Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Monday adventure, part 2

The second part of our Monday adventure was to find a place to eat, a place preferably near the water and preferably a place we hadn't been to before.

Just south of Rincon on Carr. 115 we found a relatively new place on the hill over the water called Picoteo (which means "pecking" or "snacking" in Spanish). The view over the ocean is fabulous, the beer is frosty cold. The food is hit-or-miss which jives with the online reviews.

I had arañitas con pollo criollo  (chicken in a local sauce served in cups of fried shredded plantain). The salsa criollo was some of the best I've had anywhere on the island, nice layers of flavor without any one  flavor overpowering the others. Unfortunately, the arañitas were overcooked. They should be light and crispy and they were a bit hard.

Elaine had the nachos con salsa verde y charasco (nachos with greens sauce and skirt steak). Again, these were among the best nachos we've had here. The salsa verde was excellent. Someone put some thought into it; it was not salsa verde straight out of a jar (or if it was, it was a very different jar than everybody else uses).

Overall, I like Picoteo better than some of the other watering holes in and near Rincon. We will go back.

We hoped to have time to snorkel at Playa Steps again but we had to get back to Ola Lola's. This was a Monday-workday adventure. Steps will just have to wait for another day.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Monday adventures

Any time Elaine says "Be up early. We're going on an adventure." I'm all about it. So bright and early Monday morning we were on the road, headed south on Carr. 2 toward Mayaquez. Then past Mayaquez. Past Hormiqueros and past the turn-off for La Parquera. Past the turn-off to Guanica. We are farther down Carr. 2 than I've ever been.

"Take the next exit and turn left."

We're in Yauco, which is a big coffee growing region so I'm thinking "hmmm - coffee plantatation?"

"Nope. Turn right! Turn right!"

Suddenly, there it is - Volkylandia! It doesn't look like much from the outside, except for that blue VW Beetle up on the post. Inside, it is the largest privately owned Volkswagon museum in the world.

We got there early on a holiday and we're the first ones there.  That turned out to be a good thing for us. Israel and his wife speak mostly Spanish so having a "private" tour was helpful.We could  work with Israel to understand. I'm sure we missed some of it but we did understand a lot.

Even with the language issue, Israel's passion for his cars is unmistakable. He started this collection about six years ago, a collection that includes things I didn't even know VW made. He has an original VW van ambulance, the VW "Thing" that was Tom Cruise's character's getaway car in the film "Valkyrie," and a commandeered "Thing" in U.S. Army green from the post-war occupation.  The original VW van fire truck from one of the Puerto Rican municipios (I don't remember which one). The pump pulls out through the side door of the van and is powered by - what else? - a VW engine. There is an amphibious VW and a very limited edition four-wheel drive VW. A custom-built miniature Hummer dropped on to a Beetle chassis makes a Humbug., There is a 1973 Beetle just like the one I used to own except mine was orange. And, there is the last VW built, from Mexico.

If you're a Beetle lover like I am, it's pretty amazing and wonderful. The visit did make me want a Bug all over again. Dumbest thing Volkswagon ever did was getting rid of the Beetle. Sorry - the New Bug is only slightly better than New Coke. Although, Israel does have a New Beetle body dropped on an old Beetle chassis. There just isn't much you can't do with those things!

You can see them on Facebook.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Occurrences, common and uncommon

Two common occurrences in my life: One, I bash into something and scrape my poor unprotected head. Two, I go SCUBA diving.

The two came together in a freaky, uncommon but ultimately comical way the other day. First, I leaned over and bashed my head on a shelf, leaving a scrape and a little tiny flap of skin. The next morning I went diving at Crashboat. The sergeant-major fish are everywhere under the piers. They are beautiful and one of the reasons I like to dive at Crashboat. Occasionally, these little guys get curious and sometimes even a bit aggressive.

On this particular dive the little flap of skin on my scraped head proved too much temptation. I was hanging out under the pier, maybe even taking this photo, and I felt this nibbling on the top of my head. It freaked me out until I realized it was a sergeant-major cleaning my head, removing that little flap of scraped skin. It was weird and not altogether unpleasant. It was better than cutting that little flap off the next time when I shaved my head later in the day.

