Category Archives: Friends and Family

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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Island Beauty: San Sebastian and Aguada


Posted by Cassie

We took a day to go out with our guests to one of our favorite spots: Gozalandia in San Sebastian. It is the quintessential tropical waterfall getaway. I always feel that it couldn’t have been designed any better had it been in a movie set. It’s just magical!

Gozalandia
Gozalandia -Main waterfall

gozalandia 2nd fall
Gozalandia secondary waterfall

Petra and Cassie
In Gozalandia with friend Petra

In the Jungle
Jungle Monkey Cassie

turtle
It’s fun to see the turtles too

We also spent some time in Aguada recently and enjoyed a beautiful sunset off the cruising coast.

Cassie stairs
Cool that someone built these steps!

Cassie rock 2

 

Cassie ledge 3
Living on the edge

Sunset Aguada
And another amazing sunset

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Random Photo Update: Life in Toon Town


Posted by Cassie

Here are a few photos that don’t probably deserve a post on their own but are just a part of the slice of life living in Puerto Rico. Sometimes the scenes and places we end up just seem so surreal, like we are living in a dream or some sort of cartoon. Sometimes it’s very strange, sometimes it’s funny, sometimes it’s just strikingly beautiful. But whatever it is, we’re living it up!

Palm Tree Cassie
The beach is always right around the corner

Ardilla Mongoose crop
I finally got a photo of the mongoose! The little egg bandit!

Turkey bridgeTurkeys need to cross bridges too! This particular guy is the hope for the future of our turkeys. The last surviving male.

Corazon
We are harvesting more and more of our own fruit from the finca like this corazón, a fruit that looks like a heart

Bilimbe
And these interesting bilimbes that are juicy and so sour but leave a cool buttery taste in your mouth

More plants
And we went out and got some more plants too!

Kitty
I forgot to mention that Kitty is adapting well to the move over to the cabin too

Cassie Aquario
Out and about there is always something cool to see and do

Barrita Los cocos
Like this little Coconut Barrita

Hibiscus Flor
Or this amazing hibiscus flower right in the plaza that took my breath away

Britton and beer
Check out the view from this roadside liquor store

Mannequin house
And there is nothing like the bottom half of a naked mannequin to draw attention to your store! :-)

Britton congas
One of the conga players from the balneario came down and practiced with us in the jam space!

Sunset
There’s never a shortage of spectacular sunsets here!

Sunset
Marina Sunset

Sangria Cassie
And new spots to check out like Pal Monte

Cassie Ultimo Brinco stand
Which is just up the road from El Ultimo Brinco, Rincon’s little waterfall spot

Cassie wanted  Anthony Loops and Cassie
Or at the restaurant Cowboys which is like a little slice of Colorado in Rincón (with friend and musician, Anthony Lee). They even have rodeos here!

Cowboys Rubberneckers
And we got to see our friends play some country music – the Rubberneckers

Viking B
And if Puerto Rico is like Toon Town, we are now part of the loony fabric too! Here’s Viking man at the beach!

Cassie contemplating coco
Or the contemplation of a coconut in an abandoned house without a roof

Colorful downtown
And everything is so colorful!

Bienvenidos a rincon
Rincón even has the cartoon-like welcome signs!

Cassie rock
And did I mention the beach is around every corner?

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Living in the Cabin and Preparing the Studio


Posted by Cassie

Car and Finca
Looking down at our finca from the road you wouldn’t even know a cabin existed!

I suppose it’s time to do an update on the move to the jungle tree cabin! There is always something more to be done so it’s a little hard to say we are “finished” moving over. But we have been sleeping in the cabin for about 2 months now! Once we moved the bed over, we were officially living here!

Bed
Our bed in the cabin!

This, like everything, was quite the process because we had to haul everything over on foot.

Moving out
We loaded the truck and took the furniture half-way down

Jungle flowers
And then carried it through the tropical gardens

Bridge Britton
And over the bridge…

Cabin
Up the stairs…and into the jungle cabin

We also cleaned out the studio cabana and it needed a full scrub down! Even though it is tiny, things still get really dirty here. Having all our stuff out made the job a little easier.

