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.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Coco drill....

Good friends, who are coming to Vieques  with us this Feb, turned me on to a  tool called the "Coco Drill." We've used it a number of times this trip and it works great. Today I took some video of me using it on a young coconut. You can pick one up on Amazon for under 10 bucks:



Today was our last full day on island. Spent the whole day out on La Plata, as usual. Met another couple that reads the blog and are now "officially" islanders ( they just bought their first house on Vieqeus a few months ago). Congrats Jim and Karen.

The beaches have once again fully recovered from the seaweed. La Plata was every bit as perfect as it is in Feb. and  the same goes for La Chiva. This whole seaweed issue is really a non issue. It's building the beaches back, I've watched it happen these last two weeks. As has been the case for the last two weeks there were very few people on the refuge. There were a couple other groups on La Plata today, but it didn't last long. Lorrie and I had the place to ourselves for the better part of the afternoon. Closed it down, Hard to say goodbye when it's looking so beautiful.  We finished the evening at Tradewinds, out on the terrace. One of the many wonderful things about Vieqeus, and the Caribbean for that matter, is dining al fresco. The temperature and breezes this evening were just about perfect. The Malecon was rather quiet and it made staring out at the ocean from our table all the more pleasurable.  I leave you with a 12 minute clip of Lorrie and I walking over to the gallery and admiring how blue the sky was today.  Nothing fancy, nothing extraordinary, just a darn beautiful sky and some crystal clear water. Can't wait to do it all over again in about  11 weeks.




:-)



Friday, November 20, 2015

A dogs life....

Our morning meditation....


Last full day on island. Perfect weather, nice strong cool wind. It's so nice to be warm....

:-)

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Riding the storm out.....



Got a late start out to the refuge yesterday. After we stopped by the Mambo for our heilo and cervazas it must have been somewhere near noon. As we drove into the refuge I decided to go to each beach and count how many vehicles I saw. It has been our contention that there just are not that many people on island now, the reasons we've yet to figure out. So...using our "unscientific" methodology, here's what we found:

Caracas - 10 vehicles
Pata Prieta - didn't drive down to it
Chiva - 3 ( Can you believe that?)
La Plata - 2
Escondida - 0

So including us there were 16 vehicles, that we saw, on the refuge. Our plan for the day was to hang out at La Plata but that was changed when we saw a fresh batch of seaweed had moved in. I cannot believe how fluid this seaweed situation is. La Plata was perfect just 2 days ago, today it was rather turbid.

We drove back to La Chiva, one of the 3 vehicles had left and from what we could see there was no one visible on the beach. We parked at turnout 10, the only vehicle there. Weird....

Having our choice of palms we picked the one just down the beach to the west. No need for a cabana with this nice hangout.

 La Chiva wasn't super clear, but there wasn't really too much seaweed to deal with either.  We settled  in to enjoy the day. I had been watching this bank of storm clouds that was moving to the south of Vieques. Forecast had called for some rain today, but it looked like it would all stay to the south of the island.


As it got later in the afternoon it became obvious that we were in the path of this storm. Lorrie and I decided to try and ride it out, but the longer we stayed, the darker it got. 



Amazing to watch storms out at sea, they look so angry.  Lorrie and I always say to each other how spooky it would be to be out there in that on a small boat, or just in the water.


At one point we actually thought we had beat it but then this wave of cold air blew in (well cold in Vieques terms, it was 76 when we checked in the Jeep). The winds really picked up and the sea got even more angrier looking.  We ended up giving in once the rain started. And of course the whole refuge was empty by now. It was 4pm.

On our way back to Beso's we stopped by the VM (Vegetable Museum) and I have to say it no longer deserves that title. The owner has noticeably expanded his store and two of the semi's are now just and extension of the store. He is even installing acoustical ceiling tile in one of them. His offerings have really expanded. Much more than what we saw a few years ago. Handy place to stop by.

Rained most of the night....

:-)


Monday, November 16, 2015

Nobody's home....



Lorrie and I have been taken back by the lack of people on island now. We continue to visit beaches where we are the only ones or very few.


