Saturday, December 29, 2012

Day 3 - Barbados

It is appropriate that today's entry is about Barbados. Eight years ago today we got married on this beach in Barbados. On this cruise we got to go back to "our":little beach for a while.

It wasn't as easy to get there as you might think. First, neither of us knew the name of the beach. Neither of us could remember the name of the little church right next to the beach. We tried searching for "Anglican churches on the beach in Barbados" but that didn't get us anything that looked or sounded familiar. We tried searching for the wedding planner who helped us Barbados but apparently she has left the business. Early on the morning we landed in Barbados I remembered that I took a picture of the church and had all the photos from our earlier cruise on an online backup site. Using the ship's wi-fi, I found the photo. Now we had a name, Church of Jesus the Good Shepherd, but not a location. Now we needed was someone who knew where it is.

Outside in the taxi queue we finally found Vincent, at driver who knew where the church is and who was willing to take us there.

Vincent told us later why the other drivers were so reluctant to take us, even if they knew where the church is. Only so many taxis are allowed in the port area at one time. Once the taxi drivers leave the port area they have to wait for the queue to open up so they can get back in. Since ours was the only boat in port that day, it was unlikely he would get back in and get another fare. The drivers were all looking for big scores – major tours around the island or whatever. They didn’t want a single one-way $20 fare. We tried to make the day worth his while. He waited for us at the church/beach. When we walked back to to the car, we asked him if there was a beach nearby where we could snorkel. Vincent took us to hotel so we could change into bathing suits, then to a beach called Paynes Bay where we could snorkel with turtles. 

Again Vincent waited for us. From Paynes Bay he took us on a tour through the city of Bridgetown and on to Lobster Alive. This restaurant is right on the beach. The lobstermen bring their catch in here to be weighed sorted and ultimately set to other restaurants on the island. It''s also where you make contact with the boat that takes you parasailing, which we did on our wedding day. Unfortunately, (or maybe fortunately) the parasailing boat wasn't available this time. Nor were the flying fish sandwiches we ate there last time. They've taken them off the menu. Now it's pretty much lobster dinners that start at $100 Barbados ($50 US). Too rich for our blood! But we did meet up with Amy and the crew there and had more than a few cold Banks beers. (Banks is the staple local brew.)

From our cruise eight years ago, I had a photo very much like this one of the beach taken from Lobsters Alive. When we returned from that trip, that photo became my desktop wallpaper. I always referred to it as "my happy place." That was before we moved to our current paradise in Puerto Rico.

By a twist of  "destiny" (the ship we sailed on the first cruise was named Destiny) today is not only our wedding anniversary but also the anniversary of the day we opened Ola Lola's.  So happy anniversary to mi amor, mi dushi, mi querida, my love. And happy anniversary to all of us at Ola Lola's!

Friday, December 28, 2012

A day at sea

The opening of my journal entry for this day reads, "Steaming south at sunrise somewhere in the Caribbean, watching flying fish over the ocean."

Our second full day out was our "day at sea," the long day of travel from St. Thomas to Barbados with no island stops. If you gotta be confined to a ship for a full day and a night, a cruise ship is a good place to be. We spent a lot of time just hanging with the grandkids. Most of my pictures from this day are of Kennedy.

It was also the first "Captain's Formal Night" in the dining room. We

got to have dinner with all these beautiful people.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

St Thomas

Our first port-of-call was St. Thomas. This seems to always be the first stop out of San Juan on Carnival. Overall, St Thomas is too commercialized and "civilized" (for lack of a better word) for my taste. However, we found a great cab driver named Henry who took us across the island to a beautiful beach called Magens Bay. All the way up and over the island Henry shared tons of local color and local information.

There's really no other way to put it: Magens Bay is a postcard setting.

The beaches on St Thomas are managed by local "associations." At Magen's Bay they charge an admission - $2 for locals, $4 for off-islanders. But they provide restrooms, separate changing and shower rooms, and a snack bar serving adult beverages, complete with a young lady in a bikini who will bring you a drink right on the beach. Okay, some parts of civilization are good.

