Category Archives: Friends and Family

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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Update: Limber de Teta, Demolition Derby, Flower Power, Rincón Film Fest, Etc


Posted by Cassie

Rincon beach road
Rincón Back Road

Wow, it always surprises me when I think of what to write about for the blog. I think, I don’t really have any good topics. Then I look through my pictures and I see that we have actually been out doing quite a few things. Here are a few of them:

Rincón International Film Festival
We enjoyed a beautiful and elegant evening at Rincón Beach Resort for the final night of the Rincón International Film Festival also known as ”Best Of Fest.”  I like to watch all the short films that have been sifted through and chosen as the top picks. As for the resort, I have never been to this one and it was really nice. I have seen it advertised on Wheel of Fortune and it definitely has that sort of all-inclusive resort vibe. It even has a swim-up pool bar that is connected directly to the beach.

Rincon Film Fest
With friends at RIFF 

Cassie Rincon Beach Resort RIFF with Markus and Daisy
Fun at Rincón Beach Resort

Limber de Teta
I saw a sign for Limber de Teta and it made me laugh. What could boob limber possibly be? So we stopped and tried it out. It was a limber (like an icee) but sold in a little baggie the shape of a boob. Pretty clever!

Britton sucking teta
Sucking on a parcha/piña boob

Limber de teta Artesan Boobs
At the Limber de Teta stand just off the 115 going towards Aguada

Demolition Derby in Moca
A friend of ours invited us to a demolition derby in Moca that was a fundraiser for his friend’s adolescent daughter who has a very aggressive form of cancer. I see a lot of fundraisers around here for various causes, but this was one of the biggest. We hadn’t been to a demo derby since the Greeley Stampede many years ago. Here it was definitely not regulation size or even in a stadium. People just sort of hung out everywhere, but it somehow worked.

F Cancer Demo car
One of the demolition cars

Demolition crowd Demolition Derby from above
Quite a crowd in the middle of a cleared out field!

As we were watching the events unfold a the derby, a young girl walked by that caught my eye. What was in her hands? Snakes! I was intrigued and began asking her about them. She could tell that I wasn’t afraid of them and said, do you want to hold them? I tentatively said yes and she put the large python on my neck and the baby in my hands. You never know what you may find in the randomest of places!

Snake Cassie edit
Cassie the Snake Charmer. Starting to get a little tight around the neck!

Flower Power: Playing Music
We played our most recent show at Willie’s to the theme of Flower Power/Hippie Night and it was a lot of fun.

Willies Hippie Night
Playing out at Willie’s

Hippies Kenny Markus Cassie Hippie Night
Good times! Peace, Love and Happiness!

On the Property
We have been focusing on property landscaping a little more lately and cleanup. While we’re not completely done with the house, it is functional. So now we are making it and the surroundings pretty! The finca has grown a lot in the last 3 nearly 4 years and we are starting to see the literal fruits of our labors!

Japanese Nispero Flowers
Nispero Japones aka Loquat first flowers!

Cassie Jungle 2 two
Amongst the flowers of our gardens

Kola cola nut flowers
Kola Nut flowers!

I hear something BK
In the jungle of our yard…Hey! What’s that sound?!

We have been clearing out some pretty nasty spiky and poisonous plants lately! Check them out:

Huge Spider Huntsman
Huge harmless spider (on a 2×6 to give you scale)…a huntsman

Cross that bridge
We’ll cross that bridge when we get there

As I was clearing some bromeliads and underbrush from behind the cabin, I found this old liquor bottle. We have determined based on the markings that it is from between 1932-1964! That’s a long time to be sitting out in the middle of the jungle! This old treasure says: Federal Law Forbids Sale or Reuse of this Bottle. John Walker and Sons Ltd Kilmarnock Scotland 4/5 Quart.

