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Tips for Living in the Pilot House & Casita Omi

                            TIPS FOR LIVING IN THE CASA PILOTO AND CASITA OMI                                        



Welcome.  Dean and I are delighted that you are coming to our home in Vieques, Puerto Rico.  Please print this out and take it with you so that you have all the important information about our two houses. 

You are probably staying in our guest house, Casita Omi. Here are some tips for making your stay fun and easy.

Dayanara Cruz is our house manager. Dayanara speaks English very well. Tell her if anything is wrong or broken. Her telephone number is (787) 223-8631, and her email is dayi.jose@gmail.com.She will coordinate everything. Her husband, Jose Cordero, will come to repair things and will cut the grass in the garden. They are wonderful and take care of all things together. They have three equally wonderful children.

Dayanara will get in touch with us as needed and will come over if you need anything at all.  You are welcome to get in touch with us directly as well at 703-920-4077 or by e-mail to egurian@egurian.com or danderson@ix.netcom.com

It is important to let Dayanara know your travel arrangements and when you expect to arrive. She will meet you, take you to your car rental, lead you to the house, orient you to its amenities, and give you the keys. Well before you arrive, be sure to ask Dayanara about rental cars; she will know where the best prices can be found.

As you Vieques was hit directly by Hurricane Maria in September of 2017. The citizens have done a great job repairing the island, and nature has worked overtime on green recovery. However, many systems are still a little fragile, and we request you be patient with utilities and services here that work less reliably than they do “back home.”


  • There no longer is landline telephone service on this island, and all phone calls in and out are cellular. Your cell phone should work here if you are a US resident, but you may have to wander about a bit to find the best reception. ATT and Sprint work best from our property, and phone service is best when standing outside on the porches.
  • There is a Wi-Fi service at the house.  You will find the passwords in the house waiting for you. Our Wi-Fi bandwidth is not always robust enough for reliable video streaming, and not all rooms work equally well.  Dayanara knows our Internet service provider, Roberto, so get in touch with her if the Internet is “down” — but first try rebooting, and be patient. 


Break-ins and petty theft are occasionally common in Vieques, and savvy travelers plan accordingly. Violent crime is very rare but breaking into an occupied house sometimes happens. Sensible precautions are important.

  • Please lock all downstairs doors whenever leaving the house - - no matter for how short a time.  By locking, we mean both the doorknob and the deadbolt. 
  • At night please similarly lock all downstairs doors before retiring. Please make sure the key to the deadbolt is hung up on the wall away from the door handle itself.
  • All doors have screens and Ventanas (louvers) so that air can circulate freely and you can leave them open when the door is locked.  But not if the key is in the lock or within reach on the inside of the screen.  So please make sure to hang up the keys on their hooks where they are out of sight and out of reach. Dayanara will show you where these are.
  • Close the driveway gate every time you leave the house and every time you reenter.  Otherwise, the free-ranging horses will wander in and eat the shrubs. Of course, make sure the gate is closed at night. 
  • You can leave the porch furniture on the porch during your stay but take all other things that you care about inside when you go to sleep or go out. 
  • If you have cameras and electronics you treasure, or a lot of cash, put all such away from view when you go out.  Simply making sure the house is locked should be enough for most things.
  • Lock your car whenever you leave it at the beach or downtown and take valuables with you. Theft from cars at the beach, especially from rental cars, is very common. It makes sense not to leave anything of value in your car.
  • Take nothing valuable to the beach that will be left unattended, and be especially careful to park your car where you can see it at the beach. If you take your wallet or your camera, swim in such a way as to watch it or make sure that you have hidden it in the locked car. When at the beach, appoint a minder for your stuff – someone who watches over it while you’re in the water of on a beach walk. You can buy a waterproof case for keys (at Blackbeard’s Sports in town) that’s big enough for some cash and driver’s license that you can then swim with — leaving everything else at home.
  • There are security cameras inside and outside of our houses. Dayanara will brief you on these.


Our doors are our pride and joy. Both houses have wonderful doors that were made on the island. When open they make the inside and outside indistinguishable. Each of the doors has horizontal security bars as part of the louver system, and the glass is hurricane proof — all the Ventanas (louvers) when open allow the air to circulate wonderfully within each room. However, the doors need care.

  • Please open them carefully and do not force any locks.
  • Please close each pair of doors by using both the upper and lower built-in door pegs that secure half of the “French door” into the ceiling and the floor. Dayanara will demonstrate this for you. This is essential! Otherwise, the other half of the door (the half with the doorknob and deadbolt) can still be swung swing open even after being “locked.” Some of them need a little fiddling to find the right alignment between pegs and holes. 
  • To open the doors in the living room in the Casita, please walk them outward slowly so that they do not hit any of the ceiling joists. 
  • All doors when open MUST have their built-in rubber floor stoppers flipped down to keep the wind from slamming them shut on fingers, toes, or worse.
  • Further, the louvers in the doors must be closed before you open the doors to avoid banging the glass panes into each other or the adjoining walls.
  • The doors are not something that small children should open or close. They are heavy and potentially dangerous, especially in windy conditions. If they are small, please caution them not to open the front doors themselves and to treat the doors with care.  And please make sure they are property opened and secured when you have children with you.

