Lessons After a Year of “Living the Dream”

Posted by Cassie

It’s hard to believe but in just 10 days we will have lived straight through a whole year in Puerto Rico. We haven’t left the island at all (besides going to Desecheo Island which is part of Puerto Rico). We wanted to spend a whole year here in order to really know what it feels like to live through all the holidays, seasons and flows of people. I am very glad we did this as we have definitely learned a lot of lessons throughout this year. Here are a few highlights of the lessons we’ve learned on our first year of living out our dream life in Puerto Rico.

Cassie Britton BQN beach

1) Balance is a constant balancing act. Some days you will feel more motivated than other days. Sometimes what you thought was too much will be too little and vice versa. Re-centering is an important part of life and of knowing when you’ve gone too far or not far enough. Sometimes if we’ve spent too many days working/playing out in the yard we like to go out and socialize or go to the beach. Sometimes we may feel burned out on a project and that means we should do something else for a while. We have to be much more in tune with our bodies, and each other, in this way as well.

2) What works for one person, doesn’t always work for others. Many people ask for our advice on various topics, but what we have learned is that we can only give our opinions based on our experiences. Everyone will do it a little differently. And this works the other way around as well; we try to learn from the advice people give us while understanding the worldview or frame from which the advice is coming.

3) People may come and go, but it is still important to make those connections. Unlike in our life in Colorado, it seems many people don’t settle down and stick around for long here. It makes it a little more difficult to build long-term relationships, but it has still been worth it to meet so many interesting and incredible people. Even if we never see them again. I suppose that is the truth of life itself. None of us will stick around forever, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t love those who come into our lives. Nothing lasts forever and you never really know how long we get with anyone, or anything, anyway.

Trampa beach rocks

4) There will always be seasons. Just because the weather is always beautiful and a similar temperature in the tropics, doesn’t mean that there are not seasons. There are seasons of fruit (mangos, avocados, starfruit, passionfruit). There are seasons of rain and less rain (and hurricanes). There are seasons of holidays and elections. There are seasons of waves. There are seasons of people. There are seasons in our lives. All of these different seasons bring rewards and challenges.

5) Busy is relative. For us, we’ve learned that if we can accomplish one major goal per day (and that may just mean going to a government office for instance), we feel like we’ve achieved something. We try not to make life any harder than we truly want it to be (a little challenge can be good). But we have shed the cult of busy with which most modern Americans have been indoctrinated. Life has become much more laid back even if we still feel that some days are a little full.

6) We must be careful of expectations. In a new environment, lifestyle, and culture where everything is different, expectations can cause you to feel disappointment if they are not met. If on the other hand you leave expectations at the door, then it will feel more like an adventure. And we’ve had lots of adventures.

Car hanging on a wire
A part of a car got caught in an electric line!

7) You can adapt to almost anything, but there will always be something surprising. When we first arrived, everything was so crazy and wild and different. But now, we are becoming pretty used to most things. Though, we are still surprised every now and then and we try to remember that so we can see things through newcomers’ eyes. Trying new things and pushing our comfort levels keep things fresh as well. And through series of strange twists and turns life can bring us the most unexpected and awesome circumstances (like our best friends moving here from Colorado!). Somehow our brains can manage to make nearly anything seem normal, and so we try not forget how magical it truly is to be alive.

8) It’s different than the dream. In our dream life everything is perfect. There are no hiccups and the beautiful life is just there waiting for us to frolic in it. When you achieve a dream, like we did moving to Puerto Rico, you find that the dream becomes real. And through all five of our senses, plus our feelings and moods, the dream takes on a much more realistic clarity. In life there will always be challenges that you didn’t expect. When you think about buying a new “dream” car, you don’t fully picture the registration or car payments or the scratch in the paint or even filling up with gas. You imagine driving along on an otherwise carless, beautiful road (or something like that). In the same way, our “dream” life of living in Puerto Rico has its own ups and down. It has both the splendidly beautiful moments and the minor (or major) inconveniences. But that’s what makes it real and not just a fantasy anymore.