Just another strange moment underwater. 

Now, our daily afternoon thundershower is building over the mountains and the electricity is doing its daily unstable thing so I'm off and shutting down the computer.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

A mini-adventure

Yesterday we had a mini-adventure: we took our friend Lourdes snorkeling at Montones. It was her first time snorkeling ever and our first time at Montones.

Like most people she was a little freaked out by the sticking her face in the water and breathing through a tube. But also like most people, she was fascinated by what she was underwater. I think she'll be back for more.

There was one sad note to our little adventure:

People ask us why we cut up the plastic "rings" that hold cans of Medalla or Coor's Light. Many people have seen pictures of fish or turtles or ducks or geese that have been caught in these rings. Some people think they don't need to worry about it because that is something that happens "somewhere else." This is a palmeta we found in the tide pool at Montones while snorkeling. THIS is why we cut those rings! Those things injure animals HERE, not "somewhere else!" You can see how this poor guy's dorsal fin is pinned to his body and useless. The ring is also cutting into his back and belly.

If you buy beer or soft drinks that come in those rings, please cut or break the rings and throw them in the trash. DO NOT leave them on our beaches. 

End of current rant.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

A bit more about David

Before I do anything else I want to thank Charlie and Stanley Paserell, Tito Lopez and Robin Donnenberg for coming to Ola Lola's Monday night to share the news about David and to celebrate his life.

Charlie said, "There is no other place. Ola Lola's was such an important place to David. There just isn't another place we could go to celebrate him."

We are truly and deeply honored.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Goodbye, David

This world lost a great and wonderful spirit and we lost a great friend this weekend: David Pfaff passed away in his sleep on Saturday. Our thoughts and love go out to his wife Liane and their family.

David was the course architect at Royal Isabela. He introduced us to owners (and now good friends) Stanley and Charlie Pasarell and Royal Isabela general manager Tito Lopez. Because of David, Ola Lola's is a regular stop for the Royal Isabela "gang" and their friends.

David also designed Ola Lola's.

Elaine and I were talking about changes we needed and wanted to make to Ola Lola's. One afternoon David was sitting at the bar and I said, "I know what you do and I know who you work for. I know there is no way on god's green earth I can afford you. But...we need to make some changes. I have an idea but I don't like it and I've gotten stuck on it. I need somebody to kick me in the butt and get me out of this box I've put myself in."

David said, "Let me think about it."

A couple of days later he came back with some rolled up paper under his arm. He said, "I'll show you this under one condition. When you build it, it has to have foot rails. A proper bar has to have foot rails." With my promise, he unrolled the concept drawings that a year or so later became the present Ola Lola's.

David loved to stand at the the little angled window so the foot rail under that window is "THE David Pfaff Foot Rail.

David was brilliant, incredibly talented, fun, funny and a wonderful great friend. For all his many talents as a designer and artist, his greatest talent was his ability to bring people together. We miss David when he's just off island. I can't imagine how much more we'll miss him now.

David was a regular reader of this blog, one of if not the first "follower." When I went more than a few days without a new post, I would send me an email chiding me, prodding me.

I wish he were home in Carmel reading this now.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Sunday morning adventures

What a great Sunday morning adventure!

Our morning started with an early swim with Chocolate and KTJ. Taking the horses swimming is always a great way to start the day. 

After the swim, we headed south for Rincon, planning to have breakfast at La Rosa Ingles - The English Rose. Perched on the edge of one of Rincon's mountains, The English Rose affords a spectacular view and offers a "proper" English breakfast right here in the middle of a (former) Spanish colony.

We drove up the "hill," a drive that rivals any up in the mountains in the center of the island, only to find The English Rose is closed from the middle of May until the second week of June. (Smart people! May is a terribly slow month here for everybody.) We "oooh-ed" and "aaahhhhh-ed" at the view, bemoaned the fact they were closed (the more so because we were really hungry) and headed back down the mountain to the second stop on our adventure.

