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Greetings From Vieques!
I have been enjoying a wonderful 2 weeks here on the island, my longest visit
since I left in June (2005). The island is
lush and green as there has been rain on a regular basis. As a matter of fact it
rained for about 3 days this week – I learned that my roof had several new leaks
in it that I was unaware of! We had a strong wind out of the west which is
somewhat unusual, but it certainly cooled things off. People enjoying sunset at
the Mar Azul were arriving in long-sleeve shirts, sweaters or sweatshirts – that
is unusual for May. It definitely felt like November weather as we end hurricane
season! Today it is quite gorgeous, sunny and warm, and feels like a typical day
Although I am not quite sure of all that is going on – all of Puerto Rico is in a financial crisis. The governor is working off a budget from 2004. It appears that he and the legislature have not been able to come to an agreement about the budget. Basically Puerto Rico has run out of money. They are trying to come to an agreement about establishing a sales tax that would generate money and allow them a line of credit. The latest thing is trying to determine the amount of the sales tax. I believe the governor wanted close to a 6% tax but the legislature would not approve that. Their original proposal also called for giving each municipality 1.5% of the collected tax. I imagine that everyday they are trying to figure out something that everyone can agree to. In the meantime, schools closed 2 weeks early as there was no money to pay teachers. Many government agencies are closed, some government employees are only working 3 hours per day. For those applying for building permits, things could get held up for a few weeks until the government can raise or borrow money. I am sure that if you want more information you can do a search and there are probably lots of articles available (mostly in Spanish). I do know that several of the large newspapers in the states are carrying information about the economic situation here.
Well, it is the time of year when many businesses, especially bars and restaurants, change their schedules. Some change their schedules with little or no notice so you want to make sure that you call ahead to see who is open. I have eaten out several times while I have been here and everything was good. Highlights of my dining were the wild salmon at Uva Restaurant, it was wonderful. Enjoyed dinner at Café Media Luna one night and had a chance to catch up with Monica and Ricardo. Monica has trained someone to take over the cooking who is doing a spectacular job. Had a lovely pasta dish at Trade Winds and got to see several people I usually miss while on island. BBH is always fabulous whether it is Lauren doing lunch or Chris doing Tapas at night. Had lunch at Bananas, and it truly is the island meeting place – saw so many people there at lunch the first time I went – old regulars who have been here for years! The second time I went I witnessed that “season” is not yet over as I did not recognize anyone but the staff – but then again it was 3pm and the “local” lunch crowd would have been gone. Scoops has great pizza but I was happy to discover that they have added some great sandwiches to their menu – they even have a great roasted veggie sandwich that was wonderful! My sister and I did go out to Martineau Bay Resort and had a delightful lunch there, it was a glorious day and the place is magical. There was also a cocktail party there that I attended one night given by the General Manager, Rabin (and I just blanked on his last name-oops), introducing himself to various business owners. It was a lovely party and they were offering sample chair massages to the guests and I just could not pass that up! I have gone out to the spa on several occasions for massages and a sauna! I missed having a meal at Carambola or Blue Moon Bar, both of which are located at Inn on the Blue Horizon – I just run out of time to get places but for sure on my next trip down. Tonight, May 5th, I will likely head out to MBar to celebrate “Cinco de Mayo” which will be their last evening (so I am told) at the Martineau location. I understand that they should be opening the middle of this month in their new location next to Uva. I will be so happy to have them located in town. With them, Uva, Media Luna and Tropical Baby all so close together, Isabel II could well become the place to dine. Then off to Roy’s for a fabulous coffee or martini after dinner! I love Roy’s but I am usually a morning person there. My usual stop for a toasted bagel!
