Vieques Beach Quest

View from El Blok rooftop


     Relaxing on the beach was our top priority when we woke up in Vieques, Puerto Rico. My friend Terry and I had kayaked the bio-luminescent bay the previous evening and were still excited about the experience. We were having breakfast at El Blok Hotel where we were staying and reviewing which were our top beach choices for the day. We had taken the ferry to Vieques and left our rented car on the main island so we had to walk or get a taxi.

     The concierge recommended the best beaches and laughed when we told her about our plans to walk there. She was super helpful and got us set up with beach chairs. She scheduled a taxi pick up and drop off for 2 different beaches nearby.

     We threw our beach bags and chairs in the back of the taxi and headed first to the Black Sand Beach. We passed a number of random horses on the way. The driver stopped in the middle of the road with no beach in sight.

     Terry reiterated, “Um…We’re going to the Black Sand Beach.”

The Black Sand Beach Trail

     The driver was already unloading our chairs onto the side of the road. We hopped out and he pointed to a break in the trees and told us it was down there. He then told to be right back here in 2 hours …and not to be late…and he would bring us to our next beach.

     We hoisted up our bags and chairs and ambled onto the sandy path surrounded by trees. My feet were pretty happy about the prospect of walking on sand and I kicked off my flippies and shoved them in my bag. 

     The sand was soft and we sunk in as we walked. It was high 80’s and humid and I could feel springs of frizzy curls forming on my head. As we trudged along, some areas of the path were covered in ankle deep water and we needed to wade through. There was tree debris littered across the sand and my feet were repeatedly jabbed with stones, sticks and tree needles. 

     “I hope he dropped us at the right spot.” Terry announced as we hiked.

     We were both breathing heavy from pulling our feet repeatedly from the squishy sand.

     “I know right.” I agreed as I pulled a little thorn from the arch of my foot.

     Soon we saw a clearing ahead and the sparkling blue of the sea. We took off in a slow-sand run towards the water. I dropped my stuff on the ground and plowed right into the glistening turquoise waves.

The Prehistoric Beach – Vieques

     There were huge sandstone boulders along the shore. Palm trees and jungle surrounded us from behind and the waves lapped at our ankles. The tide had brought out some of the black sand and the shore had dark streaks. We had the beach all to ourselves.

     “I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if a pterodactyl flew by right now.” I shouted to Terry who was already setting up her beach chair.

     “I know…this place is downright prehistoric looking.” She agreed as she laid her towel over the chair.

     I fished out my camera and left my chair and bag in a heap to go explore the shoreline. I wandered in and out of the little coves along the shore, having the feeling of being on a deserted island. 

Someone is Lurking-Horse on the Black Sand Beach

     I crossed a little stream on the beach and when I peered into the cove on my right, an ash colored horse was standing there staring back at me. My heart jumped a little, I wasn’t sure what he might do…but we both just stood transfixed and looking at each-other. We stood like this for a couple minutes. I then sidestepped past the cove and explored until I reached a tall boulder I would not be able to pass without swimming.

Black Sand Beach, Vieques horse

     There was a little crop of rocks in front of the boulder and if I stood inside it, I could almost see around to the other side. I was walking and using the camera lens as my eyes and was almost around the front. 

What a Wave at the Vieques Black Sand Beach


     The next thing I knew I was spitting water and had been knocked to my knees by a splash of water that crashed over the rocks. The wave had crashed over my head…I was completely drenched, my hair dripping and I was more than a little glad for the rock barrier I was behind. I turned around to go back to where Terry was sunning.

Black Sand Beach, Vieques

     When I came to the horse cove area, I noticed there were a couple of other horses on the hill above. I step, step, stepped past the ash colored horse, trying not to alarm him while we stared at each-other and he swished his silvery tail.

Next Stop…Playa Caracas Beach, Vieques

     It was about time to meet our taxi driver, so we gathered our goods and puffed back up the sandy jungle path to the road. When we got up there, the taxi was already there and we were on to Playa Caracas, a crescent shaped white sand beach.

     The beach had a parking area and several picnic spots. There were sunbathers and families dotting the beach. We found a people-free area and parked our chairs. We ran in and out of the waves and relaxed in the sun until the taxi arrived to take us back. 

     We had a mofongo dinner and a drink in the town and walked back to rest for the night because we needed to get up early.

Ferry from Vieques Island to San Juan

     We had to be on the ferry back to mainland Puerto Rico by 6:30 a.m.. A shuttle brought us from the hotel and we were barely keeping awake.

     When we arrived at the pier, I stood and stretched. 

     “My foot feels weird, I must have been sitting funny.” I announced as we rolled our luggage towards the parking area.

     “I know…I am wiped out.” Terry commiserated.

A Visit to El Yunque Rainforest?

     We got in the car and mapped our way to El Yunque rain-forest. Our flight back to Chicago was at 2 p.m., but it was still early and we had a few hours to see some things. El Yunque was on the way from the ferry to the airport. We stopped in the visitors center to get some info on the best hikes.

     The red haired lady behind the counter was using a yellow highlighter to show us the best spots.

     “Now if you drive up the road about a mile you will find this trail-head on your right. This is where you will see a number of waterfalls and tropical birds.” She scribbled back-and-forth with the highlighter on that area.

The Angry Red Line

     My foot was stinging and I could barely put weight on it when I had limped in from the car. I took a peek underneath to make sure I didn’t have a cut or something. 

     When I peered under my foot… an angry red circle was on my arch.

