Category Archives: How-To

Ron y Cloro: 8 Ways to Solve Your Problems in PR


Posted by Cassie

There is a joke people sometimes say here. What’s the solution to Puerto Rico’s problems? Ron y cloro. Rum and bleach. Rum, because well everything is just better with a little buzz and bleach because it will wipe everything clean again! So I thought I would write a little about how we use each of these to solve our daily problems in Puerto Rico.

Cassie drink (2)
¡Salud!

1) Things just break down and get so much dirtier here than it ever did in Colorado. We have to keep a cover over our washing machine because the dust settles so heavily over the course of a week and then makes the clothes or sheets dirtier than they started! So you must use more bleach! ¡Más cloro!

Washing machine cover
Washing machine cover

2) I always wondered why so many people had a broom in their hand whenever we would drive around Puerto Rico. Now I know! I must sweep the house at least 2-3 times a day. And it still gets grimy. So…then I need to mop! Más cloro!

3) Not only are we near the sea, but it is constantly humid and so anything metal starts rusting and corroding very quickly. We have learned to buy most metal things out of aluminum or galvanized steel because it is much more rust resistant. But, even still, never trust anything that is held together with metal. Here’s a case in point when the deck to the cabana completely broke!

Broken deck
¡Ay, bendito! The screws rusted out on the ledger!

So you learn that you need multiple back-ups. Especially because on this island you NEVER know if you’ll be able to find the part you’re looking for. Even if you buy online don’t expect it to arrive anytime soon. Britton ordered a part for the Mustang from Ebay and it took nearly a month to arrive because they put it on a ship rather than airplane! ¡Caramba! No wonder things take so long to get fixed, if ever! Island time…means you often have to wait and be patient, so why not go have a drink. Más ron!

Deck repair
To repair it we added two more legs to the wall and cross-braced. Must be prepared for the inevitable future breakdown

4) Even clothes break down faster here! The elastic in our underwear breaks down and the clasps on swimsuits rust out! When I was in Colorado I had clothes for 10+ years! Not here! Plus you have to clean clothes with bleach which breaks down the fibers even faster! But at least we don’t need to wear as much since it’s always warm out! Más ron =menos ropa! :-)

Dirty windows
Even aluminum windows start breaking down after a while! And windows constantly need cleaned (Más cloro!)

5) Bugs! Of course there are bugs everywhere, but here there are a couple that most people who are not from the tropics are not as familiar with: termites and cockroaches. ANY wood you use here including for cabinets, furniture and of course structurally should be made with pressure treated wood! (Madera tratada). We bought some beautiful eucalyptus doors for the cabin, and it said they were insect resistant. What it should have said was that this wood was the most delicious food ever for a termite! Bleach will kill them, but you have to get to their main hive and so we had to take the whole door apart and put it back together again. Más ron!

termites
Termites in the doorframe

As for the cockroaches, unless you live completely sealed in an air conditioned house surrounded only by concrete (and even then), you will have some. They especially love any kind of fresh produce or old food. They poop and are just plain gross with those long antennae and I do not want them around! So this means you must keep your kitchen super clean and no dishes in the sink and everything must be organized and reorganized on the regular. Easier said than done!

Roach
Look, a paradise beetle! haha

6) But they do not like bleach! So bleach floors and counters often to keep cockroaches somewhat away. Another trick we learned with cockroaches is to grab the spray bleach bottle and spray the heck out of then. It slows them down enough that you can then smack them with your chancla (flipflop). (Haha, yes, this is part of our life!) Más cloro!

Spray cloro
Not just for toilets anymore!

7) Bleach also takes away most of the mold that will grow on all sorts of things. Even our pillows, behind framed pictures, anything leather and plastic trashcans! It is just amazing how much life there is here!

8) Rum or rather its boring cousin rubbing alcohol (as well as H2O2 and Neosporin) is the preferred method for all the infections and scrapes we get here. A simple splinter can cause a pus-infested swollen finger in a matter of days because there is just so much stuff always growing here. My skin always breaks out from the various forms of life -whether plant, bacteria, fungi, whatever! Alcohol neutralizes the poison in carrasco, it also helps clear up the stinging red ant bites. We also eat copious amounts of garlic since it is a natural anti-bacterial/anti-viral/anti-fungal agent. It’s no wonder garlic is the main seasoning in Puerto Rican cuisine!!

Haole Rot
In Hawaii they call it Haole Rot because it affects white people more I assume -tinea versicolor

Todo tiene solución. Everything has a solution. And for these problems, and more: Ron y cloro! But don’t forget a nice course of Vitamin Sea with a rum piña colada and a good sense of humor to help these problems and others just melt away!

Beach Sat
Ahhh…Rincón balneario

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Swiss Family Jungle Internet


Posted by Britton

Internet is one of those modern conveniences that is just….. so nice to have. Checking in on Facebook, paying bills or looking how to do things on youtube. We haven’t “hooked” up internet service here yet, but we’ve always had some signal of some sort to utilize.  It is probably more of a personal challenge to find alternate ways of connecting than any actual reason.  In the process you can learn all kinds of new things about networking and radios.

