Sweet and Naughty

“Maybe we could put a swing in our sunroom.” Yes, a swing. Two heavy ropes bolted to the ceiling supporting a plank of wood. My family now wants a swing as a novelty seat somewhere in our house.

Each day we take a lunchtime break from the sun. It’s needed. Every beach session ends on the edge of sunburn, and with the beginning symptoms of dehydration. It’s just too hot and sunny to spend more than a couple hours at a time outside.

I’ve had a headache all week. Partially, this is due to my drinking too little water. But it’s also related to my calorie intake. Beach play is hard work, and I seem to be hungry all the time. So yesterday’s beach break started with a trip to the Sweet and Naughty Candy Shop in downtown Culebra, Puerto Rico. Like all errands run in Culebra, the first challenge was finding a place to park our rental Jeep.

There are only two types of vehicles available for rent here. Golf carts and Jeeps. Based on a couple of days of driving, this is probably the rental company’s rationale: Golf carts are the only vehicles small enough to navigate around the potholes, and Jeeps are the only ones hardy enough to go right over them. Plus, when two vehicles pass each other, if one isn’t a golf cart, someone needs to pull partially off the road.

To go to Sweet and Naughty, we parked down the road at the ferry dock. Our command of Spanish is pretty sketchy, and signage is almost non-existent, so it wasn’t clear if our parking spot was legal. But we just saw two police officers dealing with a traffic mishap, and we couldn’t imagine Culebra having more than two cops on duty at any given time so we risked a ticket.

For a family that spends most beach vacations at the Delaware shore, the proud home of The Candy Kitchen, Sweet and Naught was a bit of a letdown in the candy department. Instead of having six hundred different gummy candies to choose from, we had about five. But they’re gummy candies, so really all you need is sour and not-sour, and Sweet and Naughty had that. And in truth we weren’t there for the candy. We stopped in for the Monkey Balls.

Sweet and Naughty is separated into two rooms. The first room boasts a small candy counter with a cash register; the other room is a donut bar. Since it was lunchtime and we’d been on the beach for hours, we were starving. We went straight for the donut bar.

This is a small operation. The donut bar only has four seats, but since there are only four of us, things worked out just fine. The seats aren’t barstools. They’re those swings I mentioned earlier. Four of them, suspended from the ceiling. As you sit in your swing, gently swaying back and forth, elbows on the bar, the proprietor carries on a non-stop banter about her business and the products she offers. Unanimously, we settled on a six pack of Monkey Balls.

Monkey Balls are simply mashed banana mixed with dough and rolled into a ball. That ball is then dipped into sweetened coconut and deep fried in oil.

Banana, coconut, fried dough: I don’t think I need to go into a description of how amazing these tasted. They were a perfect treat to satiate us for our mid-day siesta in our breezy, rental house overlooking a harbor of sailboats, islands and soaring seabirds.

If in Culebra, make sure your trip includes a stop at the Sweet and Naughty Candy Shop (and donut bar). This is bound to one day be featured on the Food Network. And then it will be too busy to score one of the four swings around the bar.

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