A Leisurely Ramble Through Old San Juan


    Hindsight is always ’50/50′

    A while back, I went into Old San Juan to do a little black and white photography on film. I spent the morning with a friend, Fanny, from the SJ Photo MeetUp group.Side Street Looking up, in Old San Juan, PR

    I got exactly one roll out of my 35mm Olympus OM 4 before it died. It employs an electronic shutter so no batteries, no go.

    I should have brought an OM-1 as backup since it works, with or with out batteries.
    Next time.

    With no spare batteries for the OM-4, I switched back to shooting digital.

    Fanny was shooting with a plastic Holga 120 rollfilm camera that does not use a built-in light-meter. You simply aim and shoot. The photo-lab does the rest.Restored Private Residences in Old San Juan, PR
    I love these things and was slightly envious of hers.

    They put the ‘fun’ back into photography. Lomography actually makes a large variety of interesting, but cheap film cameras. They also come in a bunch of fun colors.

    There’s a huge photo community devoted to these somewhat off color, retro looking analogue images.  I like it.

    I still have the roll of black and white Plus-X from the day.

    At some point I’ll send it in for processing. That said, here are four ’toned’ digital images from our shoot.  Click any image to see them larger. Continue reading

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      The Iguana Hunters of Puerto Rico

        First, I have to thank Alex and Oti for inviting me to tag along on one of their shoots.  These guys are awesome!!  I only wish my Spanish was as good as their English.  This post is not for the squeamish.  If this type of activity bothers you, stop now.

        Some will ask-The Iguana Hunters of PR- Alex and Oti with 2 Fresh Kills, in Santa Isabel, PR

        Why do they need to hunt iguana in Puerto Rico?

        It’s a fair question.

        Basically, the island is over-run by the Green or Common Iguana.  They are NOT indigenous and there are NO natural predators to keep them in check (other than humans).  On top of that, they ruin millions of dollars in crops every year.  Besides, they are supposed to be quite tasty (still working on that one).

        Here are a couple of
        quotes from Wikipedia about them-

        “They are very common throughout Puerto Rico, where they are colloquially known as “Gallina de palo” (as in “Chicken of the Tree”) and considered as an invasive species introduced from South America…”  And… “In February 2012, the government of Puerto Rico proposed that the islands’ iguanas, which were said to have a population of 4 million and considered to be a non-native nuisance, be eradicated and sold for meat.”  See more on Wikipedia.

        So the Government of PR has opened the door to the locals taking them out.  Which leads us to today’s activities.

        The Iguana Hunters of PR- Banana, Papaya and Palms on the Grounds of Finca de Palmas, in Santa Isabel, PR

        On the grounds of Finca de Palmas in Santa Isabel-

        As luck would have it, this 300 acre farm is less than 15 minutes from our house.  The guys are all from Aguada so it was most of 2 hours for them to make the run.  Aguada is near Rincon on the west coast, but there are Continue reading

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          The Beautiful Plaza of Mayagüez, PR, Interrupted

            Click For Map WindowI have been to Mayagüez several times, but never to the Plaza.

            Mayagüez Attractions- The Mayagüez Zoo is the only zoo of its type on the entire island. Worth a stop if you have the time. Then there is the USDA Tropical Agriculture Research Station next to the University of PR.

            Alcaldia on the Plaza of Mayagüez, Puerto Rico

            A facility with a marvelous garden, free to the public. I’ve covered both of these before.  They are not the only things of interest in Mayagüez, but they are probably the most popular.

            The busy Port of Mayagüez supports a commercial ferry run to Santo Domingo, the capital of the Dominican Republic.  Something I really want to try.  It’s a very popular trip for Puerto Ricans on vacation.  You could fly there, but I like riding the ferry.  Something I did in Alaska.  The Dom. Rep. is a lot closer to PR than most folks realize.  Someday…

            Water Fountain and Statue of Christopher Columbus on the Plaza Colón of Mayagüez, Puerto Rico

            Mayagüez is on the far west end of the island, about as far from San Juan as you can get.  After Ponce, it is a very popular destination for visitors looking to get away from the crowded conditions of San Juan.  Much more laid back with a real Puerto Rican vibe.  During the Dry Season, it’s also a lot more lush than the south side of the island.

            As of the 2010 Census, greater Mayagüez, ” City of the Mangos”,  has Continue reading

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              Cacao to Chocolate and a Little Coffee too

                Like Coffee, growing Cacao is very popular here in Puerto Rico.  Basically, if one can grow coffee, then one can grow Cacao.  It needs the shade of overgrowth and protection from strong wind that large trees can provide.  Ripe Cacao Fruit, ready for Harvest at Hacienda Buena Vista in Ponce, PR
                This makes Cacao perfect for planting among taller things.

                So when a Cacao seminar in English was scheduled for Hacienda Buena Vista, we had to go!

                Hacienda Buena Vista Revisited

                I did a pretty detailed story about Hacienda Buena Vista awhile back. I also did a short YouTube video shot ‘from the road’ showing how to get there. Simply, once you get on Highway123, you cannot miss the place.  It will be on the left. Parking is still an issue.  Get there early to get in line or you might find yourself parking in the road.  Entrance to Hacienda Buena Vista in Ponce, PRI would normally penalize a place for this issue, but parking is almost always an issue, no matter where you go in PR.

