Ponce Carnaval -The Sardine’s Funeral


Posted by Cassie

From the from Alcaldia

Imagine a mix of Mardi Gras, Halloween, Puerto Rican traditional music and dancing, high school marching bands all with a dose of Burning Man and surrealism. What do you have? The Sardine’s Funeral on the last night of Carnaval in Ponce, Puerto Rico.

B C Ponce
At the historic Parque de Bombas in Ponce

We headed down to Ponce on Tuesday afternoon (the day before Lent) with very little expectations. We heard something about the burial of the sardine. What does that even mean? Well, as we came to learn it is a raucous and very strange celebration mocking death and mourning the end of Carnaval. It is held in the historic town plaza of Ponce and there are lots of other fun things including a bomba dancing and singing show. This year it was a pretty quiet night, but the outlandish festivities made up for the low numbers.

Dancing with the bombas
With the young bomba dancers

There are also lots of vejigantes (folkloric scary figures to scare away the demons) walking around and occasionally startling people. In modern times a lot of them wore Halloween masks along with the traditional robes and cow bladders that they would beat. We found a few deflated bladders left around. It was rather weird!

Britton bladder
Britton with a deflated cow bladder -Yuck!

More scary clownsWith some of the scary clown/vejigantes

Scary clowns
More strange fun…note the balloon looking bladders they are carrying

Scary costumes
With a werewolf vejigante

It wasn’t until the funeral procession for the sardine that we saw some of the more traditional masks.

Sardines Funeral
Here you can see the sardine in the casket as well as some of the vejigantes

Cassie and the procession
Me and the funeral procession

Carrying the casket
Lifting and then carrying the casket onto the stage

Death welcoming
Death and a marching band

Strange parade cats
Crazy cat man? Plus creepy dolls…

The whole parade itself was a peculiar event, but the sardine and the wailing mourners took the cake. When they brought the sardine up on stage, they said a eulogy for all sorts of silly things including broken cell phones and flat tires. Then they lit a hang-man on fire in effigy. The whole thing was bizarre but they definitely put the “fun” in funeral.  

We ended the night overlooking the entire scene from high atop a luxury hotel building. We then danced our way out listening to the final band playing “Hot, Hot, Hot” and limboed lower laughing all the way. I would highly recommend the Ponce Carnaval that lasts 5-7 days before Lent every year. And for the strangest event ever, come the night of the Sardine’s funeral!

RIP SardinaRIP La Sardina!

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Las Marias post Maria


Posted by Cassie

River view

We headed deep into the mountains the other day in order to meet a woman who sells plants from her farm in Las Marias. We are planning on expanding our tropical flower farm business and most of these exotics must be found at private farms rather than in viveros (nurseries).

It was here that we could really feel that the hurricane was still only very slowly being dealt with (and the coincidence of name). The damage from Maria to Rincon was severe, especially at the coast, but in the mountains they confronted different issues such as landslides off of cliffs and intense winds in the higher levels. Not only that but it is much more difficult to fix the electrical lines through the thick mountainous jungles and therefore most of Las Marias is still without power.

Cemetery Detour
We had to take a detour through the cemetery in Anasco because the road had washed out

Horse in the road
A horse in the road is fairly common here

Boulder
Huge boulders in the road usually are not!

House
A whole house had been engulfed in mud

Collapsed Road and HouseAnd another had collapsed along with the roadway

We need a way outThis road was painted to, I assume, FEMA workers when Las Marias locals were blocked completely from the rest of society. The tick marks may mean the days they waited.

Mountain ViewThere is still such a tremendous beauty to the interior of the island!

Nos Levantaremos
We celebrate life! We will rise up!

When we arrived back in Rincon, we stopped by a little chinchorro for a drink and stumbled upon a birthday party. It was a perfect little Puerto Rico scene complete with lechon, dominoes, karaoke cerveza y tragos.

Lechon
Lechon, lechon, lechon

 

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Holy Mackerel! Makaira Fishing Trip in Rincon


Posted by Cassie

Kirk Fish 2
Kirk and a bonita fish

We went out to Art Walk last Thursday and ran into our friend Kirk. He said he was planning on going out on a fishing charter and had a few extra spots. Would we like to go? Ummm, yah! Britton has been out fishing with Makaira one other time, but I had never been.

