2nd Annual Hot Sauce Contest


Posted by Cassie

Last Monday we attended and I participated in the 2nd Annual Rincón Hot Sauce Contest. It was a pretty rainy day, but cleared up quite a bit toward the evening. I competed with a mango-jalapeño sauce that was somewhat similar to my award winning sauce, Hot Kiss, from last year. I gathered and used the mangos that continue to grow and fall from the huge tree above our cabana.

Mango Jalapeno
Some mangos and jalapeños

I also made another cute label. This time the sauce was called Mango Jalapeño Tango.

Mango Jalapeno Tango
Britton says they were ”salsa” dancing :-)

Considering the rain and cooler weather there was a pretty decent turnout. We had fun trying all the different salsas. Of course there were some that were just too hot for my taste and took a whole can of beer to wash the burning sensation away!

Rincon Balneario
Set up at the Rincón Balneario

Caution Hot
¡Cuidado!

We hung out for quite a while. We even saw our neighbor and his uncle hanging out at the Balneario bar. I had him come over to the event and I think he regretted it. His face turned bright red after eating the burning peanuts. I tried to warn him to only have one peanut but he ate about 3! Pobrecito!

Neighbors
Our neighbor José on the far right turned the color of Britton’s shirt after eating the pique.

Later that evening the psychedelic/rock punk band Blacks en Tela played live and we enjoyed hanging out and hula hooping. About half-way through they tallied all the votes and announced the winners. I won 1st place for best label art and 3rd place for best flavor overall! Not too shabby! (You can find a full list of the winners at this page.)

Three winners
Jamie, Trina and I were three of the winners and we won these great tie-died shirts

It was also the evening of the summer solstice and we saw a beautiful sunset before the full moon. Overall a fun, fantastic evening. Thanks Frances and Greg for all your hard work in putting this together!

Walking at sunset
A fiery end to a fiery hot sauce contest

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A Day in the Life: Music, International Surfing Day and Boliche


Posted by Cassie

Our life is so fun. While we get a lot of work done, mostly we act like kids. Here’s an example of a 24 or so hour day in our life.

About 6pm we show up to band practice. In the area where we park there is a random old dilapidated boat sitting in the yard. So I climb in and Britton takes some pictures.

Cassie boat

We have a fun Friday night jam. Lots of laughs, groovy music and beer.

Chris Markus and Britton
Chris, Markus and Britton getting goofy in the jam space

Around 11pm we arrive home and quickly fall asleep to the sounds of the coquis, bugs and thunder in the distance.

About 8am we wake up, have some coffee, a cookie, fruit and some eggs and check on the birds. We walk around the property a bit. The power goes out for a couple of hours, but no big deal; we’re leaving anyway. We put on our swimsuits and stop by Mark’s to borrow a tool on our way to the beach. It’s time to celebrate International Surfing Day and the Surfrider Association is having a small bbq fundraiser/gathering at Dome’s Beach! Surfrider is a great organization and has done a lot for Rincón particularly and Puerto Rico as a whole.

International Day of SurfingNice and sunny to start

Steve Tamar and Britton
Our friend Steve and Britton along with others enjoying the bbq

The clouds roll in and it starts to rain. Time to go home and take a siesta. Around 3pm our friend Papo calls and says he’s nearby. Would we like to hang out? Sure. We drive to Aguada and meet him for a beer. What should we do? How about bowling? ¡Boliche! I haven’t been bowling in 5 years probably, but Papo had NEVER been. Wow!

So we head out to the bolera on Highway 2. What a funny sight. At least 80% of the lanes have the rubber gutters in use and people just drop the balls loudly with a thud and let the balls zig zag bouncing against the gutters. It seems pretty obvious that bowling is not a very serious sport for most Puerto Ricans! The Dude would not approve. -Haha!

Bowling with Papo
Aguadilla Bolera

Manosa Comelon Perito Cassie and Papo Bowling
At the bowling alley we used our funny nicknames

We had to teach Papo the very basics of bowling. He didn’t quite get the form, and it was actually pretty comical but he is super strong and still managed to get a couple of strikes. I learned new vocabulary here as well. Chuza is strike and pins are pinos! Still not quite sure of the Spanish word for “spare.”

At one point a pino got knocked into the lane. Well it seemed that nothing was standard bowling protocol here…so why not take a walk on the wild side! I had never “crossed the line” so this was my chance. It was a weird feeling to walk down the bowling lane (pista I think it was called).

Cassie down the lane

I had to walk carefully not to slip, but it was kind of cool to do. So, Papo had his first time ever going bowling and I had my first time ever beyond the foul line. Ha!

Later that evening we grabbed a bite to eat. We had plantain pizza, a burrito and mofongo. Where? It’s a bird! It’s a banana! No, it’s Platano Supreme!

Platano supreme strange sightsDoes this look a little weird to you? haha

Life’s ever the adventure. We are still often surprised at the places it takes us. And we’re loving all of it.

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Cabin Update: Electric and Water


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Agua y luz. Water and electricity. When you move into a house, this is what makes it a house and not just a shed or storage area. We recently finished up the electricity installation including the fans and it really makes it feel like home when you can just turn on the lights at night, the fans when it gets hot, or turn on a little music.

Fans at the cabin
Outdoor fans for the front deck

Britton also framed in the last bit of the wall and the bathroom loft area. We are in the home stretch!

Wall Ceiling and Fan in Cabin
Bedroom fan and framed wall

LoftRafters above the bathroom and closet 

To install water at the cabin, Britton connected about 300 feet of 1/2 inch tubing, buried about half of it, crossed the property, affixed it beneath the sky bridge and then connected it to the cabin.

