Category Archives: Challenges

Ron y Cloro: 8 Ways to Solve Your Problems in PR


Posted by Cassie

There is a joke people sometimes say here. What’s the solution to Puerto Rico’s problems? Ron y cloro. Rum and bleach. Rum, because well everything is just better with a little buzz and bleach because it will wipe everything clean again! So I thought I would write a little about how we use each of these to solve our daily problems in Puerto Rico.

Cassie drink (2)
¡Salud!

1) Things just break down and get so much dirtier here than it ever did in Colorado. We have to keep a cover over our washing machine because the dust settles so heavily over the course of a week and then makes the clothes or sheets dirtier than they started! So you must use more bleach! ¡Más cloro!

Washing machine cover
Washing machine cover

2) I always wondered why so many people had a broom in their hand whenever we would drive around Puerto Rico. Now I know! I must sweep the house at least 2-3 times a day. And it still gets grimy. So…then I need to mop! Más cloro!

3) Not only are we near the sea, but it is constantly humid and so anything metal starts rusting and corroding very quickly. We have learned to buy most metal things out of aluminum or galvanized steel because it is much more rust resistant. But, even still, never trust anything that is held together with metal. Here’s a case in point when the deck to the cabana completely broke!

Broken deck
¡Ay, bendito! The screws rusted out on the ledger!

So you learn that you need multiple back-ups. Especially because on this island you NEVER know if you’ll be able to find the part you’re looking for. Even if you buy online don’t expect it to arrive anytime soon. Britton ordered a part for the Mustang from Ebay and it took nearly a month to arrive because they put it on a ship rather than airplane! ¡Caramba! No wonder things take so long to get fixed, if ever! Island time…means you often have to wait and be patient, so why not go have a drink. Más ron!

Deck repair
To repair it we added two more legs to the wall and cross-braced. Must be prepared for the inevitable future breakdown

4) Even clothes break down faster here! The elastic in our underwear breaks down and the clasps on swimsuits rust out! When I was in Colorado I had clothes for 10+ years! Not here! Plus you have to clean clothes with bleach which breaks down the fibers even faster! But at least we don’t need to wear as much since it’s always warm out! Más ron =menos ropa! :-)

Dirty windows
Even aluminum windows start breaking down after a while! And windows constantly need cleaned (Más cloro!)

5) Bugs! Of course there are bugs everywhere, but here there are a couple that most people who are not from the tropics are not as familiar with: termites and cockroaches. ANY wood you use here including for cabinets, furniture and of course structurally should be made with pressure treated wood! (Madera tratada). We bought some beautiful eucalyptus doors for the cabin, and it said they were insect resistant. What it should have said was that this wood was the most delicious food ever for a termite! Bleach will kill them, but you have to get to their main hive and so we had to take the whole door apart and put it back together again. Más ron!

termites
Termites in the doorframe

As for the cockroaches, unless you live completely sealed in an air conditioned house surrounded only by concrete (and even then), you will have some. They especially love any kind of fresh produce or old food. They poop and are just plain gross with those long antennae and I do not want them around! So this means you must keep your kitchen super clean and no dishes in the sink and everything must be organized and reorganized on the regular. Easier said than done!

Roach
Look, a paradise beetle! haha

6) But they do not like bleach! So bleach floors and counters often to keep cockroaches somewhat away. Another trick we learned with cockroaches is to grab the spray bleach bottle and spray the heck out of then. It slows them down enough that you can then smack them with your chancla (flipflop). (Haha, yes, this is part of our life!) Más cloro!

Spray cloro
Not just for toilets anymore!

7) Bleach also takes away most of the mold that will grow on all sorts of things. Even our pillows, behind framed pictures, anything leather and plastic trashcans! It is just amazing how much life there is here!

8) Rum or rather its boring cousin rubbing alcohol (as well as H2O2 and Neosporin) is the preferred method for all the infections and scrapes we get here. A simple splinter can cause a pus-infested swollen finger in a matter of days because there is just so much stuff always growing here. My skin always breaks out from the various forms of life -whether plant, bacteria, fungi, whatever! Alcohol neutralizes the poison in carrasco, it also helps clear up the stinging red ant bites. We also eat copious amounts of garlic since it is a natural anti-bacterial/anti-viral/anti-fungal agent. It’s no wonder garlic is the main seasoning in Puerto Rican cuisine!!