I stopped in to see the new location of Diva’s Closet. Michelle and Ginny have made the store look fabulous! They have such a great selection of clothing and even some great home furnishings. They also have a nice line of body products that I enjoyed sampling. Right next door to them is Vieques Flowers and Gifts and Tom has filled his space with wonderful treasures. It is always fun to go in and browse and see the new things he is selling. For those with a sweet tooth, he has a small freezer filled with individual size “Hagen Daaz” ice cream cups and Dove Bars – what a treat after the beach. I visited with Peter, owner of Kim’s Cabin, and he has some lovely things in his shop as well. He has some of the best jewelry available on the island and great clothes for women and men. If you need a pair of Teva sandals this is the place to get them. I like Reef sandals so I stop in at Playa Voltios, the local surf shop in Isabel, to see Juan and catch up on things in town. He also carries a nice selection of good sunglasses. Trade Winds has the best selection of T-shirts on the island in their gift shop. If you want a nifty gift I love “Reenie’s Shoes”, horse shoes decorated with seaglass and shells. Many of you know Reenie as one of the bartenders from the Mar Azul. Well she gave that up a few weeks ago and is now producing these fabulous souvenirs. They are available in the Mar Azul gift shop and also at one of my favorite stores, Island Time.
Speaking of the Mar Azul, it is almost time for the annual Spam Cook-off! This year it will be held on Monday, the 15th. Judging starts at 8pm and the categories include appetizer, entrée, dessert, and sculpture. Remember all have to be edible and are judged on taste, originality, and presentation. On several occasions it has come down to presentation as the deciding factor in who wins! It is truly amazing that so many wonderful meals can come from a can of Spam! I am not sure who the judges will be this year but there is a regular, Alex, who usually comes down to visit his mother for Mother’s Day, so I imagine he will participate. Maria Gastineau has been a judge in the past, along with Bob Clapper so I would expect that they again might be asked. Ben Tutt who was the manager of Martineau Bay when it was a Wyndham is no longer on island and he will be missed. Chef Michael was also a judge for years and he left the island last summer. For those of you interested, Chef Michael is now in Vermont! He has taken over the kitchen at the Red Shutter Inn in Wilmington, Vermont. The restaurant is somewhat seasonal and he will be reopening this month. In addition to the restaurant he is working on a sheep farm nearby. He became fascinated with the idea of learning to make organic sheep’s milk cheese so he followed up on this opportunity. Farm work is something very new to Chef Michael but he has definitely taken a liking to it – although he is not sure that he will ever be able to eat lamb again. He has been on hand for lots of birthings, is gaining some veterinary skills, and is fascinated by the personalities that individual animals possess. He has also come to love the 2 horses and llama that are on the farm. Of course now he believes that he would love to have his own farm, but after my 20 years in the horse business, I have advised him that the feeling may soon pass! I will ask him after he is doing the restaurant on weekends and farming during the week and see how he still feels! Regardless, it is so good to hear him sounding so excited about his new life up in the cold weather! Perhaps I will try and go visit him this summer but for those of you that loved his food check out the Red Shutter Inn and go visit. He would love to see people from his life in Vieques!
