewinds in an hour. That worked just fine for us.

About an hour later, while we were sitting there drinking some coffee, a guy comes up that Lorrie and I both recognize. It's Cameron's brother. We remember he was a carpenter and lived on the island. Neither Lorrie or I could remember his name though. He shook my hand and said "Hi Curt". Damn...I'm thinking, this guy has one heck of a memory. I only met him once and that was last November. I ask his name, appoligizing for not remembering. He replied "It's Tyler, I'm supposed to meet you two here right?" Lorrie and I couldn't believe it. We both laughed. We talked to Tyler for a bit, telling him how much we enjoyed hanging out with him and his brother last November at Lazy Jacks. They were both absolutely hammered each and every time we saw them. I told Tyler that I had video of him and Cameron on you-tube and they were blasted. He said he needs to be careful how he acts in public from now on. We all laughed. It was then that Tyler said those magic words "Are you ready to go to the house?"

You don't know how ready we were.

"The night from Hell"

I'll make this short because to go on ad nuaseum would serve no real purpose. So to that end...IT SUCKED. We were up most of the night due to the other guests partying right outside our room (oh...which was room #10 on the ground floor). That and the room really had an overpowering chlorine smell.

Playa Chiva...MIA


So we head out to Playa Chiva. No snorkel gear...no beach chairs (the room doesn't have any)..and no cooler. Yeah...that's a problem. Do we buy one and donate it to the room so that the next person might have something? Nah...we cobble together a make-shift cooler out of plastic bags. Stop by the Green Store and pick up a water and Sprite for Lorrie and a six pack of Medalla for me. They're out of ice...so we buy a plastic grocery sack with some ice chunks.

Upon approaching the turnouts to each of the beach spots on Playa Chiva we notice there's at least 3-4 cars at EACH AND EVERY SPOT. Hmm..that's odd? We finally make it to #10 (that's our favorite) and I jokingly say "they'll probably be 8 cars at this one." Well...I was wrong. There was 9.  We don't know what to think. So we reluctantly park amongst the crowd and walk out to the beach and that's when it hits us. There are 11 BIG yachts up to the beach and one monster catamaran. It was like we just headed north and were on Longboat Key or something. We stood there in awe...feeling violated that the rest of the world found out about Playa Chiva. We counted no less than 100 people on the beach. Complete with volleyball net and charcoal grills.


I wanted to hide.

:-)

The chlorine closet....

So we finally get to the room. Upon openning the door we were blasted with a damp chlorine smell reminiscent of the swimming pool at our local YMCA. I have video of our reaction, which I'll have to upload later. Count how many times I say "wow" during the video.




 One of the first things Lorrie see's is a can of  Raid placed atop of the dresser. I'm wondering where the electical outlets are? I can't fine one? Then I see one of the flourescent bulbs has an adapter hooked to it. The fridge is plugged into this one.


We decide to dump the luggage and get out of the room.  Our destination Playa Chiva. Couple hours at Blue beach and all this chlorine gas will be a distant memory.

Hasta Luega...

From bad to worse and back again...

Where to begin....
Well we made it to the island. Yeah!!! Had the same pilot that we had last November, David is his name. Quick trip..nice landing. Thank you once again David. I have some video of the flight.








Called Martineau and had their driver pick us up at the airport. She was quick..prob only took her 10 mins to get us. Got the paperwork signed and then found out that there was a problem with our Jeep Liberty. Seems the previous customer broke the back hatch latch and now you can't open the back hatch. Hmm...ok. Passenger side door handle was about broke off. Ok. Then the guys tells me, "Since your car is not working properly I'll give it to you for $50 day." Well now that's OK!

So we have kind of a clunker this time, not nearly as nice as Maritzas wranglers...but hey they were $90 a day. So I'll take the extra $560 ...no problem. Now we're exicted...we've got our Jeep and we're on the island. Next stop Tradewinds, well not quite...we have to make a quick stop for gasoline. $55 tops off the tank. On to Tradewinds.

