Wednesday we took advantage of another perk, which was a free rental jeep for 24 hours. After breakfast, we got in the Jeep and drove all around the island. We started driving north west, which 5 years ago wasn’t much. It was mostly trees with an occasional resort here and there. Now, it’s resort after resort, lots of shops and hotels, and a huge cruise ship terminal that can dock three ships. I was amazed as to how built up it was.
The north side of the island has changed a bit also. Plenty of trees still remain, but there are some resorts, new and old. Last time we were here was right after a big hurricane. Many resorts were either closed or had a lot of repairs going on, including ours. Only about half of the rooms here were rentable. Now, the older resorts have been repaired and refurbished. They look so pretty from the outside. A few new places have sprung up also.
The east side of the island is all beaches, empty for the most part. This is the side that faces the sea. This seems to be where most of the locals go to swim, as we saw many more locals on the beach than we did tourists. There are no resorts. That I don’t understand, unless that side of the island lacks utilities, which is a very good possibility. It’s where we had the most fun on our drive.
We saw a little area selling “junk” as they called it. Lots of fish bone sculptures, hats, jewelry, and things like that. We stopped just because it looked interesting. We were not disappointed. Before we had the Jeep in park, one of the guys came over and said “Welcome to Miami!” with a huge smile on his face. That’s when we started laughing and we didn’t stop until miles down the road. There were two guys that ran the place and both were so funny. The first guy was the bartender, the other sold the “junk”. We ordered pina coladas and then made the mistake of watching him make them. He lobbed off the top of a coconut, added ice, dumped in about a quarter bottle of rum, and filled the rest with coconut milk. Scuba Man and I just looked at each other. Half of a newly opened bottle of rum was gone from the bottle into our two drinks. But, oh they were the best pina coladas I’ve ever tasted. We did a little shopping and ended up staying there for about an hour, just talking and laughing with the two guys. They were a blast.
We drove down the beach, stopping here and there to take pictures, until we needed something to drink. We pulled over at this little restaurant because one of the waiters was flagging down cars as they passed. It was hard to resist! Yes, we can be suckers. We were led to a table overlooking the water, ordered two waters and guacamole. Soon, a trio of musicians came over and started playing and singing. They were so fun to watch and they sounded so good. It is the type of music we expected to hear in Mexico, but really hadn’t until now. It looked like a father and two teenage sons. We got the biggest kick out of watching the boys trying to watch the teenage girls that were running around the place in their bathing suits, having just come in from swimming.
But the time we left there, we weren’t that far from the only town on the island. We went driving all through town, seeing the non-touristy places that most visitors never see. The people seemed surprised to see us driving in the area. It was a very interesting trip. After we filled the gas tank, we headed back and turned in the Jeep. We showered and headed off for another great meal. It was a very fun day.