Category Archives: Puerto Rico

These are posts about Puerto Rico or Puerto Rico culture including music, food, language (Spanish), religion, politics and moving to Puerto Rico.

An Agricultural Weekend -Ag Fair and Vivero Anones

Posted by Cassie

This was a busy weekend with a lot of activities to choose from. There was the Festival of Sweet Oranges in Las Marias, the Corona Surf Contest here in Rincon and an Ag Fair in Moca. We decided to not head down to the crowded Corona Surf event at Domes Beach that we have enjoyed in years past and instead went out to an Agricultural Fair in Moca. So many people descend on Rincon for the Corona event that it becomes crazy crowded, and we opted to mostly avoid it (though it is sort of unavoidable when 5000 more people are in a town of 15,000).

Corona Surf Sunset
We just drove past some of the Corona crowd and slooowly thru the traffic jams

The Agricultural Feria in Moca was actually held at the Labadie Mansion which I adore. I love the architecture and how it magically transports you to a villa in France.

Cassie LabadieMe and the mansion

The actual agricultural part of the fair was pretty small. Mostly it was like the majority of fairs and festivals in Puerto Rico. Lots of carnival food, carnival rides, people watching, and music.

Ag FairMoo watching over the festival

But there were some small aspects of agriculture to it. For example there were vendors giving out samples of chocolate milk and pony rides. There was a small tent of farmers and farm products and we found what we were looking for and that has overall proven to be difficult to find and acquire: some heliconia starts.

Horse Rides
Pony rides

Speaker carsIt’s not an event in Puerto Rico if you’re not blasting music from your car


Britton Pineapple tops
They were making fruit juices with fresh pineapples so we asked for the crowns to plant for free!

On the way out of town after the fair we also stopped at a small vivero and found a few more plants for our collection.

Plant store
Britton at the garden store

One of the reasons we decided not to go to the Festival de las Chinas in Las Marias was because we had made plans to meet with Sherry Ballester again at her Vivero Anones in Las Marias on Tuesday and didn’t want to drive up there twice in one week. She gave us a deal we couldn’t pass up: precious heliconia and ginger starts in exchange for some help around her farm. She and her husband Carlos are getting older and are having a hard time keeping up with the work at the farm, especially with the destruction from Hurricane Maria. There was still a lot of debris everywhere and she couldn’t even access whole sections of her farm. Well, we know all about cleaning up a property! We packed up the chainsaw, digging stick, loppers and machete along with rubber boots and pants and made our way up to the farm.

Britton and Sherry
Britton and Sherry with one of the tall heliconias

I helped a little moving some debris from the paths and bringing supplies and water to help, but Britton did the bulk of the work of chainsawing, clearing, digging and hauling while I wandered around looking at her gorgeous collection. Sherry knows all of the scientific names to these plants, but I can’t remember them all.

Heliconia (2)
Hanging pendant heliconia

Bright upright heliconia

Rabo de gato
This one is rabo de gato -cat tail

Palm tree
Huge palm tree making a comeback

Hummingbirds abound

Cassie jungleHanging out in nature

Dirty B
It’s dirty yet beautiful work!

Vivero Anones
Sherry took this picture of us after a long sweaty morning session

Britton was so dirty we actually had to go out and buy him a t-shirt before visiting with our friend Missy later that afternoon.

Water jugMoving the water tank with our new friend Ryan -look how dry the grass is!

We have been wanting to expand the flower gardens but have also been hoping for more rain because new transplants need a lot of water. It has been sooo dry lately that we have to give a little extra water and hand irrigation to the plants. The problem is that the water has been off and on (along with the power). We had some guests staying with us this past week and they helped us move the water cistern to the top of the cabana so that everyone  -plants and people can be wet down. We also installed another water spigot on the other side of the bridge to have easier access to water. There is always some sort of challenge around here, but we’re up to the task!

What do you think of this post?
  • WOW (1)
  • Awesome (8)
  • Interesting (0)
  • Useful (1)
  • Bummer (0)
  • Yikes (0)

Aguadilla Treehouse and Parque Colon

Posted by Cassie

Living in little rural Rincon it is nice to have two fairly large-sized cities to both sides of us: Aguadilla to the north and Mayaguez to the south. Both of them serve different purposes and have different vibes to them. Aguadilla has the military base and a bit more hipster/surfer feel whereas Mayaguez has the major university of the area and has a more family/career feel to it. When we go to Aguadilla we often stop at the mall on top of the ridge that overlooks the ocean and go shopping at the Pueblo grocery store. Get your food with a view!

Shopping with a view
Grocery shopping with a view in Aguadilla

Another nice stop in Aguadilla is the malecon area near the ice skating rink and we often stop there to have a drink, meal or picadera (finger food). One day we drove near the Parque Colon and I saw that the huge Aguadilla Treehouse was open. (Not that it can really be closed right now since the fence around it was completely destroyed by Hurricane Maria.)