When we first arrived the only way to get an open signal was to be on top of the cabana on the corner of the house. Usually this was in the sun or rain! This is what I will consider internet v1.0. It was much easier than packing up and going to a cafe, plus we didn’t have to buy coffee or sit outside some place and look like moochers. We could mooch from our own home!

Rainy Internet
Version 1.0

I then figured out how to setup a repeater bridge by installing a Linux variant DD-WRT on a Linksys router.  The bridge would take the internet signal from yonder and repeat it so that we had wireless access from within the cabana!  It needed to be waterproof so I bought a plastic trashcan from the dollar store, drilled holes for the antennas and hung it upside down.  I had to hang it upside down to keep the rain from draining into the antenna holes.

Painting the cabana
Version 2.0

Version 2.0 worked really well, it was nice to sit inside the cabana and have access.  Of course with both 1.0 and 2.0 the speeds were pretty much dialup.  The Access Point we were using was pretty far away.  Eventually the trees grew tall enough to block our access.  We had to find another source!

We had been talking to our neighbor about the idea of paying for a share of his internet and in return he would put his wireless router in his window nearest our property to get a good line of sight link to our wireless bridge.  Well this worked out really well!  This was version 3.0 and I even made a little wood box for it out of scrap T-111 because the plastic trashcan disintegrated in the sun!!  The speeds were MUCH faster and it worked really well.

Forward to the cabin being built and wanting to have internet over there.  It is easily 500 feet and there is a forest between the router box, so no signal is going to make it over there.  We had already put in an electricity line and I did some research.

Apparently companies have figured out how to make a device that will transmit from an electric outlet to an electric outlet.  This is perfect!  It is called Ethernet over power in case you may want to use it.  One end plugs into the wireless router (Ethernet up-link) and plugs into the power outlet the router is plugged into.   The other end plugs into an outlet at the cabin.  Since they are on the same circuit they can talk.  The device at the cabin also has a wireless router built into it!  So now we have wireless internet at and around the cabin!

cabin-routergoogle-at-cabin
Version 3.0

The only problem I had now was that apparently wires and cables are fun to chew on.  So rats and iguanas have been chewing up the power and Ethernet cables inside the box and it quits working.

So here comes version 4.0 pictured below.  It is waterproof, chew proof relays a wireless signal from our neighbor to our concrete cabana AND sends a signal thru the electric line to the new cabin.  It isn’t pretty, but hey, maybe nobody will want to steal it?

router-v4
4.0 is Ratproof!

It is fun to invent, design, build and test.  That is what we have been doing the entire time we have lived here in Rincón!  What can I say?  I’m a geek.

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Tile Floors are Installed!


Posted by Cassie

We just accomplished a major milestone in building the cabin! We have just finished installing the tile floors! This was quite a process not the least of which was just simply bringing over the supplies. Before they could even start on the tiles they had to bring over almost 30 sheets of plycem (concrete backer board). Each one of them weighed over 130 pounds! Then they had to move over all the boxes of tiles as well!

Britton and Waldemar floors
Installing each of the concrete backer sheets!

Cassie and Waldemar
Preparing the tile with Waldemar starting with the center piece

Tile Line
Beginning the tile from the center out

One special touch we added was a tile mosaic in the center of the room under the large ceiling fan. It complicated things a little but I think it is pretty cool. We bought the last one in the tile store and so we had to cut some parts special for it, but it turned out very nice.

Design
Mosaic design

Lechada Grout
Installing the grout

Floors
Shortly after installation

Doorway
After the first mopping

For a more in-depth how-to on this tile installation you can watch this video; there’s some pretty funny bloopers at the end too:

Once we finished with the tiles we were able to accomplish something else that we are super excited about: bringing over the full-sized fridge and stove! These were very tough to move over because they, like everything in the cabin, had to be brought over by hand. No dolly was used.

Fridge loading
First they loaded it from the shed into the truck and drove it half-way down

Trail
Then they carried it through the jungle

Britton and Waldemar on the bridge with fridge
Across the bridge

Fridge at the house
Up the stairs, and to the house!

And yes, their backs were pretty sore after this! But we are super excited about the floors and what it means. With the floors and the walls basically finished, that means we are nearly ready to move everything else in too! Next up, the toilet and finishing work on the bathroom!

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First Time “Surfing”


Posted by Cassie

I went surfing for the first time the other day! We picked up our friend Will and his surfboards and headed out to Domes Beach.  It is summertime and that means there aren’t many waves, but it would be a good chance to practice paddling and sitting on the board in the water without a bunch of people (for my sake and theirs!). I wouldn’t call it exactly surfing…but something like it. I had a surfboard, I paddled and hung out in the water, and I had fun…that’s surfing, right?  :-)

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Loaded up truck

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Scoping out the beach

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Britton tried to surf, but his chest sticks out in the center and causes some discomfort so he’s going to need some sort of guard.

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Me out on the board with Desecheo Island in the distance

I easily paddled out and hung out on the board, but I couldn’t stand up or even get on my knees. Takes a lot of practice and balance! Not to mention that waves would be nice too! :-)

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Walking back with the board

Another beautiful day at the beach!

Will on the other hand could catch just about any tiny little wave and spent a long time out in the water. Then he and I came back and played in the trees! A fellow monkeyman!

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Fun climbing trees!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThen I went swimming!

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And hung from the trees some more!

All in all, a fun day “surfing.”

 

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