We took a little drive down the coast of Mayaguez as we have been recently and found a little hidden jewel near Joyuda. I didn’t even know what it was called as we walked down the neatly raked trails that twisted and turned throughout the mangroves. We came upon a couple of younger guys hanging out on one of the rustic little benches and I asked him where we were. “Ostiones, o la playita,” they replied. And said that the trails went pretty far down and there were other many little benches to stop and enjoy the beauty.
Down long trails
Little sitting spots
Twisted mangrove roots
Entrance to the sea
Beach art as made by nature
Awesome coconut tree grove through the middle part of the trail
I have always been a fan of the television show Survivor and this special spot reminded me a lot of where they would have secret conversations and find hidden immunity idols! Places like these are why I often feel that my life is playing out like a tropical movie or TV show.
Fun group outing to the sugar mill pier in Aguadilla
Our friend Summer had quite an adventure in mind when we set out on Saturday to the old abandoned sugar mill and pier (Molino y muelle de azúcar) in Aguadilla. I had no idea how much of a wild ride it would be, but it was amazing! It is not the type of day trip that just anyone can do, and is certainly not for children or the faint of heart. Along with Britton and our friend Brandon, we traveled together to a neighborhood in Aguadilla where there was a “Private Property” sign that everyone, including a policeman issuing parking tickets, completely ignored.
No Pase? No Problem! Just go around the side
The abandoned sugar mill and bank-owned 30 acre property including private pier is currently for sale!
It was a short little hike around the property
Inside one of the other abandoned buildings
Inside the massive 30,000 sq ft mill was like a huge cathedral
Eerie and cool at the same time (thanks to Summer for some of the photos in this post) We then came upon the sugar mill pier structure. This building is in complete disarray and is slowly disintegrating from lack of maintenance and lots of salinity. In order to reach the actual pier we descended through the complete dilapidation of rusted out or missing stairs, floors that had fallen through, broken glass and graffiti. It was quite dangerous, but also thrilling! I felt like we were in an adult jungle gym. The kind that they make for kids with rubber floors, only this one you could actually die if you stepped wrong or slipped.
Watch your step and hold on tight!
Literally nowhere to step
When we left we found (thanks to a helpful man behind us) that we could have rock-climbed out. I am not sure which is more dangerous! They each had pros and cons.
Like a choose-your-adventure story both are fun!
Eventually, slowly and cautiously we made our way down to the actual pier. Of course, this was in no better shape than the rest of the structures except that we would now be on a catwalk suspended 100 ft above the ocean and need to walk about 500 ft on about 2 inches of steel beam. Pretty freaky!
Where we were going!
Britton takes a breather on a portion of the bridge that actually had some grates after the successful crossing
Faces of relief, but we still had to descend to the platform
When we reached our final destination, the fun continued. We set up a swing, jumped off the piers and I even worked up enough courage to hang from a crane and drop about 60 feet into the ocean. It was exhilarating and I felt so proud of myself for working through my fear! It helped to have so much encouragement from others who had done it before. The ocean was so crystal clear and turquoise blue I was just mesmerized. We were talking about how Disney and other similar theme parks try to put something like this together, but it always comes across so fake. This was the real deal. It is also completely dangerous and officially not allowed though throughout the day many others joined us and enjoyed chilling and thrilling.
Contentment under the pier
Chillin’ on the rusted stairs
Hanging out and setting up the swing
Swinging and jumping
People would boat or jet ski from Crashboat over to the sugar pier
This was the structure we walked ever so cautiously across!
It was a fantastic day in so many ways! The island is full of adventures big and small, and some, like this one, that you will never find in any official tourist guide (probably for good reason). Disclaimer: This is just our experience. If you decide to check out this wild adventure, it’s on you. No one will probably stop you, but you are putting yourself in a lot of danger. Have fun, but stay safe out there everyone! Happy trails!
I sometimes look at my own photos and can’t believe I live in this magical place!
Life is spinning by as fast as ever. We are entering the summer season and tourism is slowing down and the plants and rains are taking off. Here are a few pictures that don’t warrant a post in themselves but are fun reminders of this time in our life.
Our makeshift bird feeder at the cabin: old bananas. Zorzal and Troupial
As creatures we evolve to mimic our surroundings -haha
We’re still having fun playing music and performing with our band!
Rincón is so beautiful and colorful! Downtown plaza
Check out this weird mummified/dried out coqui I found in our closet!
