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post #696
bio: rich

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Hola Culebra!

Hola Culebra
I don't remember how anyone decided to go to Culebra for New Years - but first let me state that all the planning and plane ticket purchasing took place well before the financial collapse of the world. Otherwise, I may have been feeling a little gun-shy about taking any sort of vacation.

Culebra is part of Puerto Rico and is off the eastern coast between PR and that first group of Virigin Islands (St. Stu or St. Gary... I forget which). The island is about 10 miles square and according to the interwebs has a permanent population of 2,000 people. Development hasn't really hit Culebra yet. There are no chain restaurants or stores or... well, anything remotely chain-y. All small businesses. Open odd hours.
Very sleepy.

We went with two other couples and rented a house on the western end of the island.
(Here are all our photos!)

San Juan

We flew into San Juan and had some time before our next flight out to Culebra so we hopped into a cab and met our pals Serge & Irene downtown in San Juan for snacks and beer. Old San Juan is touristy, but seems to have pockets of quaintness.
Flamenco Air to CulebraTo get to Culebra, you can either take a ferry or plane. We took the plane. These are smallish planes (about 10 people max) and you sit two-by-two (much like ark animals) and the low altitude offers great views of Puerto Rico and then the lovely island studded ocean between it and Culebra.
It also offers thrills if it is windy when you are landing.

Home for the week
The main deckThe house we rented, Casa Coqui,  was generally nice. Like, on paper or in photographs it was nice. I later learned that the realtor described the house as a bit "rustic". More on that later.
Yes, but the house was cool. One main house with the kitchen, dining, living room, and big porch. There was a bedroom upstairs in the main house. On either side of the main house were two smaller... houses with a bedroom each. Mrs. Robot and I won a coin toss for the room/house that had the massive water bed, big shady porch, and awesome outdoor shower (all stoney).
The couple we beat in the coin toss was a bit grumpy about it - but we quickly learned that we didn't actually win. More on that later as well.

Here's where everything was on the Googles Maps.

We spent most of our time at Zoni Beach. It was a 5-10 minute drive from our house and was probably the nicest beach I have ever been to. It's about a mile long and has this cool black and tan sand along with beautiful clear blue water and easy rolling waves (except for the last day where there were gargantuan waves that were terrifyingly/awesomely cool). It was never crowded.
Since it faces east, the palm trees provided some nice shade in the afternoon. We were there pretty much every day.
Zoni Beach
I went snorkeling at one end of the beach and was given the stink-eye by a stingray. I swears. He was all like, "what do you think you are doing here". He was swimming along with one of those big headed fish. They'll give you the stink-eye as well.

Flamenco beach is the 'big' beach in Culebra. We spent part of a day there. Compared to Zoni, it's quite crowded. Unlike Zoni, they have a bunch of stalls in the parking lot selling various food stuffs. We were told that some of the best snorkeling was near there at a beach called Carlos Rosario. You park and hike away from the beach on this little trail. For about a mile I bet. Or so it seemed.
You arrive at this gorgeous beach that had equally gorgeous snorkeling. I saw a sneaky barracuda, dozens of beautiful jellyfish, and tons of various shaped fish. Our pal Irene saw a turtle and a stingray (I somehow missed that).
It was good snorkeling.

Food & Drink
We consumed well. We had about a case of wine (smuggled in suitcases) and a case of Champagne (illegally mailed (wait, did I say "illegal" - i meant "legal")). Our pal Irene brought like 10 pounds of this spicy pork thing that she makes (frozen and packed in luggage).
Did I mention rum? Many rum and tonics. My new favorite drink
We ate out a few times. We loved a place called Susies that is right on the water next to a gas station. Not a great location, but the food made up for it. Juanita Banana is a tragically named place on top of a mountain that has beautiful views - especially at sunset. Tasty food.

So, it was lovely.
Lazy hours spent on the beach or on the sunny deck of our house.

Sunset from porch
Oh, nocturnal (the "more on that later" part)
See, this is the issue. Our house, while attractive and well laid out had a few issues. Mainly crappy screens and lots of openings for critters to get in.
Bedroom VisitorIn our bedroom was had lizards (i don't mind them), slow moving cockroaches (didn't mind them as they were easy to kill), those creepy but harmless crickets (hundreds), tons of random flying bugs.... and scorpions. Oh, and rats.
So, lovely house during the day. But at night, and especially in our bedroom, it became a horrifying Wild Kingdom episode.
I am not nearly as chill about nature and wildlife as I purport to me. I am a big sissy.

But, right. The house would have been great if they had decent screens. And doors that didn't have inch tall clearances. And holes in the walls. Oh, and if the room was actually solid (where the ceiling and the walls came together was a nice big ol' open space).

New Years Day! Awesomes!
Many of you may have already heard this story or seen my Facesbooks update or read about this in the NYT. Our New Years day started at 9am when a very handsome dove smacked into our room's glass sliding door. Bam. He sat on our deck all messed up and Mrs. Robot went out to help him. It was heartbreaking. The bird, obviously, was freaked out and somehow pushed himself to the edge our deck... and then took a dive off.

I ran to the edge of the deck to look over and was promptly stung on my hand by a small scorpion*.
2009 doesn't like me already.
Our Bedroom

* in Puerto Rico, all the snakes, bugs, and creepy crawlies are non-venomous. Or at least in way that doesn't hurt humans. My thumb hurt and was numb for about 30 minutes and then all was well.

Going to Culebra?
What, are you crazy? I didn't even mention the hermit who lived next to us or the billion tarantula holes on the property. Ha! Ha! Just kiddding. It's a fun place.
I found a ton of info on this handy forum:

Slideshow of everything! Whew.

coqui! coqui! my brother went to PR and brought ella a little frog that makes that sound! did you hear them?
»lisa ||  1/14/2009 ||  6:33:53 PM
Oh yes we heard them but never saw one. I meant to record the sound at night as it was amazingly loud. Rich didn't mention that a good bit of the island is a nature reserve so the critters rule the land.
»mrs. robot ||  1/14/2009 ||  10:33:21 PM

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