Category Archives: Adventures

An Agricultural Weekend -Ag Fair and Vivero Anones

Posted by Cassie

This was a busy weekend with a lot of activities to choose from. There was the Festival of Sweet Oranges in Las Marias, the Corona Surf Contest here in Rincon and an Ag Fair in Moca. We decided to not head down to the crowded Corona Surf event at Domes Beach that we have enjoyed in years past and instead went out to an Agricultural Fair in Moca. So many people descend on Rincon for the Corona event that it becomes crazy crowded, and we opted to mostly avoid it (though it is sort of unavoidable when 5000 more people are in a town of 15,000).

Corona Surf Sunset
We just drove past some of the Corona crowd and slooowly thru the traffic jams

The Agricultural Feria in Moca was actually held at the Labadie Mansion which I adore. I love the architecture and how it magically transports you to a villa in France.

Cassie LabadieMe and the mansion

The actual agricultural part of the fair was pretty small. Mostly it was like the majority of fairs and festivals in Puerto Rico. Lots of carnival food, carnival rides, people watching, and music.

Ag FairMoo watching over the festival

But there were some small aspects of agriculture to it. For example there were vendors giving out samples of chocolate milk and pony rides. There was a small tent of farmers and farm products and we found what we were looking for and that has overall proven to be difficult to find and acquire: some heliconia starts.

Horse Rides
Pony rides

Speaker carsIt’s not an event in Puerto Rico if you’re not blasting music from your car


Britton Pineapple tops
They were making fruit juices with fresh pineapples so we asked for the crowns to plant for free!

On the way out of town after the fair we also stopped at a small vivero and found a few more plants for our collection.

Plant store
Britton at the garden store

One of the reasons we decided not to go to the Festival de las Chinas in Las Marias was because we had made plans to meet with Sherry Ballester again at her Vivero Anones in Las Marias on Tuesday and didn’t want to drive up there twice in one week. She gave us a deal we couldn’t pass up: precious heliconia and ginger starts in exchange for some help around her farm. She and her husband Carlos are getting older and are having a hard time keeping up with the work at the farm, especially with the destruction from Hurricane Maria. There was still a lot of debris everywhere and she couldn’t even access whole sections of her farm. Well, we know all about cleaning up a property! We packed up the chainsaw, digging stick, loppers and machete along with rubber boots and pants and made our way up to the farm.

Britton and Sherry
Britton and Sherry with one of the tall heliconias

I helped a little moving some debris from the paths and bringing supplies and water to help, but Britton did the bulk of the work of chainsawing, clearing, digging and hauling while I wandered around looking at her gorgeous collection. Sherry knows all of the scientific names to these plants, but I can’t remember them all.

Heliconia (2)
Hanging pendant heliconia

Bright upright heliconia

Rabo de gato
This one is rabo de gato -cat tail

Palm tree
Huge palm tree making a comeback

Hummingbirds abound

Cassie jungleHanging out in nature

Dirty B
It’s dirty yet beautiful work!

Vivero Anones
Sherry took this picture of us after a long sweaty morning session

Britton was so dirty we actually had to go out and buy him a t-shirt before visiting with our friend Missy later that afternoon.

Water jugMoving the water tank with our new friend Ryan -look how dry the grass is!

We have been wanting to expand the flower gardens but have also been hoping for more rain because new transplants need a lot of water. It has been sooo dry lately that we have to give a little extra water and hand irrigation to the plants. The problem is that the water has been off and on (along with the power). We had some guests staying with us this past week and they helped us move the water cistern to the top of the cabana so that everyone  -plants and people can be wet down. We also installed another water spigot on the other side of the bridge to have easier access to water. There is always some sort of challenge around here, but we’re up to the task!

