There is always something to do around here. With four acres of land, two small casitas and a couple of bird coops we are always busy maintaining and trying to move forward with new goals. We try to do as much as we can ourselves with occasional outside help. Here are a few of the projects we have been working on recently.
Britton sawing what I think is a fallen Indian bay leaf tree
Chopping up downed trees
Hurricane Maria brought down a lot of trees everywhere and our property was no exception. One of the many things we did right when we built the jungle cabin was to bury the electric line even though it was 500 feet away from the main. Otherwise, we would have been struggling like the electric company to get the poles up and the trees off the lines. We still had (and have) a mess to contend with however. The problem is that there is nowhere to bring all this wood. So we have a huge pile of wood debris in the quebrada.
It does open up our jungle area to a little more light and we have plans to plant more heliconias and gingers here as we expand our flower business. Britton mainly runs the chainsaw because I am a little afraid of the kickback when I’ve used it. I lopper some of the smaller brush around until we have an area that we can replant. We have a whole section of property (about 3/4 acre) by the Magic Mango and Camino de Pobres that we haven’t even touched and is still impossible to cross without scrambling over huge fallen trees that jut every which way.
Truck loaded with flowers to bring to the market
Flowers and plants
This is one of the more enjoyable tasks around the farm. We go out and find plants -either dig-ups or at nurseries- and then the next day or so we plant them. When we plant a tree it’s really a tough decision because we know that some of them can grow to be huge and we’d rather not transplant too much. With the other plants that grow from rhizomes like bananas, eleplant ears, heliconias and gingers we’re not so picky because they are easily transplanted.
This bamboo is bigger than me and weighed more too!
I love monsteras and they look great in the flower bouquets too
Some plants are very difficult to find and/or transplant like the giant bamboo we recently planted. This probably deserves a post of its own because it took 2 days of digging and a full day of moving and transplanting. I love how the plants and flowers transform the place. The jungle is beautiful on its own, but the broad-leafed plants bring a certain classic paradise look that I just love.
Our cabin in the jungle
The jungle treetop cabin
While there is always something to do with a structure, I would say that the inside of the jungle cabin is now complete. We finished the kitchen and our final touch this past month was to have screen doors installed. Now it is so fresh and breezy that I almost always have to have a blanket on at night! We have more plans for the area around it such as finishing the lower area as well as adding some railing.
Trimming the screen doors
Mango cabana Cabana at the top of the property
The concrete cabana got hit worse by the hurricane than our jungle wooden cabin because it has the ocean view and therefore the winds are stronger. It lost all of its upper railing on the rooftop and the front of the house got blasted like a water pressure treatment for 24+ hours. So we have some projects for it especially as we are now renting it out to guests. We are planning on repainting the outside areas that got blasted as well as the interior.
We also just recently finished sealing the roof again. This is a product called Crossco that is basically a plastic paint that prevents water from slowly seeping through the concrete into the house. Britton also refortified the small bridge crossing since it doesn’t have the other cabana rails as support for it anymore/currently. And I have a couple of ideas for interior decor.
Powerwashing then resealing the roof of the cabana
Before and after sealing
Of course there is always more, but these have been the current projects around the property. It’s hard work but keeps us busy and I love seeing the ever-changing beauty of this magical place.
Ave María is a religious expression that is commonly used in Puerto Rico. It’s sort of like Ay, Caramba or Mother Mary please help us and in this case it’s: Really, there’s another hurricane headed right for us?!
Religion, science, camaraderie and legends all try to help us make sense out of the craziness that life throws at us it seems.
The projected path of Hurricane María could be anywhere in the red
After the last hurricane, we’ve decided not to move out of the wooden cabin to the concrete cabana for María. It’s actually far less windy in our little protected valley of the cabin. The worst part of Hurricane Irma wasn’t the hurricane, it was waiting for the power and water to come back. So we again got more gas for the generator and are again filling up the water cistern.
The stores are out of drinking water again. I asked a woman at the grocery store why they don’t just fill up their bottles from the last storm with tap or rain water like we are going to do. And she seemed a little confused. “Pues, las usamos y luego las botamos…Well, we use them and then throw them away!” Hmm. I guess I have a harder time just throwing stuff away, especially knowing how useful they are. It’s pretty simple to sanitize them!
Is it a coincidence that avocados are so abundant this time of year and guacamole is so easy to prepare even in a hurricane?