Plaza Colon
Parque Colon -Aguadilla is one of many cities that claim to be Columbus’ first stop in Puerto Rico

This treehouse is amazing, mainly because of the tree. I was so happy to see that the tree hadn’t suffered too much damage from the hurricane. That couldn’t be said for the rest of the area however.

Cassie tree
In the roots/trunk of the tree

Britton in treehouse
Britton climbing around the fort/treehouse

I’ve always thought it would be fun to build a treehouse of some sort on our finca. We have some massive trees on the property, but nothing like this monster one that is actually kind of like a few trees that have merged together as it sends down roots from its branches.

Hola como estas tree
The tree is a 200 year old Laurel!

Cassie Treehouse
Under one of the arching branches. Watch your head!

Cassie climbing tree
This tree is incredible!

Treehouse wide view
Here is a wider view angle. It’s hard to really capture the magnitude of this tree and structure around it!

We hung out a while in the area and noticed an old playground of sorts. It looked as though there had been some sort of small child’s train system and a very sad, dilapidated and almost haunted and spooky looking section of children’s rides. Nearby around Parque Colon there are also ball courts, gazebos and other areas to make a picnic or hang out. And of course, the beach is right there!

Toy story apocalypseDestroyed playground equipment and look how many coconut palms had to be cut!

Skateboarding car
And of course there is always some sort of shenanigan going on -skateboarder catching a ride

If you are in the Aguadilla area, I highly recommend checking out Parque Colon and the awesome treehouse!

What do you think of this post?
  • WOW (0)
  • Awesome (6)
  • Interesting (2)
  • Useful (0)
  • Bummer (0)
  • Yikes (0)

Projects Around the Property

Posted by Cassie

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.

ChainsawBritton 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.

Flower Truck Load
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.

Cassie and bambooThis bamboo is bigger than me and weighed more too!

MonsteraI 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.

Cabin in the woods
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.

Trim for doors
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

Cabana Roof Sealing roof
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.

What do you think of this post?
  • WOW (4)
  • Awesome (16)
  • Interesting (1)
  • Useful (0)
  • Bummer (0)
  • Yikes (0)

Ponce Carnaval -The Sardine’s Funeral

Posted by Cassie

From the from Alcaldia

Imagine a mix of Mardi Gras, Halloween, Puerto Rican traditional music and dancing, high school marching bands all with a dose of Burning Man and surrealism. What do you have? The Sardine’s Funeral on the last night of Carnaval in Ponce, Puerto Rico.

B C Ponce
At the historic Parque de Bombas in Ponce

We headed down to Ponce on Tuesday afternoon (the day before Lent) with very little expectations. We heard something about the burial of the sardine. What does that even mean? Well, as we came to learn it is a raucous and very strange celebration mocking death and mourning the end of Carnaval. It is held in the historic town plaza of Ponce and there are lots of other fun things including a bomba dancing and singing show. This year it was a pretty quiet night, but the outlandish festivities made up for the low numbers.

Dancing with the bombas
With the young bomba dancers

There are also lots of vejigantes (folkloric scary figures to scare away the demons) walking around and occasionally startling people. In modern times a lot of them wore Halloween masks along with the traditional robes and cow bladders that they would beat. We found a few deflated bladders left around. It was rather weird!

Britton bladder
Britton with a deflated cow bladder -Yuck!

More scary clownsWith some of the scary clown/vejigantes

Scary clowns
More strange fun…note the balloon looking bladders they are carrying

Scary costumes
With a werewolf vejigante

It wasn’t until the funeral procession for the sardine that we saw some of the more traditional masks.

Sardines Funeral
Here you can see the sardine in the casket as well as some of the vejigantes

Cassie and the procession
Me and the funeral procession

Carrying the casket
Lifting and then carrying the casket onto the stage

Death welcoming
Death and a marching band

Strange parade cats
Crazy cat man? Plus creepy dolls…

The whole parade itself was a peculiar event, but the sardine and the wailing mourners took the cake. When they brought the sardine up on stage, they said a eulogy for all sorts of silly things including broken cell phones and flat tires. Then they lit a hang-man on fire in effigy. The whole thing was bizarre but they definitely put the “fun” in funeral.  

We ended the night overlooking the entire scene from high atop a luxury hotel building. We then danced our way out listening to the final band playing “Hot, Hot, Hot” and limboed lower laughing all the way. I would highly recommend the Ponce Carnaval that lasts 5-7 days before Lent every year. And for the strangest event ever, come the night of the Sardine’s funeral!

RIP SardinaRIP La Sardina!

What do you think of this post?
  • WOW (2)
  • Awesome (4)
  • Interesting (4)
  • Useful (0)
  • Bummer (0)
  • Yikes (0)