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Aguadilla Treehouse and Parque Colon

Posted by Cassie

Living in little rural Rincon it is nice to have two fairly large-sized cities to both sides of us: Aguadilla to the north and Mayaguez to the south. Both of them serve different purposes and have different vibes to them. Aguadilla has the military base and a bit more hipster/surfer feel whereas Mayaguez has the major university of the area and has a more family/career feel to it. When we go to Aguadilla we often stop at the mall on top of the ridge that overlooks the ocean and go shopping at the Pueblo grocery store. Get your food with a view!

Shopping with a view
Grocery shopping with a view in Aguadilla

Another nice stop in Aguadilla is the malecon area near the ice skating rink and we often stop there to have a drink, meal or picadera (finger food). One day we drove near the Parque Colon and I saw that the huge Aguadilla Treehouse was open. (Not that it can really be closed right now since the fence around it was completely destroyed by Hurricane Maria.)

Plaza Colon
Parque Colon -Aguadilla is one of many cities that claim to be Columbus’ first stop in Puerto Rico

This treehouse is amazing, mainly because of the tree. I was so happy to see that the tree hadn’t suffered too much damage from the hurricane. That couldn’t be said for the rest of the area however.

Cassie tree
In the roots/trunk of the tree

Britton in treehouse
Britton climbing around the fort/treehouse

I’ve always thought it would be fun to build a treehouse of some sort on our finca. We have some massive trees on the property, but nothing like this monster one that is actually kind of like a few trees that have merged together as it sends down roots from its branches.

Hola como estas tree
The tree is a 200 year old Laurel!

Cassie Treehouse
Under one of the arching branches. Watch your head!

Cassie climbing tree
This tree is incredible!

Treehouse wide view
Here is a wider view angle. It’s hard to really capture the magnitude of this tree and structure around it!

We hung out a while in the area and noticed an old playground of sorts. It looked as though there had been some sort of small child’s train system and a very sad, dilapidated and almost haunted and spooky looking section of children’s rides. Nearby around Parque Colon there are also ball courts, gazebos and other areas to make a picnic or hang out. And of course, the beach is right there!

Toy story apocalypseDestroyed playground equipment and look how many coconut palms had to be cut!

Skateboarding car
And of course there is always some sort of shenanigan going on -skateboarder catching a ride

If you are in the Aguadilla area, I highly recommend checking out Parque Colon and the awesome treehouse!

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Projects Around the Property

Posted by Cassie

There is always something to do around here. With four acres of land, two small casitas and a couple of bird coops we are always busy maintaining and trying to move forward with new goals. We try to do as much as we can ourselves with occasional outside help. Here are a few of the projects we have been working on recently.

ChainsawBritton sawing what I think is a fallen Indian bay leaf tree

Chopping up downed trees
Hurricane Maria brought down a lot of trees everywhere and our property was no exception. One of the many things we did right when we built the jungle cabin was to bury the electric line even though it was 500 feet away from the main. Otherwise, we would have been struggling like the electric company to get the poles up and the trees off the lines. We still had (and have) a mess to contend with however. The problem is that there is nowhere to bring all this wood. So we have a huge pile of wood debris in the quebrada.

It does open up our jungle area to a little more light and we have plans to plant more heliconias and gingers here as we expand our flower business. Britton mainly runs the chainsaw because I am a little afraid of the kickback when I’ve used it. I lopper some of the smaller brush around until we have an area that we can replant. We have a whole section of property (about 3/4 acre) by the Magic Mango and Camino de Pobres that we haven’t even touched and is still impossible to cross without scrambling over huge fallen trees that jut every which way.

Flower Truck Load
Truck loaded with flowers to bring to the market

Flowers and plants
This is one of the more enjoyable tasks around the farm. We go out and find plants -either dig-ups or at nurseries- and then the next day or so we plant them. When we plant a tree it’s really a tough decision because we know that some of them can grow to be huge and we’d rather not transplant too much. With the other plants that grow from rhizomes like bananas, eleplant ears, heliconias and gingers we’re not so picky because they are easily transplanted.

Cassie and bambooThis bamboo is bigger than me and weighed more too!

