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Posted at 10:43 AM ET, 03/ 5/2007

My Vacation: Mariah and Dinoflagellates

By Liz Kelly

Mariah was here: Vieques. (Liz Kelly for washingtopost.com)

Last week, while vacationing on an island where driving directions regularly include steps like "drive down the old Navy airstrip to get to the beach," "make a left at the dog sleeping in the road (but don't hit him)" and "if you pass the cockfighting venue you've gone too far," I thought I was reasonably safe from the reach of celebrity news.

Silly me.

The island was Vieques and Mr. Liz and I had comfortably settled in for a week of Mojitos, reggaeton and R&R while attending a friend's wedding. About 10 miles off the coast of Puerto Rico, Vieques is probably best remembered as the site of some pretty high profile protests of the Navy's use of the island as a bombing range and ammo dump. In fact, the tiny island managed to attract a lot of international attention and the support of celebrities like Edward James Olmos, Benicio Del Toro, Martin Sheen, Marc Anthony and Al Sharpton.

The Navy largely abandoned their use of the Vieques in 2003, though most of the island is still off limits because of pesky unexploded ammo and depleted uranium. Still, the center of the island thrives with about 9,000 local residents and scads of white sand beaches ensuring only a handful of visitors at each one at any given time.

It was while swimming in Vieques's famed bioluminescent bay one night around 8 p.m. that my island escape was infiltrated by celebrity news. We'd kayaked out into the middle of the darkened bay to marvel at the zillions of dinoflagellates that light up like sparklers when you disturb the water and I was busy splashing around (whilst simultaneously wishing jellyfish out of my vicinity) when I heard our guide, Pedro, start talking about the time he'd brought Mariah Carey to the same spot.

After dismissing my first impulse to dive underwater, I listened in as Pedro recounted Carey's outing to the bio bay. Turns out Carey has a condo on a nearby island and she arrived in a postage-stamp-sized bikini and stilettos for her evening of kayaking. Pedro himself carried her to a kayak ("Never have I felt skin so soft," he declares) and rowed her out for her romp with the glowing plankton.

And, well, that was it. Still, it was enough to re-whet my appetite for celebrity news and the evening ended on the deck, mojito in hand, Web browser pinging its way through the latest headlines and the phrase "the best of both worlds" popping into my mind.

It's nice to be back.

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I'm no travel writer, but I recognize a fabulous vacation when I experience it. If you're all about Caribbean water, white sand beaches, mojitos and Coco Friiio (and not at all about shopping or the resort scene), get thee to Vieques.

By Liz Kelly  | March 5, 2007; 10:43 AM ET
Categories:  Miscellaneous  
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