Britton hoser
At least in the concrete cabin it’s acceptable to bring a hose inside! Haha

Then we bought another bed for the cabana and cleaned it again so that it will be ready for visitors.

Bed to Cabana
Unloading the bed for the studio cabana

Cabana bed (2)
Cabana all cleaned and ready!

So the studio cabana is now officially open for visitors! Contact us at lifetransplanet@gmail.com to stay with us! Here’s the page with information on staying in the cabana!

Cabana Table and view Cabana kitchenette
Roof top dining and view and inside living space of the studio

Back at the jungle cabin, while we had running water, electricity and even internet, we didn’t exactly have a kitchen. Not that that was a deal breaker considering that we lived for 3 years with a mini fridge and a hot plate for our method of cooking, but I was pretty excited to have a full sized kitchen.

Britton Kitchen
Britton in the kitchen/living room of the cabin with the new sink and stove just waiting to be installed

Santa Cassie
And though I have been loving our new bathroom, it just doesn’t make the best place to wash dishes! :-)

So we started building the kitchen including making our own counters/lower cabinets.  

Counters
Building the counters

Britton installed the heavy enameled cast iron sink but had to drill through our very thick floor in order to have a grey water drain out.

Thick Floor
Like a tree core sample. The floor consists of 3/4 inch plywood, thinset, 3/4 cement board, more thinset and the tile

Kitchen Sink
Kitchen currently with counter tiles and functional sink! Yay for washing dishes out of the bathroom!

The next big thing was to hook up gas to our new gas stove so that we would literally be cooking with gas! We went down to Rafucci’s next to Ventana Al Mar to get the parts and the friendly owner said he would just send the gas guys down. We warned them that this was not a standard hook up and that you wouldn’t be able to find us from the road, but he didn’t seem worried.

output_8Yh4We
After stopping at Rafucci’s we walked 20 steps to Aloha for a beer and that always makes BK happy

When the two workers showed up, they walked down the drive, through the meadow, past the chicken and turkey coops, through the tropical gardens, down the ridge line trail, across the bridge, up the stairs and quickly concluded that they would not be able to hook up a big propane gas tank. They said they would return with a 25 lb tank in about an hour. After waiting about 3 hours, we went back to Rafucci and talked with Alfredo again who said he talked with the muchachos and they said that the site was a little too difficult for them. (Would have been nice for them to have told us that instead of having us wait…)

So we decided to go ahead and do what we were going to do in the first place and just install it ourselves. We have found that often people don’t like to tell others bad news so they will just tell you what they think you want to hear and then just avoid you. Because of that we always have a Plan B especially since we know that we are an odd case in general.

Gas hook up
Britton hooking up the gas

Last night we actually ate our first meal cooked in the oven: lasagna; and it was so good! We have been joking that we are going to get chubby again eating with a real kitchen with a full fridge and everything! haha!

Stove
We can’t wait to cook lots of meals on this stove!

Overall, living in the cabin has been a lot of fun. Because there is no road and we are deep in the trees we are immersed in nature. The hummingbirds buzz around, the doves flap and the hawks are always swirling high above. We often see the mongoose running around and of course lots and lots of iguanas, geckos and coquis everywhere. The trees sway all around us and we feel like we live in and amongst them. It’s a really cool feeling.

Cassie stairs
You don’t want to forget anything or it’s quite a walk back!

It can be a bit of a challenge to walk home in the night so we have to always remember our flashlights especially because there are very few guard rails. One night we forgot them and had to crawl on our hands and knees across the bridge because it was a dark and moonless night and…we had been drinking. But we laughed the whole way across.

Coqui
This cold, wet and clammy coqui landed on my leg and then hopped on this ginger leaf

 

First party
We have even had our first “unofficial” get together with a few friends at the cabin!

Cassie jungle
We have lots of fun in our own jungle park!

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