Haole Rot
In Hawaii they call it Haole Rot because it affects white people more I assume -tinea versicolor

Todo tiene solución. Everything has a solution. And for these problems, and more: Ron y cloro! But don’t forget a nice course of Vitamin Sea with a rum piña colada and a good sense of humor to help these problems and others just melt away!

Beach Sat
Ahhh…Rincón balneario

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Random Update: July 2017


Posted by Cassie

Once again it is time for the slices of life that don’t necessarily deserve a post of their own but have been fun and/or interesting.

We recently went to a beautiful celebration of life at a boutique resort in Añasco called Yukayeke. It was very touching.

Sunset
Amazing sunset

Beach Memorial
Gathering of friends

Yukayeke pool Playing music at Yukayeke
And a pool party

Crab cage
It’s still crab (Juey) season here and a few people are out on the street offering them for sale

Abandoned
I love to stop and see the abandoned buildings and the fantastic graffiti art

Cassie mural

Doorway

Flamingo
Even a flamingo!

Closet
We finally hung the closet pole and shelf!!

The cars on this island are almost as fun to watch as the people! So many questions…

One car
From this… a custom car that could never clear most of the potholes here

Two car
To this…a makeshift moving van?

Car balneario
To this…an abandoned and stripped out car. Why are there so many jugs of water?

Harvest
Back at the farm, we’ve had quite the abundance of food and beauty!

Breadfruit
Breadfruit – Pana in Spanish is also an expression here that means pal or friend

Peace Lily
Peace Lily is blooming

Limes
Our first limes from a tree we planted!

Bridge
The cabin side of the property is filling in nicely with plants and the afternoon rains cause the quebrada to flow beneath the bridge

Ms Puerto Rico
The clothing selection in some stores is pretty fun -I had to try this one on: Ms Puerto Rico!

Broken Piraguas
Even the piragua cart breaks down sometimes!

Cassie and Britton
And the beach is always awaiting us

 

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Serendipity and a Travolta Movie


Posted by Cassie

60s and 80s
Costume changes with friends- I’ve always loved playing dress up, being a ham, and meeting new friends so this kind of work is perfect for me! (Thanks to Carolina for this comparison shot)

We were invited to be a part of another movie! This time it was a John Travolta film and we were super excited to go. We learned a few things from our last experience as extras in a movie, though, one of which was that the day would be very long and sometimes boring and that the drive to San Juan was excruciatingly long. Thankfully we have some friends on the east coast who welcomed us to use their condo in Fajardo.

Luquillo
Luquillo Balneario beach on one side and the rows of kiosks are on the other

Kioskos
Down the line of kiosks

We stopped by their kiosko in Luquillo to pick up the keys to the condo. It was the first time I’ve ever seen Luquillo and I thought it was very busy and a little dirty, but it seemed like a fun, social beach.

Britton Monkey Threads
Britton says, why aren’t you at Monkey Threads in the kioskos de Luquillo! It’s awesome!

We got really turned around because we don’t have a smart phone and had to just rely on screenshots of maps, but eventually we made it to the condo at the marina in Fajardo. This building was 30 stories tall! We went up to the penthouse level and looked out over the railing. It gave me that tingling feeling in my heart and feet that says loudly: DON’T FALL!

Condo
This building is huge!

Looking down
Careful! That’s a looong way down!

The views off the balconies were amazing and we spent some time just enjoying them. I think we’ve become somewhat hillbilly though, living in the jungle for so long. I felt the compulsion to just go out on the deck naked as I always do at home and also to throw banana peels off the balcony as I do at home. Britton had to hold back from peeing off the deck! Haha! I also was mesmerized watching cable TV for the first time in a long while and I took an actual bath and filled the tub with hot water. We also wandered around to the pool area and gazebos of the property. It felt kind of good to be back to civilization for a while! These are the sort of things people take for granted as modern man I suppose.

Boat Bay
Check out all the boats!

Cassie rock
I still tend to gravitate towards nature -and au naturale ;-)

Deck view morning
It was the first time I had seen a sunrise over the ocean and it was incredible!

We thought our scene was going to be at El Conquistador Resort in Fajardo which would have been great because it was only 5 minutes away from us, but they changed it to be in Santurce in the heart of San Juan.