We also learned from the last storm that it is open game on junk food! Calories don’t count if you have to live without water, internet or electricity, right?! In Econo, not only was all the water gone, but also all of the Chef Boyardee, an apparent hurricane favorite!
In addition we heard a cool legend story that the Tainos (natives of the island before Columbus) apparently believed. Hopefully I don’t screw it up too much:
There were two twin brothers. One was named Yukiyu (which was later translated as Yunque the same a the national park near San Juan) and the other was Huracán. Yukiyu was the good god who cared for Borinken (the island of Puerto Rico) and all of its inhabitants and was especially present in the mountain areas. Huracán was the evil brother who was always jealous that the islands loved Yukiyu more and so he would try to come around nearly every year to destroy Yukiyu and his beloved ones. He and Yukiyu fight and most times Yukiyu wins. Therefore you must give thanks to him by being kind to the land. But this battle rages on to this day.
Some of our old wood is being repurposed as hurricane boards
Some people get really worked up about these storms and many others are pretty calm about it. You can tell who are the (calm and collected) veterans and who (ahem, lots of gringos) are the newbie scaredy-cats. We are trying not to be as freaked out about this one as the last even if the storm is super hyped. There is a real psychological screwiness to watching the models as they descend RIGHT OVER YOU! It makes even the calmest person get a little agitated.
In our neighborhood…hooking up a new generator and propane delivery
We are learning from our neighbors who have lived here their whole lives and have survived many tropical storms and hurricanes. We figure, they know much more than we do about living through a major storm. Some people are boarding up windows, but mainly just those with full glass fronts. We stopped and talked with Julio, our 86 year-old neighbor who must weigh about 100 lbs, and Berto who’s in his 50′s to see how they were doing for the storm. Berto said he was tying some things down with rope and that they better tie up Julio so he wouldn’t blow away! haha!
One neighbor is weaving plastic trash bags through the window to cut down on the water spray
I am trying my best to be calm because I know the odds and I know what we can do during and after. The storm seems to be moving north and losing some steam and the only real danger is directly in the eye. Anyway, there’s only so much you can do and the worst case scenario (afterward everything is ravaged and there’s no water or electricity for weeks and weeks), we just take a month-long (or longer) vacation to visit family in CO before dealing with the mess. Don’t sweat the small stuff as they say, and it’s all small stuff.
We’ve learned a lot throughout this very active hurricane season and feel even more connected with this land, people and culture by going through this. We are all in this together!
Also, just FYI, we were contacted by Channel 31 (which is also Channel 2 News) out of Denver last night and did a Facetime interview with them explaining our connection to Colorado and Puerto Rico and what we are going through with Irma and María. The segment should air sometime tonight around 9pm local Colorado time. Let us know if you see it!
Ave María, please be good to us! And Yukiyu, please convince Huracán to leave us unharmed (and preferably with power and water quickly too)!
Summer and Brandom’s stay was pretty short, so we tried to pack in all the stops we could. It’s hard when people come to visit because they are in vacation mode and we are not used to partying every night. Every other, maybe… (haha). But we had a lot of fun even if we are now completely exhausted!
Summer and Brandon at Gozalandia
We often go to Gozalandia with guests because it is just simply spectacular and close. This was probably our favorite trip because it was hot out and though there were more people, it was a Wednesday so it wasn’t too crowded. We each swung from the rope swing a few times and even jumped from the skull face. It was a great time.
Summer swinging from the rope
So much fun climbing, jumping and swimming!
Me swinging off the rope
Summer wanted to go to Villa Cofresí in Rincón again to share with Brandon the famed pirata drink out of a coconut and watch the sunset before heading over to the Art Walk.
Something so fun about drinking out of a fruit!
Sunset from Villa Cofresí
During the day I caught them a little iguana to hold. The darn thing kept snapping at me and trying to eat my diamond! But at least I haven’t lost my iguana catching skills!
On their final night here we went out with our friend Patrik in his nice Mercedes. Hanging out with Patrik is like being in real-life Grand Theft Auto. He is Swedish and very loud and intense, but a great guy. It was a lot of fun.
Brandon, BK and Patrik
Brandon, Summer and BK
And it’s always a silly good time with the Kersches
They even got to see the Rincón Lighthouse, but of course! Overall, I think Brandon got a good dose of the Rincón/west coast vibe.