On the way back Henry stopped so we could look out over the port at our ship. That view is the top photo.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Back from crusin'

Yes, this time we really gone for a week. We went off cruisin' the islands with our daughter Amy , son-in-law Miguel, our grandkids, Miguel's mother, brother and his girlfriend. We sailed on Carnival out of San Juan - yay! no flying! - to St. Thomas, Barbados, St. Lucia, St, Kitts, and St. Maarten.

The ship doesn't sail from San Juan until 10:00 pm so there is a fair amount of hanging-around time once you board. First stop: FOOD! I mean, if there's nothing else to do on a cruise ship, you can always eat. This cruise we ate every dinner, including the first night, in the dining room.

 It didn't take the kids long to discover the pool, or in this case, the hot tub. They splashed around as the ship was preparing to leave.

The way things were arranged, Kennedy was staying with us in our stateroom. Originally both kids were going to stay with us to give the parental units a break. When Miguel's mother decided to join us, it worked out that Kai stayed with her. We were supposed to have Kennedy in bed but we all snuck out on deck for the "getting under way" party. Shhhh! Don't tell her mom.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas!

Ola Lola's dressed up for Christmas

Merry Christmas to all our family, friends, loved ones! And to all the world, peace.

Jimmy Buffet has a Christmas song he says merry Christmas to all the places he's lived. So, in the Buffet spirit -

Merry Christmas, Medina - to Amy and Dan and Annie and Shauna and "vhitaker" Kyle. Merry Christmas, Cincinnati - to Vicki and her family and Cathy and her family. Merry Christmas, Michigan - to BJ and Carrie, to Jason and Sara and Ken and Mary and Kevin and Sue and Jason, Erin, and Jonah, and so so many others. Merry Christmas, Indiana - to Jen and Jason and Savannah and Scarlett. Merry Christmas, Chicago and Milwaukee and Madison. Merry Christmas, Connecticut - to Cathy and Gary. Merry Christmas, Colorado - to Sirah and Betsy and Mary and Roger. Merry Christmas, California - to David and Liane and Stanley and Charlie. Merry Christmas, Oregon.

And Feliz Navidad, Puerto Rico.

May the day bring you peace and the new year health and prosperity. 

Merry Christmas. 

Thursday, December 13, 2012

A bit of a rant

A good friend posted a picture on Facebook today. The picture showed Charlie Brown and Linus standing next to the iconic Charlie Brown Christmas tree. The caption has Linus saying "Isn't it strange that America is the largest Christian nation in the world and we can't say 'Merry Christmas.'"

This bothers me on so many levels. Mostly it's just wrong. America is NOT a Christian nation. The Founding Fathers, whom the Christian right are so fond of invoking, made sure we would not be a Christian nation. Or a Jewish nation. Or a Muslim, Eastern Orthodox, Hindu, Shinto or any other kind of religious nation. The very first amendment to the Constitution reads, "Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment or religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof..." John Adams, the second President and one of the Founding Fathers, said, "the government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion..."

Some of us are Christian, a broad term encompassing every variation from Catholic to Southern Baptist to Mormon to storefront and street corner preacher.. Some of us are Jews, Muslims, atheists (why isn't that capitalized?), agnostics, deists, believers, nonbelievers. Collectively we are (or are supposed to be) a nation tolerant of all religious beliefs while officially recognizing none above the others. (It's sometimes difficult to get those who profess to follow the teachings of Jesus to go along with this.)

The second part of the words put in Linus's mouth (by someone other than The Creator Charles Schultz) is also wrong. Precisely because we are not a Christian (or any other religion) nation, we can say, "Merry Christmas." We can also say "Happy Hanukka," "Joyeu Noel." "Joyous Kwanzaa," "Feliz Navidad," "Joyful and Peaceful Solstice." We can even wish another soul  that horrible all-encompassing "Happy Holidays," which is not an attack on Christmas but rather includes all of the above and wishes for New Year's. "Happy Holidays" is in reality a much larger, more inclusive greeting than the more limited "Merry Christmas" which truly only applies to Christians.

