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03 January, 2011

Christmas 2010: Buergler Edition / Vieques Vacation

Our two week Christmas story left off with the first week with the Corsetti's and picks up with the second week of Christmas with the Buergler's in Vieques.

Let me start by saying that ever since Eric was in junior high, his family has gone somewhere tropical for Christmas.  I believe that their tradition was to alternate Caribbean with Hawaii.  The last trip they went on was the first year Eric and I were dating.  After that there were two weddings to plan. This was the first year both spouses were invited.

We had the choice to apply birthday and Christmas money to the trip, which we did.  And then had all year to supplement the trip with our own savings.  It was a way to feel both spoiled, but also ownership of the trip.

Anyway, on to the fun stuff.  Also, let me say that I took all the beach pictures from various websites.  They are not my photos.

Day One - Sun, Dec 26

Eric and I left snowy Atlanta and flew to San Juan.  Our plane got in after the last flight to Vieques, so we had to stay in San Juan for the night.  We had a tiny hotel room (with cable! whoo!) and walked a few blocks for our first Puerto Rican dinner: mofongo, a mashed plantain dish.  We also had a fried pork dish covered in pickles and onion.  Odd, but delicious

Day Two - Mon, Dec 27

We drove to the tiny little airport (think the old TV show WINGS) to catch our 10 person plane to Vieques. Eric sat in the co-pilot's seat, and prayed he didn't have to actually co-pilot.  After our arrival in Vieques Tim and Irene picked us up in one of our two Jeeps for the week.  We stopped at our "hotel" Hacienda Tamarindo just long enough to change and hit the beaches.  

All of the beaches were a few minutes away, and most of the time included an awesome Jeep adventure to find them.  The dirt roads to the beaches included hanging vines, pot holes, mud pits the size of swimming pools, wild horses, and pedestrians. 

Our first beach stop was Media Luna.  The water was shallow for several yards, making it great for frisbee and foxtail.  Eric and Dan spent most of the afternoon playing catch.  We even saw wild horses come drink water here.  After the beach we took naps by the pool.  The Buerglers taught me how to play Hearts.  We had a terrible dinner at the resort restaurant next door.  The night finished with more card games.

Day Three -  Tues, Dec 28

It rained.  And rained.  And rained.  

We played hearts.  They taught me euchre (much to my chagrin).  We ate dinner at another restaurant next door where we tried arepas for the first time.  I loved them so much that I had fajitas in arepas for dinner. That night we were supposed to go on the bio-bay tour, but Tim got sick and the rain never stopped, so we postponed for another night.

Day Four - Wed, Dec 29

After our daily breakfast and coffee at Hacienda Tamarindo, we went to Navio Beach, which the next beach past Media Luna.  The jeep trails to get there were the craziest we'd seen yet, and they were especially muddy from all the rain the day before.  Eric and Dan were in hog heaven (no pun intended) driving the Jeeps through the puddles (more like pools) of mud.

Navio was a great beach and known for it's waves.  It was fun to swim out a bit and enjoy the crashing, and trying to swim against them.  The water closet to shore was a little sandy because of the hard crash of the waves.  Regardless, the was probably the most desserted beach.

We went to Isabella Segundo for dinner that night.  Isabella II is the town on the other side of the island, it housed the church, government buildings, clothing store, and the "local" scene.  We had dinner at El Patio (guess what? it had a patio!).  Leeann and I shared the steak and onions and the shrimp chimicurri with sweat potato fries.  It was my favorite "local" meal so far of the trip.

Day Five- Thurs, Dec 30 aka TACO THURSDAY

We braved the almost 40 minute Jeep ride up the tallest mountain in Vieques to the other side of the island [Green Beach was the west most beach, Isabelle II was the north most city, and Esperanza (and Media Luna & Navio beaches) were the southern most beaches].  The view from Green beach was specacular, but the sand was horribly rough.  The beach was narrow.  Green beach used to be owned by the US Navy, so it is relatively new to the public.  The boys snorkeled a bit, as the fish made homes in the debris left behind by the Navy.

Dinner was at a little place in Esperanza called Belly Buttons.  We'd seen their advertisements for Taco Thursday on the town map.  Good choice.  Grilled corn tortillas choice of meat and then a toppings bar.  Beer buckets of Medalla (the local beer, it only comes in light).  And a great view of the sunset!

And then.... drum roll. 

We went on our Bio-Bay Tour.  The moment we were all waiting for, and the real reason we went to Vieques.

The Bio Bay tour began we a sketchy van ride down those muddy roads we rode getting to Navio beach, but ended in the Bio Bay.  We were partnered off and quickly paddled to the center of the bay in a two-man sea kayak.  Eric and I dominated.  

It was 10pm. Dark. Stars from horizon to horizon.

As we paddled to the middle of the bay, we started to see glowing bubbles trailing behind the other kayaks.  And soon with every paddle stroke.  We could dip our hands in and see glowing bubbles and even "throw" them on each other.  The kayak group met in the middle of the bay and the guide gave us the scientific explanation of how the organisms recharge in the sunlight and really only exist in a few bays around the world due to a "perfect storm" of conditions. After he was done....

We could jump in and SWIM!  Amazing.  It was like we were all glowing. 

This Google Image is the best I could find to really show what it looked like.  Most pictures on the internet are exaggerated or photoshopped.

After about 20 minutes of swimming we paddled back and enjoyed endured the sketchy ride home.

Day Six  Thurs, Dec 31  NEW YEARS EVE

Our last day Tim, Irene, Dan and Leeann went straight out to Orchid Beach. Eric and I took the other Jeep and toured Red Beach, Blue Beach, Pirates Cove, and Secret Beach.  We wish we could have had a day at Red Beach, but the rest of the crew did that before we'd arrived.  Blue was crowded and the other two weren't anything spectactular.  We caught up with the family at Orchid.  There were few people and excellent powdery sand.  Tim and Leeann called it quits early.  Dan, Eric, Irene and I hit up the "Sol Food" food truck for a late lunch.  We had sun tea and greasy treats.

After showers the crew hit up Duffys "sports bar" (meaning they had TWO tvs) in Esperanza for beers and french fries to watch the Notre Dame bowl game.  We actually won.  Whoo!  I wandered town a bit a took pictures of the sunset.

Then it was time to get ready for our big night out in Esperanza.  Dan made 8:45 dinner reservations at a nice restaurant (read: it had table cloths) for us to have our last meal of 2010.  Dinner was rather eclectic, but delicious.  

We went back to our Casita Linda to ring in the new year by watching fire works over the town.

Day Seven  Friday, Jan 1  NEW YEARS DAY

Our 7:30 flight to San Juan came a bit too early.  Once we arrive in SJ, we taxied over to the bigger airport to check in for our flights to Atlanta.  Our flights were not until late afternoon so we thought we could hang out in San Juan for part of the day...until we realized it was a holiday and everything was closed.  Fortunately we all made the standby list and flew out on the 9:30 am flight back to Atlanta.  We were home in time for lunch, naps and laundry before a little NYD dinner with my sister.

Here's a little video showing more of our trip... enjoy!

You can check out the rest of the pictures on my Facebook :)

1 comment:

  1. E,
    SO jealous that you went to PR for Christmas vacation. Did you get a nice tan? I am glad you had a safe, but FUN trip. I was very briefly there this summer, but I would have loved to have been there long enough to truly get the flavor of the island.
    P.S. Are you done with school yet?!
    Love, Amy


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