I'm not complaining now mind you, it's just really taken us back. Maybe it was all the chatter about the seaweed invasion and there was a lot of seaweed when we arrived a little over a week ago, but it has since disappeared. Another thing that we have watched happen the beaches transform. All that seaweed is building them back. La Plata is as good as it ever is in Feb now, even over towards the gallery.


We walked over to the west side of La Plata along the rocks to check the vista. Of course it's the same, but one just can't seem to get enough of it:


It's so beautiful


It's been eerily quiet at Beso's too, either that or we're just noticing it more. So nice watching the sun light up the big island as you drink your morning coffee.



Now all this talk of no one on island doesn't mean we haven't kept meeting great people, we have. We seem to run into more at Sunbay though.

We a great couple from Canada, yes Canada. Jeff and Melissa. Luckily I had a full cooler of Medallas that day. They are first timers to Vieques and know a lot about Costa Rica, their fav.


We ended up giving them a ride back to their Villa since they had some problems securing a jeep this trip.

That same day we met Eric and Hollan. Ended up watching the sunset with these two and splitting the proverbial atom.




 Like I said earlier I'm glad I had plenty of Medallas, These two were nice enough to take us out for dinner at Next Course later that evening. Super kind gesture....and great people.

So...when I say nobody's home...I might be mistaken. Those great people we always seem to meet here, are still here.

Maybe just a little harder to find.

:-)


Friday, November 13, 2015

Winds of change......




If you remember the eighties the way I remember the eighties, you remember the Scorpions. If you've  been to Vieques and walked into your bathroom at night and seen one of these, you'll also remember the Scorpions:


Yes, Lorrie found this  guy in the bathroom here at Besos. I armed myself with some bug spray they had in the kitchen and put him out of "our" misery. Texted Jay, the property manager, just to let him know we saw one. I wasn't sure if it was worth mentioning or not. I know there are scorpions on island along with tarantulas and some other creepy crawlies. Jay was prompt and sent the exterminator out the next morning, which wasn't the reason I called, but showed good property management on Jays part. The house has been nearly devoid of pests and this is the very first scorpion we've seen in all our trips. 

The scorpions, the band, were singing about "winds of change" and that's what we've experienced here in the last day or so. La Plata has turned back into what it always was, beautiful. The seaweed is disappearing with the winds and building new beachfront in the process. There's been and inordinate amount of garbage strewn along the beaches though, but between Joy and Bill's efforts plus ours, we're getting things presentable.



We've had La Plata to ourselves almost exclusively, this reminds us of old times. The returning sand, especially under the portia tree over near the gallery really makes it feel like when we first saw it.  Lorrie and I have managed to reconstruct the gallery. I balanced this one piece for the 4th year in a row now. 



The water clarity is nearly what it is in Feb.




It is as beautiful as ever. Closed the beach down that day with Bill and Joy. We are kindred spirits.


As you can see the beach was packed.



This is Vieques....this is what it creates.



As is always the case it was getting that time, the no-see-ums were reminding us it was time to go.


But the evening was still young and we had decided on Lobster to end this very last night with our good friends. 

(((Choli!)))

(((Choli!)))

Can you hear us Choli? 

We want the langosta perfecta.

And he did not disappoint




To say this was a great day doesn't even begin to convey what it really was. In the end, it's just good times with good friends, in Vieques. 

"Here's to nights we'll never remember, with friends we'll never forget."

:-)

Monday, November 9, 2015

Medallas and moonshine......



Buenos Dias from Besos!

Yes...that's the vista from the house.  Nice to set out on the deck drinking it all in, plus maybe a cup of coffee to rid yourself from jet lag.

First thing on the agenda was to secure provisions. Nothing much glamorous about grocery shopping. We went to Morales and spent $308. That included a bottle of rum, a bottle of scotch and a case of Medallas. (little did I know at the time that we would nearly exhaust those Medallas before this day would be over).

After we got all the food put away, we both decided to take a little siesta. It takes a couple days to rid yourself of the travel hangover.

