Today, I flew to Vieques. Me and one other passenger. (!!!) Fortunately, I had the sage words of Michelle with me from the last time I was on an even tinier plane, “The pilot probably doesn’t want to die today, either.” It was a 30-minute flight and while we were nowhere near 30,000 feet, it gave such perspective to the home I have had these last few weeks.
Puerto Rico is a large yet small island. It is lush with vegetation, has tall mountains and vast shoreline. So much packed into such a small package. It’s warm and welcoming but, mention Maria and you see ghosts and long shadows in people’s eyes. It is a melting pot of English and Spanish speakers with spillover accents from Long Island to Europe to Jamaica. Servers bend over backward to accommodate the tourists while young kids cruise the main streets with outrageously loud music playing from their enormous truck-bed-mounted speakers. It’s a beguiling island. I, humbly, relate.
Anyway, back to the plane. I had been texting with my mom just before ‘boarding’ (aka the pilot saying, “Hey, are you on this flight? Come with me.”) My mom does not care for small planes, so sending her a photo of what I was getting into (literally) may have been a miscalculation. I realized midway through my flight, as I was calmly and cooly enjoying the view, that my mom was probably far more stressed and nervous for me than I was during my time in a tiny tin box in the sky. It speaks to the power of the mind and our ability to create a vivid false reality.
Flight fears aside, I made it safely to Vieques — and immediately updated my momma. It’s an island known for their wild horses. I saw over 30 as we drove the 15 minutes from the airport to Esperanza (where I’m staying). They wander the streets and graze freely. Lisa, my driver, told me that they sometimes cause traffic accidents just like deer. Can you imagine what a horse would do to your car?!?!? We also passed some iguanas sunning by the street. “Toto, based on this roadkill, I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore.”
The beach here is amazing. The water is shallow and clear with light waves lolling into shore. Apparently, the snorkeling is pretty amazing, too. I did not partake as I prefer to pretend there are NOT plenty of fish in the sea. But, while I was sunning on a makeshift post-hurricane pier, I could hear the family in the water saying things like, “Did you see that stingray?” “Woah, there’s a squid.” “Wow, what is that fish — do you think it’s alive?” No. No, thank you. Truth be told, even just hearing about the fish in the water below the pier of wood I was on proved too much; I went and found another stretch of beach.
Some of you might recall my adventure in Sicily several years ago when I spent Halloween night in a hopping hostel. However, it was during the off-season so I was the only person — in the entire building. No front desk person, no nada. Well, I was in Italy, so, no niente.
Yet again, I find myself in a bustling summer guesthouse and am the only guest. It’s delightful to have run of the roost but also sort of eery. I can’t decide whether it hurts or helps that it’s overrun with cats and roosters. (See what I did there with my run of the roost / rooster pay off? Thanks.) My room opens up directly to the courtyard area where cats are everywhere. One of the kittens (that doesn’t yet know any better) has befriended the sole human. The other kitties all keep their distance and, in that language-agnostic cat way, look at me as an intruder in their space. They’re not wrong.
It is such a shame to be in a place known for its beaches and hate the beach. I’m trying to figure out the root cause — spoiler alert, it’s the sand. But why do I hate the sand so much? Is it my shoes? Is it my attitude? Is it because I’m short so my face is closer to the ground? Tomorrow, I am going to bring a beach umbrella, two towels, a beach chair, and two pairs of shoes. I’m going to face this anti-sand sitch head-on. Wish me luck.
Tonight, I have sought the refuge of people in the only open restaurant/bar. It’s also where I ate lunch. Thankfully they have more than one vegetarian option because I suspect this may be where I’m eating tomorrow, too. And the next day. Visiting in the offseason has its drawbacks but I’m still very happy to be here on this island in the sun — playing, having fun.