Sunday, April 12, 2009


"You are too fast for me, Maan. Slow down, Maan!"

Well, I had never been exposed to a place with Caribbean influence, hence at this island of Vieques, 1 hour off mainland Puerto Rico, I was having a fun time. Things were slow, as they say, I was on "Island Time". People here took life slow and no one seemed to be in a hurry.

We spent two fun filled days in the town of Esperenza in the southern coast of Vieques . The town boasts of a strip of few restaurants which the locals call Malecon. It took us only 5 meals to eat at every restaurant in the town:) But the Malecon was the place were all the locals hung out at night and just people-watching entertained us for hours the first night. Many locals were happy drinking from a hole-in-the-wall shack and avoiding the tourist traps. But most locals just strutted their jarring car stereos by making multiple rounds of the small 2 block downtown area. There were also people doing the same on horses, albeit without the stereos. There were old men gathering at sidewalk and talking loud, there were youngsters drinking and humoring (teasing) every lady that walked past them and all this was happening with the backdrop of the beautiful blue Atlantic ocean.

With limited vacation, I could not afford to relax for long. The morning of the first day we ended up going for snorkeling. A few practise session later, I had perfected my breathing technique and was observing multi-colored fishes underwater. On this trip, we met up with a very enthusiastic guide and 3 pretty ladies who happened to become our travel companion for the next 2 days on the island. After the snorkeling trip, we had lunch in a run down shack by the beach. With no more than 2 big pans, a few ladles and limited spices, this guy cooked up the best king fish I have ever eaten.

A huge part of the island is unpaved, so we decided to rent mountain bikes and bike to a secluded beach. After 6 miles of hard work we reached at the most beautiful stretch of beach I have ever seen - Blue beach. Although the beach stretched for about 3/4 mile, there were less than 10 people strolling on it. The clear blue waters, the white soft sand made for a magical combination. An hour later, while wading on this beach, my friend alerted me to the sight of some fins in the vicinity. For a minute the movie "Jaws" flashed in our mind, but we soon saw double fins and guessed it must be a stingray. With Steve Irvin's demise fresh in mind, we started backing away. Then we met a local who confirmed the stingray's presence and even volunteered to snorkel close to it.

The tiring bike ride back to the town was doused by a pitcher of fine Sangria. A little tipsy, we then went for the most magical experience I have ever had - Bioluminescent Bay tours. My initial take on this tour was that I might end up seeing a lot of glowing aquatic creatures like jelly fish etc. However, what I witnessed that night captivated me no end. This bay has microscopic creatures which emit light when they are agitated. So any time our paddle hits the water, or you touched the water the surface would glow. That night we paddled to the middle of the bay and jumped into the waters to soak this beauty. It was fitting that the sky was at its clearest that night too. I don't recollect the last time I saw so many stars in the sky. Between the innumerable stars and glowing water, the experience was incredible. There are only 3 places in the world which boast of this kind of activity, and Vieques boasts to be best among the best.

The next day, with some persuasion from our new found friends we decided to go horse-riding. This was my first time riding a horse and although I learnt the tricks of the trade quickly, I was still uncomfortable when the horse would start galloping. Things were made more interesting by the presence of our super hot instructor who definitely knew how to carry a low-rise Levi's. Spending time on the ranch, we also learnt about the interesting love life of horses which very closely parallels that of human being, including the philandering part!

We returned from our adventure packed weekend at Vieques to Puerto Rico refreshed. After spending some more time on the main island and getting a flavor of the Spanish/Caribbean influence, I returned to the humdrum of Houston. Island life is definitely fun, and Its a shame that it took me 27 years to experience this!

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