Waterline under bridge
Waterline where it travels under the bridge

Waterline to the house
Waterline where it connects from the bridge to the cabin

Next up was internal copper water lines which Britton soldered. Thankfully we have plenty of leftover copper pipes that we reused from the old wooden house and so this was fairly inexpensive. Britton has also worked a little with copper piping before and so this went fast. There was one pipe rupture but Britton fixed it pretty quickly.

Water piping inside
Bathroom plumbing and wiring are ready!

You could call this the house that Britton built. Almost everything he did himself or with one other helper. There has not been a moment when he was not working hands on. An amazing feat. It can take a little longer when it’s just you and you’re learning as you go, but he has been a champ. He’s done a great job!

We are now on to the next phase. The skin. Drywall should arrive this upcoming week and Britton and Waldemar will begin installation. It’s all coming together and really starting to feel like a house. I can’t wait to move in!

Cabin in the woods
Home sweet cabin! 

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A Summer Update: Chicks, Jams, Corazón and More


Posted by Cassie

It’s summertime and that means things are slow and hot. There are often afternoon rains and everything is super green and beautiful. Lots of fruits are ripe and the flowers are in their showiest state. We also have a few new additions to the farm.

Chicks
Mail arrival of some new chicks

The chickens and turkeys are doing a pretty good job at reproducing, but we wanted to add in some new genetics to the mix. We shared the order with some friends who are new to chickens and it’s been fun to watch them enjoy chickens for the first time. They are just so super cute when they are recently hatched. Pretty amazing that a little more than 21 days before, they were just eggs! What life energy!

Baby chicks
Three of 12 new additions!

We love to eat eggs around here and there is also quite a demand for local, pasture raised chicken eggs. So we thought we would put more of a focus on that side of the homestead.

The rain this time of year can also mean power or water outages. One afternoon the water, electricity and internet went out for about 3 hours. So we decided to go out and have a beer and watch the sunset. Reminds you not to worry so much. Worrying about infrastructure and thinking you could surely do it better than it currently is handled is a classic sign you are still stuck in the old Type A mindset filled with watches, schedules and to-do lists. When you are here things go much smoother if you just go with the island flow. Do what you can, let your voice be heard but don’t worry; they’re working on it. It’s just a little harder on a very mountainous island with limited resources, high heat and a more even work/rest balance.

Aguada sunset
Enjoying a gorgeous sunset at the balneario in Aguada

When these services go out, it’s a reminder that it’s all man-made. They certainly make life more comfortable. It’s pretty darn hot without even a fan blowing on you. But having them go out reminds you that you should probably have a backup water and electric plan and it definitely helps you appreciate them more than when they are just a given.

We have also been having some really great summer jam sessions with the band. It’s so laid back and chill and we’ve been making some really cool grooves. We jam with new people sometimes that just pop in. Our jam space at Mark’s is very unique. We even made a song called Jam Space, and as you can see in this picture below, Mark’s wife, Robin, made an awesome record for the wall of the song. ~~When the lights go down, you can hear the sounds, of eerie moves and funky grooves. It’s a rather magic place, that we call our jam space.~~

Jam Space crew
Such a cool jam space and crew of people

The finca is doing well. Summer is the most fruitful season of all. More and more fruits are coming on board. We recently harvested our first corazón fruit (annona reticulata). Very interesting! Semi-sweet with a grainy pear like custard consistency. I’ve read that it is related to guanabana or soursop which makes sense because it looks similar inside. At first it is so weird we didn’t want to eat it, but once we started we just couldn’t stop. Such a Willy Wonka world of fruit here! We’ve found that like children your first inclination is to not like something, but the more exposures you have to a certain food the more you begin to like it and then eventually love it. I would say corazón will soon be a favorite of ours the more we have it.

Corazon fruitIMG_3098
Corazón does sort of look like a heart - whole and half eaten

When we are out working on the farm we have to watch out to not step on iguanas! They are so fearless of humans, sometimes we see them AFTER we have stepped on their tails and they run off! I know they have become invasive pests of the island, but it still gets me every time that we basically have fricken dinosaurs just roaming free everywhere! Not to mention an easy source of clean meat if it came down to it!

Iguana
Iguanas are still out en force! Our finca is an uncaged zoo of them really!

It was also recently the primary election season here in Puerto Rico. Mostly it was related to senate and mayoral races, though people can vote in the primaries for the US. Too bad we can’t actually vote in the generals though! There were major caravanas (groups of cars with lights and speakers) and you wouldn’t want to accidently get stuck behind one of them or your plans for the day will include a caravan party for a few hours! A different sort of summer jam!

Elections
Elections mean posters, murals and speaker trucks of the candidate

Though Zika messaging is getting out, it doesn’t seem to really have changed anyone’s behavior that I have noticed. I thought this billboard in Mayaguez was kind of funny and misleading. Do you want Sex without Zika? Such a funny question in and of itself. Yes, the Zika virus can spread through sex, but no, they don’t put mosquito repellent in condoms!  

Zika
Do you want sex without Zika? A lot of funny assumptions in this question

We are currently working on the water hook-ups for the cabin. Britton dug a trench and placed water line from the turkey coop all the way to the cabin. He is now working on the copper interior water lines.

Turkey and waterline
Water line connects at the turkey coop and travels 300 feet to the cabin

It’s summertime and the living is easy. It’s a nice pace. Not many people on the road. Most everyone who is here is here because they want to be. Full-timers. There are some tourists, but they are mainly from other parts of the island and so there is less confusion and hiccups. There are events like the caminata of some guy to raise money for a children’s hospital and the Rincón Triathlon and of course the hot sauce contest coming up. And the flamboyans are majestically fantastic. Summer in Puerto Rico is a special time.

Flamboyant moon
Flamboyan tree and the moon

 

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