Sweet Home, Coamo, Center of the Universe

    I’ve written about our little burg as well as what it’s like to live here on several occasions. This post is aimed at filling in a few of the ‘blanks’.Octopus Tree- Schefflera actinophylla, Flowering in Coamo, Puerto Rico

    I think it’s worth mentioning, Coamo is one of the few towns in PR that has actually experienced growth in the midst of all the negative economic reporting. It does not hurt that our current governor is from here or that the mayor is his brother. I have no issue with any of that, but some might.

    I feature 4 venues of Coamo, 3 of which are maintained by the municipio (city), the fourth is a most favorite restaurant.

    Piscinas Aguas Termales-

    Hot Springs for the Public

    In a previous post, I featured Banos de Coamo. At that time it was under ‘new construction’. Since then, the City of Coamo took over its operation and I wanted to see what it looked like. Funny thing is, we never went in (the main entrance is still under reconstruction). Instead, we drove around the back where there used to be public access to the river and the adjacent hot springs. That area had been closed for several years so we had to check it out.

    Piscinas Aguas Termales Entrance, PR

    Me First Mate remembers going on picnics with friends before they closed it off. Hanging out, cooking, drinking, eating and having a great time.

    Things have changed since then… Continue reading

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      The Abandoned Ruins of Henry Barracks

        A pal of mine recently told me about a set of ruins up in the mountains near Cayey. After a bit of planning we met in Cayey and headed off to check it out.Overgrown entrance to Henry Barracks Ruins near Cayey, PR

        As it turns out, this old US Army fort has a long and colorful history.

        The ruins are located on Highway 184. Coming from San Juan, it’s the Guavate Exit, which is the first exit before Cayey, off Expressway 52. After you exit, head under the Expressway going left, into the mountains. It’s a typical Puerto Rican mountain road so you will not be doing 60mph, but the views are stunning so why push it. I took a lot of photos along the way.

        The actual coordinates are- 18º06’49.63”N, 66º03’49.82”W.Abandoned buildings near entrance of Henry Barracks Ruins near Cayey, PR

        We had a perfect day… the weather was mostly clear with a nice breeze. After a couple of false turns, we found ourselves at what looked like the main entrance. The sign at the main gate was gone, but you could still see where it once stood.

        On the Grounds..

        It would be an understatement to say that the overgrowth had taken over the place. If it were not for the Continue reading

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          A Long Overdue Update

            I apologize… I kind of lost my momentum over dealing with family issues, the downward spiral of Puerto Rico’s economy, my crappy ankles, our crappy internet service and the local drought. Nothing has changed regarding the last 4 issues, but I am inspired to start writing again.Shooting Ruins in the Mountains of PR

            As bad as it is for the locals, those that stay on the island need our help. So I choose to maintain a positive state of mind.

            Puerto Rico will never be ‘home’ to those from the mainland who cannot adapt to a culture other than their own. Those whose lifestyles and standards of living are too rigid, hate it here. I guess I’ve become less ‘Americano’ over the last 6 years. We are so hardcore, we drive with the AC off and the windows down, if it’s not raining. Most of the issues brought up by ‘mainlanders’ don’t bother me. So yes, I still like living here. I will continue to share the places and things I discover while ‘out and about’. I am still busy shooting the places we visit so there are 3 or 4 posts I’ll follow up with. Plus there is the garden thing which keeps me very busy.

            NOAA Puerto Rico Rainfall Graphics. 30 Year Average Versus July 2015 Estimate.

            The 20 Year Drought

            It’s been dry here. Way too dry. So dry the Puerto Rican government has started rationing water in the greater San Juan metroplex. I’m very glad I set up a small rainwater catchment set, but I cannot cover Continue reading

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              5 Years in.. Time to Reflect

                This yearend post finds me reflecting on more than what it’s like to live in Puerto Rico.  I can say I’m just as jazzed to be here as when I landed for the first time in August of 2009.  I cannot imagine living any other place.

                The food, the music, the countryside, the people will grow on you.

                Deserted Beach in PRAs I’ve said before, Puerto Rico is not without it’s frustrations.  Especially if you are a gringo from the mainland, though Alaska hardly qualifies as the ‘mainland’.  I grew up in Alaska so that tends to ‘color’ my perspective.

                Puerto Rico and Alaska share some of the same issues

                Both rely heavily on food and almost all consumer goods used day-to-day from stateside.  In Alaska, we referred to it as ‘the lower 48’.  In PR, it’s the ‘mainland’ or something less friendly.  Both places share a sense of independence.. an attitude that you could make a go of it.  NBC Snowden GraphicNot so much these days, but you can see it in the attitude of the ‘old timers’.  Those that were used to depending on each other to get stuff done.  I see it in the rural folks of PR and I admire them for it.

                Then there are the cultural differences.  To be honest, what passes as American Culture these days bothers me to my core.  I think about it a lot.  Way too much emphasis on consumerism and ‘things’ and less concern with ‘community’.

                Goodbye to TV as We Knew it-

                I was a child of the TV Era.  I remember the day my dad brought home our first black & white TV.  I must have been 4 or 5. TV ads were part of the norm.  Even after I got cable… nothing had changed.  Just more of it.  There Continue reading

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                  El Capitolio de Puerto Rico, Palace of Laws

                    I’ve wanted to visit the Capitol building since my first trip to PR in 2009. We have driven L. Muñoz Rivera Avenue, past the Capitol many times… if you take the trolley from the docks to El Morro, you can’t miss it. It is a very grand and beautiful structure.

                    External View of Puerto Rican Capitol Building in Old SJ

                    Last week, I was contacted by the Tourism Promoter for the Office of Legislative Services, Ms. Keisha Sosa. She asked if I would be interested in a tour of the Capitol Building so we jumped at the chance.Police on the Steps of the Puerto Rico Capitol Building in Old SJ

                    The one hour tour was free!

                    We made plans for an afternoon tour so we could do lunch in Old San Juan, first. I hate going into San Juan for business or shopping without hitting ‘Old Town’. More about that and running into the Governor at the end of the post.

                    Puerto Rican Capitol Building Tour Guides in Old SJThe Tour-

                    We are still in the ‘Low Season’ so we had the Capitol building almost entirely to ourselves. They often host bus loads of schoolchildren and cruise ship tourists so this was much more relaxed. Tours are available in both Spanish and English. Our tour guide, Mr. Jerry Pablos spoke perfect English. Not only that, but he was extremely knowledgeable. He fielded our questions without hesitation. He could recite dates, names and places like he had been there. Continue reading

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                      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 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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                              PR Hats, Ts, Tops and More

                              The Isle of Bamboo Website in PR

                              Isle of Bamboo Screen Grab

                              Wippy Woppy Webdesign is proud to announce our new site- the Isle of Bamboo.

                              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!

                              The Site is optimized to run on desktops and laptops as well as tablets like the iPad or Android 4.0 models.

                              The Isle of Bamboo

                              Amazon.com PR Hot Picks

                              Rich Puerto Rican Coffee

                              Order the Good Stuff Here

                              Stovetop Espresso Makers

                              A Great Way to Make Coffee

                              Puerto Rican Flags and Banners

                              Fly Your Flag With Pride

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                              Cool Travel Accessories

                              The Little Things You Need