Ocean and Conquistador
El Conquistador from the balcony of the condo

We filmed at La Casona in Santurce which is a very old remodeled building and is now an elegant restaurant.

La Casona
Looking down at the courtyard of La Casona during a scene

60s outfit
Do I look like I’m going to a semi-fancy/conservative restaurant in Cuba in the 60s?

The first thing when we arrived we had to fill out our paperwork and then head over the wardrobe and makeup where they changed my look a few times to fit the time period (mid 60s at first) and feel of the scene. It is sort of random and serendipitous which roles you may get as an extra. Some are “heavy” like the guys who played Mafioso guards opening the doors for Travolta’s character. I would say I got a medium role. I got to sit at the table with Jordi Mollá, a famous actor in Spain who has also done a number of Hollywood movies, most noteably, Blow. His role in the scene was to sit with three women (one of which was me) and then signal to Travolta. So I may get about 1 second of screen time, mainly the back of my head! (Famous hair!!)

Jordi Mollá
Vicky, Jordi, Me and Carolina -the best table in the restaurant haha!

We actually talked with John Travolta a little while he waited to enter the room of mob bosses. He said we all looked great and he loved that time period. They really don’t like us to take pictures during filming, so I didn’t get a picture with him, but it was pretty cool. The only thing that I can say was really bad about this experience was all the smoking! I am getting over a slight cold and since they were smoking inside the restaurant during our scene (they would probably say to be period accurate but that I would say was just plain disgusting) it caused me to have a coughing fit. I had to try to hold in my coughs while they were rolling and it was quite torturous if you’ve ever had a cough that needed to get out and you couldn’t! I had to get up various times to get a drink of water to calm it down.

Makeup
Makeup!

We had a late lunch/dinner and then headed to wardrobe/makeup again to change time periods. This time to the 80s! I really didn’t get much of a role in this scene, but Britton did. He and a friend played a couple crossing paths in front of Travolta as he heads out the door.

Britton looking ood
Britton looking sharp at La Casona

Still, even though we were all dressed up with nothing to do, we ladies had a great time laughing at our bright blue eyeshadow, huge hair and red lipstick. Girls just wanna have fun!!

Sara and Cassie 80s
Sara and I -Crazy makeup!

Priscilla and girls
So much fun! Priscilla, me, Carolina and Vicky

Britton’s scene ran late and I had to wander around the building for a while. I talked with Manolo, the owner of the restaurant, and he took out his beautiful macaws and African grey parrots for me. He also showed me some of the finer details and mosaics around the building. It was a tesoro. The night ran long and we didn’t get back to the condo until about 4am!

Las Vistas view
Me at Las Vistas

We slept in late and then went out to brunch at a nice little place in the hills of Fajardo called Las Vistas. Then we were on our way home in the Millenium Falcon (the Mustang)!  The drive back was pretty uneventful until about Arecibo when I told Britton I needed him to stop so I could use the restroom and get something to drink. As he pulled off the highway, the car began to sputter. We were only about 1/2 a block from a gas station! Come on, come on! But nope. It just died right there.

Broke down Falcon
Where we broke down

Serendipity strikes again, however! We broke down precisely at a mechanic shop! How odd is that!?! They pushed the car into the shop lot and diagnosed the problem. It was the fuel pump! Yikes! I walked down to the gas station and went to the bathroom and cooled myself down in the air conditioning. The mechanics were very helpful and friendly and said they would contact Auto Zone and see if they had the fuel pump in stock and that they could work on it today! Wow! That would be awesome! We were tired and worn out from a long two days in the city and really just wanted to get back home to the countryside. Britton being the always helpful type, stepped up and they finished installing the fuel pump in only about 2 hours from the time of the breakdown! We were so grateful. They probably could have taken advantage of us, but only charged us about $40 in labor! If you are in Arecibo I highly recommend Nachi’s mechanic shop!!

Working on the car
First they had to take out the fuel tank to get to the pump-I even got involved and helped jack the car up while they got under the car

Unfortunately it was Noche de San Juan and there was a big tapón, but finally about 8 hours after leaving Fajardo, we made it home…safe and sound. Stay tuned to the silver screen and look for us in the movie Speed Kills or it may go by the very appropriate name of Cigarette.

Sunset and flag
Sunset out the window on the way back

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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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