On Vieques Island

Continuing our two week Puerto Rico “adventure,” on Wednesday we flew from San Juan here to Vieques Island (just off Puerto Rico’s east coast) by Cessna prop plane:

Hello from Vieques Island! Flew here earlier on a Cessna – a 20 min flight from San Juan.โœˆ๏ธFlying on a prop plane is a very different sensation compared to a jet! . Top: planes like ours. Bottom photo: our plane, and on the cart – those are our two bags. An 8 seater, but there were only four aboard. The pilot (being quite necessary)๐Ÿ‘จโ€โœˆ๏ธ, an airline employee ๐Ÿ‘จ๐Ÿฝmaking the short trip, and us.๐Ÿ‘จโ€โš•๏ธ๐Ÿ‘ฉโ€โš•๏ธ . So that's what's being on a "private plane" feels like! Felt like being a VIP arriving!๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚ . #travel #tourism #Cessna #photo #photography #sanjuanairport #aircraft #puertorico #flying #airport #authors #authorsofinstagram #writersofinstagram #humor #humour #vieques

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Yes, really.

We had last been on planes like that in Australia and New Zealand years ago. I’m always a bit apprehensive about them – the one in New Zealand saw us in something of bad weather, which I would not want to relive ever, to be honest – but this one was fine. Pilot “Zac” handled the short flight over.

The rest here in Puerto Rico has been very useful for this writer: having just completed a huge book and arrived feeling tired, out of sorts, and drained of ideas…

Morning today on Vieques, looking out towards the main island of Puerto Rico.๐Ÿ˜Š๐Ÿ˜Ž๐Ÿ๐Ÿ–๐Ÿ“ธ . Unrelated: pardon the bit of thinking out loud here. Maybe the trip and the mental rest is helping: I think I know now what the next novel will be.๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ˜„It's a relief to have an idea.๐Ÿ“š๐Ÿ‡ฌ๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ซ๐Ÿ‡ทI'm proud of what I've done in the last 5 years, and it has been unsettling in recent weeks to feel I might be "finished" and will never lift a "pen" again.๐Ÿ™„๐Ÿ˜ณ๐ŸคขThankfully, I don't think I've hit that wall just yet.๐Ÿ˜€ . Have a good day, guys, wherever you are.๐Ÿ˜Š . #travel #tourism #photo #photography #puertorico #Vieques #authors #authorsofinstagram #writersofinstagram #fiction #novels #reading #writing #scenic #beach #scenicview #view #ocean #Atlantic #writers #worry #holiday #vacation #books #nature #beauty #beautiful #romance #romancenovels #history

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…I feel much better now. There will be another book – eventually! But not anytime soon. I think four novels in five years entitles me to take my time with the next novel.

And, after all, I have a “back catalog” now! ๐Ÿ˜‰

The more I see of Puerto Rico, the more I feel the islanders are getting a raw deal. It is the size and population of roughly Connecticut. Frankly, it deserves unconditional U.S. statehood – if the Puerto Ricans wish it. It is patently unfair to these good people to leave them in this nebulous “colonial” situation.

While there are clearly some differences – the street signs are in Spanish (but look just like what we see in the 50 states) and they use liters here to sell gasoline, as just two differences – this feels much like a part of the United States. Most everyone you encounter, especially those under age “50,” has “some” knowledge of basic English, and many are perfectly fluent in both Spanish and English. It does not seem like a foreign country – because it’s not one, really. 100 years of U.S. citizenship has made an indelible cultural impression on Puerto Ricans.

As my wife asked me: “So if they move to the mainland, they can vote for president. But not if they live here? That’s ridiculous.” Indeed. They are our fellow citizens and should be our total equals here on the island as well as when they are on the mainland.

Although, if Puerto Rico became a state, sadly the drinking age would probably also have to rise to that ludicrous age 21. Currently, it is still “18” here: as it should be. All “adult” behaviors in our society at minimum should match the voting age, which is, of course, “18.” However, apparently the U.S. federal government is pushing Puerto Rico to raise it to “21” as well.

That’s us as Americans: too often unwilling to admit when we have made a mistake, or that conditions have changed. Instead we blunder on for a couple of generations until we eventually wake up.

I say that because 1) I feel strongly that “21” at home endangers American young people abroad. I’ve noted why repeatedly. Click here for one example.

Even if one doesn’t care about young Americans abroad, much less discussed is 2): age “21” contributes to the scourge of “underground” binge drinking in frat houses and in dorms at universities across the country and therefore creates massive social problems – just because the students can’t drink legally in a bar or restaurant like the adults they are.

One horrible consequence of that: Booze consumed by at least one person under age 21 is evidently involved in the vast majority of sexual assault cases on U.S. college campuses. I go on and on about the idiotic “21” because one doesn’t see the same scale of similar sexual assault trouble at British and European universities – likely because there under-21 women are not “forced” into drinking alongside men (who may be above 21) in “illegal” and “hidden” social situations, but can simply go to the pub or a restaurant with friends and socialize safely in public. Here in Puerto Rico, 18, 19 and 20 year olds drink legally in public (we have seen it in restaurants) and the world seems not to have come to an end.

Interesting phenomenon we have seen here on Vieques as well as in San Juan: the bilateral relationship is not all “one way” in terms of immigration/expatriation. There seem to be some numbers of mainland Americans who have moved here to live.

For instance, we encountered one young woman tending bar in San Juan who was not at all Puerto Rican: she was from North Carolina. The woman who manages the holiday home in which we are staying here in Vieques is from the U.S. Midwest. The lifestyle here clearly appeals.

And it is easy to see that appeal: the weather, the people, the overall outlook. Puerto Rico overall is a remarkably pleasant place. If you as an American (or anyone, for that matter) are looking to travel somewhere you might not have considered, consider visiting Puerto Rico.

Oh, and Sting is due here shortly, too.

But don’t let that fact put you off!๐Ÿ˜‚

Have a good weekend! ๐Ÿ™‚

UPDATE: May 1:

A serious post. Sadly what Vieques is probably best-known for is that a corner of the island was used for live fire training by the US Navy until the early 2000s. Massive protests – including by celebs – eventually helped stop them. . Yesterday we ventured to the former target zone. Now, over a decade after the navy left, on that stretch of coast there are posted reminders all over the place: watch out for unexploded shells. . That sign in the right-side photo is a few feet to my right as, in the left photo, I snapped the "no trespassing" waters it references and a portion of the small island out in it. Visible also are two signs on that island's shoreline (there are signs all along it at similar intervals), probably warning unwary landers to stay off of it. . #travel #tourism #photo #photography #puertorico #authors #authorsofinstagram #writersofinstagram #writers #Vieques #scenic #beach #scenicview #view #ocean #Caribbean #holiday #vacation #nature #beauty #beautiful #rain #tropics #military #history #politics

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Author: โ€œConventions: The Garden At Paris,โ€ โ€œPassports,โ€ โ€œFrontiers,โ€ and โ€œDistances.โ€ British Airways frequent flier. Lover of the Catskill Mountains...and the 1700s. New novel of 1797-1805, "Tomorrow The Grace," due out in 2019.

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