The bar at the Great house of Martineau Bay --- exceptional Mojitos are made here!
The basic plan for Sunday was to land on Vieques Island, our true first destination. We regrettably paid another $12.50 for the three minute cab ride back to San Juan International to secure our reservation on Vieques Air Link. Our research on ways to make Vieques revealed two options: getting to Fajardo on the East Coast and taking a ferry or flying with Vieques Air Link out of San Juan International. All things considered, scoring the plane ride seemed less painful (Fajardo is probably 30 miles from San Juan and we had previously been alerted about cab fares).
Things were auspicious as we located the Vieques Air Link (VAL) counter and a youngster sporting a Corona baseball cap (official uniform???) acknowledged our reservations and proceeded to hand write a single ticket that would serve as the ticket and boarding pass both to-and-from the island for all three of us! Fortunately he instructed us to proceed to gate 31A, so we headed through security.
Great meals are served at Pasa Fina in Martineau Bay's Great House
We were suspicious as we eyed the electronic flight boards, which offered nary a clue that VAL existed. Our concern grew as we descended steps to the basement of the airport where the three haphazard entrances existed for gate 31. The gates 31B and 31C featured significant signage and were attended by several attendants. In front of the area where 31A was posted there existed a teensy, unattended booth and the signage above it broadcast Cape Air, the same airline as 31B with three attendants. Of course I stood in line at 31B and asked where VAL was…the attendant simply pointing to the beat up wooden stall and instructing “there”.
So warily we sat with increasing doubts. Five minutes before our scheduled departure, the dude from upstairs with the Corona ball cap walked by and pointed at us…who needs a PA system or to actually have your flights posted anywhere in the terminal??? We walked outside through good old gate 31A and jumped aboard the propeller craft capable of holding ten people (did I forget to mention that they asked us all what we weighed before our ticket was scribbled?).
Seriously...the restaurant is named Pasa Fina!
The pilot looked about eighteen and had his window down with arm hanging outside like it was my dad’s 1960’s paneled station wagon!
However, it was a great flight. We sketched the north-eastern coast of Puerto Rico from a low elevation that afforded great views of the beautiful beaches and only 25 minutes later we touched down on Vieques. The adventure was on!
A bit reluctant to scramble aboard another taxi, we paid another $10 to get delivered another mile down the road to our resort at Martineau Bay. But this was no Holiday Inn. Bear in mind that we were visiting Puerto Rico off-season, as in hurricane season, but as seasoned veterans of the Gulf of Mexico - we had to evacuate when Rita hit - felt June was prime savings time (the really serious hurricane time is October).
Yup...they have a spa too.
Martineau Bay was a much needed breath of relaxation, but let me share a brief history of Vieques. This small island off the east coast of Puerto Rico has never been a big attraction. Virtually uninhabited for most of its existence, it is a petite, small island, very dry as it lacks the high peaks necessary to grab clouds and rainfall. However, it drew US attention during WWII because of its similarity to Japanese targets in the Pacific Theater. Numerous bombing missions were conducted here as the US military occupied two-thirds of the island, but when one run discharged errantly and killed a local back in 1999, an outcry began to oust the troops and their explosive motives.
I had to abandon that lounge chair to snap this picture of Kim & Spencer on our private beach
The push was successful and in 2003 the US
abandoned their operations there.
Because this wee island had natural features that nurture dinoflagellates, half-plant, half-animal creatures which emit light in response to water movement as a defense mechanism, it is bound for popularity. There are two inland bays which receive the creatures from tidal activity and although they only live for 24-hours, these bays are oases where they can proliferate and thrive. Details to follow on the wonder of these creatures…
But for today, our scope was limited to idling on the gorgeous private beaches of the resort and enjoying the fare offered at the poolside lounge.