Having said all that, we leave many our doors open during the daylight and evening hours, closing them only when retiring or leaving for the day because we love the feel of living out in the open. Leaving the doors open when you are home, with the driveway gate closed, is both safe and delightful.


  • All the louvered windows can be opened when you arrive, left open when you are here, and closed when you leave for good. They have security bars in them.
  • The windows in the kitchen of both the Casita and Casa Piloto and one in the upper bedroom of Piloto next to the bed face the prevailing winds and therefore also the rain. When breezy, it often rains horizontally. Therefore when rain threatens, please lower or close these sets of louvers. It is probably a good idea to tilt these downward and leave them only partially open most of the time anyway. Rain quickly dries and does no real damage, but it is a nuisance indoors and can make the floors slippery.


In both houses, the porches are wired with electrical outlets. I work on these porches as well as inside.  I usually make my office in the small bedroom of the Pilot House and if your Wi-Fi is not strong, sitting outside on the downstairs porch of the Pilot House may have the best reception. There are surge protectors in many places, and you are welcome to relocate them to your satisfaction.  


  • At the moment we have no TV, as our satellite dish was destroyed by Hurricane Maria.  (And we don’t miss it, finding many more rewarding ways to spend our time!)


  • There are books and magazines about Vieques in both houses.  Old copies Vieques Events or Vieques Insider are around the houses, and each has a good telephone directory. However the Internet is now the best place to learn what is going on in Vieques, and “Vieques Peeps” on Facebook will give you the local news.


  • There is a shelf of Puerto Rico resources in the master bedroom in the Pilot House, and these books also tend to migrate to the living room table of the Casita.  It is quite a good collection of most things you might want to know.  Ask Dayanara for these.  We have bird and shell identification guides.  Please leave these behind when you leave, but enjoy them while you are here.
  • There is a small collection of Puerto Rico cookbooks in both houses so that you can try out the local cooking.
  • The books in all bookshelves are yours to read. If you are in the middle of the book when you leave, feel free to take it.  Similarly, you are welcome to leave anything behind that you’ve finished. 
  • You can trade used books at El Sombrero Viejo, a local bar frequented by North Americans, for free.  


  • Our homes are sprayed once a month by the exterminator, “Eggie.” He speaks English and please welcome him if you’re here when he comes.
  • If you see ants, cockroaches or any live crawling insects, please tell Dayanara.
  • Outside the anthills can be the aggressive “fire ants,” whose bite stings.  They are common in the tropics. Tell your kids to stay away from ant hills
  • The insects that have a nasty bite are centipedes. No matter what size they may be (up to 4” long) stay clear, and please tell Dayanara.  Mosquitos and their tiny relatives, noseeums, are annoying but not nasty.
  • Always spray yourself re mosquitos if they love you.  To avoid most of them while you sleep train a floor fan on each of you and run it all night. Their “white noise” masks outside sound as well – like tree frogs and roosters.
  • In prior years Vieques has been visited by the mosquito-borne diseases Zika and Chikungunya.  As a precaution against mosquitos, closing the house at dawn and dusk and staying inside the protection of window screens is prudent, but best is to spray exposed skin with repellent.
  • We now spray the surrounding trees and shrubs with garlic oil whenever anyone is in residence, greatly reducing the mosquito population.


  • You are welcome to use all the durable foodstuffs you find here, but please replace anything you use up no matter how little it was when you found it.
  • You are welcome to add any spices you think we might need but don’t have. Spices go bad here very quickly so check any spices you find for freshness before using. Sugar and salt cake in the humidity. You will find them in the brisker in the Pilot house (Ask Dayanara) or the freezer in the Casita.
  • Dayanara will take any spoilable food when you leave.


  • Please replace everything you use up (non-perishable food and alcohol) with similar products.
  • Please replace anything that you break with products as close to the broken item as possible. 
  • The houses each have a color scheme. The pilot house is blue and white.  The Casita is maroon (dark red), rust, and green. Please return the material to the right house when you are leaving (if you have both houses and things have wandered about) and buy the right colors when replacing anything.  
  • Please don’t leave seashells in the house.
  • If you are an artist, please DO leave a piece of artwork here. All the artwork already here has been done by local artists, people who have stayed in the house, or is “tourist art” from an earlier era.) The photos in the Pilot House in the living room and the kitchen are mine, and many of the paintings were done in my youth. The big photo in the Casita is mine as well. If you leave an original piece of art, you probably will find it framed, hung up and written about the next time you come.