There another poster making the rounds on Facebook that says pretty much the same thing: wish me Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukka, Joyous Kwanzaa, or Happy holidays. It ends with:

"I will not be offended. I will be thankful you took the time to say something nice to me."

Monday, December 10, 2012

Party on the deck

Dare I say it - Another fabulous party on the Ola Lola deck! Last night we welcomed singer/songwriter/musician Anna Cheek and her musician friends Cookie Rodriguez, Joe Scannell, Tachi Ruiz and Ronnie Abreu for their "For Friends and Neighbors" jam.

Anna used to live here but now lives in mid-state New York. She comes back to visit periodically but rarely has the opportunity to perform here "for friends and neighbors." Cookie is a great guitar player who lives here on the island - and a long-time friend of Anna's. They hatched this scheme for a "friends and neighbors" gig and Cookie asked us about having at Ola Lola's.


So last night the place was rocking with Anna's original music and some good ol' rock 'n' roll.

We took the "friends and neighbors" bit one step farther. For many years, when we've done kite festivals or other events, we've always tried to connect them to a cause. This gig was no different. We had a little fundraiser for our friend Dottie. She's had a very tough year. Her mother passed away unexpectedly this year. Her husband was diagnosed with cancer. After her mother passed away, she had to move out of the house where they were living. While moving a huge metal gate fell on her and knocked her out. Some years in doesn't pay to get out of bed.

Through the kindness and generosity of our community we raised nearly $400 to help Dottie with expenses. And that was with an event put together in less than 48 hours.

Huge thanks to Anna and Cookie for having their get-together at Ola Lola's and for allowing us to piggyback our efforts for Dottie. And huge huge thanks to our wonderful "friends and neighbors" who made this such a success.

Next up - our holiday/anniversary party coming up December 29.

Friday, December 07, 2012

Anna Cheek live at Ola Lola's

Although she's from New York, musician/song writer Anna Cheek has lots of friends in our corner of the island. This weekend she's coming "home" to PR. With the help of friends Cookie Rodriguez, Joe Scannell, Tachi Ruiz and Ronnie Abreu she's coming to Ola Lola's for a special "For Friends and Neighbors" performance.

We're also using this as a benefit for one of our friends and a member of our extended Ola Lola and Puerto Rican family. The last few months have been rough on Dottie, mentally, physically and financially. Her mother passed away unexpectedly this summer. Her husband was recently diagnosed with cancer. So we're having a small fundraiser to help her out as part of the "For Friends and Neighbors" gathering.

So if you're in the area Sunday evening, swing on by Ola Lola's for great music, fabulous food, amazing drinks and help a little with a great cause.

We'll post more after the event.

Sunday, December 02, 2012

'tis the season

Coquito is a favorite drink of the holiday season here. It is the Puerto Rican version of eggnog. Some recipes even use eggs. Ours doesn't have eggs but it's creamy and rich anyway. Most Puerto Rican versions use some kind of rum, from pitoro (local incredibly potent rum moonshine) to cheap rum to Don Q Cristal or better. We use a lesser-known licor from Spain called Cuenta y Tres. It's a little different flavor and like everything else we do at Ola Lola's, it gives our coquito our own special spin. Cheers!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Turtles - baby turtles!

I have to say I've done a lot of things in my life, had some great adventures, seen a lot of cool things. But last night we did one of the absolute coolest things I've ever done: we watched new hawksbill turtle hatchlings leave their nest and make their way to the ocean.

Our good friends, marine biologist Kathy Hall and Mike Shand found the nest on Shacks Beach during the high waves following Hurricane Sandy. The nest was being destroyed by the waves. By the time Kathy and Mike got to it, some eggs had already washed into the sea.

They carefully - very carefully, because the eggs have to stay in the same position - gathered the remaining eggs and move them to a new nest in a safer more sheltered location. Yesterday morning Kathy found one living hatchling, the first indication the move was successful.

The hatchlings start their trek to the sea just about dark. There are fewer predators out, improving the young turtles' chances of reaching the sea.