Since we had made drunk plans, we weren’t sure if Kirk would remember that he had invited us. When we arrived at 6am in the Rincon Marina he wasn’t there, but the fishing boat was waiting for him and us and shortly thereafter he arrived.

Rincon Sunrise
Rincon Sunrise

It was a beautiful morning. I rarely wake up in time to see the sunrise, but I have to say they are nearly as spectacular as the sunsets here. If you are morning person, sunrises in PR are gorgeous!

Cassie fishing boat

A chilly winter morning (~70 degrees haha)

I was a little nervous that I would get sea sick, but I remembered what I have learned about sea-sickness and that is mainly to keep your eye on land or at least the horizon and never look down for long.

Britton Randy
Britton and Randy

We trolled with lures for about an hour and this boat can move! It was really fun having the wind blowing through my hair, jumping the waves and occasionally getting sprayed with water. However, we never got a bite on any of the lines. Trolling is for the really big fish like swordfish or sailfish.

Cassie boat 2
Sun and sea!

So we cruised on back near the shore on the southern side of Rincon and Anasco and could see the devastation from the hurricane on that side. It was different to see it from the sea as opposed to land. You can really appreciate the fury of Maria there.

Hurricane Damage
Whole buildings collapsed into the sea

Near the shore the shipmate Josy worked his magic with the nets and pulled in quite a few sardines that we would then use as live bait.

Josy tossing net Josy Toss
Josy’s got mad skills!

Sardines
Dumping the fish into the holding tank

Now we were ready to do some fishing! Pepe and Josy helped to bait all the poles and threw out a few of the sardines to draw up some fish (as well as to attract the sea gulls).

Cassie Fishing
Richie and me fishing

I broke my rule of looking down when the fishing line would get wrapped up a little around the rod, and I began to feel a little queasy. I asked Britton to take over my pole and only about 10 minutes later he was reeling one in! It was awesome! A large king mackerel! Holy mackerel!

Britton Holy Mackeral
Britton’s mackerel

Soon thereafter Kirk and Richie both pulled in some fish.

Richie Fish
Richie and his fish

Pepe and Kirk
Pepe (the great captain!) and Kirk with another mackerel

Josy filleted the mackerel for us. They say that although the bonita is a type of tuna, it’s better as cat food than as human food…so we didn’t take that back.

Josy fillet
Josy prepared the fish there on the boat

Although I didn’t personally reel in a fish, I had a wonderful time and was stoked that I didn’t get sick at all! I must be getting my sea legs! I always enjoy seeing the Rincon peninsula from the sea because it just so beautiful!

Sardine Silly cassieHey I did catch a fish! haha
Cassie Kirk Fishing
Me and Kirk on a majestic tropical morning

Kirk still doesn’t have power at his place, not even a generator so he encouraged us to take all the fish we could since he has no refrigeration. We made plans to meet up with our friend Dawn who said she would cook up the mackerel that evening.

Fish DinnerWe enjoyed the best, freshest fish dinner with friends!

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Our First Puerto Rico Farmer’s Market and Other Cool Moments


Posted by Cassie

This last week we had so many flowers in our yard that we thought we would give the farmer’s market a try. Well…it was a success! People loved our the flowers and the arrangements that we made. We hope to sell there often as more and more plants bear flowers and produce. We are planning on selling miracle fruit there this coming Sunday in fact!

Farmers Market

We have also been busy out and about. We recently went to the San Sebastian town festival. We actually ran out of gas on the way in Moca but a very nice policeman picked us up in the rain and took us to the nearest gas station. Always an adventure! Later that day we also checked out our friend Habish’s awesome new endeavor, a little hidden gastro-pub called Del Barril  next to his music studio in Aguadilla. When we’re not working on the property we have been having fun wherever we go!

Fiestas Patronales
Having fun at the San Sebastian pueblo festival

Cassie Habish
Habish and me at Del Barril

Cassie Donkey Ride
Out for helado (ice cream) like a little kid!

Helado
Britton too!

Cassie in the windowHaving more fun with new friends!

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