  • You will find your house has been cleaned upon arrival. The bed linens and towels will all be clean. And the refrigerator, the stove top, and microwave washed out. If that is not true, please let Dayanara know, and she will have that fixed. Although the house will have been cleaned for your arrival, it may still look a bit gritty. Vieques is directly downwind from West Africa (the light brown dust you see is from the Sahara) and gets occasional contributions from volcanoes in the Caribbean and Central America (greyer dust). What is blowing in (and it will continue while you are here) is coming from those places — and local pollens. Feel free to dust and sweep to your satisfaction or live with it (as we do) because it is part of our environment. 
  • We do vacuum and dust every week and often sweep every day. Suit yourself. 
  • If you go to the beach, you’ll find that the house gets quite sandy if you do not wash your feet before entering. There is a hose on the way into the Pilot House, a hose in the parking space near the casita and a full outside shower near the garage on the lowest level of the Casita. Kids especially like taking outside showers. Sweeping frequently will keep the sand out of your bed. 
  • Sweep the decks occasionally because sand (sea salt, actually) attracts ants.
  • Both houses have washing machines and dryers. The laundry room in the Casita is below the house next to the garage. Please empty the lint trap in the door of the driers after each use.
  • We now have a shop vac cleaner if you wish to use it. It is in the laundry room of the pilot house with familiar vacuum hose attachments.  


  • You are welcome to use all the beach equipment, which you will find on the lower shelf in the laundry room in the Pilot House or the hall closet in the Casita. The folding beach chairs are especially tempting to car thieves so please lock your car when you have them on board. We tend to carry them around all the time. There are two for each house.
  • The beach toys are yours to use. Dayanara now has them so if you have kids ask her.
  • Please take only the towels that are not solid colors (they will have stripes, pictures, etc.) to the beach, leaving the solid color towels for use inside the house. That keeps your inside towel from getting all sandy.
  • Snorkeling is good on this island, and we recommend you bring your own equipment.  You can also buy some either at La Commercial or Blackbeard’s.  (We have no equipment because we do not snorkel and our kids take theirs home with them.  Sorry.) 


  • Please do the dishes, strip the beds, and lock the doors.
  • Ask Dayanara if you should move the porch furniture into the living room. We do that if there are no people coming for a while.
  • Please make arrangements with Dayanara to return the keys. It is important for her to know when you are leaving. Car rental places will ordinarily shuttle you to the airport or ferry as you drop off your car.  Coordinate this with them in advance to avoid unnecessary delays.  


  • The porch tiles are very slippery when wet, so please be careful especially when going down the outdoor steps after it has rained. Crocs are especially slippery on the wet tiles so take them off and walk barefoot.
  • There is one hammock in each house. The Pilot house hooks are on the front porch, and the Casita hooks are on the upstairs bedroom porch.  Enjoy.


  • There is a folding crib, a high chair, and a blow-up queen size mattress in one of the houses. If you need any of them, tell Dayanara who will make sure that they are in the correct house for you.
  • There are toys, games, and books for children in both houses. You are welcome to use them.  Again, if you wish Dayanara to get you the toys from the other house just let her know.
  • There are beach toys in each house.  Ask Dayanara if you wish more.
  • We recommend wearing beach shoes and flip flops when going to the beach because some beaches have plants with prickles on your way to and from the car.    


  • There are garbage cans in their wall niche outside the driveway gate, next to the street. It’s best to line the kitchen trashcan with disposable liners and deposit those when full directly into the garbage.
  • There is regular weekly trash collection in Vieques.
  • At the moment there is no useful bottle or can recycling so you can mix them.  Hopefully, this will change soon.


  • There are many neighborhood pets that may come to visit. They are generally smart and friendly; they are welcome on the porch but are not allowed inside the house. You may feed visiting animals as well and please leave water for dogs on the porch. (Don’t be surprised if chickens and cats come to drink as well.)  
  • Roosters and chickens will wander through the yard and eat dog food, geckos are everywhere (including in the house, which is OK because they eat bugs), and iguanas are in the neighborhood. They are vegetarian and do not like people. Bats live under the eaves outside but not in the house.  We like having them around because they eat mosquitoes.
  • There are no snakes on Vieques, but there are tarantulas so advise children not to pet large spiders. Vieques also has large reddish-brown centipedes that are a hazard.  If you do see one, you could try to isolate it by covering it with a bowl.  They can move fast and are difficult to kill – even with a hammer. If it is dead, sweep it up into the garbage.  Never touch even a dead one. Call, Dayanara. 
  • The horses are a Pasa Fino mix, descendants of the horses of the Conquistadors. They wander freely, but each is owned by a person and often ridden as transportation. There are no “wild” horses on the island.  Most are branded. Some horses are commercially valuable, and many people keep theirs penned. You can feed free-ranging horses if you want. There are two companies that offer horseback riding trips, which are a pleasure.
  • However, do not let the horses in our yard, as they will eat the landscaping and quickly destroy the garden. Most houses have their property fenced to keep the horses away from their plantings. If they enter, shout at them and help them to exit. 

HAVE A GREAT TIME.  We love it here and hope you will too.