We all gathered at dusk, a little before dark so we would have a chance to watch. Kathy carefully dug into the nest and pulled out one, then another and another and another live viable hatchlings. The first ones started toward the water. Kathy scraped the sand off the nest and revealed a writhing mass of turtles all climbing over each other to get out and start their own trip to the sea.

Watch the video I shot and posted. (The ambient sound was bad so I eliminated it.)

All I can say is incredible!!! Watching these little guys head straight for the ocean was just mind-blowing. We were cheering them on, urging them, willing them to make it. We watched the last of them reach the waves under an amazing full moon.

Kathy and Mike rescued 82 eggs from the original nest. Of those 78 turtles survived and made it to the sea.

Thank you, Kathy and Mike! What an amazing incredible unbelievable evening! Thank you for allowing us to share it.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving

So Thanksgiving here started off with snorkeling with our Breakfast Club partners, Courtney and Christine. Then off to John D's for a fabulous Thanksgiving dinner.

The day also included a pause - for those of us old enough - to remember where we were on November 22, 1963, a Friday that year, when President Kennedy was assassinated. It was one of those defining moments. Everyone who remembers knows exactly where he/she was when the news broke. I even remember the color of the walls in my middle school classroom.

But this year the 22nd is a Thursday, Thanksgiving Day in the U.S. We have so much to be grateful for. At the most mundane level, we are grateful we can start a day at the end of November snorkeling. At a much higher level, we are grateful - and hopefully we show it every day, not just once a year - for our family, for our many many wonderful friends, for our health, for the life we are living.

With gratitude, Happy Thanksgiving.

Monday, November 12, 2012

IBA Body Boarding Championships

 The International Bodyboarding Association came back to Middles Beach for another championship tour event this week. The weather and waves weren't as cooperative this year as they were last year. But it was still a fun event.

For events like this I usually don't try to shoot the actual competition. As I've said before, there are so many "official" photographers that one more shooter on the beach doesn't matter. I try to do something different, like KAP (Kite Aerial Photography).  Nobody else has shots of the event like mine.

This year even the wind didn't cooperate. There hasn't been much wind at all. Today - finally - there was a little wind and some sun. Unfortunately, because it's a Monday, there weren't a lot of spectators on the beach for the event. Oh, well. I always love KAPping at Middles.

Friday, November 09, 2012

Post-election thoughts

So the 2012 election - the most expensive presidential election in history - is over.

Some thoughts:

First, I'm very VERY happy Obama won a second term, for a lot of reasons. Not the least among these is the fact that Romney and his teabagger supporters and the god-zillionaires like the Koch brothers who tried to buy the election are just way way way too far out in right field. They want perpetual power for themselves, even though there is no concrete plan for what they would do with that power. They want smaller government. That is, they want less government regulation of corporations but interference in individuals' personal lives is okay. They want lower taxes for the wealthiest while planning higher taxes on the poor and middle classes - those hardest hit by the economic disaster their policies allowed to happen. And they do not support equal rights for ALL people - regardless of gender, sexual orientation, economic status, race, religion and place of origin. The Constitution, and especially the Bill of Rights, was created to protect right. Yet these people who insist only they know the true meaning of the Constitution propose amendment after amendment to take away rights.

I do hope Congress and it's entrenched "conservatives" - think John Boehner - are more open to dialogue this term. After all, it's too late to make sure Obama is a one-term President. Boehner failed at that "job," which he considered his most important as Speaker of the House. Let's hope he does better at his new one, representing what's best for the country.

Now on to Puerto Rico. In the interest of full disclosure, I must say I did not vote in this election. I've learned more about the parties in PR (political, not rum) in the past few days than I have in the past six years. But I still don't think I understand enough to make an informed decision.

Puerto Rico held it's fourth referendum on the question of statehood. On the ballot was a two-part question: the first asked voters if they favor the current status as a U.S. territory. Fifty-four percent said no, they are not content with the current status.  Second, should Puerto Rico become a state, independent or a "sovereign free association." The latter is not the same as the current status. This new designation would give la isla more autonomy that it currently has.

