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!