Sunday, October 01, 2017

171001 Hurricane Maria update

Hello from hurricane ravaged Puerto Rico! This will be short but sweet - I'm borrowing someone's generator power and magic Wi-fi (we have no idea why it's working but we are grateful).

We - Elaine and I, all three horse and Amber and Oz - are fine! Our home is standing, the roof is on it. Ola Lola's is fine. We have some minor - minor! - damage and lots of mud from the flooding. Our home is livable. For. the moment we have water bur that could change. We have no electricity and won't have for a while. But we are alive and moving!

We have many many things to post but they will have to wait for another time. For now, thank you for your thoughts and prayers. Keep 'em coming. And from the little I've read, don't believe anything Trump says or tweets about Puerto Rico!

Til later...

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

170918 Update 2

There was an announcement that the government will shut down the electric system island-wide at 6:00 pm today so this may be the last post for a while.

We've battened everything down as best we can. Tomorrow morning we will move up the cliff to our "hurricane quarters." We should be plenty safe. The horses are good and in a good place. Now we just hope Maria is not as bad as predicted.

See ya on the flipside.

170919 Update


 Dawn of the first day...

watching the progress of Maria. I just saw one report on ABC that shows her clipping the northeast corner of the island and then easing north much like Irma did. I wanna believe but...pretty much all the other reports still have her going right over top of us. Although, the projections on Ventusky.com echo the ABC report. Windy.com shows her making landfall farther south and bisecting the island, passing east and then north of us. The "good" news now she's expected to be a "only" a Cat 4, not the Cat 5 that smashed Dominica this morning.

We are all boarded up. I'm sand bagging around the bar as best I can. We'll see how that goes.

For now it's a lovely sunny day with a nice breeze. Moving on...

170918 Best moments with a generator

Generators are in very short supply here on the island after Irma and facing Maria. Lots of people - including us - are looking for one. Shipments of generators headed for Puerto Rico were rerouted to Florida(!) and to the Virgin Islands which so devastated by Irma.

On Sunday, after teaching in Rincon, Elaine went on down to Mayaguez to look for some things at Sam's and Home Depot. As she walked into Home Depot, a guy in an SUV was struggling with a generator. Elaine said, "Did you just buy that?"

The guy answered, "No, I'm returning it. Do you want it?"

"YES!"

So he returned it and she Elaine bought it, all in one transaction. Other people saw the generator come in and like moths to a flame, they all descended on it. But - Elaine already had it. Elaine told the clerk she had other shopping to do. The clerk said, "Oh no! Get it in your car and get it out of here!" So with a little help she stuffed this huge generator almost into the trunk of our little Nissan Sentra and took off for home.

(We interrupt this blog about generators for the first power outage of Hurricane Maria.)

 Now back to your blog...

On the way home she thought about what we need a generator for: the refrigerator. Yep, but our friends Carole and Rolf have a big generator and an big refrigerator. Access to the Internet. Yes, but if there is catastrophic damage to the electric grid - which, given the fragile condition of the infrastructure, seems likely - there will be no Internet to access. Lights? We can make do. Amber's fan? Yeah, but are we going to run a generator just so the dog has his fan? (Okay, we all know the answer to that one: YES!)

Our friend Annie (the other therapeutic riding instructor Elaine works with) was out looking for a generator. She and her husband Justin have two darling little girls.

Let's see - who needs the generator more?

So Elaine called Annie and asked if they wanted the generator. You've never seen two happier or more grateful people. Justin came to the house yesterday, paid us and we loaded "our" generator in the back of his car. A bit of paranoia set in and he covered it with a sheet so it wasn't so obvious. but we watched "our" generator drive away, knowing we'd done a good thing for some amazing wonderful people.

Great moments, getting the generator and then moving it on to someone who needs it more than we do.

Monday, September 18, 2017

170918

Maria 

Well, we got away with one with Irma. Doesn't look like we're going to be so lucky with Maria. She is now predicted to be a Cat 4 when she crosses Puerto Rico. She going to hit all the islands Irma hit and the ones farther down the Antilles chain Irma missed/

We're battening down - again.  And I guess preparing to move to higher ground - again. 

We've been without power - again- since Friday evening. Apparently a major transformer collapsed and the electric authority didn't have a replacement nearby. We got power back last night, which is a bonus since I was told by AEE yesterday morning "It might be Monday. Probably Tuesday. But maybe Wednesday." Just in time to lose it again to Maria. 

Once again I will update through the storm as best I can. Hang in there. Got go make some preparations and then go diving.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Best moment 170911

This is Elaine's birthday. It's not bad enough that she gets to share it with the attack on the World Trade Center. In our post-Irma world, she had car trouble twice. A friend of our was rushed to the hospital unconscious. There was more but I can't remember. seems like we were going all day though.

