The Island of Vieques off the eastern coast of Puerto Rico does not have any traffic lights. There are no McDonald’s, Wal-Marts, or any other mega-monstrosities. There are two gas stations on the island, though you have to pay cash. And surprisingly, there is a commuter airport for planes flying in from surrounding islands, though we much preferred the $2 ferry ride from Fajardo.
The population is small. Roughly 8,000 people live on the 21-mile long by 4-mile wide island. When we talked to the man who rented us a house he said, “There are probably more wild horses on the island than there are cars. They come up to the house on occasion. Just shoo them away.” My daughter’s eyes grew large just thinking about it. We were sold.
There are two small towns in Vieques: Isabel Segundo, and Esperanza. They are roughly five miles apart. Isabel is the capital city of the island and is where you’ll find the schools, post office, a few shops, and a wonderful little orange bakery called Panaderia.
Esperanza is more touristy, though it is barely more than a strip of outdoor eateries along the boardwalk. It is inhabited by more dogs than people, as far as I could tell. The dogs wait patiently by the restaurants, hoping for scraps, and getting enough so that they’re well-trained and well-behaved and amply rewarded by the relaxed beachgoers sipping rum drinks every night.
Vieques is known for its Bioluminescent Bay; the brightest one in the world, and the reason many people come to Vieques in the first place. Getting to it requires nerves of steel and something akin to a Jeep to traverse the rugged offroad that leads into the bay. I’ll share more about that later.
Many of the beaches require Jeep access, too. The natural beaches are remote, wild, and secluded. Chances are that you’ll see wild horses on your way there as well as on the sand. They seem to inhabit the roads at night even more abundantly than during the day.
But the mornings are for roosters. And chickens. Most of the roosters don’t seem to tell time; they crow all day. Perhaps they’re rousing everyone from their luxurious, lazy days at the beach. They don’t seem to care that everyone ignores them. It’s always island time on Vieques. No need to rush.
This is simply the welcome to Vieques paradise. More to come. Meanwhile, you’ll be happy to know that we’ve finally answered the age-old question “Why did the chicken cross the road?”
Why, to get to the beach, of course!