Straight across Carr. 115 from the road up to The English Rose is the entrance to one of Rincon's best-known surf sites. Officially the beach is called Playa Steps but the surfers all know it as Tres Palmas or just "Tres."

There is a little side-of-the-road trailer at Steps so we fed our hunger with fresh tuna, chicken and pork pinchos.

When the ocean is flat and no waves, Steps is a popular family swimming beach. It is almost exactly in the middle of a Marine Reserve that runs from the beach and marina at Black Eagle in the south to Playa Marias in the north.

We've heard for years that the elkhorn coral in this area is just incredible but neither of us was prepared for what we saw. Here at Shacks ("our" beach at Ola Lola's) we have elkhorn coral the size of dinner tables. At Steps the elkhorn are the size of apartment complexes. Huge, sprawling, and they just keep going, side by side, one after another. Visibility was particularly good so these huge coral colonies loomed in front of us and beside us as we swam. Elaine saw a turtle and we followed biggest parrot fish we've seen in Puerto Rico. It was amazing!

We couldn't help wondering if Shacks might look like this if we and others had successfully created a marine reserve here. A group of us propose it and tried several years ago. There was a lot of support - as long as it didn't infringe on "my" activity, whatever that activity happened to be.

After more than an hour in the water, we headed up to Playa Marias and Calypso, one of our favorite Rincon watering holes. After a couple ice cold beers and a plate of mediocre nachos, we ran into a couple of artist friends who introduced us to a new artist friend. Jay is from the Virgin Islands and paints on coffee bean bags.

Unfortunately, the only photo from this adventure is the one above, Jay's painting of a tortuga , which now hangs proudly at Ola Lola's. That's because yours truly took off on an adventure without checking to see if the camera battery was charged. I guess it's obvious that it was not. So I swam around for an hour with a non-working camera. Ah, well. That's as good an excuse I can think of to go back.

Stay tuned for Rincon Adventure II!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

A celebrity in our midst

Maybe if we had a TV or I ever watched TV, I might have recognized her. At least one of our other guests did. But we don't watch TV so I didn't recognize Megan Boone.

Megan was on the island celebrating her birthday with friends. Last night, while she was savoring our homemade bread pudding, she got a phone call telling her NBC picked up her new show, "Blacklist." She will star with James Spader.

It's not her first starring role. She's appeared in other TV shows like Law and Order, Los Angeles, Cold Case, Blue Bloods and films including Sex in the City 2. Watch for her this fall.

We're please for Megan and happy we got to share her celebration. Thanks, Megan and friends, for coming to Ola Lola's. And congratulations! (BTW, Megan is from Michigan.)

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Washing clothes in the rainy season

The rainy season has begun here. This past week it rained every day. That meant we had two kinds of clothes: wet, because we washed them and hung them out to "dry" and then it rained, and dirty, because there's no point in washing them because we can't dry them anyway.

This morning sun was shining and a breeze was blowing. Our solar clothes dryer was working again! We quickly washed the remaining dirty clothes and got them and the thrice-rain-soft-rinsed clothes out on the line. Everything got dry before the this afternoon's round of showers.

When I was a child, we didn't have a clothes dryer. They were a rarity then. I remember my mother hanging our clothes on lines stretched across our backyard. In the winter she hung them on lines running back and forth across our basement. Every time I hang clothes on the line to dry, I think of her. And miss her a littel more than I usually do.

Sunday, May 05, 2013

Congratulations, Josh and Sonia

Yesterday we got to share Josh and Sonia's wedding with their friends and family. Sonia's family is from Isabela and Josh's family is mostly from Colorado. They had a beautiful wedding on the beach in front of Villa Montaña (with whales playing in the ocean behind them!) on Friday. We hosted an "afterglow" gathering before their friends and family started drifting back to their homes and their other realities. It was a wonderful party with a fabulous group of people.

Thank you, Josh and Sonia, for sharing your special time here in Puerto Rico with us.

Friday, May 03, 2013

The swell continues

This swell, unusual for this late in the season, continues to hang on. It's making for some great surfing for the locals and some great photos for me. This was is from yesterday at Middles.