Sixty-one percent voted for statehood.

This is important. It is the first time a clear majority of Puerto Rican voters have voted for statehood. Note: this is not binding. It still takes an act of Congress to make Puerto Rico the 51st state. But it is an expression of the will of the people.

Or is it? With a body politic that is at least as divided and screwed up as that in the states, island voters turned out the sitting pro-statehood PNP (Partido Nuevo Progresista) party governor, Luis Fortuño, and elected a PPD (Partido Popular Democrático) party governor, Alejandro Garcia Padilla. The PPD is pro-status quo, that is, continuing as a "free associated state" or commonwealth of the U.S.

Much is being made of this split between voting for statehood but electing an anti-statehood governor. The pro-statehood people are afraid the new governor will try to undermine statehood. vote and with good reason. The PPD is already trying to discredit the vote, saying it is not valid. Others are using an numbers game, siting how many voters left question one blank or how many left question two blank, as proof that a majority of pueertoricañs really don't want statehood.

While the split vote definitely creates problems, my personal sense is the reason for the split vote is not that complicated. I think people just didn't like Fortuño. He did some very very unpopular things economically like laying off 22,000 government workers. It was a necessary move, long overdue, but how he did it was the problem. He just dumped people on the streets with no economic plan to put them or the other thousands of unemployed on the island to work. (Sound familiar? The PNP is aligned with the Republican Party in the states.) That's just one example. I think islanders just wanted him out. Puerto Rico has a long history of one-term governors.

So where will all this go? My personal guess is nowhere.Given the political climate in the states and the debate that is sure to rage on the island, I don't think anybody is going to do anything. It's easier to leave things alone. What we have works - sort of. If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

Monday, November 05, 2012

November already

How did that happen? It's been so warm here - 6-8 degrees above normal everyday - it' still seems like summer. Except it get dark earlier.

Last night our great friends Bill, John, Tom, Kelly and Raul (Spontaneous Combustion and Friends) played a semi-surprise gig at Ola Lola's. Usually we know when they are coming to the island (they are all surfers from Arizona) but this was kind of a surprise visit. Still we had a great crowd. And we love to listen to these guys play. Not only are they great musicians but they are tons of fun too. They'll be back in March. Be sure to catch them then.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Surfing Sandy

Surfing at Crashboat Monday, October 29

The Mid-Atlantic region certainly got the worst of Huracan Sandy but her reach is still being felt her in PR, 1600 miles away.

Sandy is still pushing big waves to Puerto Rico, but only a few places have had good surfing . Playa Crashboat, which is usually sheltered and rarely sports surfable waves, let alone big waves, was one of the best spots in the area. Many of the usual surf spots - Middles, Jobos, Surfers Beach, Wilderness - have been "blown out," big but sloppy with no real organization. Even down to Rincon there were big waves but not much surfing.

Sandy's northward trek took her more than 600 mile west of us, over Jamaica and Cuba so there is a lot of "west" and "northwest" in the waves in Sandy's wake. For us that's a very odd direction; most of the time our waves are from the northeast.

The waves have cause some minor damage, a lot of it in downtown Aguadilla. The boardwalk on the jetty is pretty much gone. There was quite a lot of damage in Parque Colón and waves smashed into a bar/restaurant there.

The waves pushed seawater up the little river behind us. The low area at the crossroad to Villa Montaña and Villa Tropical is flooded with seawater. It's not a big deal, just an inconvenience for those who have to get in and out. If we get a heavy rain, it could be a problem because the water from the river is not escaping to the ocean. That's when we get flooded.

What may be the most significant damage was at Crashboat. The southermost pier collapsed. It's not the first pier to collapse. Two others are on the bottom as well. Now there are only three of the original six. We'll miss diving among the legs of the pier but now we have another "wreck" to dive. What really make this important is that particular pier held a ton of tsunami detection and warning gear. So far, there is no word if the tsunami warnings went off or if the gear is still working under 25 feet of water.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Zip's not the only one

KTJ was along when Zip got his first taste of salt water. She's an old hand - an old salt if you will - at ocean swimming now. She loves it!