One of the loveliest things about Vieques is the loyalty that occurs among the people that have been here for many years and the new comers that seem to “get” the island and instantly fit it. It has been difficult for me to stay on top of my responsibilities due to my cancer treatments. Jim Starke, owner of www.enchanted-isle.com, has supported me through my illness in so many ways. He has never complained that I have had trouble getting a newsletter to him on time, as a matter of fact he has defended me to many readers who are frustrated by the tardiness of my newsletter. For those of you reading, it is very rare that I get “What’s Happenin” done before an issue of Vieques Events. The main thing that so many want to see is the calendar and by the time I have that in place I am scrambling to get VE done. I never got an April issue of VE finished as my business partner was hospitalized for over a week with pneumonia in March. For that reason alone I was not inspired to send him things to translate as he had just come off a grueling 7 weeks of radiation and chemotherapy for his lung cancer. The best thing to come of his hospitalization was finding out that the tumor he had was now undetectable on the x-ray and CT Scan. We are all thrilled that Elí is doing so well and pray that his 3 month check-ups continue to keep him cancer free. Shortly after he was hospitalized I was put on a new maintenance drug for my lung cancer. I was still feeling the effects of 6 months of strong chemotherapy and this new drug had some side effects that I did not expect. By the time I felt strong enough to get an April issue out there was really no point as half the month was gone. For this reason the April “What’s Happenin” was late. If those of you are frustrated by not getting to read a current “What’s Happenin” or “Vieques Events”, imagine how frustrated I feel being treated for cancer and not having the energy to do so many of the things that I enjoy. My doctors (and more importantly my friends) applaud my efforts to continue traveling after each cycle of drugs and to continue working on a magazine that has deadlines and stress involved. There were definitely months that I traveled against the better judgment of my doctors but it was because I missed home so much and also had to try and keep a business going. Most of you do not know that it is just Elí and myself that produce Vieques Events. We do have one part-time person who does some bookkeeping and takes phone messages when I am stateside. We rely on people to send us information and help us with delivery. This month, although I had sent out an email and contacted several people about our deadline, I was still receiving information on May 2nd for the May issue. Some of these are regular advertisers and friends so I don’t feel it appropriate to shut them out of the issue when they are telling me that their ads will be late. I know that many of you have “interests” here in Vieques and are anxious to know what is going on. Well, perhaps you should spend more time here so that you know what is going on. I am tapped out paying for services and supplements to support my health and paying higher airfares because I can’t buy in advance. It is because of my family (not the income from VE) that has allowed me to keep traveling monthly so that I can do my best to keep you up to date on what is going on here in Vieques. I know that many of you are huge supporters and I cherish the emails of encouragement that you have sent through enchanted-isle.com for the past 10 months. The beginning of June will mark my one-year diagnosis of advanced lung cancer. According to several statistics, I would have a better chance of not surviving this anniversary. Good thing I don’t have much faith in “statistics”! So if this new drug is working for me, the good news is that I will be able to spend 2 weeks here in Vieques and one week in PA. This drug is administered every 3 weeks so it looks like I will still be doing a lot of traveling for some time.
The calendar follows, I hope that those of you who visit the island have a wonderful time. Remember many restaurants will have shorter hours so be sure to call ahead for reservations. Say hello if you see me out and about – I have very, very short white hair, with darker silver hair outlining my face – my silver lining!
Take care and be well.
|Sunday, 7th||Vieques Caribes go to Ceiba for baseball game. If interested in going with the team call 741-2999|
