If you’ve been reading any of these blog posts, you may have noticed there are several recurring themes in many of them, such as:
-The kindness of strangers
-Lots of fun and friends
-Adventures in beautiful places
This weekend’s trip to Culebra encompassed almost all of the themes above—making it one of the best mini-vacations I’ve had in a long time.
|sunrise on the way to Fajardo|
Friday morning (no school—Columbus Day holiday), we stood in line to buy ferry tickets for the 9am ferry at 7am. The ticket window wasn’t open yet, but the line wound down the sidewalk. By 8:30, ticket selling now in progress, we had inched our way closer to the window an were one group away from buying our tickets. And then, a sign went up in the window, and the announcement came on over the loudspeaker: tickets for the 9am ferry to Culebra were sold out.
Nooooo! We’d been SO CLOSE! The next ferry didn’t leave until 3pm. Quite the wait in Fajardo.
And then—the kindness of strangers.
A guy in line ahead of us told us he had 3 tickets he didn’t need, which we could have if we wanted. Great!! Except that there were 4 of us. We resolved (since we were next in line) to at least ask if they had just one more ticket. Reading the sign on the window, I remarked it was a shame we weren’t residents of Culebra with proper identification—because they were still selling tickets to them.
And then—the kindness of strangers!
The guy just ahead of us must have been a Culebra resident, and he must have been listening. He turned around and handed us the 1 ticket we needed. He’d just bought it for us!
Josh sprinted to find the guy with 3 spare tickets (he’d wandered off), and we made it onto the 9am ferry!
|Those guys at the window behind us are part of|
the group that shared tickets with us.
On the boat, we got seats on the top level inside the air conditioned part. We questioned the intelligence of this move, though, when the boat started moving. It was by far the rockiest ride I’ve ever been on. It felt like a roller coaster—one of those old wooden ones with lots of little dips that make your stomach flip. It was quite an exciting ride—complete with whoops and laughter from other passengers as the ferry dipped repeatedly. It was a ton of fun—for about ten minutes. Then it got a bit old. Miraculously, I didn’t get sick. (Though the girls behind us did! Twice.) But by the time the 45 minute ride was done, I was ready to get off and get some fresh air.
We stepped off the ferry, and saw our hotel. They weren’t kidding when they said it was right at the ferry dock! Josh went to pick up the golf cart we rented for the day to get us around, and the other 3 of us checked to see whether we could leave a few things at the hotel until we could check in at 3pm. Inside, we had another stroke of luck; the room was already ready! So we checked in—and saw that our room was huge and awesome. We had 2 bedrooms (with beds for 6), a full kitchen, a sitting area, and our own patio.
|Our room at Hotel Kokomo, Culebra|
When Josh returned with our sweet ride, we piled in and set off to explore.
After getting a little lost (recurring theme—check), we met up with Robert and Sonja, who’d flown over to join us for the day. They rented a scooter, and the six of us set off for Playa Flamenco, Culebra’s most well known beach.
The playa lived up to expectations. Soft, powdery sand, and teal water the color of taffy greeted us. Despite just a few rain drops, we thoroughly enjoyed the afternoon.
|Playa Flamenco, Culebra|
After about 4 hours, we set off for our next beach—Playa Tamarindo.
Back into the golf cart—with our driver beeping merrily and calling out the warning “Dip! Dip.” for the passengers in the back who couldn't see them coming—we made our way to Tamarindo.
This beach was much quieter. There was no sand—just rocks (beware of sea urchins in the water! We were warned by a passing stranger). It’s a great snorkeling spot, and Robert saw something like 6 seat turtles feeding in the sea grass. Sitting on the beach and listening to the waves brush up onto the pebbles (a sound like rain), we made a new friend. The chicken enjoyed sitting under Amanda’s chair—while she was in it. Ha!
As we left the beach, we had some fun in the golf cart on our way to the next stop. As election time nears in Puerto Rico, the streets are often filled with political caravans—parades of cars honking their horns and waving flags supporting one candidate or another. In our golf cart, we pretended to be our own political rally—honking our way down the street and waving at every person who was outside with huge grins on our faces. I love my friends.
|Riding in the back of the golf cart.|
After a tasty dinner at Heather’s Pizza, we ended up at the Dinghy Dock for the remainder of the night. We were the rowdy table of Americans playing cards and laughing much too loudly as Josh and Scott kept up a comedic routine involving Chinese accents throughout the entire game.
|Dinghy Dock--complete with a dinghy at the dock|
When we left the Dock, we weren’t quite ready for bed, so we took the golf cart for a joy ride. We flew down to Flamenco—stopping on the way for Amanda to hop off and dance, and for me to go down the slide on a playground. We raced Robert and Sonja—and lost; the golf cart was no match for the scooter. We found a place called Susie’s (photo op!) and explored a new part of the island. And then it was time for bed.
Saturday morning, we were up and off to find breakfast and Zoni Beach. We didn’t have a ton of time, because we had to return the golf cart by 10:30am. After the 20 minute ride to the hidden oasis (absolutely breathtaking!) we had just enough time to take a 15 minute walk along the shore, and then back in our sweet cart for one last ride.
|Zoni Beach, Culebra|
We returned the cart on the minute at 10:30, then checked out of our hotel, bought our ferry tickets, and spent our last 2 hours on the beach right next to the ferry dock. A perfect end to the trip—the water was as clear and smooth as glass, and immensely refreshing.
Our ride back to Guayama was peaceful. We stopped along the way in Humacao for Subway and some Maggie Moo’s (my favorite combo!). By Maunabo, we came upon a political caravan that stretched for miles. Thank goodness we were going in the opposite direction and didn’t get stuck in it!
What a fantastic weekend. It’s adventures like these that make me love living on the island.