Just a Tuesday: Hula Hooping, Pig Visit and Fiery Sky


Posted by Cassie

Tuesday we had a pretty open day. We went and visited a friend and then headed down to the Rincón balneario where some other friends were playing with poi and hula hoops. I’ve always thought I was good at hula hooping, that is until I moved here and saw what real hooping can look like. I can do basic waist hooping, neck, legs, arms, but I have a hard time with any transitions between them.

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Larger hoops are good for basic moves. In the background you can see Frances playing with the staff

I practiced a few transitions and I think I got the move from waist up to arms and down back around the waist. It’s so fun! I need a hula hoop at home though so that I can practice more. My friend Frances is the guru of hooping around here. I also learned some basic poi moves. Poi is basically fire dancing and very hypnotizing if you see someone do it. Lauryn has done poi and fire dancing choreography professionally so it was really cool to hang out with them. For the poi play, we didn’t light them up yet, but rather just played with practice tools like sand socks and the staff. My arms are sore! I am not so much into “working out” but I love moving my body and dancing. This was perfect!

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Beachside Poi and hooping!

As we were going home, the sky lit up amazingly. Rincón is a special place because you are surrounded by water, almost like an island unto itself. Then add the special charms of beautiful sunsets, a rural small town feel and the hippie vibe (come on we were hula hooping and fire dancing on a Tuesday at 3pm with the friendly homeless people of the balneario) and you begin to see why people love it so.

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Silver lining clouds

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A nearly empty Steps Beach. I love September!

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The clouds and sky were just amazingly lit! I felt like we were in a movie set!

When we arrived home we were greeted by a huge sow and her eleven little piglets! It was so funny!

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Mama piggy and her babes



A perfect day in our special corner of the world!

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The Great Apagón of Puerto Rico 2016


Posted by Cassie

Most of Puerto Rico lost power Wednesday afternoon. We were in a panadería ordering some food when the power went out. It is not too uncommon to lose power. No one really freaks out and many people have a generator because it occurs frequently enough to warrant one. Generally though it is only out for less than an hour. We headed up the hills with our pollo and arroz con habicheulas largas to visit some friends. By 7pm there was still no luz (power). From the perch of Atalaya where we were visiting we could see that this was not just a local power outage. This was widespread, but we didn’t know anything else.

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Line of cars to the gas station in our neighborhood

As we drove through the plaza downtown on our way home we saw lines of cars backed up as well as lots of police cars. Still, nothing too serious seemed to be happening, so we weren’t sure if it was related to the power outage or not. Most localized power outages result in little to no action on the part of people. It’s just a part of life. At this point in time we still hadn’t heard the news, but it seemed that something was going on. So we stopped at a little store to ask.

From the person at the counter we heard that apparently a fire had erupted at a main electrical plant substation. There were rumors of an intentional sabotage and the estimated time to get the system back up was anywhere from 24 hours to 10 days or more! So that was why everyone was out buying all the ice, gas, alcohol and gallons of water! It was like a dry, windless hurricane! The gist of the news was confirmed or repeated by various people. Now that we have power and internet again, we have a little more information, but at that time we were literally in the dark and had to rely on what others were telling us.

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Our quiet little generator doing its job with a curious chicken

The evening was a little hotter than normal without the fans blowing on us and our sleep was  a bit disrupted by our neighbor’s huge noisy generator that he ran All. Night. Long! The next morning we got our little generator out just to cook, charge the laptops and run the fridge for a bit. Whenever the power goes out, so does the water. Luckily we are at the end of the line and have about 2-6 days worth of water if we ration. Still, we were preparing for a stinky, showerless time and we mostly peed outside to avoid flushing too much.

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Making egg and avocado sandwiches during the power outage

As I was preparing food on the floor of our little cabana I realized we were celebrating our 3 year anniversary of living full-time in Puerto Rico!!  Haha! A lot has changed since we moved here, but some things stay the same. A similarity is that you must be flexible and ok with these kinds of outages. Whether it’s just a local issue like a blown transformer or a tree falling on a line or a widespread issue like this one or a hurricane or earthquake, there ARE going to be outages here a lot more than other places. This gran apagón was not nearly as long as some that we have gone through, but it affected the most people -more than 1.5 million!

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Power strip working extra hard!