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9) Some goals are much harder than others to achieve. Especially if you are going against the grain. For instance, self sufficiency and food security. I would love to say that we are able to eat meals from the yard 90% of the time, but that just isn’t happening yet. We have all the eggs we can handle, but we are still struggling on the annual garden side of things. Fruit trees take a long time to fruit, and killing and eating animals that you raised and got to know personally, is much, much harder than we thought it would be.

10) It can be challenging to be the minority. Even though Rincón has its own sort of enclave of “gringos” or people who come from the states, it is not even close to a majority. Living in Puerto Rico has taught us a lot about what it is like to be a minority and the importance of building bridges (language is HUGE) and finding common ground with people. This comes back to adaptation. Rather than assuming the ways we always had done things were “right”, it may mean stepping back and trying to understand something new and initially “strange” or different. Living here full time with the intention of truly staying “for good” I think has helped us to better integrate. It also gives me a renewed sense of empathy for anyone living abroad in a new land.

There are probably many more lessons, but I think these are some major themes. We are proud to have (nearly) made it a whole year in our new life here and are looking forward to all the new adventures that are to come down the road.

Not Your Average Dinner Party

Posted by Cassie

We have had so much fun with our friends Jon and Rachel that we were super bummed when they told us they were soon moving back to Portland. We are going to miss them tremendously and have learned so much about the film-making industry. However, before they left, we were able to be a part of one more project with them: a commercial for a contest submission!

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We went to various sites in Rincón and in the final scene I was to be “blown away” by the flavor of the product. And I most definitely was blown away! Shortly after this picture below was taken a bunch of debris from the leaf blower hit my eyes and face and I reacted by yelling and covering my eyes! All in the name of show business…at least they were able to pull enough of the blown away part and cut out the misadventure that you wouldn’t even know! And hopefully after all that the commercial wins big!

Blown away small

It is fun to hang out with friends anyway, but when you have a common project where you get to be goofy and do crazy things like wear legs on your head, pretend you are at a gyno appt and get blown in the face with a leaf blower, come on, of course I am game!

We do still have our one last joint project *yes, the big mystery project* that we are still working on and that has been really interesting as we meet and talk with various people around Rincón. So I am happy that we will still be all working together, but just from a distance. At least for now.

Empty Stirrups

Posted by Cassie

The moment has arrived.

Please take your seats. Turn off any cellular devices. Grab a refreshment and some popcorn…but just don’t choke! Because you are about to see a hilarious short film.


This is my acting debut, and as strange as the scene is, it was so fun to do and fits in great with the film. Britton is also an extra in the film so see if you can find him. It was filmed entirely in Rincón by our friends Jon and Rachel Meyer and many local businesses graciously let them/us film in their spaces.

So without further ado…I present: Empty Stirrups, a Vanjam Production:

Well, I hope you enjoyed watching it as much as we did making it. Here are a few other “behind the scenes” of the end party with the infamous “legs”.

Surprise party scene small

With my co-star and fellow subtitler Jessika Providence

Fiestas Patronales de Rincón

Posted by Cassie

On Saturday, we headed downtown to spend some time at the Surfrider Association’s Fundraiser at Rincon Beer Company. They had a nice dinner for a great cause and we hung out there for a while talking with friends. Then we heard fireworks exploding outside in the plaza. We saw a bunch of people from the church standing outside and so we thought we had better go see what all the fuss was about.

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Music in the plaza

It was the annual Fiestas Patronales de Rincón in honor of the Patron Saint Santa Rosa de Lima. In addition to the church gathering there was live music everywhere, a procession and also a big carnival.

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Britton working on his Spanish ordering a pincho (meat on a stick)

At the carnival there were the usual things you might see like whirly rides and junk food (Puerto Rican style of course), but also lots and lots of horse race gambling! Well…not with real horses but a fun carnival version that was gambling none-the-less. This was one of the biggest hits! Everyone was placing bets roulette style on the different horses and cheering them on (the wooden horses)!

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One thing we have found living here is that there is always a party, somewhere. And this was yet another reason to party.