Ahhhh my friends. Here is the final chapter of my Puerto Rican adventures. Let me start by diving in with Culebra! Culebra is the neighboring island to Vieques that is only a 10 minutes plane flight away. I ended up going the cheaper route and taking the hour and a half ferry back to the mainland and then hopping on another 1 hour ferry. (They don’t have a direct ferry yet. It would be sooooo much faster.)
If you keep up with the top ranked beaches in the world you may be familiar with Flamenco beach in Culebra. Wikipedia lists it as 13th in the world according to Trip advisers travelers choice award!
I was very excited hoping off the ferry because one of my dear friends came to explore the island with me! Tiana!! (You may remember her from some other of my posts. : ) )
She and I did some exploring together back in Vieques and I was excited to have such a wonderful companion for Culebra. With some ferry complications I wasn’t able to bring my motorcycle and rented a moped. The Island immediately seemed different with SO many roads right by the water.
Culebra is smaller than Vieques and it only takes about 15 minutes to go from the North to South side of Vieques by motorcycle. Off we went. It was fun being back on a scooter.
The beaches were beautiful. Compared to Vieques they seemed extra clear and blue with very fine white sand. Picturesque Caribbean paradise. I am not sure if it was the day or if it is normally this incredibly clear for Culebra.
Jumping in and swimming around with goggles was mind blowing. The water was so clear that underwater it didn’t even seem like anything was occupying the space between the top and bottom of the water. I swam out about 8 feet and just sat, looking all around for any fish. They wouldn’t be able to escape my gaze with this level of clarity. The fine smooth sand on the bottom was extra crisp in detail and I easily spotted a sand dollar right away. It seemed like something straight out of the movies.
Flamenco beach also had these nice little places to eat and grab a drink close to the water.
We pushed on, letting the exploration continue, taking some dirt roads that got narrower and narrower until we had to turn around, and finding other more secluded beaches. While zipping along these roads right near the water, I was reminded of Italy.
It was lovely.
Culebra also has a nice little downtown area with shops and places to eat right on the water.
Culebra had a much quieter feel to me than Vieques.
There was a bridge with a pipe next to it that overlooked this little waterway and the picture doesn’t do justice for just how clear it was. We both climbed out on the pipe and sat there watching fish swim by 8 feet underneath us. Outside of the huge tarpon swimming back and forth beneath us, we also saw a huge sea turtle gracefully making his way through the waterway.
After heading back to Vieques, there were a few days of very heavy rain creating some fun times in the back of the hostel.
Before I left I wanted to check out the cock fighting on the North side of the island. It is legal and big part of the culture in Vieques. There was even a boy that hopped in the ring and picked up the losing animal when the match was called. Chicken was being served and I could feel the excitement in the air over the match. After watching one match, I didn’t care to see anymore. I was not close enough to see what I considered violence. What I witnessed was a lot of pecking at the necks before the animals got tired. It seemed that when one of the animals was clearly not going to win, the owner of it would call the loss and grab his little fighter.
Some of the guys from the main island that had fighters, stayed at the Lazy hostel and gave me a special insight into how big this sport is; how the roosters are specially cared for, medicated, stitched up after losing, and prepared for the fight with sharp knife like objects tied to their legs. The guy I talked too even told me about a prize fighter that was bought for 100,000 dollars!
My family and friends from the Philippines will be very familiar with this picture of the green mango and the sauce “hairy.” (It was essentially soy sauce, white vinegar, pepper, and a few other spices.) I used to eat this sauce a lot growing up with mangos and guavas. Delicious! : ) I can’t tell you all how much I loved Vieques for its similarities to the way that I grew up with its coconuts, ability to just go explore outdoors, and many other fruit trees.
Vieques had a special way of giving me good ideas of adventures. The picture immediately below is from on top of an abandoned building right next to the hostel. My friend (Ryan) and I were sitting and looking at the building and I told him I always wanted to see what the view was from the top. Right there and then we walked over climbed on up and savored the beautiful fresh view of the hostel, water, and “Malecon” (walkway by the water.) I have a deep appreciation for different perspectives of the same places. They keep me inspired and more grateful than I would be. It is frustrating how I can become accustomed to the same sights and stop appreciating them and picking up other details like when you first see them.
On the little walkway by the water, I couldn’t help but hop up and enjoy a lovely sunset from a seat above the rest of the tourists and locals milling below. In typical friend fashion my friends climbed on up to join me.
In the same spirit of climbing what can be climbed. We, the workers of the crew house, took full advantage of the nice flat roof on top of the house. The fresh air, without having any windows blocking the way, gracefully brushed against us, and the sun kissed us passionately on our rooftop hangout area. We waved at the some of the passing cars, and there were even nights of stargazing up there after throwing mattresses up. It was breathtaking!
Other areas around the Island were examined closely too. Benner showed me some spots that he had stayed at years ago with his family.
My last stop before my flight out was San Juan. After saying my goodbyes to my dear friends on the Island, I tearfully headed out with a deep sense of change pressing on my mind. The beautiful last page of the chapter that I was still deeply and excitedly waiting to slowly enjoy was my time with friends in San Juan. With the hostel trade programs we have set up, I and the other workers of the lazy hostel have gotten to be good friends with a handful of the other workers of hostels in San Juan. I walked up to Mango Mansion grinning at the beautiful people I know so well.
Tiana finished her work stay up at the Lazy and was now working at the Mango mansion. Justin (pictured above) came and hung out with the Lazy crew more than 5 different times. He was a regular. AND to top of the icing on the cake, another previous hostel worker was staying here with two of her friends from college for their spring break. We went adventuring in Vieques and got to catch up with them again before they flew out as well. ‘
I swung over to another hostel about a 15 minute walk away to say hello to other friends I had met and set up my free nights stay.
After rejoining the group, we all went beach exploring in San Juan.
I hadn’t seen anywhere else outside of San Juan that the trash cans were actually in the ground. Hmm.. Pretty cool actually. (Bottom right of the picture with Tiana.)
There was a skyscraper that hadn’t been used for a long time and didn’t have no trespassing signs or tape roping the area off. Being very careful, we took a look.
There was another really cool area on top of a hotel in San Juan that had these HUGE bathtubs for taking a bath on top of the world and under the stars. We noticed two people in their wet swimsuits heading down the stairs. Finding the dry tubs we hopped in, fully clothed, (After forgetting our suits! : ( ) and used our imagination of the warm water as it started to rain slightly. With our adventurous spirits in tact, we were undeterred by the drizzle and soaked in the light rain and the view of the city.
Before the night was over, we went to check out the oldest bar in all of San Juan and challenged some locals to a game of pool. 🙂
I really hope you guys have enjoyed seeing the pictures and sharing in so many special moments and experiences with me. If you have, send me message! It would mean a lot to me.
And for the closing credits will be a nice montage of random pictures.
Here is my friend Ryan looking cool.
Ethan and I doing room checks!
Until the next time then.