     “Hoooo boy!”…my mind raced. 

There was a thin mark that looked like a red pen line drawn from the angry circle, up to just past my ankle. “Red line off an injury is never good.” My head felt light and my heart pounded a little faster at the sight of that line.

     I excused myself to the bathroom while Terry and the woman reviewed the potential hiking paths.

    I washed off my ankle hoping the red line was a scrape but inside, I knew it wasn’t.

The Official Verdict

      I limped back out to the visitor center area where Terry was waiting. I explained what was going on and showed her my ankle. Being that she was a nurse, I felt confident she would know what to do or at least ease my mind. Terry went from calm and assured, to worried as she began measuring and then circling my red spot as well as marking the line running up my leg.

     Soooo, does this mean that we’re not going to go see the rain forest?” I inquired. 

     “I’m pretty sure we should find a hospital. It probably just needs to get cleaned up, but that line worries me, especially if we are flying today.” She replied, taking the keys from me. “GPS hospitals and see what’s close.” She started the car and drove us to a highly rated hospital near San Juan.

We Need a Medic -Hospital in San Juan

     Highly rated in the mainland states is a bit different than highly rated in Puerto Rico. After checking in, I sat nervously in the freezing waiting area with a large crowd of other people waiting. Terry went to warm up and wait in the car outside. 

     I had gone from goosebumps to shivering. It had been over an hour and a half. I glanced down at my ankle and was surprised to see the line was gone except about a half inch near the red spot.

    A man limped by with a poorly wrapped head wound sleeping blood and dragging his IV pole up the hall. I glanced around at the full waiting room and declared myself, “healthy enough.” 

The Getaway

     I decided to make a break for it. I went slowly out the door, my body welcoming the heat. I spotted Terry waiting in the car across the street as I limp-ran in that direction.

     “I don’t see any bandage on that foot.” Terry called out the car window. “You better get back in there!”

     I limped around the side of the car and flopped into the passenger seat.

     “Just drive.” I panted. “Let’s get out of here. Go…go.”

     I showed her my foot and the line had grown slightly after my walk to the car but not to the ankle anymore. 

A Quick Home Surgery and We Are on Our Way

     We stopped for gas, and I limped into the shop, pain shooting up my leg with each step. I tried to walk only on the edge of my foot. I purchased a bottle of peroxide, a nail clipper and a roll of duct tape.

     After disinfecting my foot, I made little snips around the angry red spot, trying not to think about how it looked or the red hot pain. As I dug around, I could see a dark object, embedded under the skin. My brain flashed to the beach when I had pulled something out of my arch.

     I was able to yank out what looked like a thorn. I disinfected again, and applied a band-aid. Then Terry helped me wrap my whole foot in a duct tape brace.

     With those un-pleasantries out of the way, I recommended that we stop for lunch, being that we had some time now. 

One Last Puerto Rico Mofongo

     We found a beachfront restaurant that served mofongo and sat in the sun and enjoyed some deliciousness. 

      I thought that…like in the lion and the mouse fable, once the thorn was removed, my foot would feel miraculously better. Unfortunately, it was still in a tremendous amount of pain.

      I did still insist on going to one last beach before we got to the airport and I dragged my sad, duct taped foot through the sand. Terry laughed at my pathetic Frankenstein foot.

The Great Wheelchair Escape

     At the airport, an attendant quickly grabbed a wheelchair to assist me when I came limping through the door, dragging my duct taped foot. At first I protested, but then looking at the huge airport, I realized I was never going to make it without one. 

     When the plane landed, one of the attendants came to get me and informed me they had a wheelchair ready. I hopped up the aisle and had a seat in the chair just outside of the plane, at the base of the tube leading into the airport.

     “Wait here and I will get somebody to bring you down.” The young worker instructed.

     “Ok…” I answered.

      The guy disappeared back inside the airplane and we waited for 3 or 4 minutes.

     “What exactly are we waiting for?” Terry inquired.

     “I don’t know, he said he was gonna get somebody to push me.” I adjusted my foot rests.

     “Well watch this,” Terry piled her bags on my lap. I could barely see above them. “Hold on…I’m just gonna push you myself.”  She grabbed ahold of the handles and the next thing I knew…she was laughing and rolling me full tilt down the tube.

      I peeked behind to make sure the worker didn’t appear and yelled, “Go! Go! Go!”

      We came barreling into the airport screaming with laughter. We dodged between airport visitors who were shocked at the rate of speed at which we emerged from the tube . 

     “Stop…stop…I can’t breath.” I laughed.

Dancing on Nails

     We made it safely out of the airport. Once I was home, I stopped at a medical clinic to get it looked at just in case. I reported what had happened. 

     “Sounds like an infection from a sea urchin sting. It can happen even if you just step on one of the spines.” The nurse announced while stabbing my arm with a tetanus shot.

     “Believe it or not it sounds like you did the right thing by ‘performing home surgery,’ any pieces left inside could have caused nerve and tissue damage and other problems. It sounds like it was already getting infected.” She fastened a band-aid over the shot area and cleaned up my almost healed wound.

     “With this shot…Now I can dance on a bed of sea urchins or all the rusty nails I want for the next few years.” I exclaimed.

     ” I wouldn’t go that far.” The nurse wrapped my foot. But it’s good you came in,” She laughed.

Black sand beach Vieques


Click here to read about my Vieques Bio-luminescent Bay adventure

Click here to read about when I got  locked in a Palace

Click here to read about a mystery encounter in the Fog of Ireland


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