While the beaches of Vieques are enough to fulfill your vision of a tropical vacation, don’t forget there are some very cool things to do on the island’s interior. Case in point – The Playa Grande Sugar Mill Tour is an amazing journey into the past, beautifully staged by the remnants and ruins of a working mill and presented by some extremely knowledgeable and equally enthusiastic guides. This is no stay in line, don’t touch anything museum tour. This is a real, vines-in-your face, don’t lose your guide immersion into a once vibrant world.
The history offered on the tour is eye-opening and the physical ruins are stunning. The historical context stretches from the 16th century to the 20th , and along the way you’ll hear about Queen Isabella of Spain, Emperor Napoleon of France, several Kings and Ministers of England, the first Viequense Governor – Don Teofilo Le Guillou – and some island sugar Dons (Gustavo and Benitez).
In this graveyard of a bygone enterprise the jungle dominates. But in, below and around it are constant glimpses of what once was. Clues to the past push up through the earth like spectral visions; a dirt-filled reservoir; a dry stone sluice; the ghost of a grinding wheel; soundless brick-arched tunnels and the vanquished, rusting skeletons of iron boilers and engines.
Also, a big part of the fun of this tour is what it causes you to imagine. Your guide will fill you in on all that used to be on the land around you, like wealthy owners’ mansions, workers accommodations, and the smell of sweet cane juice cooking.
Whether you’re a history buff or a wanna-be Indiana Jones, you’ll find yourself happily tripping through times and spaces that will stay in your memory. Your guides are knowledgeable and extremely familiar with the area and are as important to your experience as the ruins.
Tours are sponsored by the Vieques Conservation and Historical Trust. You can contact them for upcoming tours at (EMAIL ADDRESS) or 787-741-8850, or stop by their museum in Esperanza on the Malecon.