So how do we prepare for power and water outages? Well, we are still learning how prepared (or unprepared) we really are, but here are a few things that might be handy in these kind of outages.

prep

Light sources (candles, lantern, flashlights, etc)
Hand cranked/battery powered tools like fans
Cash! Many credit card readers and ATMs will be down
BBQ grill and basic cooking supplies and extra food including canned foods
Extra water storage both potable (drinkable) and non- just to flush toilets/rain water catchment
Generator (many people wait until there is an emergency and then there is a run on the stores)
Extra gas for your vehicle and generator
Knowledge of generator-powered WIFI spots to keep in communication
If you like to drink alcohol it might be good to have an extra store because they often institute the Dry Law which prohibits the sale of alcohol during an emergency
Low-tech entertainment like cards, dominoes, board games, coloring books, etc
And most important: Lots of patience, a sense of adventure and a silver-lining attitude

Obviously, the longer the outage the harder (and stinkier) it becomes and the more creative you will need to get. When things start running out at the stores, it will also be a completely different situation. For me in a short term situation like this, the lack of a long, warm shower and fans was probably the most noticeable thing. We didn’t want to go outside and work in the yard or in the cabin because we wouldn’t be able to shower very long. Also, I find that while we don’t have a TV, I am quite dependent on the internet for my entertainment and pacification. So I was getting a little stir crazy. Our solution: go down to the beach and hang out with others in the apagón (outage). At the beach, life is just as calm and beautiful as ever. Plus it felt good to wet myself down even if it is salty water.

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Day of the Apagón/3 year anniversary in Puerto Rico was just another beautiful day at the beach

In the evening we brought our little generator to jam practice and played music. Afterward we stared up at the starry sky. Without the light pollution of the island, the stars and Milky Way glowed majestically.

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Puerto Rico normally at night (satellite images from NASA)

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Puerto Rico during the Apagón

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I find this image to be very striking for just how much more lit up Puerto Rico is than Hispaniola

As we pulled up to our gate, I noticed that the streetlight was on at the witching hour of midnight. The power had come back on. The great Apagón was over. Just in time to go to sleep. Now, we just await the return of the water.

Yet another Puerto Rico adventure for the books.

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A Day at Borinquen and Wilderness


Posted by Cassie

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Borinquen Beach, Aguadilla

The other day we helped a friend in Aguada/Aguadilla. When we were finished we decided to go to the beach. I am curious to find Survival Beach, but it was getting late in the afternoon so we headed to one of our favorite beaches: Borinquen! To access it, you must drive through the golf course. It has such a vintage feel to it. In my mind I imagine the glamour of the 50s and 60s. I think maybe it’s the planes flying overhead or the huge cliffs. So we swam for a while and then the lighting was just perfect so Britton took some shots of me as a beach bunny. So fun!

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I found this little bikini at Me Salvé for $1! I couldn’t believe it. It probably won’t last long, but for that price it doesn’t have to!

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Smiling as the sun set

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My favorite picture of the bunch!

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B and Me

I even practiced a little yoga on the beach!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAStretch!

We also watched the pelicans diving and then flying high up to their nests in the cliffs. Here’s one of the pelicans on high overlooking the sea.

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Pelican Perch

As often happens, we had the whole beach to ourselves! As the sun began to touch the water, we made a quick stop at the lighthouse ruins. Such a cool place!

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Ponderosa Lighthouse Ruins of Aguadilla/Wilderness

ruins-2Lighthouse Ruins at dusk

Here’s a fun video of our time. Enjoy.

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Random Puerto Rico Weirdness


Posted by Cassie

Here are some random weird pictures that don’t really have a place, but I just have to share. Though we are adapting well to our environment sometimes there are still moments here where we both just look at each other and say “WTF?!”

Ford Trax on a pool table strange sightsA Quad on a pool table!?

Farmers Market
Some sort of wild cucumber…looks like a plant from another planet!

Bar BathroomApparently this bar bathroom was made for visiting mermaids too…check out the conch shell showerhead and coral rocks

Fake Pig RoastThey really like lechon here…even when it is made from old rubber tires!

David BowieEven our chickens are a little wacky!

Wheelchair Cassie
And you never know who or what may photo bomb you whilst hanging out in a wheelchair!

Big IguanaAnd I don’t think I will ever get used to living in Jurrasic Park with these huge lizards!

Pink bromeliadAnd the colors here feel like we live in a cartoon

Rob Towel PlayingAnd check out our drummer, Rob! lol

Britton and his coffeeWalking around half naked is still sort of weird, but I love it!

Island Time literally
I still just don’t understand why they put an old ceiling fan and a clock on a bamboo stick outside? So many questions!

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Like, What? A mushroom house?? This is such a cartoon!

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When the guys at the loza store give you guavas that look like avocados and laugh because your confusion is a sure way to tell a gringo from a Boricua

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And we continue to find new fruits we have never eaten before in our lives like this pitomba we have growing on the finca… it’s a little like an apricot

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And also finding a huge tarantula in your work boots!!

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So…that nicely tiled trough is the urinal….why???

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Apparently a lot of weirdness happens in bathrooms. When you live in a beach town…people like to wash their sandy feet in the sink

This place is so fun…and weird. But so fun. I love it. It’s like a dream: weird and wonderful.

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