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.
We had to take a detour through the cemetery in Anasco because the road had washed out
A horse in the road is fairly common here
Huge boulders in the road usually are not!
A whole house had been engulfed in mud
And another had collapsed along with the roadway
This 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.
There is still such a tremendous beauty to the interior of the island!
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.
We heard this strange noise and the turkeys getting a little agitated making their bubble pop noises, so we peeked out the window and up comes trotting this friendly little pig right up to our doorstep.
So I grabbed the camera and this is what ensued.
It is so funny that in addition to all the wild creatures we have around like the birds, iguanas, geckos, turtles, hermit crabs, not to mention dogs and cats we also have the occasional farm animal (cow, pig, horse) stop by and visit our turkeys and chickens!
Let me in, let me in, by the hair of my chinny chin chin!
This pig was smart and obviously had been around humans before as he followed us right up and out the gate. Britton was watching him at the gate when our neighbor drove by and he said it was his pig and it must have jumped the wall of his cage. He and Britton attempted a conversation in Spanish (Britton’s still learning) and then the neighbor offered for us to buy the pig! We’re not quite ready for that just yet. Maybe down the line. He sure was cute though and didn’t want to leave!
We took a day trip up to Patillas to visit our friends Richard and Mary Jane.
Pineapple fields on the drive
It was quite a drive from Rincón to Patillas, but so beautiful to watch the landscapes change. Once we go around the southwestern corner to the Caribbean side, the waters turn majestically turquoise blue, the plant life is much different and drier and it seems to be quite a bit windier than what we experience at our place.
We drove past large Lake Patillas and into his finca. It is very private and secluded up a long steep road.
Long private road
When we arrived the party was in full swing. People were eating fish soup and drinking beer in anticipation of the main event: lechón, but of course!
Roasting up the pig on a spit
Enjoying one of Puerto Rico’s pasttimes: dominoes!
We enjoyed our time and even saw our east coast friends Fran and Steve!
Group photo: Steve, Parrot, Fran, BK, me, and our gracious hosts Mary Jane and Rick
But the biggest hit of all was when someone showed up to the party with parrots. Even Richard didn’t know who this person was, but it was pretty cool to see and hold his birds. One of them caused a kerfuffle when he would crawl onto our shoulders, get tangled in our hair and then scream into our ears. So funny.
A hit with kids and adults alike! Green Amazon parrot
As I took this photo a little girl told me in Spanish: “¡Es como un paraíso!” I couldn’t agree more
Such cool creatures! Blue and gold macaw (like in Rio said another girl)
It was a beautiful day. Richard said it had been raining hard every day prior so we really lucked out with a sunny warm afternoon party. We are so grateful for these magical moments in paradise.
Well we can now officially say we’ve had the true country Puerto Rican Christmas lechón experience! We had pig on the beach in Rincón last year, but this was quite a bit different.
Papo invited us up to his finca for a Puerto Rican country Christmas party complete with lechón, pasteles, cockfighting, topos betting, horses and lots of beer drinking. It was an all-day event that started around 11am and would go on until it stopped. It was an interesting experience but we felt a little awkward since we stuck out like a sore thumb. We just sort of milled around because we don’t know how to play dice or bet on the roosters.
Guys betting dice (topos)
Roosters awaiting their turn to fight
When the lechón was ready to be chopped up, everyone came by to check it out.
As the special guests of Papo’s we got first tastes straight off the pig!
It was an interesting sort of dynamic because Papo hosted the party and the lechón and pitorro were free, but he sold beer from a sort of make-shift caged cantina.
A bit of a cocky customer!
People were getting pretty drunk and so Britton and I took a short hike about the property just to get a breather and away from all the drunk dudes.
Nothing like a hike in the jungle to recenter!
Later that evening I learned a little more about cockfighting as I talked with some of the guys cutting off the natural spurs and putting on plastic ones. One guy working with his teenage son putting on the spurs told me he learned the sport from his dad, and his dad from his before and back many, many generations.
Then the beer sold out. There was a sort of scramble for anything else to drink. Papo had asked us to bring two bottles of wine, and so we did. However, there was no wine opener. And so we had a “completo fracaso” as Papo called it trying to open these darn bottles. Apparently Papo had wanted some cheap screw top thing called Ponte something. It was pretty clear that wine is not a very popular thing to drink in the countryside of Puerto Rico.
Ever try to open a bottle of wine without a corkscrew? Trust me, just don’t!
And so without beer to fuel the party it ended at the fairly early hour of around 8pm and we were able to drive home. We had anticipated staying the night up there just in case but it worked out just fine. It was quite the experience to be the only ones that spoke English and only knowing one or two people there. We felt very honored to have been included in the festivities.