Wednesday, February 18, 2015

USVI 2015 Day 7, Part 1 - Vieques, Ensenada Honda to Esperanza

1/22 - Funny, reading my journal I realize that the 22nd began and ended with a couple of the most sublimely beautiful sights of the trip - both utterly unphotographable but I will try to tell you about them -- the beginning now, the end at the end. 

click to see better

We had a leisurely start planned for the day, no alarm clocks, but I woke up at 5:30 a.m. and decided to go up on deck just to enjoy the quiet and the stars (both enough to make a city dweller dizzy). As I was looking around, I noticed flecks of light in the water. Bioluminescence? No, too steady - and then I realized that the wind had died, the water in our sheltered anchorage had become completely flat, and all of the stars were reflecting on the surface, and it was as though our boat was suspended in the very center of a starry sphere. Lovely. I stayed on deck until I began to drift off, then went below and back to bed.
Morning from our cabin

As I wrote in my journal that evening, Dave told me that the day's log should have started out, "Today was a pretty damned good day", and he was right, it was. We slept in as planned and all got up around 8:30. 

Breakfast on board was always simple, just fresh fruit, yogurt, and granola. 1/22's bowl of fruit was particularly photogenic!

We were underway around ten, managed to get out of the bay much more easily than we'd gotten in (there's not a big tide range but it was closer to high water when we left than when we'd arrived, and our boat had a pretty shallow draft, a foot of water made things much simpler), and then had a fine downwind sail to the town of Esperanza, where we planned to spend the day. As we entered the harbor, a local by the name of Chase came out to guide us in, which was good because our pilot book was rather old and showed a 12' deep entrance channel that wasn't there anymore. 

Handing over our private bay to the next lucky visitor - he and a twin hobie had actually been here when we arrived the day before, but went on their way after a while. They were the only other boats we saw here. Truly amazing, especially after the crowds at Water Island. 

So long, it was lovely!

We picked up a mooring ball and then Chase, who seems to be a local character of some note, gave us a rundown of all the local shenanigans (like how dinghy theft stopped being a problem here since the local drug lord decided to take care of the local dinghy theft ring in a most unpleasant way), plus instructions on where to land our dinghy, some hints on good local food and snorkel spots, plus a warning about not swimming at night - "Don't, just don't" (he had once and ended up being the first person to get bothered by a shark in the area in years) - and some thoughts about Lenore's barracuda - "They're like puppies, it was probably just looking for a handout". 

After Chase's welcome, we went on into town to do a little exploring and shopping. We visited the Cultural and Historical Museum, run by the Vieques Conservation and Historical Trust, which was small but had an interesting set of displays, including a very nice little set of local marine ecology displays that they billed as "The World's Smallest Aquarium". I bought an inexpensive but pretty string of glass beads as a souvenir that would outlast the local honey I'd bought on St. John - I'm very happy with them.

We finished our visit to town with a nice lunch at Restaurant Bili Sabor di Aqui; we started with mofungo, empanadillas, and tuna with seaweed salad as appetizers, all yummy, and then I didn't take notes on everybody's entrees but I had a conch sandwich which was very good. This is the first time I'd ever had conch in quantities enough to really taste, I'd tried conch fritters at the Flatbush Frolic but those were much dough, little conch. I've heard that conch can be tough and I was expecting something flavorful but chewy, but this was delicious and very tender. There was some sort of mix-up with one of our entrees, but the owner was serving us and instead of taking away the dish that had been prepared in error, he just left that for us while he had the kitchen make up the right dish. We left stuffed and happy, with loads of leftovers to add to the provisions on the boat.

And although that just gets us halfway through the day, I think I'm going to call it a post here as it's getting a bit late and I need to get a good night's sleep, I got a cold the weekend we got back into town and I've still got this incredibly annoying little cough that won't go away, so I've been trying to rest up. If I could only sit on a warm beach in the sun for a day or two, I just know that would kick it, but since that's not gonna happen, I'll keep trying eight hours of sleep.

More snorkeling and our amazing evening expedition next - and here are pictures from the town of Esperanza.

The beach at Esperanza

Esperanza's main drag

In the museum

Local bird life mural

My pretty souvenir beads from the museum gift shop. I took this while we were sailing to Culebra the next day, and I'm still slightly surprised that I managed to set up the shot without throwing them overboard. That would have been a very me thing to do. 

Looking out at the mooring field from the town

Husband day care!

The chef with the catch of the day at Restaurant Bili

Leaving Restaurant Bili, happy and stuffed

We were a boatload of dog and cat lovers, always had to say hi to the friendly four-legged locals!

Heading back to our dinghy 


Peter Belenky said...

In 1976, we chartered a boat in the BVI and had it provisioned by the charter company. The supplies were rather ordinary, and there were some that we couldn't bring ourselves to eat by the end of the trip. We tossed them to the seagulls in what proved to be an interesting experiment. Bacon-flavored chips were consumed with satisfaction, but Froot Loops were tasted and subsequently refused. BVI seagulls are smarter than many children.

bonnie said...

The only complete fail in our provisioning was this boxed gumbo that turned out to be horribly salty. everything else, basic and pretty good.

I'm impressed that there's actually a product sold as food that a seagull won't eat!

Unknown said...

What an amazing experience! Loved the photos!

bonnie said...

Thanks Rena! I'm having such a good time going through the pictures and my journal, especially since it's almost too cold to go outside right now here in NYC.