Once upon a time I moved to Vieques, Puerto Rico. I found work, saved some money, got a bit of land and built a casita (a little house) with help from friends and family. Now I’m riding across the country with the horses and Vieques seems long ago and far away – Except for the responsibility of keeping the casita occupied. My current caretaker just found another gig and I don’t have anyone scheduled to be in residence from now until late December! Help! If you (or someone you know) wants to spend some time living “old school” in the Caribbean – here’s your chance.
Interested? Read on. The casita isn’t everybody’s idea of a dream vacation – but if you’re comfortable camping it’s pretty sweet. The basic deal is simple -> a free place to stay in exchange for being a “security presence” and doing Something while you’re there to make things nicer for the next person. The casita is 16′x20′ - there’s a ladder leading upstairs to the bedroom – Q bed (with mosquito net) hangs from the ceiling. The casita is off-grid – no electricity. There’s a propane stove/oven – please make sure there’s propane for the next person when you leave. 1000 gallons of rain water are stored in cisterns – a hand pump brings it up to two 55 gallon drums (one outside painted black for warm water) – from there it’s gravity feed to the sink and shower. Grey water is caught in 5 gallon buckets to flush the toilet and water the plants. Living at the casita is Physical. The nearest store is 1/2 mile Down Hill. If you want to keep food cold you’ll need to bring ice for the ice chest back Up Hill 1/2 mile. The view is amazing – over rolling hills to the ocean – and the island of Culebra in the distance. Downstairs is an 8′x16′ deck – upstairs is a balcony that’s 8′x5′. The downstairs windows and doors can be locked – the upstairs is open to the view. When it rains and blows you’ll stay drier if you move the bed downstairs.
The casita comes equipt with sheets and towels and hammocks, pots and pans and dishes. There were two bicycles when I left, but there’s no telling what condition they’re in by now. Transportation is an issue – it’s entirely possible to walk and hitch rides – if you’re a walker. There are “publicos” (taxi vans) which will take you anywhere – when you can find one! I had a scooter for awhile, which worked really well as island transportation. The “best” (most secluded) beaches are down the Navy Road – which is a long walk by most people’s standards. That said, the entire island is 21 miles long and 7 miles wide and the casita is situated sort of “north central” on the island. When my folks go down for a week or two they rent a 4WD. When it rains you’re going to be walking in the last quarter mile or so – because even a 4WD can’t handle the slippery red clay/mud that the road becomes.
Vieques is a bit “wild west” – not long on infrastructure – and petty theft can be an issue. Don’t bring/flash valuables! If you’re looking for casinos and shopping – this isn’t the island for you. On the other hand – the snorkeling is great, the many beaches are lovely (and in the off season it’s entirely possible to have a beach to yourself!) – summer is Mango season, and there are also papayas, limones, carambolas, avocados, bananas, plantains, guavas, coconuts, passion fruit, nonis, anons, guabanas, cashews and more – you won’t starve! There’s a fish market down by the ferry dock – or take a spear gun and a mesh bag when you go snorkeling.
I’m happy to answer questions about the casita and/or Vieques if you’re interested in staying at the casita for a spell. It’s available Now – and through the end of 2012. At this point I have a couple from the UK planning to be in residence January through April of 2013. If that changes I’ll post something here – meanwhile I’m hoping to keep the place occupied between now and then with some miraculous patchwork of caretakers! If you are interested please e-mail me at: firstname.lastname@example.org