Our current time zone: GMT +8 (We're home in Singapore!)

Monday, July 20, 2009


Big news! Our travel blog got featured in the papers back home today, in the Life! section of the Straits Times. Thanks to everyone at home who so excitedly updated us on our little moment of fame. For our friends and readers located overseas, we'll be uploading a scanned copy of the article very soon onto this blog.

I was actually in the midst of doing some extra reading before our Spanish class tomorrow (we're now in Colombia and taking some lessons to get us through the rest of South America) when dawn broke in Singapore and people started updating us on the morning's news. All abuzz with excitement, I'm finding it extremely difficult to focus on Español right now and despite it being midnight here in Bogota, I'm all psyched up to put in another entry right now!

Back to the Caribbean, where we left off with stories of us cruising down a string of isles and heading back to San Juan, Puerto Rico. Back at port, we disembarked from the ship at 8.30am and readied ourselves for a 4-hour trip by public bus - the cheapest mode of transport available - to the dock in Fajardo at the other end of the island, where we would board the 3pm ferry to Vieques. It would otherwise cost US$80 to travel from San Juan to Fajardo Playa by taxi.

We weren't prepared for what was to come. The bus driver refused to let us onboard, claiming that our travel packs were a safety hazard to other passengers due to their large size! We had no choice but to hail a cab to take us to Rio Pedras for US$20, where we planned to take a publico or public taxi to Fajardo. Unfortunately, it being Sunday, the publicos were not in service. We thought we were saved when we spotted one rumbling down the street... until the driver quoted us a fare of US$70 to Fajardo. Upon bargaining down to US$60, we hopped on. There was little option between coughing up the money and being stranded for God-knows-how-long in a deserted town.

After paying US$80 for a trip that was expected to cost us less than US$6 per person, the US$2 ferry ticket to Vieques was most gladly received.

From the dock in Vieques, we walked (no more expensive cab rides, thank goodness) to Casa de Amistad, a lovely guesthouse with just 7 rooms located in the town of Isabella Segunda. Not wanting to get ourselves into anymore expensive skirmishes with publico drivers on a Sunday, we just lounged around the place and enjoyed the garden and rooftop deck.

Casa de Amistad

It was like living in a lush tropical rainforest!

A great place for star-gazing alongside a fiery Flame of the Forest display

I took an afternoon stroll on the roof! View of the garden and neighbourhood when peering over the edge (oooh, dangerous!)

Renting a car on Vieques is highly recommended for getting around the island. Either that, or you can book a publico for a day to bring you from beach to beach. With the way things are in Puerto Rico (i.e. expensive), both options did not sit well with our wallets. Julia, the owner of the guesthouse suggested that we, along with 2 other guests, rent her jeep for US$40 - and we made really good use of her offer!

Together with newfound friends Lisa and Vin from Pennsylvania, we navigated the island's confusingly-signed dirt roads and checked out Vieques' beaches, which are all simply named Red, Green, Blue, Silver, Purple and so on, making a quick stop in the coastal town of Esperenza for lunch. We clicked quickly with the American couple, sharing with them tales of how we got lost trying to navigate Pittsburgh's countless bridges and ended up being featured in the Pittsburgh Tribune!

I forgot which beach this is. It had a very wild, rough, windtossed appeal about it.

At Esperenza beach - the water is amazingly clear despite the presence of boats

Breaking for lunch at Bananas Cafe where we learnt that the presence of a large crowd does not necessarily equate to good food

We took Julia's suggestion and decided to spend the rest of the sunshiney day on Blue Beach (actually, she said Silver was nice too but we couldn't even locate it on the lousy map!) And it was beautiful indeed!

Like the Beach Whose Name I Forgot (mentioned above), Blue had a totally different character from the beaches in Miami, the Bahamas and the Caribbean. It felt totally wild. Strong winds swept over the sea, pulling the water high towards the sky and slamming it down violently onto the coast with a loud crash, creating a rushing curtain of foam that washed gracefully over the thick sandy girth.

