A Decision Has Been Made?!?


Posted by Britton

We have owned this property for over 3 years now.  When we originally had made the offer we put in a low offer because the wood house was going to need a lot of work.  Since then we have gone back and forth about what to do with it.  We live in the concrete cabana and have enough room for the two of us, but it makes it hard to have people visit for dinner or for longer stays for family.

House half small

We recently decided that we are going to tear it down.  We initially felt like tearing it down would be a huge bummer because of all the time and effort that went into building it.  Due to the odd floor plan and not having the master bedroom on the ocean side of the house as well as the entire thing being infested with bats, rats and cockroaches we were going to have to tear it down to studs anyway.  We are still going to keep it, we are just going to move it.

Wood House Deconstruction
House in Deconstruction Phase

The property consists of 4 acres and the cabana and wood house sit on a tiny ity bity corner.  So we are going to move the wood house and build a cabin on the other side of the quebrada.  There is sooo much room for us it doesn’t make sense to simply have the living space in the corner, we are going to spread out a bit.  It will open up the area in front of the cabana too.

In order to make the area more accessible where the wood house will be we want to build a suspension bridge that transverses the quebrada!  We have started the deconstruction of the house and figure it will be done in a few weeks.  The wood is being cleaned (having all nails removed and then power washed).   While this is going on we are also going to begin to clear the area where the house will be rebuilt.

At some point in the future we want to build a concrete house a little bit down from where the wood house currently sits, but first thing is first.  Should be some exciting things coming up in the next few months with some big changes for us!

No Roof

 

And the Momma Too


Posted by Cassie

This past week my mom came to visit us again and we had fun doing some of the touristy things we don’t often do. When she arrived there was a rainy storm system that brought in much cooler weather as well as some large waves. We went down to the beach just down the road from us (Sandy Beach) and watched the huge waves as well as a wonderful sunset.

Waves and BK and Mom small

Sunset with mom and cassie small cropped

We went out to lunch and dinner a few times and we went snorkeling. Overall we had a nice time with her “de visita” on la isla we call home, Puerto Rico. And I even had time to do a little bare handed lizard hunting!

PR Flag

Charlotte and BK small

 

Coconut water small

 

Beach and palms small

Mom and I at beach small

Sunset small

We weren’t the only ones to have the momma come out and visit. I went down to check on the little frog eggs (I think a type of coqui) and I saw what I think is the momma!

Coqui

 

Halloween, Huge Hermit Crab and A Frog Hideaway


Posted by Cassie

Recently we have seen some more cool sights. Will it ever stop being cool to us? Doubtful.

Halloween in Rincón is more about costumes and partying for the adults than it is for kids. However, our friends told us about a kid event that they were taking their daughter to and we were interested in checking it out because the alternative school (Semillas) is also a 5 acre farm just down the road from us.

Britton and moon
Britton posing with the moon above

It was quite beautiful and Halloween evening started out with a beautiful sunset setting the clouds ablaze in colors.

Cassie and Horse
Petting a horse at Semillas

Later that evening Britton and I dressed up to go out. We didn’t have much time to put together a costume since we were without a vehicle for so long, but we did have a couple of wigs and so the costumes came together pretty nicely. Me as a disco dancer and Britton as a corporate castaway on a deserted island complete with shredded shorts.

Cassie and Britton Halloween

Because Halloween fell on a Friday this year, all the bars had parties. Down at the Tamboo in Puntas, whole roads were closed off. We heard that Calypso was pretty fun too. We chose to go to Shipwreck and then ended the evening around 1am at Rincón Beer Company. The costumes here are so creative and gorgeous. I love the level of originality everyone puts into them!

Naomi Michelle Cassie

Back at the homestead we have recently found some pretty cool things as well.

Britton walked right out the cabana and found the largest hermit crab we have ever seen in our lives! The shell blended in so well with the environment that at first he thought it was a rock that was moving!

Giant Hermit Crab small
Huge hermit crab!

Then as we were walking down below in the jungle area, we stopped to admire the bromeliads that are blooming.

Frog egg flower small
Notice anything?

Frog eggs in plantHow about now?

When I looked inside the leaves of one of them I spotted a bunch of little slimy marbles. I carefully took a couple of them out and looked at them. They were frog eggs in various stages of development! Sometimes they would kick and swim around in their fluid. I was happy to see these frogs because frogs are often the indicator of a healthy ecosystem free of very many contaminants or poisons. So cool!

Frog egg
Frog in his own little bubble

Living Without a Car in Puerto Rico


Posted by Cassie

Can it be done? Can you live car free in Puerto Rico? This past week we had the opportunity to answer this very question. Not by choice, but by necessity.

