Category Archives: culture

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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Random Photo Update: June 2017


Posted by Cassie

It’s that time again to sort through all the photos that have no other real place but in a random photo drop. All the little moments in life add up…

Cassie Abandoned Cassie in the window
I love checking out old abandoned buildings!

Cassie abandoned 2
Front

Britton and the tree
Yard work is always humbling in its scale

Baby Hawk 2
And its rewards like seeing this young hawk up close

Bird on a banana leaf
Or this little guy

Cabin in the jungle
Back side of the cabin as it is currently

Abandoned House
At another cool abandoned house

Vikinga
Randomness of life here…Viking helmets and old nuclear reactors

Buena Vista 2 Edit
So breathtaking -Spanish wall overlooking Pools Beach in Rincóñ

Pare sign
You know it’s a surf town when…

Turkey
At the international folkloric music/dance night in Rincon -people from all over the world came like Turkey!

Jenn Cassie Culture
Slovenia! (With my funny friend Jenn! haha)

USA
I thought the fiddles, overalls and square dancing was a funny representation of the USA, but somewhat accurate I suppose for folk dancing

Junk in your Trunk
Now that’s what you call a lot of junk in your trunk!! ;-)

Mushrooms
Check out these cool mushrooms growing on rotting wood

White gingers
White torch gingers at our finca

Caterpillar
Plumeria caterpillar munching away

Moth
Sphinx moth

Boqueron
Beautiful Boquerón -standing

Boqueron chillin
And laid out (thanks to Amanda for this photo)

Horny Cassie
You never know what you might see…ram horn helmet and a skeleton at a restaurant!

Crazy VanThat’s quite the paint job!

wreck 2
And that’s one heck of a wreck!

Jeff and Britton Cassie fedora
Laura and Trevor Salsa night

We went out salsa dancing with fedoras at a place called Hydra and had a lot of fun! It’s a cool, hip place and while I love salsa dancing and music it does seem to be dying off as a popular music style here on the island. Bachata, merengue and reggaeton are far more favored at most bars. Salsa is like 50′s sock-hop music would be to most people stateside.


We got some moves- haha!

Piramide Pyramid
Yah, you know there’s just a random pyramid in Aguada

Shell
Such beauty! Hermit crabs abound

Motorcycle ride
A nice guy at a bar gave me a ride on his motocicleta!

Crabby
And these guys found a land crab at this place! Apparently it is juey mating season!

Britton and Roberto
Good times with friends like Roberto

Cassie up
Fun at Spanish Wall

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San German: A Spooky Colonial City


Posted by Cassie

This week we went to San German to do an “estudio” at the beautiful and modern Hospital de la Concepción. Everything went quickly and well so we had time to explore the downtown area a little more after.

Hospital de la concepcion
Clean, professional, efficient and inexpensive medical care!

As we wandered the streets on a Tuesday afternoon we wondered where everyone was! It felt like a ghost town! Downtown San German has a very old, very colonial feel to it especially with its cobblestone and brick roads and ancient buildings.

San German
Quiet streets and mountains in the distance

San German city
Old town San German

San German plaza
Where is everyone??

The one that caught my eye the most as we mosied around I found out was Porta Coeli an old church-turned-museum that was built in 1606. Unfortunately the museum wasn’t open on that Tuesday, but we took photos from the outside.

Old Church San German
Porta Coeli from the old town plaza -very mission style

Cassie off the wall

Cassie church Cassie brick wall Britton church
The stories these walls could tell!

We walked around a bit and took pictures of other buildings and the currently used church which is beautiful as well, but definitely didn’t have the kind of eerie cool feeling that Porta Coeli had in its draw to me.

San German church
Modern Church

Cobblestone streets
Modern church and historic cobblestone roads

Old bldg flowers
A beautiful city!

It was an interesting little walk around the town even if it did have a spooky feel to it. If you’ve ever visited New Orleans, you know what I mean. There is a deep and dark history that puts a sort of shadowy filter over everything it touches. There were virtually no shops open except one. And I smelled it before I saw it. Incense! We walked into the bright little shop and talked with the friendly young clerk. There was a lot of incienso, crystals and religious articles like candles with saints on them. In the glass cases, however, there were other pendants with symbols of things I didn’t recognize though I have seen them on chains worn by many people here. I asked the clerk a lot of questions about what they symbolized and most of them were to bring luck or protection. There was la mano de azabache which is supposed to help ward off the Evil Eye, various warrior Indian heads which were to bring protection, blessed dice and figurines of people who I thought were saints but I learned were Orishas like Chango Macho and Yemaya.

Dos caras
Pendant I saw with 2 caras (faces) to watch your back from bad influences

I asked what type of shop this was called and he said it is a “Botánica” and it was actually rather busy considering there was virtually no one anywhere else in town. From time to time as I looked and asked questions about various articles he would duck behind the counter and fill paper bags with some unknown things and bring them to cars waiting in the street. Other people came in and bought the saint velones (candles) and asked for things in hushed voices. I definitely felt like they knew something more than I did about all of these mystical things! I am realizing there are layers and then there are layers to this Puerto Rican world that are still somewhat mysterious as I try to unravel them in our travels around the island.

Cassie and door edit

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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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