Not our deck chairs on Blue Beach

And out came our deck chairs!

Dan: "Eh?! What's that?!" Well, good to know that the beach is patrolled by the police. Looks like a fun job for the policeman.

Getting the best of both worlds - resting your butt on a comfy deck chair while floating in the sea

Surf's up! POW!

We had so much FUN prancing around in the rough sea, trying to jump over rising waves, body surfing on the mega-big ones and just bobbing around (albeit violently) on two noodle-like floats we borrowed from the guesthouse. Dan derived some extra sadistic pleasure from his new game - pretending to cuddle the wife and tossing her headfirst into a big oncoming wave. Some people can be so juvenile...

The last time we had such an energetic water workout was in Bali, where we got tossed around like a couple of puny anchovies in the surf. Yes, it's more fun when the surf's up! Give me a good thrashing in the sea over a calm quiet (boring) beach anyday!

I'm but a tiny speck in a world of blue

Getting a good thrashing on the ass! Ow!

Beware the evil waves that pull your bikini bottoms down! We spotted a few bare butts and exposed ass-cracks that day!

Taking every opportunity to do some publicity for our blog

Actually, the oh-so-famous attraction in Vieques isn't Blue or it's other fabulous wildchild beaches. It's this dodgy-sounding place called Mosquito Bay, which is only visited upon nightfall. It's a no-brainer how the bay got it's name. I took the hint and liberally doused myself in insect repellant before getting to the bay. One poor insect-tortured soul approached us asking what we were rubbing all over ourselves and if she could use some too. The next thing we knew, we were surrounded by a group of European ladies all gushing at the wonder of cintronella ointment!

Besides the obvious, Mosquito Bay is famous for another type of bugs - tiny micro-organisms that live in the warm, salty waters called dinofagellates. Armed with a glowing mechanism similar to what fireflies and glow-worms have installed in their rear ends, these half plant, half animal creatures emit a bluish light when agitated. They are not only found in Puerto Rico - we've seen them in Cebu and Krabi (while kayaking into the hongs) - but we were told that Mosquito Bay has one of the highest concentrations of these dino guys on the planet. The light from these organisms show up best on a moonless night and we were fortunate to have been blessed with perfect timing!

When night fell, we kayaked into the middle of the bay, far away from any sources of artificial light. With our kayaks securely strung together to keep any errant boats from floating away with the current, we abandoned ship and jumped into the watery darkness below. Every splash was met with a corresponding splash of flourescent blue! We must have agitated the creatures alot and I really hope we didn't kill any, given that they only live for 24 hours! It was amazing creating swooshes of light with every sweep of my arm and leaving a glowing luminescent trail behind. Unfortunately, it was near impossible to photograph the amazing light and colour in the bay. It didn't help that Dan's camera chocked on water and drowned right there and then. Maybe it was a sign that we should just put aside our incessant need to photograph everything for keepsake and just lie back and enjoy the experience. The thick blanket of stars covering the sky only made the night even more beautiful.

Holding hands while floating on our backs in a glowing sea and counting the stars (and failing miserably) above us, my soul felt totally at peace and my heart told me that I was a very blessed girl indeed.

I couldn't agree more.

Very happy at the prospect of swimming amongst glowing bugs!


Lint said...

Hey that's what we'd use to od as kids....jump the waves! But back then no asses or boobs to worry about falling out...........

WeLoveRoy said...

Great place!! Love the surf where you guys are.. I so wanna travel!

PS - By friend scanning the newspaper for you guys.. do you mean me? :p

Yi Lin said...

Sis - yeah, now every after jump into the water, must check-check to see that all pieces of cloth are in place before surfacing. Maybe a one-piece (shudder) would be more practical.

Roy - actually Zen was the superfast friend who scanned it to us first, but some lines got lopped off. Thanks for scanning it also! We would really love for you guys to join us here, but if you cant, then see if you can make some short trips ard home. Heard from my friend that airfares are rockbottom still - she's going away every weekend in August! We'll plan for a great trip tog when we get back... still dreaming abt Palau...

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