Category Archives: Challenges

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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Random Photo Update: May 2017


Posted by Cassie

Cassie and Britton
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.

Bird Zorzal Bird Troupial
Our makeshift bird feeder at the cabin: old bananas. Zorzal and Troupial

wallflower cassie lighter
As creatures we evolve to mimic our surroundings -haha

Roots

Britton Rob Humberto Cassie Roberto Group photo  Cassie blue and black lighter
Star Cassie 5 Roots May 11
We’re still having fun playing music and performing with our band!

Downtown plaza rincon
Rincón is so beautiful and colorful! Downtown plaza

Mummified Coqui
Check out this weird mummified/dried out coqui I found in our closet!

Riding the bull
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

Horses in the projects
You know this is a rural countryside kind of place when there are horses even in the projects

Iguana face
I don’t know if I will ever grow accustomed to the amazing creatures that just roam freely here

Kitchen progress Cabinet bamboo
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 ;-)

Glen and the balneario guys
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

Tropical Iris
I love these gorgeous tropical irises that are blooming all over our gardens

Pretty yard
And look how lush it is this time of year

Dock of the bay
Alone on a pier in Mayaguez

Lighthouse faro cassie
Fun at the lighthouse park in Rincón

Cassie frame domes
That’s all for now, folks! Hasta luego

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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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