Someone on Tripadvisor recently ask the question:
"Is there someplace like Vieques, only with golf?"
That's akin to asking if there's someplace like Yosemite valley only with strip malls and fast food.
I didn't respond to that question. There's no way I could span that kind of divide, and explain to them that Vieques is Vieques precisely because of the absence of golf courses, casinos and fast food (more on that later).
I've always taken a certain pride in proclaiming to people how you'll not find fast food on Vieques. That, to me, was the epitome of why Vieques is what it is. Not having fast food was, in my jaded opinion, just the breakwater needed to protect Vieques from becoming a clone of everyplace else, globalized. There's a uniqueness and purity in the struggle that small business on Vieques has had to endure. It creates character and makes it stand out from the crowd. I still pine for that homemade ice cream I once had at Coconuts and how could the refuge entrance ever be the same without Sol Food. Knowing that the Sol Food truck can and will run out of food only solidifies its standing as a right of passage for Vieques visitors. If you branded all the unique restaurants/kiosks on Vieques and brought them home with you, they would cease to exist. Don't get me wrong, I would love to have a "Coqui Fire" here in Indiana, but it just doesn't work. To quote the old farmer friend of mine "that dog won't point."
I know, I'm speaking from a rather myopic viewpoint, I don't even live on Vieques. I can't imagine, nor can I relate, to what and islander might feel. It could be totally opposite from me.
Coco Chanel said that "to be irreplaceable you have to be constantly changing." I have, in my limited time on Vieques, experienced a lot of change. The paving of refuge roads, the new visitor center, Avis, El Bloc, the opening of more western roads out past Playa Grande, vegetable museum expansion, La Zafra opening and then closing, same thing for Coconuts, Jimmy opening Coqui Fire, the closing and then reopening of the bio-bay, the birth of Little Boat Sailing and the addition of many new villas to rent. So, you see, it's not like it's static. Vieques is in a state of flux, but for the most part, one that's quintessentially Vieques.
Now with that said I want to share a recent photo of the Ocean View hotel in Isabel. There's a lot of chatter among islanders regarding this new development. To characterize this as monumental doesn't even begin to capture the reverberations it's causing, both good and bad.
"Why fit in when you were born to stand out?" Dr. Suess