Driving home along the twisting road from the Camp Garcia beaches I’m often struck by the stunning view. Sometimes I even wish our house faced south instead of north.
“You guys are on the Atlantic side?” people occasionally ask when we describe the location of our place. They seem all too ready to draw the distinction between an Atlantic view and a Caribbean one, the implication being that those of the Caribbean persuasion are vastly preferable.
“We can see the Big Island and Culebra from our balcony,” I respond a tad defensively.
“How nice,” the south-favorers reply, their voices trailing off, a pitying smile flitting across their faces.
The really dumb part of this scenario? For a couple of years I bought it. I honestly believed that a Caribbean view was superior to ours, simply because so many people said so.
There had been signs that I didn’t really believe this, but I ignored them.
Item One: the time when our air conditioner broke down and Jane put us up for a couple of nights in one of her properties in Destino. Michael and I stood by the pool at sunset and marveled at the view across the wetlands down to the shining Caribbean.
“Amazing, huh?” he said.
“Stunning,” I replied. “Although,” and here I struggled to give words to the stray thought nibbling at the corner of my brain, “it’s kind of like looking at an infinity pool. The effect is amazing but there’s not a lot to see.”
Item Two: when we wake up in the morning in our condo in D.C. the first thing we do is open the bedroom curtains and raise the living room blind. And yet, although the view from our apartment is breathtaking—one of the largest cathedrals in the world stands foursquare in front of our building…(here’s the view from our balcony)…
…we rarely pause more than a few seconds to drink it in.
In Vieques, on the other hand, the minute our eyes pop open in the morning we fling open the bedroom door and rush through the great room onto the balcony to drink in the view.
Which includes, from left to right (though you can’t see it all in these photos):
- the mountainous big island looming majestically to the northwest;
- a delicious little white sandbar at eleven o-clock, crowned by a toy-like beacon; and
- Culebra itself, also mountainous but more gently so, to the northeast.
In addition to which, below us, lie houses big and small tumbling down our hill toward the azure water, miniature groves of verdant trees, even the town of Isabel itself.
I haven’t even mentioned the ferries—both passenger and cargo—carving white troughs through the water back and forth to Fajardo several times a day. Some afternoons we sit mesmerized on our balcony for a half hour at a time watching these boats’ slow, steady progress across our field of vision.
And at night, when the island is shimmering with darkness and the sea and sky have melded into a solid mauve field, we watch cruise ships crawl across the horizon from St. Thomas to San Juan, bright smudges of illumination seemingly suspended in mid-air.
And yet, despite this overripe beauty, sometimes even now when we’re idling our motor at the top of the ridge to drink in the Caribbean view, I can’t help saying, “You have to admit, the view from this side is pretty fantastic.”
To which Michael will reply, “I agree.” Long silence. “So would you switch?”
I hesitate, drinking in the verdant wetlands, the silver light, the flat, tranquil sea.
“Not on your life.”