puerto rico - day 7 - vieques
it's several miles up the road, thankfully flat, but the sun is a hammer. there's a map in my back pocket that we check every once in awhile. at last we find the main road to the beaches. the turn off to the 1st beach is blocked off with cement dividers. so is the next one. we can't tell if it's meant for all traffic or only vehicles so we ride bikes around the dividers and down gravel roads. the map seems to say we're near garcia beach. we come across a steamroller and paving equipment. we navigate our way back to garcia beach. it's completely abandoned. we can see the smoother waters of red beach in the next cove. we navigate back and figure our way to red beach. a road crew, having a break under a gazebo, whistles at us. the beach is closed, which is damn unfortunate b/c it's beautiful. we make our way back to the main road. we find our way to the next beach - which takes about 45 min of thirst-inducing, nettle-penetrating exertion - secret beach. not a secret apparently b/c it's populated w/ 10 or so people. no matter. we walk our bikes all the way to the end of the cove. we chain them to a tree (b/c m is convinced that men w/ machetes are hiding in bushes waiting to prey on tourists. a guidebook, she swears, advises this). we swim, rest. snorkel, rest. swim, rest. hours tock by.
later we're riding back to town. sun-soaked and salty skin, our water supply diminished. the ride back seems twice as long as there. it's like riding bikes in a sun-lit sauna. we flirt with heat exhaustion and arrive downtown at duffy's dripping wet, like we just stepped fully clothed out of the ocean. we split a veggie burger and drink beers and a couple pitchers worth of water.
later that evening. we're downtown, across from duffy's, meeting the contact from abe's who'll take us out to the bio-bay. we see michael & jen having someone take their picture. we don't say hi b/c we'll see them later. before long, we're kayaking at dusk, out into the middle of Mosquito Bay, then jumping into the water, flailing joyous arms. it's been a perfect day. at some point we realize that 5 years ago today I was having brain surgery. i breathe in deep grateful breaths because this day, 5 yrs later, is the reverse mirror image of that day. this liquescent once-in-a-lifetime kind of day.
back in town we see michael & jen at duffy's. they're sitting at the same table we had a drink at the previous night. we point out to them the table where hours earlier we had beer and water. that soaring feeling won't diminish.