Monday, June 29, 2009

Vacation, Vegan Style (Part 2)

Ah, my poor little blog...I have been terribly negligent, wrapped up long ago in some birthday blues (ahem- that was in April) and then just pure lack of motivation which turned into anxiety- you know how once you've put something off long enough, it suddenly looms enormous & overwhelming and it's embarrassingly a few months let me just get to it already & share with you all the best vacation ever! So we last left off with the super fun wedding in Virgin Gorda and then we were off for some real relaxation in Vieques...

Oh, wait- also my Hard Candy giveaway from forever ago- the randomly drawn winner
(expertly overseen by the reputable professional over see-er cats, Booboo & Thelonious): Melody over at Melomeals!

Okay back to my post...before the actual relaxing part begins, I had to get over my tiny plane anxiety...I've been in some small planes before but this little 10 seater takes the cake and see the storm clouds blanketing the sky? As we waited at the San Juan airport to board, I was not a happy camper.
After a painstakingly long 25 minutes later where I felt every hop skip jump & dip our puddle-jumper made and of course, grasping my mala beads & chanting mantras the whole entire time, we landed safely. We picked up our car & off to the cool little place I found online: Tower Lofts at Villa Venti

Designed by architect, John Hix of the famous Hix Island House Vieques, we were able to experience his whole bringing the outdoors indoors at about half the cost. These minimalist concrete structures have no windows & outdoor showers. I have to admit being the city girl that I am, wasn't too thrilled about not having windows & perhaps finding more nature indoors than I would like...but the space was just amazing and super calming.

This is the view from the bed and yes, that's right, no windows...
We had our own private rooftop terrace with the most amazing views, our outdoor shower had the same views....

Unfamiliar with Vieques? It's a part of Puerto Rico. Vieques is the small island just off the coast of PR where the US Navy & Marine used to conduct bombings until years of bitter protests got them to finally leave in 2004. Because the Navy/Marines had occupied much of the island, once they left, whole tracts of untouched beaches were open to the public. The appeal of Vieques is that it isn't overly developed. There are no real big hotels except for a W Hotel making it's way in soon to take over the only big chain hotel, the Wyndham.

The allure of Vieques? Secluded paths like this one....
...leading to gorgeous empty beaches like this one, Blue Beach...which we renamed our private beach since there were only about 8 other people spread out so far that you could barely see them.

Another wonder in Vieques is the largest brightest bio-luminescent bay in the world- couldn't get a proper picture but basically when the water is agitated at night, billions of tiny microorganisms light up...stick your hand in the water & swish it around & the water lights up...really amazing. Hard to get the picture, think of your hand in the water with a glow around it...

We took a mangrove/biobay tour- it's the mangroves that make this bay the largest bio bay in the world. Mangroves support an amazing amount of wildlife from baby fish to oysters to herons and everything in between.

Vieques is also home to wild have to drive carefully because there are always horses these horses hanging out in front of school.
The old part of town is charming as well-

And what's even better- decent vegan food options! Especially cool was the Sol Food cart at the entrance of the National Park/Beaches...

Marked "vegan"- a delicious quinoa salad and yummy marinated chickpea & bean salad...

Also yummy were these arepas- tasty flour puffs one flavored garlic, the other coconut along with tart lemonade made for a perfect snack and that orange stuff is the most delicious hot sauce ever- made in Vieques called Coqui Fire in various flavors of hot. My favorite was passionfruit.

Other vegan deliciousness to be had in Vieques? El Quenepo is vegetarian-friendly and will accommodate vegans- I was thrilled. My entree was a West Indian fried ravioli- basically a giant samosa with mango chutney, which was good but a little too sweet, but still yummy.

The best thing ever was the summer roll appetizer- it was so delicious. The micro greens had a distinct flavor, so delicate & so flavorful. This was my favorite.

Just a few doors down was Bili's, where I had a tasty vegetarian paella with chickpeas, raisins & pinenuts- made for great cold leftover at hot beach the next day!

Most evenings we were greeted by Brahmin cattle at the gate back at our place because they share the land with a was pretty cool. They will ignore you by turning their behinds to you, except the little baby in the middle- staring straight ahead at us. Before we pulled up, I saw two of the younger ones playing & jumping each other- was so sweet.

As we pack the car up and head back to the tiny airport for the tiny puddle jumper, onto San Juan and then home, Toby & Pete barked their goodbyes. These two sweet dogs were rescued by the hotel owners. Pete had been tied to a tree & left to die and Toby had been abandoned at the airport. They are the sweetest dogs ever and I am grateful to stay at a place where the owners love their rescues as much as I do. The Vieques Humane Society has made a huge impact on the island- there are a few strays but they have been very successful with their spay & neuter program & adoptions, just another reason that I heart Vieques.

Last stop in my next post, a quick night in San Juan on the Enchanted Isle of Puerto Rico!
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