We go into the office knowing that we're really early. It's only 10:30am and check out is 11:00. But we're thinking maybe we can go ahead and get the paperwork filled out. The office is part of the little souveneir shop that's in front. Kinda cramped..but not a big deal. We nose around looking at the merchandise while the lady behind the desk is waiting on another customer. I'm eves-dropping on their conversation, mainly because there's not much in the shop for men. The lady is telling the guy she doesn't have his reservatinon and he needs a confirmation #. Oh shit...I don't have a confirmation #. Can't remember ever getting one. She tells him she has no rooms today, tomorrow or the next day. He leaves...I don't know if he got his room or not. Next it's my turn. "Um...I've got a reservation for one night."

"When are you checking in?" she asks.

"Oh..today..the room is for tonight"

"What's your confirmation #"

"Uh...I don't have one..I never recieved one."

"You've got to have a confirmation. You can't make a reservation without getting a confirmation number. We don't work off of credit card number we give confirmation numbers. What's your name, maybe they'll be something."

So I give here my name. I can tell she's aggrivated. Maybe it's because the guy before me didn't have his confirmation number. Maybe nobody had there confirmation numbers today..I dunno, but she's not happy and I can tell I'm not making the situation any better.

" I don't have any reservation under that name. (she says) Are you sure you have a room with us?"

I'm thinking jeez...when I called and gave my credit card number someone most have forgot to make the reservation and now we're not going to get the room. I tell the lady "we made this reservation back in November and it is only for one night".

For some reason that flipp'd the switch and she says "I remember you. I took that reservation. Now where is it?"

Then she finds it. Ah success....but it doesn't last, "You can't check in now. Your too early. Check-out isn't until 11am. Your room isn't ready. Check in is at 2pm" She's back to being aggrivated.

So I tell her no problem we'll just come back later.

I tell Lorrie "why don't we just drive around for a bit? We drive out west of Esperanza to find the entrance to Quinta Jabali, which we do with little effort. (the place looks just fantastic from the road). Then Lorrie suggest we drive out and see if we can find Casa Blanca. We had almost rented it but finally decided against. Well we found it and it's way out. It's much more like jungle near the house than what I thought from looking at the google shots of it. Very private and probably some really nice views. We also drive by some really nice places out there....the only one I can remember now was Banana Wind. It was over the top.

So now it's about 1pm and we decide to go back to Esperanza and try to check into our room. When we head back to Tradewinds there is literally no place to park near. Finally we find a spot up the street and I go back to see what kind of mood the innkeeper is in now. She had everything ready for me and was in a decent mood. Finished all my paperwork and got the key to the room.

and this was the good part....

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Orchid Art Gallery



We hid under a palm tree on Playa Chiva, not wanting to take part in what looked like something from southern Florida. Maybe we take a rather obtuse perspective when visiting some of our favorite beaches, I don't know. I do know that we value silence and honor silence. Most however refuse to open up to it, instead constantly wrapping themselves in an endless blanket of stimuli. Maybe it's because when they surrender to silence it's intensity and mystery arise and an awareness of ones inner truth becomes apparent. That, I think, scares them. Anyway, we enjoy the meditative qualities of waves and the light plays on them. Sorry about becoming so reflective there...

So, after 30 mins or so I suggested we head to Orchid in hopes that it would proves less "grande" to the crowds, and we were right. Not only that, we were treated to a beautiful vista of rock art, created by other visitors to Orchid. I some pictures below.

As we walked along the beach edge admiring these simple, yet fascinating sculptures, we found ourselves compelled to add to the gallery. It is a challenge to find just the right base and a complimentary upright, but we managed and now our own Rembrandt is part of the family.




It was while we were walking along the east side of Orchid that we met Kathy. She too was admiring the gallery and added her own piece. We struck up a conversation and learned that she lives on the island, having only been here 8 months. She owns and opperates El Sombrero Viejo. Her father had ran the store for many years &  after his passing she moved to Vieques from Puerto Rico to continue to run the business. Kathy also introduced us to her daughter who has a particular talent for spotting sea life. She pointed out an octopus and a stingray while were standing there talking.




