Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year!!!

All of us at Ola Lola's wish you and yours a very happy new year filled will peace, love, joy and prosperity. May 2010 be your best year ever!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas breakfast with Kennedy

and her Ama, Mama and Miguel. This is serious stuff!

Merry Christmas, everybody. Be safe and warm.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

This Christmas Eve

One of the things (for me at least) about living on a tropical island is that it is difficult to get in the mood for Christmas. And this year has been a very quiet, laid-back Christmas season, especially by Puerto Rican standards. As I wrote in my last post, being from the North, that whole white Christmas thing is pretty much imprinted in my DNA. So, no matter how many Santas in red trimmed with white fur(!) or how many inflatable snowmen (we have one in front of Ola Lola's) there are, it just doesn't feel like Christmas.

That said, Christmas isn't really about presents or snow or shopping or music or even the birth of Jesus for that matter. It's really about family and friends and love and peace and joy and the fading away of an old year and the promise and renewal of a fresh new year - the same things this winter solstice season has been about since hundreds of years before Jesus.

Even though we are many miles away from many of our friends and most of our family, we still feel very connected. Despite the miles between us, we love them and are loved in return. And of course, Elaine and I are here together, sharing this great adventure. Tonight we had the now-traditional Christmas Eve Chinese take-out dinner with Amy, Miguel and Kennedy, so we are sharing the holiday with family. To the rest of our big extended family out there, we love you and miss you. We hope wherever you are tonight, you are warm and safe and full of joy. Merry Christmas to all, and to a good night!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

12th day of Christmas - nostalgia

On the twelfth day of Christmas - I posted a new blog!

We get asked a lot if we miss the cold and the snow we left behind in Michigan (as in the photo above of the park in downtown Kalamazoo, MI at Christmas time). My stock answer is "Maybe someday but this isn't the day."

This time of year I don't so much miss it as I get nostalgic for it. Most of our Christmas traditions are of Northern European origin, transplanted to North America. The dream of a white Christmas is almost imprinted in our DNA. The magic of the ever-green pine tree - the symbol of life continuing through the cold and dark of winter and the promise of its return in the spring - is an integral part of a norther winter. Back in Michigan we used to put up our Christmas tree around the first of December and didn't take it down until at least Valentine's Day, often later.

I never minded the cold. Yes, I get nostalgic for my sweaters. I used to have 25 or 30. Did I need so many sweaters? Of course not. But I love(d) sweaters! By mid-September (when the temps in Michigan are still often in the high-70s or low-80s) I started looking forward to "sweater weather." But I miss much less than I thought I would. The other day I found two that I brought with me and and I thought, "What was I thinking?" Yes, I get nostalgic about sitting in front of a fire in the fireplace sipping a "butter nipple" (Bailey's and butterscotch schnapps), watching the snow fall outside our window. I didn't move to the tropics to "escape" the cold, but I don't "miss" doing those things.

I loved the look of the light from Christmas rope lights I put under the railing of our deck falling on fresh snow. I miss cross-country skiing, but then I missed that in the years in Michigan that we had too little snow or too much snow or too little time. If I miss anything about snow, it is the postcard or Christmas card look of a fresh snowfall.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Cold in the north but sunny here

Our niece Kenzie escaped the north just in time, just a head of the first big storm of the winter. She showed up at our door (at 4:30 am!) on Monday. (If you notice a family resemblence, yes, Kenzie is Jordan's sister.) For now she's staying with Amy and Miguel and Kennedy and enjoying the sunshine. She's gonna be hangin' out on the island for a couple of weeks. She'll be at Ola Lola's off and on. Stop by and say howdy. Welcome, Kenzie. Have fun!

And for all our friends and family in the frigid north, we feel your pain. Well, not really - but we do remember it.

Monday, December 07, 2009

So what kind of bar are we?

Sometimes we're a surfer bar (Zan and her longboard in her sports car - not exactly the surfride of choice). Sometimes we're a dive bar (we talk about SCUBA diving a lot). Sometimes we're the "19th Hole" golf bar.

Sometimes we're a cowboy bar (what's a horse gotta do to get a beer in this place?).

We're always a great local place-to-hangout-and-chill neighborhood bar. And in the last year we've become known as a great local restaurant. (Our new friends Skip and Jane came to the island this weekend for a golf outing at Royal Isabel Golf Club. They were in Newark airport chatting with some folks. When their conversation partners heard Skip and Jane were coming to Isabela, they told them "Oh! There's this great little bar you have to go to! It's called Ola Lola's! They've got great burgers!")

Yesterday we entered a new phase: We became a biker bar! Our friend Jose brought a bunch of his friends on a ride from San Juan and they specifically came to Isabela to come to Ola Lola's. Awesome! Thank you, Jose - and everybody - for coming by. We had a great time.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Night dive

The ocean has finally cleaned up enough to make diving a fun idea. Darryl, John D. and I went night diving at Natural last night. It was beautiful! We saw shrimp, a big hawksbill turtle sleeping under a coral, lots of sleeping parrotfish, two good-sized moray eels, starfish, half-a-dozen reef squid and a really cool something else I haven't identified yet.

As we swam out in the dark to the "drop zone," I remarked that Elaine was going to ride Chocolate on the beach under the full moon. John responded, "That's crazy!" To which Darryl replied, "Well, think about we're doing." We all laughed, then dropped into the darkness and toward the sandy bottom 35 feet below us.

One of the most popular tourist activities on the island is to swim in the "bio-luminescent bays" at La Parguera and Fajardo. Swimming or just about any movement in the water for that matter, triggers these little creatures to give off light. It's like being surrounded by fireflies under water. Although La Parguera and Farjado are the most popular sites, you can see bioluminescence in many places. We could see the creatures just by looking in the water around our fins as we swam out. At one point in our dive we stopped and turned off our lights so we could wave our arms and watch them glow. Wow. Hey, just another one of the attractions of night diving!