Whenever she's in the ocean, she makes this strange groaning sound. It sounds like moans of pleasure, of relaxation. If she were human, I'd call it orgasmic. It's just weird and wonderful. None of us, even those who have been around horses a lot, have ever heard a horse make a sound like that. I tried to record it but so far no luck. I'll keep trying because it really is cool.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Zip meets the ocean

Marie's horse Zip met the ocean for the first time today. It was his first time with his feet in beach sand. First time tasting salt water. He did great for a first-timer. It probably helped that KTJ was there to lead the way.

BTW, KTJ loves the ocean. She used to spook at the tiniest waves. We - read Elaine - had to coax her into the water. Now she just heads in and takes off swimming. She's awesome!

It was a great morning on the beach. We're still waiting for the giant waves that are supposed to be coming from Hurricane Sandy. The forecasts are saying double-overhead waves by late Sunday lasting into midweek. So far, the north is really flat, really calm, much flatter than usual for this time of year. The horses are sure enjoying it for now.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Three horses in the herd

We now have three (yes, three!) horses in the herd. Our friend Marie's horse Zip arrived yesterday after more than an week of traveling from Washington State.

He was trucked in stages from Washington to Ocala, Florida. Our friends Greg and Linda air transport horses all over the Caribbean. They flew Zip from Ocala to San Juan and then one more trailer ride from SJ to Isabela. (Greg and Linda also have a Thoroughbred ranch - Hacienda Siesta Alegre - on the other side of the island. They were the ones who rescued KTJ from the racetrack.)

Marie was at work when Zip arrived. When she finally got here, I think she was happy to see him.

Zip is fitting in well with Chocolate and KTJ (who is much much better, thank you). They are still sorting out the pecking order but peacefully. KTJ loves her new herd-mate. I think Chocolate is a little jealous but maybe I anthropomorphize my animals too much.

It's so cool waking up and looking out the window at these beautiful horses in the early morning sunrise sunshine.

Friday, October 19, 2012


Hurricane Rafael dropped some interesting if not particularly smooth swell. There was enough left over the past few day for some good surf sessions.

I shot at Middles and Surfers. Shooting both in the same day gives me chance to compare the two and the contrasts are interesting.

Middles seems to have a better wave. The surfers there tend to be younger and lean more toward the "pros" and wanna-be pros. They are in many ways more athletic, making for more interesting and dynamic surf shots. The wave break is closer to the beach making it better for my shorter (400 mm) lens.

But - Middles is kind of the "home break" of pro surf photographer named Chad Oakley. Chad's a nice guy and we're friends. But when he's on the beach, it's not that I'm not welcome, I'm just pretty much irrelevant. All the surfers look to Chad. I'm essentially a spectator.

Surfers and Wilderness tend to be more popular with tourist surfers, ones who might be more likely to actually buy photos from the website. Both breaks are farther from the shore, making them a little trickier to shoot. Wilderness in particular has an inside wave that gets in the way of photos. When it's big Wilderness there are actually two inside waves and the surfers on the third wave out. Surfers is a little more forgiving. The parking lot where I usually shoot from has a little elevation so it's easier to shoot over the inside wave.

There are two other breaks accessible from Surfers Beach, Tabletop and Backdoor.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012


We've had a tough couple of weeks with our animals - a big reason why I haven't posted for a while.

KTJ, Elaine's rescued Thoroughbred, started running a fever, quit sweating and quit eating grain. Her temp yo-yoed up and down between just over 100 (a little above normal) to nearly 105 degrees (dangerous!) The vet has been coming daily, giving her IV antibiotics, vitamin supplements (because she was anemic) and water (because she was dehydrated). We think/HOPE she's turned the corner. Her temp has been stable and normal for over 48 hours now. She's eating better but still not enough grain. But it looks like she's on the mend.