17637010_10208953235290316_7484647352082477681_o
Before it was Johnnie Walker, it was John Walker and Sons Ltd

The chickens and turkeys are all doing pretty good. We have to protect them a little more especially now that we are at the cabin and not as close to their coops. We collect quite a few eggs and enjoy their silly antics. Here’s some voodoo magic you can do with a chicken!

Out and about
And then of course there is the randomness of being out and about around the island. You just never know what you might see.

Whole lotta cans
Like a HUGE can of cans!

Muscovie duck
Beautiful duck, I think a Muscovy in a lagoon

Surfrider crewHanging out with Surfrider and a high school science club doing water quality testing 

Mural
Cool new mural on a derelict building

Cassie derelict house
And nature reclaiming this one

Not even for one second
This sign made me laugh…No! You can’t park here, not even for one second

Sana
One of our favorite little food stands, Sana, moved across the street by the Post Office

Socato fruit
And at the Pulguero in San Sebastian I spotted these huge fruits. They call them Socato

Chilling cassie
Hanging out at one of our favorite bars, Olajas in Aguada

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We Are Extras in a Puerto Rican Sci-Fi Movie!


Posted by Cassie

Life is so fun and random if you let it take you down the strange twists and turns the river has in store for you. The fame and fortune just doesn’t stop around here (haha)! I really enjoy all things art and “Hollywood” from music to modeling to acting to directing to making videos, whatever! So when I heard that a film was looking for people, I immediately sent in my info and a couple of photos. A month later I still hadn’t heard anything.

Cassie Britton movie
As extras in a Puerto Rican Sci-Fi movie!

Then on a Sunday I was sent a message asking if I was available to work on Tuesday and Wednesday. I said yes, but please send the info (where, when, etc) as soon as possible. I didn’t get any info until Monday night at about 7pm and found out that it was in Carolina (San Juan area) and I would need to be there at 6am (less than 11 hours from then) and bring a specific wardrobe. I felt like I was on my own mission impossible movie.

I nearly cancelled because I told my contact that I didn’t think I could make the trip back and forth 2 days in a row driving from Rincón 3 hours away. She mentioned that I would get paid $100/day and I said that I would be driving with Britton. She then offered Britton to come along also as an extra as long as they liked his pictures in order to help cover the costs of us staying in a hotel in San Juan. Though Britton didn’t have the specific wardrobe, we thought we would give it a shot. It was also very hard to have to wake up at 2am and drive somewhere we’d never been.

Dining
Dining area. Breakfast, lunch and snacks are provided to all involved including extras

When we finally arrived and found our way to the office-building/warehouse turned studio, we were ushered into the dining area where we filled out our paperwork including our Puerto Rican drivers’ licenses that were required to work. Then we headed to wardrobe where it turned out it didn’t really matter what clothes we brought because they ended up switching us out of them multiple times.

Wardrobe
At the Wardrobe trailer

Cassie movie trailer small
My costume for the film: a “gatekeeper” between alternative realities

Britton Prisoner
Britton’s first costume was as prisoner, then they changed their mind and made him maintenance man gatekeeper

The majority of the day was spent waiting with the rest of the extras in a room they called “holding.” It was pretty cool getting to know all the different characters. There was one woman from Italy who was also an opera singer. There was a guy who did promotions dressed as Captain Morgan. There was a guy who had written and directed his own films. There were college students and retired people. And nearly all spoke primarily in Spanish which was a challenge for Britton especially when he and I were separated. He had to use his favorite phrase when asked if he knew Spanish: Estoy aprendiendo (I’m learning). And he certainly keeps learning with immersion experiences like these.

Holding room
Extras in “holding”

The director definitely has some pull when it comes to extras as he could put us in roles that were more or less in the front of the frame. Britton mostly was in the background moving ladders and fixing flux capacitors. I was an office worker and wandered around the incident command center and down hallways with my prop tablet. Some extras actually got seats in the command center or talked (silently in the background) with the “jefe.” We had to do multiple cuts of the same thing. There were lots of calls to return to “primera posición,” “corre cámara” and “¡silencio!”

