Category Archives: Beach

Muelle de Azúcar AKA the Sugar Mill Pier Adventure


Posted by Cassie

Four of us Brandon Britton Cassie Summer
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.

Group of 4
No Pase? No Problem! Just go around the side

Palm Trees
The abandoned sugar mill and bank-owned 30 acre property including private pier is currently for sale!

Hike
It was a short little hike around the property

Abandoned property
Inside one of the other abandoned buildings

Inside Sugar Mill
Inside the massive 30,000 sq ft mill was like a huge cathedral

Inside with graffiti
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.

Cassie climbing around Climb inside
Watch your step and hold on tight!

Cassie Brandon Brandon Descending

Brandon Britton no steps
Literally nowhere to step

Cassie Summer

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.

Climb back
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!

Sugar Mill in Distance
Where we were going!

Britton Long Pier
Britton takes a breather on a portion of the bridge that actually had some grates after the successful crossing

Cassie Summer Brandon
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.

Cassie Perspective
Contentment under the pier

Britton Urban Sea
Chillin’ on the rusted stairs

Cassie Summer (2) Summer Swing 1
Hanging out and setting up the swing

Summer jump Cassie swinging
Swinging and jumping

Crashboat
People would boat or jet ski from Crashboat over to the sugar pier

Boats
This was the structure we walked ever so cautiously across!

Cassie on yellow thing

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!

Muelle de azucar in distance
Muelle de Azúcar as seen from Crashboat Beach

Please enjoy this video I made of the adventure.

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Heaven, Hell or Purgatory


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C B Sage
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.

Cassie flowers for Sage
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.

Sage memorial
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.

Sage Flowers

Beach gathering Sage pie
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.

Paddle out

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.

 

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Bote Millan and More Exploration


Posted by Cassie

It had been something of a rough week emotionally, so Britton and I thought some Vitamin Sea might be just what the doctor ordered. Which beach should we explore? There are so many beaches in Rincón, but we often go to the same ones all the time which normally are the north beaches near our house. So instead, we chose to go down south near Corcega and Almendros Beach.

BK Float

Britton walking out of water
Britton enjoying the warm Caribbean waters

I have seen the Millan Boat from afar before, but I have never gone and explored it. From what I understand it was built in the mid 20th century by Mr. Emiliano “Millan” Altiery as an homage to the fishermen profession.

Bote Millan
Bote Millan from a distance

Cassie walking
Wow! Up close it looks a lot like a boat!

Cassie bote flag
Another cool place to take photos

Britton mystery Cassie under bote
And look snazzy whilst drinking our morning coffee

Cassie Bote Millan
Up on top it really did feel like a boat!

Cassie bote
Ahoy, mateys!

Right nearby I noticed a cool swing! Being the adventurer that I am, I had to take a ride! Swinging on a coconut palm while the waves crashed next to a small river outlet reminds me how much my life seems like a dream and this is the carnival scene.

Cassie swing 2
Swinging to the sea!

Cassie swing river
Over the river

After swimming a bit more we began to get hungry. We packed up our beach chairs and headed down the road in the Millennium Falcon, our nickname for the warp-speeding Mustang. We picked up a pollo asa’o sandwich, chatted with a friend and then blasted off to find a little deserted beach in Añasco.

Car context
The Mill Falcon on a new planet

Cassie walk in jungle
Exploring paths unknown

Cassie jungleDeep in the jungle

All in all, I’d say it helped us perk up a bit to remember what a beautiful place and time we get to live.

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Spring and Easter in Rincón


Posted by Cassie

In Puerto Rico because it is a tropical environment, many people think that there are not seasons. This is not exactly accurate. While it does stay between 75-85 degrees F year round there are still subtle changes. Because we work outside a lot and we live in a cabin in the middle of the jungle we notice these changes perhaps a bit more than some people. For one thing, many of the plants begin to flower in preparation for fruiting in the summer. One of my favorite flowering plants are the robles (Tabebuia rosea). For about one month these trees add a rose colored hue to everything including the ground! It is like living in a pink snow globe especially when you see them softly twirl to the ground.

Cassie with flowers
The trees and I are pink!

Carpet of robles
Roll out the pink carpet!

Turkeys
Turkeys enjoying the changing colors of spring

Rambutan flowers
The rambutan are already flowering! Let’s hope they form fruit!

GrosellasLike this grosella

Papaya markings
The papaya and bananas are constantly producing! I love the way this trunk looks like ancient carving

I think all plants are beautiful in a certain way, but not all of them are friendly! We have been working on clearing around the cabin and replanting with fruiting trees and ornamentals. In doing so we have to clear out some pretty mean and nasty stuff like the Puerto Rican poison ivy they call Carrasco that no matter how careful I am, I always somehow manage to get on me. About 2 days after this happens I swell up really bad and start itching uncontrollably. Then my skin erupts in a pus-y mess and then finally scabs over. It is not fun!

Carrasco berries
Spring for the Carrasco plant too! Here is its flower/berry

Another mean plant are the wild bromeliads. While beautiful they have the most vicious spikes on them. I have many pokes and stings from these bad boys. They are very difficult to eradicate from an area. We just threw them over the fence line. They would make a good living fence because no one would want to walk through these!

Bromeliad Spikes
Wild bromeliad and its thorny weaponry

Side yard
Side of the cabin that we cleared of bromeliads and other brush and have begun to replant

When we’re not enjoying spring in the jungle, we have been out with friends at various events including the Stand Up Paddleboard race, and Spring/Easter parties. The 2017 tourist season was a little slow, but that doesn’t mean the partying was. One thing about living in Rincón (and I think Puerto Rico in general) is that there is never a shortage of parties! It’s a good-time island. We have to consciously choose which events to go to and which not because we’ll never get anything done around the property otherwise!

Villa Cofresi
Villa Cofresí and her famous piratas during the SUP contest

Logan Britton Chris Karen C B Sage
Fun times with friends!

On Easter weekend we went to a friend’s farm in Aguada and set up a campground. We sang songs around the campfire and toasted marshmellows and relaxed. The fireflies came out and danced alongside us. It was truly magical!

Road to Toms jungle
Road through the woods to the campsite

Camp in jungleCampsite by day

Camping
And by night (thanks Daisy for this pic)

Easter we had a wonderful time with a variety of friends!

Van Ees
The Van Ees

Slip n slide (2) Easter chicken
So much fun! Slip-sliding away…even with chickens!

Cassie and Britton easter
¡Felices Pascuas!

Beach party
And another party at the beach!

So yes, there is a spring in Puerto Rico even if it isn’t quite as pronounced as up north. Everything is in bloom, the birds and insects start mating more, the rains begin to come more regularly, the temperature and humidity go up a little and the ocean warms up just a bit. In Rincón the northern tourists leave and the local Puerto Rican tourists start arriving. I hope we can continue playing music through this summer, but if not, come check us out at our next show this Saturday at Willie’s Bar and Grill in the marina!

Rincon Continentals poster
Rincón Continentals Live

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