Did I mention that every time we go back to Vieques, particularly after being away for a couple of months, we feel excited and nervous at the same time?
The “excitement” part is a no-brainer—it’s a gorgeous place and we love our house.
So why the nerves? Well, we never know what to expect. Ever.
No matter how many times we make the journey we always get a sinking feeling when we round that last corner and head up the hill towards our little casa.
Almost instinctively, our eyes scan the house’s façade for signs of disaster. At this point I’m not even sure what we expect (plague, famine, locusts?)…
…but it’s not good. At all.
Our return this time was no different. And doubling our usual anxiety was our uneasiness about Francisco. We had no idea what to expect from his costly garden renovations.
As we turned into the driveway our hearts sank. And then they sank some more.
Our garden was more or less gone.
The funky mixture of mature shrubs and weedy undergrowth that had formed an ad hoc screen between our driveway and Corinne’s house below was pretty much wiped out. One paltry banana tree remained.
Nearby Francisco had planted a row of the most microscopic bougainvilleas I’ve ever seen.
As promised, he had also planted a row of hibiscus plants, but (in a move that seemed to defy all logic) he had placed them against a wall tucked almost completely out of sight behind our garbage cans.
Much more disastrously, Michael’s beloved triangular garden at the intersection of the driveway and the staircase leading to the downstairs level had been almost completely decimated. Even the big plants we had told Francisco were off-limits—including a palm tree we had recently bought and planted ourselves—were gone.
In their place? Small variegated plants and wilted ground cover that looked all wrong in the space.
And then, just when we thought it couldn’t get any worse, we walked down the steps leading to the lower level and—it got worse. The breezeway, formerly screened by tall sea grape plants, was now almost completely exposed.
The dense, mature bushes that had provided such a lush blind between our place and the house below had been hacked down and replaced with small, sickly-looking yellow shrubs laid out in an uneven, gap-toothed row.
We felt like crying.
But, instead, after a few moments, we both started laughing–at exactly the same time. Frankly, it was the only sane reaction—the whole thing just seemed so ridiculous.
Think about it:
The Babylonians managed to bring off that whole hanging garden thing more than two millennia ago…
…Louis XIV created one of the most elaborate gardens in the history of the world at Versailles…
…and we couldn’t even get a few measly shrubs stuck into our yard without a major screw-up.