|Thursday – Friday, 11th & 12th||Verizon selling cellular phones at Centro Comercial|
|Friday, 12th||Day of Remembrance of Lillian Delgado Tepper at the old cemetery in Isabel II, 1pm. Evening Prayer Service at the Seventh Day Adventist Church in Monte Santo 7pm|
|Sunday, 14th||Mother’s Day|
|Sunday - Monday, 14th & 15th||Zee Store Closing/Moving Sale/Community Market- Puerto Real- 10-5- Vendors welcome- Johanna 741-1541|
|Monday, 15th||Annual Spam Cook-off at the Mar Azul. Use Spam to create
an appetizer, entrée, dessert or sculpture. Prizes! Judging begins at
Vieques Roadside Cleanup. Meet at parking lot next to Green Store at 7:30AM. Bags/gloves/water provided. We'll be working on Rte. 996 between 997 and 201. Call Mike at 787-435-4590 for details
|Saturday, 20th||Vieques Caribes play Humacao at Home ballfield in Florida. 7pm|
|Sunday, 28th||Vieques Caribes go to Gurabo for baseball game. If interested in going with the team call 741-2999|
|Monday, 29th||Memorial Day|
|Tuesday, May 30||March to Save the Ferry Terminal - 7PM from Jardines de Vieques to Legislatura Municipal. Info: 787-612-0723|
|Saturday and Sunday, 27th & 28th||Birds of Puerto Rico Presentation and Walk offered by FWS, DNRA and PR Ornithological Society. Presentation will be offered on Sat. 28th at 6:30pm at the FWS office. Bird walk will begin at 6am on Sunday 28th. Please meet at the FWS office parking lot. Bird Puppet show for children on Sunday 28 at 10 am at the FWS office. Come and get to know your birds!|
|Hatha Yoga at Hix Island House, 9:30 am, 435-6850|
|Mondays||Medalla Night Medalla beer for $1, from 4pm, at Bananas
Movie Night at the Blue Moon Bar & Grill at Inn on the Blue Horizon. Giant Screen T.V. Various Snacks! 741-3318
|Tuesdays||Happy Hour at the Island Steakhouse, 5-7pm, chance to
win free tab; 741-0011
Tapas Night at BMB & Grill at Inn on the Blue Horizon from 5 - 10pm
|Wednesdays||VYLI Cultural Arts- Youth 10-18 making handicrafts,
3:30-5pm. at Conch House in Isabel II
Tapas Night at BMB & Grill at Inn on the Blue Horizon from 5 - 10pm
El Jardín Supper Club at The Crow's Nest; complimentary glass of wine with dinner from 5-7pm
|Thursdays||Marine Life Exhibit guided tours at VCHT, 1-3 pm
El Jardín Supper Club at The Crow's Nest; complimentary glass of wine with dinner from 5-7pm
Documentary films -Vieques History and Peace movement, 8 pm. On the balcony of Casa de Kathy, 367 Calle Bromelias, Esperanza, free. 741-3352
Science of Mind, interfaith meditation, 7-8pm; call 741-0321 for info
|Fridays||Marine Life Exhibit guided tours at VCHT, 1-3 pm
Happy Hour at The Palms @ Villa Bravo, 5-7pm
Mofongo Night at Carambola Restaurant at Inn on the Blue Horizon. 741-3318
Pasta at Martineau Bay Resort, includes soup, salad and deserts, 6-10pm
Lobster Specials at Trade Winds, call 741-8666 for reservations
Dance party in the “Treehouse” at Bananas, 8 pm - ??
|Fridays & Saturdays||2-4-1 Medalla, 2 4 1 Corona, $1 shots and more! At the Palms|
|Saturdays||Ay, Chihuahua! Go Mexican at the Blue Moon Bar & Grill
at Inn on the Blue Horizon. Sizzling fajitas, delicious nachos & more!
Sushi Night at Uva, reservations suggested, 741-2050
Marine Life Exhibit guided tours at VCHT, 2-4 pm
Prime Rib Night at Paso Fino restaurant, at Martineau Bay, 6-10pm
Karaoke at Mar Azul, 9pm
|Wed.,Sat. and Sun.||Yoga Class at Sun Bay: 9:00 am 435-7510|
|Sundays||Radio Vieques, 10-11am on WALO radio, 1240 AM, by the
Rescue and Development Committee; participate by telephone by calling
Bloody Sundays with Marge, 11am - 5 pm at Bananas
Marine Life Exhibit guided tours at VCHT, 1-3 pm
Live music at Topacio, 2-6pm
Paella Specials at the Trade Winds, call 741-8666 for reservations
Prime Rib at the Island Steakhouse, call 741-0011 for reservations
Puerto Rican BBQ and Live Music at Bili, 6-11pm. 741-1382
|Mondays & Wednesdays||Yoga Class at La Casa de Yoga: 4:30 pm 741-1378|
|Mon.-Wed.-Fri.||Spinning Classes at Utopia Fitness, 6- 7pm, call 741-2805 for information|
|Wednesdays - Sundays||Happy Hour at Bili: Buy one rum punch and get one free; 5-7pm, 741-1382|
|This Month||"Vieques, A Long Way Home" Photo Exhibit continues through May 18th at the Fort Conde Mirasol|
Thanks for reading and have a great visit!
PS: If there is anything you would like to see in the newsletter or have any feedback please email Ask Judy. Thanks. firstname.lastname@example.org
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