CHASING THE MAP

Punta Mulas Lighthouse, Isabel Segunda

Park the car. Get out and walk. I find it’s pretty much a pain in the ass to do anything but when you’re in town anyway. That’s the best way to see the sights in Isabel Segunda, on the northern shore of Vieques Island.

Of course, finding a parking spot can be a bit challenging in what’s considered the capitol of Vieques. The bank, post office, government offices, and supermarket are all housed here. I had to drive up and down the main street a few times to find a place to park, but it eventually happens. Be patient and persistent.

My mission was to find the Punta Mulas Lighthouse. It’s pretty easy to find as it marks the entrance to the harbor at Isabel Segunda, and is up the hill from the ferry. There are a few twists in the road as you walk up a residential side street, but before you know it, you’re there. You hear a lot of barking dogs, but they’re mostly behind locked gates.

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On this afternoon, the gates to the entrance of the property were open, but the lighthouse itself was not. A few people were perched on the front lawn in comfortable camp chairs. There was a refreshing breeze that day, so maybe they were just hanging out like friends and family do, enjoying the beautiful day.

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The Punta Mulas Lighthouse was the second lighthouse constructed on Vieques in 1895 by Don Juan Puig Cerber. It was built to help guide ships approaching Isabel around a chain of treacherous reefs in the area. A red signal, perched upon the tower, was the beacon of light which helped accomplish this. On a clear day/night, the light can be seen from St. Thomas and St. Croix.

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The first lighthouse built, Faro Verdiales, is located on the southern coast of the island, and was used to light the way to Puerto Ferro.

The first thing I noticed were the grounds. The lawn is well tended (despite the lack of rain recently) and there are a variety of flowers in bloom, such as the bird of paradise. A few stray cats wandered the outskirts of the premises, but never got too close.

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To coincide with the 500 year anniversary of Columbus’ voyage to the Americas, the lighthouse was thoughtfully restored and reopened on October 12, 1992. The lighthouse has withstood the elements since the time of restoration, with it’s gray and white colored facade is crisp condition.  I wasn’t able to go inside on this day, but I’m told you’ll find a very small museum which highlights the seafaring history of Vieques.

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Additionally, to the side of the lighthouse, is a building which is available to the public for weddings and other various receptions. It overlooks the water, and is landscaped with lovely flowers and bushes, and would make a picturesque backdrop for any event held there.

I walked around the property and enjoyed the cooling effects of the sea breeze. It wasn’t an entirely clear day, so I wasn’t able to see all of the way to the British Virgin Islands. Maybe another time. It was peaceful, however, as I stared out into the water. I was glad that I had made the trek, to a historically important and visually stimulating landmark not to be missed when your on the island.

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