Refreshed we decided to head out. First destination was the house. I plan on spending as much time there as possible to let Lorrie get a feel for the place. Both of the "pittys" (pitbulls) were there. They didn't remember me, so it took us a bit to gain their confidence. The breezes on the porch were just fantastic,  and quiet, that place is so very quiet. I have been cooresponding, via Joy, with the previous renters of the house. They lived there for 16 years. They had to move back to Florida because of a medical condition.  We were at the house for about 2 hours. It's beyond describing.

Next was to the Mambo and some Spanish practice.

"Dos bolsas de heilos"

That's two bags of ice. Last year the lady working the cash register helped me with that. When I finally got it right last year she gave me a sucker. It was funny.

But no sucker this time, just two bags of ice.

So with ice and medallas we headed out to the refuge. I ask Lorrie where she wanted to start? Of course she said La Plata.

 Not much had changed on the way into the refuge. Sol food was open, which surprised us since it was nearly 2pm. The roads have been freshly graded, but other than that things seemed the same. Not many people. We only counted 5 or 6 cars as we passed La Chiva. No one at La Plata except for one vehicle at turnout 27 (Judy and Andres spot). We pulled in next to that jeep and began unloading.

When we got to the beach who do you suppose was there? Why Bill and Joy. Great minds  do think alike.



As you can see the seaweed was pretty bad. Bill had told me that this beach was clear two days ago. He was thinking that the weather that had delayed our flight had also pushed in this new batch.  Didn't matter though. We were on the beach breathing in the salt air  with good friends.



Bill was the first to hand out the Medallas.  We sat there catching up, talking about why we love Vieques and why nobody else understands us. Just the 4 of us. They are so much like us it's spooky.

Lorrie and I did wonder over to the gallery. The sand is coming back under the porcia tree as you wade over. It's nearly back to the way it used to be. I wouldn't be surprised to find out that the seaweed is one of the reasons the beach is coming back over there. We set up some pieces. I put up the same stone that I have for the last 4 years now. It was beautiful over there.



The above shot is from late in the day, somewhere near 5pm. Bill and Joy were leaving to go find a place in Esperanza that had fresh seafood and moonshine! The owner we had met last Feb when we were at the fish market. His brother is a fisherman and the menu changes depending on what the catch of the day is. They also serve barbecue pork. Bill ask if we wanted to join them, should they be successful in finding the place. Lorrie and I were unsure. We wanted to stay a bit longer on la plata, plus we wanted to go back to the house in Los Chivos and watch the sunset.  We said our goodbyes and I told Bill to text me if they did indeed find the place.

The sunset and breezes that evening up at the house  in los chivos were fantastic. The pittys welcomed us with wagging tails. Lorrie and I sat on the porch with the dogs asleep at our feet. Hardly a car drove by. It was great.

I think it must have been 7 or so when I finally checked my phone. Bill had indeed found the place and he and Joy were  headed back to their place to shower and change. I ask Lorrie if she wanted to go check the place out, kind of a birthday celebration. Yes, today is Lorrie's birthday. She agreed, let's do it. I let Bill know that we would meet them at Duffys.  He could find Lorrie and I at the bar having a rum punch.

Duffys was great and the rum punches were as good as ever. Lorrie and I had just finished our first ones when  Bill came running up. "I'm double parked on the Malecon, hurry. I'll drive". So off we went. Lorrie and I had no idea where we were headed nor the name of the place. Keep in mind that Lorrie and I haven't eaten much of anything since early this morning.

So we go on this backstreet from the Malecon, near the park. It looked like a neighborhood to me. Bill parks and we walk up to this sort of food stand with some tables and chairs set up on what seems like the sidewalk. Now, I have to admit, by this time the lack of food, combined with the medallas and rum punch that is really beginning to kick in, was beginning to sort of blurr things.

Out comes this smiling man who immediately hand each of us a Medalla.



He was so welcoming and friendly. It's hard to find this kind of hospitality back home.


Bill ordered for us all. I don't remember what we other than it was some sort of fish with vegetables.



Somewhere around this time is when the moonshine came out. It had a rose color to it and tasted really sweet. He served it in little plastic shot glasses. We never ask for it, he just kept bringing it out. As a matter a fact we never really had to ask for anything. He would just keep bring out more Medallas and moonshine.



We laughed and ate and had so very, very much fun. We were there very late, probably too late for the neighborhood. Our host never once complained.