I competed in a mechanical bull contest at a local bar and won 1st place of women and got some schwag (and a lot of bruises). Not too bad for my first time ever on one!! haha
You know this is a rural countryside kind of place when there are horses even in the projects
I don’t know if I will ever grow accustomed to the amazing creatures that just roam freely here
When we’re not having fun we are still progressing on the cabin -currently in the kitchen we are going for a tiki-bar tropical cabin in the jungle feel
These guys live at the balnerio in Rincón and even have a TV! One of them, Glen, makes incredible tie-dye creations as seen in one of the earlier photos
I love these gorgeous tropical irises that are blooming all over our gardens
I didn’t realize when this photo was taken it would be one of the last ones with our friend Sage
Sometimes I think when people watch our lives from afar they think we live in paradise, a heaven on Earth. And sometimes I truly believe it too. I have seen and experienced some of the most fantastically beautiful things in my life. I am truly grateful for the ability to sleep in as late as I want, spend time with my love, explore new places, meet and get to know interesting people, have new cultural experiences, eat fresh juicy fruit from our own trees, swim in luscious warm crystalline waters, swing from the trees, breathe a sigh of contentment as we watch the sun dip into the sea, hear the birds chirping in the morning and our cat snuggle up to us in bed and so much more. It is truly an isle of enchantment.
Gathering flowers from our farm in honor of our friend
But life is life no matter where you live. It can get messy, it can get hard, it can be frustrating. You get thrown curveballs. Things that seem stable can suddenly crumble under your feet. And in those moments, it can seem like a living hell. And for people like us who have transplanted from another place thousands of miles away you may feel lonely, isolated and not accepted. There can sometimes be felt an undercurrent of prejudice or racism. It’s hard to make a living here. And whatever demons were underneath and hidden by a sense of comfort in your homeland eventually seem to rear their heads and become more pronounced under constant stress. We have known more people die, become addicts, break up or otherwise have a major life upset here (and then usually move away) than I have ever seen back in Colorado. It is just a whole lot harder to hold everything together. There is a reason this place is called Derelict Junction and the 413 is known as the Road to Happiness…or the Road to Rehab.
And for many, it’s a sort of purgatory. It is a waiting out, a finding out, a crossroads. Which way will my life go from here? Let’s go have some fun while we can, they may think. Let’s throw caution to the wind. And while they are here they live in this in-between, the waiting room between heaven and hell.
Beach memorial for Sage (photo credit Kari DiPalma)
The death of our friend Sage really affected me. I think I always saw Naomi and Sage as kindred spirits. Adventurous souls with a dream. They were some of the first people we ever met when we moved to Puerto Rico. They welcomed us and encouraged us in our pursuits and we were so excited for them, especially the start of Rincon Beer Company. To see their relationship collapse and the end of their era together come so tragically shook me to the core. We are all so very fragile even when we appear so strong. We try to put on a show that nothing can shake us, that we are “better than,” that we are infallible, that nothing can ever break us. But it’s not usually one thing, it’s the accumulation of a lifetime of weight and burdens that eventually become too hard to carry. We need to remember that we are all carrying something and sometimes we need people to help us and we need to help people take a load off.
Rincón style beach potluck memorial
Life seems to be a series of moments that shift between heaven, hell and purgatory. We are always up on the high moments, the moments in heaven. We want more. We want more pleasure, more good times, more angelic periods to celebrate and brag about on Instagram and Facebook. But underneath the surface and often tied to these highs there are the lows. There is often heartache, sadness, anger and other lows that we hide away in the shadows and don’t talk openly about. And interwoven between them are all the other neutral moments of chores and waiting, passing time. The purgatory between them that keeps the highs and lows a little calmer. It is like the weather floating between perfectly sunny skies and hurricanes that we live most of our lives, if we can make it.
It saddens me deeply that we couldn’t reach Sage from his depths that we couldn’t even see hidden under his happy smile. And I still just shake my head in disbelief and in shock that he is gone. I feel so much for Naomi and what she is going through. It just hits too close to home.
The final chapter for Sage was a wonderful Rincón-style community event for this unforgettable pillar of our town. It was a beautiful paddleout ceremony, the first I had ever participated in. People told stories and anecdotes of Sage as the sun gently set and flowers swirled all around in the circle of many of his loved ones. We splashed water as a sort of “cheers to Sage!” And depending on your perspective it was a bittersweet moment, heaven in hell or hell in heaven.