There were two best moments amid all the mayhem:


Marie had a birthday surprise for Elaine when we went to feed the horses. It was very nice and very sweet.

And at 10:49 pm, we got electricity back after nearly six days without. Hooooraaaay!

One thing this taught us: If we have to be without water or electric - if we have the choice - we choose being without electric. Being without water is way worse. But now we have both and are so grateful.

Internet and cell service are still spotty but we are stumbling back into the 21st Century.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Musings 170909

Day 5 without electricity. Ours went out with the first drop of rain and first little gust of wind on Wednesday morning. Some areas around us are slowly getting electric back. We will eventually.


After eleven years of having the same conversation about a generator (Should we get one? How big? What will we plug into it? Where will we store it? Where will we run it [hate the noise and fumes]? And on and on and on.) Yesterday, for the first time, we said "maybe." So I went looking. Would you believe it? There is not a generator available on this island! Not one!

I've thought a lot about this living without electric thing. It's such a First World problem. A hundred years ago most of the world didn't have electricity. Huge chunks of it still don't. But it's the life we've set ourselves up for. We  expect that electric power to be there. Okay, we'll make short term temporary allowances for hurricanes, blizzards and ice storms. But only short term and very temporary.We expect our lives to be disrupted as little as possible and restored as quickly as possible.

Granted, I live on a tropical island, not in the north anymore. When the poser goes out here, nobody freezes to death as happens with absurd regularity in northern winter storms.

Yes, it's hot. But we don't have air conditioning anyway. Yes, we're scrambling to eat or find ice or find some one with power or a generator for the perishable food in our 'fridge and freezer. Yes, I'm annoyed because I don't have a really cold beer right here.

But that's all just an inconvenience! I realize there are people with medical issues for whom a power outage is much more serous than just an inconvenience. But for the great majority of us that's all it is,, an inconvenience, not a crisis. Okay, our Internet isn't available (this may be the most difficult one for me). No two-hundred-channel cable TV (which we don't have anyway.) So what?

The "so what?" is we are so dependent on it. Even poor Amber, our 17-year-old Vizsla. He lies on the bed, staring at the unmoving fan and panting. I know it's hot, Buddy. It will come back on. Sometime.

Pretty much all our communication is electronic. Does anyone even have a home land line anymore? We don't. Even we have cell phones. We aren't slaves to them the way some people we know are, but we have them. And use them. Right now I'm using mine as a "portable hotspot" so I can keep my computer connected to the web to write this. How cool is that?

I don't remember the last time I wrote a letter. We email. (Probably the last time I did write a letter I most likely sent it as an attachment or an email). Or worse yet we Facebook message or text. A few very intelligent people I know cn't (or won't) have telephone conversation. They only text. In that god-awful text shorthand.

I'm not a raving survivalist but I've wanted to live more simply and self-sufficiently and off-the-grid since college in the 1970s. I guess I haven't wanted it badly enough to actually do anything about it! I confess I allowed myself to be wooed to some degree by the "dark side." It's easy. When it works it's great. When it doesn't, we're frustrated.
 
Could I learn a different, less dependent way to live? Could I give up my computer and my digital photography? Could I give up my scuba diving (which is dependent on electricity to power the compressor for air)? Could I give up access to the Internet which for all it's craziness is still a great tool for learning and sharing? Could I learn Buteat fresh and not depend on refrigeration? That seems like a bit of a copout. I would just be depending on someone else's refrigeration. And given the way things are here on the island, I would have to drive everyday to find my fresh food. Is that any better?

It's amazing the acid trip five days without electricity can send your head on.

To all our friends in Florida in Irma's path: Please stay safe. Catch you on the back side.

Saturday, September 09, 2017

Best moment 170909

Still no electricity but we do have water. At least we can take showers and make coffee. Electricity is coming though. Several areas near us have power back.

Because of the power thing, our access to information and communication is limited. The best moment was realizing that Hurricane Jose is not only going to miss us, it's also going to miss the small islands in the Lesser Antilles that were devastated by Irma. We are so grateful.

 Ola Lola's is closed for September for our annual clean-up, fix-up. Now we're moving on with that.

So not so much hurricane news now. We and others around us are returning to our "normal" lives. In John Steinbeck's words (read this with John Huston's voice in your head) "The world was once again spinning in greased grooves."

More photos as soon as we get power.



Thursday, September 07, 2017

Best momentS 170907


There were three best moments today:

We made it through the night and woke up to find minimal damage. Irma veered northward enough that we only caught a glancing tropical storm-like blow instead of the full Category 5 fury.

Which led to our second "best  moment:" On our way to check on the horses I stopped at home. House and business are fine.