Cassie on set small
Just off the command center preparing to walk on set

Bruno and Cassie
Me and the director, Bruno Irizarry, who has been involved in movies such as The Rum Diary and 200 Cartas

When the first day finished up around 7pm, we asked some of the crew where we could find a hotel nearby. We didn’t want to spend much and we didn’t want to drive to Isla Verde or Condado since we weren’t making much and we had to be up and back at the studio by 5:30am the next morning. We were so tired after only getting about 3 hours of sleep the night before and working for 12 hours that we just wanted something upon which to lay our weary heads.

They suggested a place just down the road. And we found it easily. It had big red kissy lips on the sign and was down a long private drive lined with palm trees. But when we tried to check in at about 8pm we were told it was only for 8 hours at a time and that there was only very basic amenities. We thought that was a little odd, but went and ate dinner and returned around 9:30pm. It was very cheap at $30 for 8 hours which included tax, but when we entered and closed the garage door behind us, we felt like we stepped into a different movie: Grand Theft Auto perhaps?

Cassie Swing
Our room came complete with sex swing and instructions on the wall as well as a stripper pole

There was a sex swing, a stripper pole, purple and pink lights, a mirror above the bed, about 5 channels of porn and a kitchen squirt gun in the bathroom that I presume acts as a bidet. There was a lot of noise all throughout the night with people coming and going and listening to loud music, but the room at least was clean and I was so tired I slept through most of it. I think we were in fact the only couple not using this motel for what it was intended! These sex motels are apparently a very common thing here in Puerto Rico, and something that doesn’t exist in Colorado (at least not that I know of?)!

Sitting and waiting
Waiting…

None-the-less we got through the night for cheap and headed back to the studio for another looong day of mostly waiting around for them to call us. There is only so much you can do while waiting, especially if you don’t have a smart phone. So I doodled and did yoga and we wandered around a little bit until we would get in trouble and herded back to holding.

Still waiting
Still waiting…

Cassie other set
Another part of the building was used for another sci-fi movie

Cassie Stephanie
Having fun and making eyes with new friend, Estefanie

Overall it was a great experience and we made some wonderful new friends! I would definitely be an extra in a movie again, but maybe a little closer to the west coast. Keep your ears perked for a new science fiction movie called “23 Horas” and you just might spot us in the background.

Group extra Group extras with BK
With some co-extras and new friends

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Making Friends in a Transitory Town


Posted by Cassie

It is often hard to make new friends anywhere you might move, but for people from the states without many ties it can be even harder. However, it is important to establish a social network that you can rely on during life’s ups and downs especially as a stranger in a strange land.

Coming from a working class city in the middle of Colorado (Greeley), both Britton and I never experienced much in transitory populations coming into our town. If people moved it was just to a nearby town maybe 5-10 miles away. No one really came there for vacations. It was not a tourist destination. The only transitory population was that of the university and even there, many of the students came from other places in Colorado. Because of this, when we made friends we would often know them and see them (for better or worse) indefinitely.

Ashley night out
We’ve met some great friends along the way, but many are no longer here (at a going away party a while ago)

Coming to Puerto Rico, and specifically Rincón has caused a shift in perspective on friendships. I suppose looking back now, we were naïve when a long-timer asked us, “So how long do you think you’ll last?” and we answered, “Forever, hopefully!” What we had missed in that short exchange was that this guy who has lived here for over 20-30 years has seen many people with long-term intentions stay for pretty short times. We also started to get what we call the “friend interview.” Things like: So how long have you been here? Did you buy a place? What are you doing for money? All of these were to filter out tourists and very short term people.

Everyone’s path is different and this just happens to be one of those places where people love to get away and think they could live forever but end up oftentimes finding that they want to get back to some of the familiarity of wherever they left. We have seen many people leave and lost many friends due to them moving for better job opportunities, going back to school, having a baby on the way, getting divorced, more or less getting chased out of town, having health problems, having family issues, or they find just don’t like living here and so on. We have been to so many going-away parties in the last 3-4 years (and become the new owners of the stuff that gets left behind) that it gets a little hard to know where to put your time.