MonsteraI love monsteras and they look great in the flower bouquets too

Some plants are very difficult to find and/or transplant like the giant bamboo we recently planted. This probably deserves a post of its own because it took 2 days of digging and a full day of moving and transplanting. I love how the plants and flowers transform the place. The jungle is beautiful on its own, but the broad-leafed plants bring a certain classic paradise look that I just love.

Cabin in the woods
Our cabin in the jungle

The jungle treetop cabin
While there is always something to do with a structure, I would say that the inside of the jungle cabin is now complete. We finished the kitchen and our final touch this past month was to have screen doors installed. Now it is so fresh and breezy that I almost always have to have a blanket on at night! We have more plans for the area around it such as finishing the lower area as well as adding some railing.

Trim for doors
Trimming the screen doors

Mango cabana
Cabana at the top of the property

The concrete cabana got hit worse by the hurricane than our jungle wooden cabin because it has the ocean view and therefore the winds are stronger. It lost all of its upper railing on the rooftop and the front of the house got blasted like a water pressure treatment for 24+ hours. So we have some projects for it especially as we are now renting it out to guests. We are planning on repainting the outside areas that got blasted as well as the interior.

We also just recently finished sealing the roof again. This is a product called Crossco that is basically a plastic paint that prevents water from slowly seeping through the concrete into the house. Britton also refortified the small bridge crossing since it doesn’t have the other cabana rails as support for it anymore/currently. And I have a couple of ideas for interior decor.

Powerwashing then resealing the roof of the cabana

Cabana Roof Sealing roof
Before and after sealing

Of course there is always more, but these have been the current projects around the property. It’s hard work but keeps us busy and I love seeing the ever-changing beauty of this magical place.

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Never Let Your Marbete Expire!

Posted by Cassie

Well, we knew better and yet it still happened to us. And this lesson was an expensive one.

Marbete ticket
Marbete tickets!

We totally forgot about renewing the marbete (the registration and compulsory insurance) this year. Nothing came in the mail and we drove about completely oblivious to the expired sticker on the windshield of the Mustang. Britton went out to run some errands and stop by the beach for a bit. When he was on his way back, he got pulled over by a motorcycle cop. He had no idea what he had done. Well, it wasn’t what he had done, but what he hadn’t done: renewed the marbete. And what a fine. $500 for lack of marbete and $200 for lack of inspection (that you get when you get your marbete). $700 for something he didn’t even know he was lacking! Yikes. He tried to explain in his broken Spanish to the officer, but it didn’t matter. He was getting the tickets.

Farmers Market
Selling our flowers at the farmer’s market in Rincon on Sundays

He was understandably upset, especially because we have been working to save up a bit more money working at the film sets, selling flowers and renting out the cabana. Pretty much all of that savings went *poof* with these tickets. I told him it was ok. We made a mistake. Things happen, but we should just go and get it taken care of. No sense in waiting. Plus we would need the marbete in order to keep driving the car. Luckily the police let him drive home. We’ve heard that they sometimes won’t even let you go. They will impound your car and make you find an alternative way home. Oh, joy! So…it could always be worse I suppose!

Adam Brody and Cassie
Working as an extra for the show “Start-up” with actor Adam Brody

So we took the truck (at least that marbete was up to date) to Aguadilla (since the Anasco offices are closed due to Maria) along with the “inspection” of the Mustang (they don’t actually inspect anything, they just print a paper for $16 saying you passed emissions testing). We paid the $180 for the new marbete and found that we would get 30% off the tickets if we paid them within 15 days of receipt; so we did. Once that pocket ache was finished, we decided it was time for treat. Off to the ice cream shop again.

Banana Split
Since I was a kid, ice cream has always cheered me up. A nice banana split

If you can learn from us, do! Never let your marbete expire. It is not worth it. The police rarely enforce any laws here. But that is one that they are super strict about. Don’t risk it, check monthly!

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