Britton was going to go run a quick errand to the local agro near downtown Rincón when the truck broke down and wouldn’t start back up. He tried to find a part and fix it in the parking lot, but the nearest auto repair shop didn’t have the fuel pump in stock. So he left the truck there and commenced the long walk back to our house in the hills.

House and yard and sky
Back at la finca

He had left around 8am in the truck and I expected him to be back around 9am at the latest. By the time he came strolling through the gate he was covered in sweat and it was nearly noon.

It became immediately obvious in that moment and the next ones to come where our weaknesses and dependencies, and also our ingenuity and strengths were.

We have become very dependent on vehicle transportation for our every need and want. We use the truck to get a vast majority of our groceries at the grocery store, we take it to Mayaguez for items that we can’t find in Rincón and we even just take it down to the beach for yoga or a swim. In a sense, our truck has become our legs and without legs you start to feel immobile.

Another dependency was on the parts from “elsewhere” to ship to Puerto Rico. They make cars so specific now that each make and model has a unique part and all of these are made somewhere like China and have to be shipped in. So when the internet company somehow lost the product in-transit to Puerto Rico that left another major dependency. Where would we get this one unique part for our car that is rarely in-stock? Not to mention that this whole system-including the vehicle itself- runs on non-renewable fuel which we know is a limited supply. What would we do without fuel?

And then of course there is the dependency on money itself! What would we do without that?! (That’s a question for another day perhaps.)

Getting towed

 

Our strengths were that we have a great network of friends including our neighbors who after a few days helped tow the truck from the agro back to our place as well as friends who took me to the grocery store on day 7 of our carfree lifestyle and others who picked up a part for us in Mayaguez rather than Britton having to ride his bike there. It truly is important to have a strong social network and community wherever you go, and to make sure to help each other out!

Another strength was that we realized we really weren’t as tied to the truck as we thought. We walked down to Sandy Beach one morning to do a Stand Up Paddleboard yoga class as well as to a nearby convenience store/fruit stand and Britton rode his bike to a coffee shop.

Paddleboard yoga
Thanks to Cait at Sunburnt and Salty for this great class and our first time on a paddleboard!

And of course a big strength was that we could do this. We didn’t have anywhere to go or anyone to report to. If we had to go to work or drive somewhere every day it would have been much more difficult. Plus Britton has the mechanical and technical ability to trouble shoot and fix almost anything.

We also began to see the value in what we are creating on our farm. We really do have quite a bit of food. We had lots of scrambled egg breakfasts and egg and avocado sandwiches and tuna mixed with avocado sandwiches as well as passionfruit, coconut and sapodilla snacks. We also began to see the turkeys truly as a food source and not just amusing pets (though we haven’t yet made that transition). We did however get to the point, after a week of no driving (and therefore about 2 weeks of no major grocery trips), that we could just turn off the fridge. We began to fantasize about other non-system dependent transportation options, including even a horse and buggy!

Avocados eggs and coconut
Lots of eggs, avocados and coconuts!

Finally on day 8 without a vehicle Britton with the help of our friend Matt, managed to acquire and replace the fuel pump (this was a challenge in and of itself because they had to lift the truck bed and find something to prop it up with — in this case our cooler!)

Cooler prop
More than one use for a cooler! (Holding up the truck bed while Britton worked)

As we reflect on this car free period we definitely see how in the modern world, dependencies create more and more dependencies. For instance, people often have two vehicles just as a backup for their one or an expensive warranty and car loaner program from a dealership. This means you must spend more, have more insurance and more maintenance on both. All of the parts come from somewhere else and most people take it to a mechanic because vehicles (especially the newer ones) have become very complicated. And because nowadays most people don’t use their bodies for transportation (biking, walking, etc.) we get out of the habit of doing so, and therefore it creates a loop that makes us not want to do it.

Truck up
Disassembled it looks like a dump truck!

Britton and I had been talking about walking or biking to the beach (barely a mile away) since we moved here and it took us not having the choice to finally do it! It seems in many ways the convenience of things and the externalization of our problems (usually by just paying someone or using some device to solve them) has made us as people less connected, weaker and lazier as a whole.

So does this answer that question or just present more? I would say that if you are a modern person used to private vehicles that it would be very tough to live without a car in most of Puerto Rico. In the capital of San Juan it is probably very doable. For people who commute somewhere every day, it may take a little more reflection on the lifestyle you want (spent in traffic or in your local neighborhood) to make the changes necessary for a carfree life.  But even right here in Rincón we know some peoplewhose primary form of transport is a bicycle.

I am not sure we are ready to give up on vehicles altogether quite yet, but it was a good feeling to know that with just a little more preparation we could be just a tad bit more off the mainstream grid. And we are going to try and use the vehicle less in our day to day living. And to remember that it is a luxury, not a true necessity.

Playa Beach lunchAfter getting the truck running again we went out with some friends to lunch near the beach