So the weird part of all this is we didn't flood! There was a big storm surge and high waves but very little rain. We drove down the coast this afternoon and saw several places where the ocean pushed through, The waves must have dammed up the end of the river but there wasn't enough ran to cause it to flood. There were some limbs down and a lot of leaves and debris to rake up, but no flood damage to clean up.

Poor Chocolate! He's the leader, its his herd. He must have been awake all night keeping vigil over his charges. He was exhausted  - but otherwise fine - when we got there this morning. In the photo above he is resting his head on my shoulder. I rubbed his neck and he just stayed there. This went on for quite a while. We will post more photos when we can.

We're mostly running on battery power and a "portable hotspot" on my phone. It is barely allowing me to post this let alone upload photos.  We're hoping - but not counting on - getting power back tomorrow. So far we've had water but the pressure has dropped this afternoon and we don't know how long that will last. We stock piled quite a bit so we should be okay And it's supposed to rain again.

Alright. Gotta go. More when we can.

170907 8:20 AM

Just a quick update: we survived the night.

Irma did us a huge favor. She turned just a bit north and the eye was 100 miles away by the time she passed out end of the island. We had strong gusty tropical storm force - not hurricane - winds.

A little over a third of the island is without electricity, including us. But we still have water as of now which is more important.

Our dogs were understandably anxious - new surroundings, new sounds, a storm - but they are fine. We're heading out now to check on the house and they onto see the horses.

More later as we can.

Wednesday, September 06, 2017

170906 7:20 AM

Irma is now the strongest storm ever out over the open Atlantic, outside the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico. The mandatory evacuation order is still in effect for us so we will be out of here soon. Dogs are antsy and joints are starting to ache as the barometric pressure falls.

Horses are as good as they can be. They are in an open field with room to run if they need to. They have lots of water which should be replenished by rain water in the short term. In case they get loose, they all have fluorescent green paint in their manes and tails and our phone number written on their sides in permanent marker. Plus, they all have I.D. chips. It's going to be hard not to be near them but they are as safe as we can make them.

The 5:00 am forecasts show Irma moving north again away from the island as she passes the island. Hurricane force winds extend 50 miles out from the eye. We're hoping she'll be far enough away that we get tropical storm winds and not the full force of the hurricane.

Gotta go.

170906 12:20 AM



The choice of staying or going is out of our hands. We are now under a mandatory evacuation order. We have to be out by morning at the latest.

I will say a big part of me is not happy about leaving. I know moving up the hill is the smart safe thing to do. I would just like to be in my own house for this.

Til later...

Tuesday, September 05, 2017

170904 Thoughts on Irma







This morning was beautiful


There was not a hint of what's out there coming our way.



At the moment Irma is a Category 5 hurricane. The current predictions are that she will hit the northeast corner of the island with hurricane force winds but will then continue on to the northwest. The wind strength diminishes as you move farther away from the eye. By the time she passes our corner of the island the eye should be far enough away that we will "only" get tropical storm-strength winds. (Update: since I wrote that, the latest forecast has Irma staying much closer to the island, 30 nautical miles instead of 100 nautical miles. Irma has also increased to 185 mph sustained winds.)

Our biggest short-term, immediate fear is not wind but water. The forecast for our end of this island is for about 6 inches of rain. That's quite a bit but not disastrous. But that rain comes with kind of a "perfect storm" of sea conditions. The predictions are for a 4-6' storm surge. That means the "base" level of the ocean will be 4' to 6' higher than normal. Add to that tomorrow night is the full moon which means higher than normal tides. On top of that add 20'-plus storm-driven waves. All of that will be driving right into the mouth of the little river, effectively damming it up. All the rain water from up above has no where to go.

Longer term of course is the fear about the fragility of the island's electric and water infrastructure. We could be without electric or water for days, maybe weeks. Like most people, we stock-piled water. We also have two 600-gallon cisterns filled with captured rainwater.  Loss of electric is an inconvenience. Ola Lola's is closed for the rest of September anyway for our yearly "down time", so keeping beer and burgers cold is not the issue it would be if we were open.

We've taken the precautions we can. We put plywood over our few glass windows. We have everything that water can damage up off the floors. We put "hurricane straps" Tomorrow when we do the final storm close-up we will sandbag around the bar to minimize any water damage.

All those preparations aside, we have decided to spend the night in a friend's house up on top of the cliff. It is a concrete house on the former air force base so it was built to withstand a war. Not only does that put us up out of the flood zone, we will be right around the corner from our friends Carole and Rolf. Rolf has dementia. No one knows how he might react to the storm. We will be close in the event Carole needs a hand. In truth, that was the deciding factor for me to move up the mountain. And, as the storm forecasts worsen, that seems like a good plan.

When - when, not if - we lose electricity we will of course lose access to the Internet, social media and all that. It is likely we will lose cell phone signal at least for a while. We are so used to instant communication that "old school" seems hard. Hang in there. We will make contact whenever we can.