Jazz, our 10-year-old vizsla, has developed major anxiety issues. It really started during the chaos when we did the most recent round of construction. Now anything out of the ordinary sets him off and goes into El Distructo mode. He's torn up the back of the couch, boxes, books, plastic storage tubs. I took him with me running errands last week. I left him alone in the car while I ran in the grocery store for six items. When I came out, he had ripped up the back seat of the car. There was foam padding everywhere. He didn't tear the upholstery though. Oh, no - he bent the metal frame of the seat and ripped the padding out from underneath.

KT is getting better and some days we have to drug Jazz just to get through an Ola Lola's evening. But hey - it's all part of the adventure!

Sunday, October 07, 2012

Fun at Ola Lola's

(I found this unpublished post from a couple years in our "drafts" folder. It's still fun - and still true!)

Most people think Ola Lola's is just a cute little bar with great food. It is so-o much more than that!

Take for example our friend Stace. She went surfing for the first time and then came to Lola's with her friends to celebrate. She was a bit intimidated by horses but met Chocolate and took her first horseback ride. It was short but she was so inspired by that little ride she went to Tropical Trailrides the very next day and took the tour.

Stace is not the only one. Tito has given several people their first horse rides here.

We have become a defacto tourist information center. (We've been told we give better information than the real tourist information center at the airport - and our hours are better.)

At other times we have:

-- done (or found someone to do) minor car repairs on the spot;

-- given first aid for sprained ankles and scraped toes;

-- removed sea urchin spines from tender feet.

There's a lot more but you get the idea.

Saturday, October 06, 2012

diving again

It's been almost a month since the last time I went scuba diving. Yesterday Darryl and I headed off to Natural for a morning dive. What a great way to start the day!

We're not sure why but visibility has not been great of late. Yesterday proved to be more of what we've had all summer - so-so visibility and a moderate current out of the south. It was a good dive though. We saw a couple of spotted eagle rays but they were too far away in the gloom to photograph. Then there was this guy. By the time I took this picture I was close enough to touch him. Darryl was shooting video from the turtle's other side looking back at me shooting pictures of him and the turtle.

It's is supposed to stay pretty flat all weekend so we have another dive scheduled for Sunday morning. Here's hoping! I miss blowing bubbles.

Friday, October 05, 2012

The next chapter in the adventure

Of f and on over the last five years we've kicked around the idea of having breakfast (and lunch) at Ola Lola's. One thing we knew for sure: we weren't the ones making breakfast. We needed someone(s) to take over the breakfast time slot. We've talked to a couple of people about it but the fit just wasn't right.

Last winter, Courtney and Christine Parks were here on vacation and found their way to Ola Lola's. A conversation started then and continued over the next several months. The culmination of that extended conversation is The Breakfast Club @Ola Lola's which opens tomorrow.

The "Cs" or "the breakfast people" as they have quickly become known, were living in Washington, D.C. They came to this side of PR and like us fell in love with it. They saw an opportunity here to simplify and downsize their lives. Through our conversations we were convinced these were the partners we were looking for, this was the right fit.

Courtney is a chef who honed his skills in Florida, Chicago and Washington. Most recently he is known for his "inventive take on breakfast and lunch" at Open City in Washington.Christine was in the restaurant business for a number of years before moving to hotel sales with Four Seasons Hotels, Ritz Carlton and Klimpton Hotels & Restaurants. They bring a wealth of hospitality industry experience to their new gig at Ola Lola's.

The Breakfast Club @Ola Lola's starts tomorrow. They open Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday from 6:30 am until 2:00 pm. Anytime you're in the neighborhood drop by for a fresh cup of coffee, great food and fabulous company.

No Hoarding thanks to Jazz

Our 10-year-old Vizsla, Jazz, has developed separation anxiety this past year. Even if we are only "downstairs" or "out front" with Ola Lola's he tends to spazz out, try to bury himself somewhere and chews through boxes, papers, foam mats, and a variety of other items. He has most certainly kept us from qualifying as hoarders! When we come back in he will usually greet us with a shoe - just one - in his mouth and wagging his tail. The end result is no fun for any of us...we're still looking for any helpful suggestions! In the meantime we submitted his photo to very funny website devoted having dogs publicly shamed (and thereby at least giving their owners a laugh as well).