Lorrie and I then walked back to our spot on Orchid and just sat there, taking it all in. It was then that we felt like we had finally arrived on the island. Like having warm, sweet honey, oozing down over your head, neck, across your shoulders & finally enveloping your whole body. We sat there with big smiles, it's a great feeling.


But...it didn't last.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Houston...we have a problem

Well we made it to San Juan...just 2 hours late. This was the reason I decided NOT to try and make it to Vieques tonight.  There were  people on the plane  that had connecting flights with Cape Air on to Vieques. When were checking into the Best Western we ran into one of the couples on the plane that were supposed to go to Vieques via Cape Air. They missed their flight and didn't have any  place to stay in San Juan.  Not a bad decision we made to wait till the a.m. to make the flight to the island.

The problem originated in Houston. First they overbooked the flight and were asking for someone to give up a seat in exchange for $400 ticked credit and a room for the night. They would fly you out 24hrs later in a first class seat. We had a flight with Cape Air the next day @ 8 am, so that set up wouldn't  work. This put the boarding process back about 15 mins. I shot some video while we were waiting at the airport:





 Finally they found a taker and we boarded. We were sitting there on the plane and it had yet to pull away from the gate. That's when the captain told us there was a mechanical problem with the plane. I got some video of it when we got the news:





So we got off the plane, and anyone that flys knows how much of a pain it is to wait on all the passengers to get their carry-ons out of the overhead storage. Then we headed to the other end of the airport to board another plane. They also had to take all of the loaded luggage out and re-load onto our new plane.

So here we sit in our little room at the San Juan airport. I shot some video of it:




 We left the house @ 3am this morning. It's 7:10pm now. We fly over to the island at 8am tomorrow. The plane we'll be flying tomorrow only seats 9 people so surely it won't be overbooked.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Packing Suitcases....

Only 5 days now till we fly out. Temperatures here in Indiana are hitting 50 degress today. At the rate they're rising they should be near 80 when we depart....just kidding. The week we left for Vieques last November there was record warmth here in Indiana, with temps up in the 70's. The week we returned we had our first snowfall and it's been snowing, icing, blowing and freezing ever since. Last Friday it was 9 degrees on the way to work.

Today I confirmed our flights with Continental and Cape Air. I'll print out E-tickets next week.  I have all the contact #'s for the property managers at Casa Dos Chivos and Quinta Jabali written down and stored in our cell phones.  Also have numbers for Martinue car rental, this will be the first time we've used them. We've always used Maritzas in the past. Hopefully they'll do as well.

We'll be leaving Indy @ 6:15am on Friday and arriving in San Juan at 4:00 or so. Well be staying in San Juan that Friday and flying out on Cape Air early Saturday. This is the first time we've flown the trip this way. Always seemed to be a problem arrriving on the island after 5:00pm as most of the  car rental agencies are closed.

We plan on taking some time to check out properties for sale on the island this trip, even though most are out of our league. It seems unbelievable to me that people are paying the prices they are for some of these houses/stuctures. Coming from a commercial constuction background I know what's involved in building/pouring these concrete houses.  I had heard that the cost of delivered concrete is somewhere around $170 a yard.  Seems reasonable to me. Given enough plywood and 2x4's or better yet metal forms, I could build one hell of a house.

Oh well nice to dream.

:-)

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

10 days out

10 days away from our third trip to Vieques and we are READY! Weather here in Indiana has been horrible. Ice storm that shut our public schools down for a week, cut power from thousands and is still present on many parking lots and sidewalks. Travel was nearly impossible for a couple days last week. We had about 1.5 inches of ice/sleet and then 4 inches of snow on top of that.  Temperature today hit a balmy 16 degree high, suppose drop to 2 degrees tonight.

:-)