                Hacienda Buena Vista is up above Ponce and dates back to the days of slavery. When slavery ended a few decades later, it became uneconomical to maintain. They grew coffee for export and made corn meal for the local market which they ground themselves. The corn was imported and hauled from the port in Ponce in sacks of whole kernel corn. The restoration of the facility by the Puerto Rico Conservation Trust (Fideicomiso de Conservación) is quite remarkable as it is fully functional. They fire up the water wheel driven mill for every tour. It’s quite impressive.  For those Continue reading

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                  Big Yearend Garden Update, 2013

                    The further adventures of living in USDA Zone 11 where you can grow stuff literally  year round.  As of this week, I’ve added 13 new sprouts of 5 species to the ‘collection’

                    Assortment of new seeds being soaked overnight before being placed in starter trays.The new additions are:

                    3 African Medlar, Vangueria infausta (had none)

                    1 Rainforest Plum, Eugenia candolleana (had 2)

                    2 South Am. Nance, Byrsonima crassifolia (had 6)

                    3 rare Atemoya ‘X’, Annona Squamosa X Cherimoia (had 5)

                    4 Jackal Berry or African Ebony, Diospyros mespiliformis (had 1)

                    When it comes to potting sprouts, I use a mix of 1/3 commercial loam, 1/3 commercial potting soil and 1/3 of our soil, all sifted to remove rocks and debris. I do adjust it for certain plant types, but that’s the basic formula. Seeds are started in a much lighter mix of shredded Coconut husk (coir) and Sphagnum moss. That’s what I use in the donut trays.

                    There are other new things in pots as well.. Continue reading

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                      2013 Year End Wrap Up

                        A stylized 'selfy' of the Scurvy DogI’m sure a few of you are wondering what’s happening with me Scurvy Dog’s Blog. Let me explain…

                        First, the Blog has grown so big, its database has become extremely bloated. So much so that I run the high risk of losing some content to data corruption. All these posts with tons of photos takes its toll on data management. If and when the database becomes corrupted, I will not be able to restore it completely, if at all. Yes, I do database back-ups, but even that is not a perfect solution. Nor does it protect the thousands of images on the site. The ‘back-up files’ exceed my allowed limit for my hosting service account. Taking older posts off-line and archiving the content is one solution, but it would make searches take longer than they do now. Some images would no longer be available. Me Internet savvy Early morning double rainbow over CoamoFirst Mate has setup our own private hosting account so as to have more control over website hosting issues. Now, all our assorted sites reside in one convenient place.

                        That’s a good thing.

                        Second, I have a degenerative congenital condition of both ankles that until recently, was only ever a minor inconvenience. Back in the day, I used to backpack and cross-country ski so it never got in the way. Fast forward to my late 40′s, I got to where I could not stand on my feet all day to work. Simple solution- stop standing all day. Continue reading

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                          Montoso Gardens in the Mountains of Maricao

                            Click For Map WindowIn my quest to track down other sources of tropical plants from within Puerto Rico, I stumbled onto the Montoso Gardens Website.   The site has many photos and details about their effort.  They also feature guided and unguided tours of the grounds.Pink Torch Ginger on the Grounds of Montoso Gardens in Maricao, Puerto Rico

                            Sounds like a fun afternoon to me so I had to check it out.

                            After trading emails and meshing schedules, we set a date in late July.  Though this part of the island at this time of year gets lots and lots of rain, we lucked out and had a wonderful day.

                            Montoso Gardens is owned and operated by Bryan Brunner and his brother Dave.  Bryan is a horticulturist who works at the Agricultural Experimental Station of the University of Puerto Rico in Lajas.   He moved to PR in 1987 to the mountains of Maricao and started with 9 acres.  Over the years, he’s been able to expand the ‘little patch’ to 70 acres.  Bryan Brunner of Montoso Gardens in Maricao, Puerto RicoDave joined the effort in 2001 and runs the day to day operations.  A couple of great guys.

                            Their farm was originally part of the 137 acre coffee Hacienda el Cerro, and was owned by another horticulturist, Dr. 10 Year Old African Oil Palm (Elaeis guineensis) of Montoso Gardens in Maricao, Puerto RicoFrank Martin of the Tropical Agriculture Experimental Station (TARS) in Mayaguez.

                            Getting there

                            Finding the place was not hard.  It’s the same route we had covered to take in the Coffee Festival of Maricao which also took us past the observation overlook of la Torre de Piedra.  The turnoff to Montoso Gardens was a few miles after that.  If you plan to visit, their website has details about how to set up an appointment and how to find the place.

                            Basically, we exited Highway 2 at Sabana Grande and headed to town via Highway 121, then took Highway 120 out of town, into the mountains.  We still managed to make the same wrong turn in town, but at least I knew where I needed to be. Continue reading

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                              The Scurvy Dog’s Skull Rating System

                              The scurvy dogs skull rating, one is bad five is good

                              San Juan, Puerto Rico Weather

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                              It's dedicated to the myriad of ways bamboo enriches our lives and our planet.  If there ever was a 'Super Plant', bamboo is it!

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