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Happy birthday, Beege

He was born in a thunderstorm and has been raining fire and thunder on the earth ever since! Happy birthday to our oldest, John David!

Monday, October 01, 2012

Everybody's Birthday in September Party

What a party! On September 30 we threw the (almost) 6th Annual Everybody's Birthday in September Party. (We missed last year because a death in the family.) It was a great party. We celebrated with more than a dozen September birthday people. With apologies to the sensibilities of our vegetarian and vegan friends, this guy had the place of honor at the table:

Rique Colón (with occasional help from Dottie) got people up and dancin'!

We also formally introduced Christine and Courtney - "the breakfast people" - to the crowd.

All in all it was a great night to share with our many many friends. Thank you all so much!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Trip Advisor

Why a restroom photo? To start a discussion about Trip Advisor.

First, let me say in general, I like Trip Advisor. If you're not familiar with it, it is a site where "real people" can post "real opinions" about restaurants, hotels, attractions, just about anything travel related. The idea is travelers can read what other travelers say about a place before they go.

I honestly don't expect everybody to like us (although I secretly do expect everybody to like us). Some people aren't happy because we don't have rice-and-beans. Some aren't happy because there is nothing fried on our menu. Everybody has an opinion about food, good, bad or indifferent.

The opinions I don't mind. I do object to factual errors. Our first bad review complained about an "$8 banana." The same review stated we said desserts are our specialty. Neither of these statements is true. Why does it matter? Because other people read this stuff and believe it. We can - and do - write "management responses" to every review. It takes 3-5 days for management responses to be reviewed and posted. In that time some number of people have read the misinformation and don't know about the response. So that factually incorrect review is all they see.

Some reviews I just don't understand, like the person who said our menu was like "a high school or hospital cafeteria." Dude! What high school did you go to? Elaine spent six days in the hospital in May and the menu wasn't anything like ours.

Which brings be back to the restroom. The picture is our men's room (although it doesn't matter because the two are mirror images of each other). On reviewer described this as a "nasty skanky latrine." Say what? Other people have told us our restrooms are cleaner than those in the nearby big international chain hotel. But that comment didn't make it to Trip Advisor, just the "nasty skanky" comment.

Oh well, it's all part of the business. Gotta take the nuts-o with the good.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

It's early fall in Puerto Rico

It's the beginning of fall here in PR. A lot of people from more temperate climes, where the four seasons are definitely more pronounced wonder how we can tell.

There is a definite change in the light, just like there is in the north. Cooler temperatures haven't hit yet; that won't really be noticeable until December. But some trees to change color.

The almond tree for example changes to a red-orange and loses it's leaves. But at the same time, it gets new leaves and flowers. Strange tree. It's part of that "drops something - leaves, flowers, stems or almonds - 365 days a year" thing.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Birthday adventure continues

Elaine's sister Amy came to visit for Elaine's birthday - and just to "get away." As part of Elaine's birthday adventure, we went paddleboarding on Rio Guajataca with Amy (the sister), Amy (the daughter) and Miguel with Miguel from Verde Azul. We had a blast!

And to close out the day, Elaine and Amy (the sister) went horseback riding on the beach on Chocolate and KTJ. I think Amy liked it.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012


 Mango-orange-agua de coco sangria at Fu-Fu

 Elaine planned her own birthday lunch with her sister Amy (visiting from Ohio for Elaine's birthday) and our Ola Lola staff. She took us to a (relatively) new Afro-puertoriquean restaurant called Fufu.

Fufu is a food made from starchy vegetables that originated in Ghana and is common in West and Central Africa. Local variations here in the Caribbean include mangú and mofongo. At FuFu, fu-fu is firmer and more mofongo-like rather than doughy like it's African ancestor. This one had plantain and yuca with vegetables and shrimp.

FuFu also has pasta like this, also with vegetables and shrimp.

It's just a small place but it's wonderful (kinda like Ola Lola's - but way different). We will definitely go back. There's lots more on the menu to try.

We capped off the day with a get-together complete with birthday cake at Amy and Miguel's.