We are here on this tiny island as if in a time warp. The time goes by so fast. One minute it’s the weekend and then the next it is Friday night again, how does that happen? We have 6 weeks left of this house sit, we have been here for over 5 months already!
I sit here on my deck chair under a coconut trees shade, at Caracas beach. This is one of our favourite places on the island. Not because it is the most beautiful, there are some spectacular beaches, I think it is because we have the best memories here. Last time we only had bike power for getting around and this was the best beach we could reach by bike – still a 9 km cycle over the spine of the island. We were so much fitter then! And it is just as memorable now. The water is as clear as crystal, gently lapping on the perfectly white sand. The sky is deep blue and the clouds are so white.
Today is very quiet. It is Sunday, it is usually “Sunday Fun-day”, where crowds of friends and family gather for a day at the beach. Bringing with them BBQ’s, hammocks, cooler boxes groaning with food and alcohol, chairs, tables and gazebos and music. That’s what we are missing today – Music! The thump thump thump of the Puerto Rican rhythm. It is very distinctive and very conspicuous in its absence.
This is the off season. Not many tourists come to the island at this time of the year and a lot of the businesses close down for a month – 6 weeks. Holiday rentals shut down, restaurants and bars, some tour operators, it is very quite. The supermarket and the roads reflect this. The fruit truck doesn’t have as much to offer at the moment. We didn’t notice this the last time here as we had just had Hurricane Irma, it was a very different place then.
It is so hot! I have just been reading through my story of the last time here. It got to “feels like” 46°C then! It hasn’t got to that this time – well not that I have captured! So hot though. You can’t have a cold shower because the water out of the cold tap is always warm. I am sweating buckets every day! It drips off my chin and runs in my eyes, and that is just going outside to the washing line! The temperatures are so consistent, 27deg – 31deg every day! When we have a bit of rain we celebrate! But then if it rains for more than a day, everything starts to feel damp, your clothes, bed sheets, cushions even the floor. And my hair!! Humidity frizz! I would like to make it a new fashion statement, but no one in their right mind would want this! So, the best thing for it is to get into the ocean. The water temperature is 29.3°C – I just looked it up. Slightly cooler than the air temperature. Though I would like to challenge this. We have a hot tub – yes, it’s true!! here at the house and it is constantly sitting at 32°C and that is with no heating, just the ambient temperature and I am sure the ocean is warmer than that tub.
We are smack bang in the middle of hurricane season, in fact the peak of hurricane season was on Saturday. It has been really quiet this year, so much so that, for the first time in 25 years, there have been no named storms during August. But we are still feeling a bit nervous to be honest! There are lots of different web pages and Facebook groups that we keep an eye on as we know that there is always a bit of notice if there is something coming our way that we need be aware of. We have been collecting water and have bought extra canned and dried foods just in case we do lose power. It was 5 years ago this week that Irma came through, caused 10 days of power outage then 4 days later Maria made an appearance and…… well…… that was power, and water gone for quite some time. We have bought a GPS tracker which can also send messages through the satellite system if standard communication is lost. We have done a couple of tests and it works well. Having all communication gone was one of the hardest things to cope with. We were alive a relatively well, but family on the other side of the world did not know this. Tough times, don’t really want to go through that again!
For our Hurricane story and photos, check out the link below
There has been a lot of Sahara dust most of the time we have been here. They say that this dust, which blows all the way from the deserts of Africa, helps to ward off hurricanes. It chokes out the systems, and they don’t have enough moisture to keep going, then a hurricane can’t form. Though the dust is a pain in the butt-ocks, makes it hazy and the windows get filthy, we like the idea of it being our “hurricane angel”
Being on a rock of 135m2, sandwiched between the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, makes for interesting weather conditions. I studied weather for my skippers licence a million years ago, we had to recognise and understand clouds, and what they represented for predicting weather……… Well, I didn’t do too well in that section! I can hardly tell one cloud from the other. But I do remember there being the “castle clouds” the Altocumulus Castellanus clouds. I have always wanted to see them; they don’t seem to form in NZ. Here on Vieques there are clouds every day and we often see the Castle Clouds. We don’t usually get just a plain blue sky, like at home, and these clouds here are the whitest I have ever seen. The sky here is amazing, moody and bright, the sunsets and sunrises, the rainbows and clouds are so vibrant and brilliant.
Altocumulus Castellanus clouds take their name from their resemblance to turrets of castles and are often a warning of thunderstorms
Things can be difficult here, but we are all in the same boat. Everyone can’t get that special ingredient to make that dish they want, and that’s after trips to 3 different stores in the hope 1 will have it, and then you pay the earth for it. I needed cream the other day and had a route mapped out of the stores I would try, if I couldn’t get it after store number 6, we would go without. I got it at store number 3!! So glad too because it was for Betsy’s amazing bread pudding!!
Everyone has to wait for months for contractors or parts for broken cars, so many cars are in poor condition because of it. The power goes out and the water slows down for no apparent reason at times, this affects everyone, one Barrio at a time it seems. The fire ants and mosquitos are pretty unbearable, but everyone has them. Oh, the heat and the sweat – we all sweat buckets, it is never offensive and everyone has a sweat rash somewhere! It doesn’t seem to matter here, everyone just gets on with it, you just adjust that recipe or menu to suit what you find at the store, you hold your car together with duct tape. It is just part of the charm of Vieques!
It’s quirkiness is its magic, and we all love it!
It’s a great life here and we feel so privileged to have had not one, but two chances to experience life as a local on Vieques, Puerto Rico. 6 weeks to go and we will be very sad to leave.