Car Club
We are thinking of joining a car club to find friends with similar interests like cruising the coast on Sundays

We have found that we at first subconsciously and then slowly consciously started our own “friend interview” with people we meet here. This is not because we don’t want to meet new people, on the contrary, I learn something from every encounter. But developing a deep friendship or relationship with someone, in my experience, takes a lot of time and commitment. Once you have made the commitment if they were to suddenly leave, there is also a deeper loss. So for a friendship that is anything more than just “acquaintances” people become categorized by their likelihood of sticking around in our lives. In making this list, please don’t take it that any of these are better than anyone else, but just a guide for long-term friendships in a transitory town. In fact, we have at one point in time or another been pretty much all of these. Some “long-timers” have stricter criteria and won’t talk to anyone who hasn’t lived here at least 2 years. We’re not that exclusive and there’s always exceptions.

Here are the categories and benefits to each. Some people fit into multiple categories.

Tourist: A person you don’t already know who is just visiting. There is not much chance of a long-term friendship, but they can often have very interesting stories and it’s always refreshing to see the island from their new perspective.

Tourist with plans: This more than likely will pan out to be another tourist visiting, but they may mention that they want to buy property or they are going to move here soon. There is a slightly higher chance of a long-term friendship, but still pretty unlikely.

On a Wing and a Prayer: These people made it here, but just barely. They saved up maybe $1000, got on the plane and said, “We’ll figure it out when we get there.” These people are often very interesting as they probably have had this tendency throughout their lives to go out and try new things. I love meeting them and they often have really cool talents. They, unfortunately, will probably not make it past one tourist season though. When the money dries out and the rains come in the summer, they are often gone.

Hustlers: The Wing and a Prayer people who made it through the first season. They found their niche. They made the connections and did the hard work to make enough money to stay. Many transplant people are hustlers in Rincón. The drawback to the hustlers is that they are always busting their butt to make money, so they don’t have much time for just chilling out with friends.

Long-term renters: These folks are probably also hustlers, but now they can finally settle down into a place that feels more like home. With a long-term lease, they are more likely to stick around at least until the end of the lease. Most people rent in Rincón because it is so cheap. The drawback to a deep friendship is that if they are renters, they can also just up and move if they want.

Snowbirds: These people generally come from up north and like to spend the winters or part of the winter in Puerto Rico to escape the cold weather. A deep friendship is much more likely if the snowbirds also happen to own property.

Seasonal: Basically the younger, broker version of snowbirds who come down every year for the season for work and partying, but will go back north in the summer. They more than likely do not own anything that would tie them here long-term.

People who own property: People who have bought real estate here are basically saying “We are committed and have the resources to stay!” These are very good candidates for long-term friendships. Some people own property, but rarely visit. They are still good to know and often have great parties, but since they are just not here you can’t just meet up and hang out on the spur of the moment.

Long-timers/Year-rounders: How long a person has been here will give you something of an indication of how they have weathered the storms both literal and figurative of island life. It is not always easy to live here. The long-timers know this and they will be the first ones to try to categorize you in order to know the likelihood of running into you again. These people also often have great stories and histories. There is a high chance of developing a friendship with these people as long as you are also worthy of investing the time.

Boricua/Family ties: The best chance of knowing someone long-term and building a deep friendship is to meet someone born and raised here. They are generally immune to the whims of the tourism economics and have a lot of resources, most notably their family, to help them stay. They are comfortable living here since that is what they have always known. They are great candidates for long term friendships, though they are often even more leery of letting an “outsider” in to their inner circle. Like all friendships, it helps to have a common cause (work/hobby/kids) and, especially in this case, to speak Spanish.

group-at-the-beach
Some friends at a beach party

I am not sure I will every feel the same amount of security and familiarity as I had in Colorado, but having a good group of friends definitely helps.

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