This is a snaphot of the facebook page the place:


and here the link to the same page - Rancho Choli

Great day and a great birthday for Lorrie, one we'll never forget.

:-)

Flight Delayed....




So here's what you do when your flight is delayed in SJU.  You find a nice watering hole and have yourself a Medalla or two, or three. The weather was just not cooperating with us. I texted the property manager and told Jay that the airline gods are angry this eve and I didn't know if we would make it over tonight or not.  As it turned out we got into Vieques about 1.5 hours late.  There were only 5 of us on the plane and given how the weather was worsening I would bet we were the last flight out that day.

Maritzas was prompt at picking us up at the airport and the girls behind the counter as sweet as ever. They gave me a discount? Maybe because we come here so much or maybe just because I dunno. Anyway this is not the first time Maritzas has done me a favor. I can't say enough good things about them.

Didn't really have time to get provisions once we got the the house. We were both starved and needed some food. It was now 7pm and we had been up since 2am.  I texted Jay the property manager at Besos to let him know we did finally make it over . He lives just across on the next ridge and  I can see his house from Besos. While we were waiting on Jay, Joy and Bill texted and ask if we made it to the island. I told them yeah, but we were waiting on Jay to get into the house and change and then go get something to eat. They suggested we just go with them and even said they would pick us up. I decided to just drive over to their house, Casita Sea Glass, which is just across the street from Jays house. (I know it's getting confusing here) Long story short, all Jay had to do was walk across the street and give me the keys to the house. He said it was the easiest check in he had ever had!  We all stood on the veranda of Casita Sea Glass and got caught up about what's been happening on the island. As promised, Bill and Joy had ice cold Medallas waiting for us. Doesn't get much better than that.

We ended up eating at Taverna, since it was so close and getting late. I was craving carbs as was Lorrie. Ended up eating some pasta marinara with shrimp and capers. Not bad, but really not great either. I know a lot of people like this restaurant, but for me, it just doesn't flip my switch. Plus, it is so very, very noisy in there that it makes dinning difficult.

I think it was 10 or so before we finally got to the house. As was the case with our last visit, we had a small welcoming package:


Very rarely do you find such a nice welcome in rental houses. There was coffee and shampoo and soap in the bathroom. Really well done. 

Thank gawd we're finally here!!!

:-)



Friday, November 6, 2015

Rough Weather moving in....



Yeah...that's the satellite shot from this evening and it's moving right towards Puerto Rico. Suppose to dump almost 2 inches of rain tomorrow. Should make for an interesting flight from SJU to VQS. Hope our little Cessna can handle the 20-30 mph winds forecast.

Wish us luck.

The link below is to the animated version:

http://www.ssd.noaa.gov/goes/east/tatl/flash-avn.html

:-)

Big Brother is watching you.....



One of the requirements of  my current job is to participate in random drug testing. Never mind the idiocy of having to pee for some pseudo governing body, so you can "prove" your a perfect little soldier. (I could write a saga sized rant on that. ) No....that's not the issue here.

You are guaranteed to have your name pulled at least every two years.

So what's the chance of having your name pulled the day before you go on vacation for two weeks? Uh...pretty much a  100% chance, if your me. And don't forget, boys and girls, you have 10 days from the postmark date to pee.



 We were on our way outta town to visit our daughter when we found out. I had grabbed the mail as we left this morning and it was while we were about 1 hour from home I found the letter. We were on our way up to see her, she's in Med School. Turning around to go back  to one of the local drug testing sites would nix our luncheon date with her. Time is precious when your in Med School and we've had this planned for a while, plus  we already had reservations at a hotel near the airport, so we really wanted to be outta town.

 After some searching I found a lab not too far from our hotel where i was able to fulfill my obligation for the "Ministry of Truth. "

To say I'm ready to be in Vieques doesn't even begin to express how I feel.  (Oh no....does that  constitute a "thought crime?")

Now...if there's a telescreen in our hotel room I've got just the solution. I always pack a roll of duct tape for just these types of emergencies.

Winston would be so proud.

“Nothing was your own except the few cubic centimetres inside your skull. ” 
― George Orwell, 1984

:-P