'Til then do like the horse do and keep your back to the wind. See ya on the flip side!

Monday, September 04, 2017

Hoping for best moments 170903


Apparently that high pressure area in the Mid-Atlantic isn't moving like they thought it was going to. It keeps pushing Hurricane Irma south and isn't letting her turn north away from us. Irma has the distinction of being the earliest storm to become a major hurricane (August 30; the old record was September 2) and the storm to develop into a hurricane the farthest east in the Atlantic. Looks like we're not going to dodge this one.

Sitting here watching hurricanes coming at us always reminds me of the 1957 Neville Schute book On the Beach (It was made into a movie in 1959 starring Gregory Peck, Ava Gardner, Fred Astaire and Anthony Perkins.) After a nuclear war, Australia (which had no part in the war) is the last country to be affected by the nuclear fallout. The people go about their lives pretty much as usual, as normally as they can under circumstances, knowing that "the cloud" is coming, that it is inevitable. There is nothing they can do but keep living til it comes to them.

Okay, we're hoping even this Category 4 monster isn't that inevitable or that deadly. It's the waiting, the watching, the knowing there is nothing you can do to change it. All we can do - yes, it's a cliche but... - is prepare for the worst and hope for the best.

I've been in or near four tornadoes. I love thunderstorms. In another life I woudda/coudda been a storm chaser. That said, as much as I like new experiences, I can really live without going through a hurricane. Looks like that option is about to close.

Sidebar: The headlines are all about "will Irma hit Florida?" Hey, people! There a bunch of islands and several million people between Irma and Florida. Hello!

Sunday, September 03, 2017

Best moment 170902


My best moment was very early in the day. Elaine was working, teaching riding lessons, in Rincon so I hung out feeding the horses. Nothing special happened. It was just fun hanging out.

There were a couple of good moments at Ola Lola's, making new friends with Kat and Anna from Sacramento, and spending time with our friends Mac, Shirley and Darryl (who just came back from a week-long dive trip on a live-aboard in the Bahamas).



Friday, September 01, 2017

Best moment 170901


Today is my father's birthday. If he were still with us, he would have 93 years today. I hope it's a wonderful happy day for him, wherever his spirit is. 

He always said his birthday was easy to remember: it's the day World War II started. Hitler invaded Poland on September 1, 1939, my dad's 15th birthday.

My best moment in the present was this morning with our horses. Elaine and I got to ride a little bit. Now off to Ola Lola's. Maybe something this evening will top that and be a new "best moment" for today.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

170830

It has been a wildcrazybusy couple of weeks. Lightning, thunder, rain, wind (although nothing like Houston, thank the goddess!), power outages, Internet outages, new possibilities in the location of the therapeutic riding center, a new agreement on joining forces with another center, paperwork finished and filed for non-profit status both here in PR and the U.S., two new pasture areas fenced for the horses, a new growing friendship with the woman who owns the property where the horses are now...Whew!


I wrote before about how fortunate and how grateful we are that we've been to have the horses so close for so long. It is hard not to see them when we look out across the the road but I don't miss seeing them standing in this every time it rains. They are truly in a much better location even if it is farther away. They are on high ground with lots of green to eat. It's all good.


I did manage to get in a dive last week, right out here at Shacks. Not a great dive but it sure felt good to blow some bubbles. This is my dive-buddy-for-this-dive, Daniel. I've been trying to get out to do a couple of personal training dives to work on my own skills but that hasn't happened yet. Between weather and other responsibilities, I haven't made it out yet. Maybe tomorrow morning.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

170818 Some thoughts


In the wake of the horrors of the past week, from Charlottesville to Barcelona to Sweden and Finland I want to stop to remember and to remind that there is good in this world.

For the past several months, since we found out we needed to move the horses from the property across the street, we have pretty diligently looked for a new home. We've asked people we know, friends, other horse owners, stable owners, hay field managers, pretty much anyone we could think of. Funds are obviously limited but we were willing to pay something if need be. We did find a few less-than-ideal places, all of which wanted to charge $100 or more per horse, sometimes for no more that a stall with no turnout space. Others, including friends, simply said no.

One morning, after repeated unsuccessful attempts to reach her, Elaine finally was able to contact Rachel (not her real name). Rachel, to her amazing credit, was willing to open her door this stranger, a Gringa, and listen to her explain in sometimes halting Spanish that we needed a place--immediately--to keep three horses for at least three months. Would she be willing to let us use her land?

At first skeptical--understandably so--she eventually agreed that, yes, we could put our horses on her land. This woman, who had never met us, knew nothing about us, didn't know what our "real" agenda might be, didn't know about horses, said, "yes."

Now our horse have a marvelous home, at least for now. I cannot even begin to express my gratitude to Rachel. She seems to be getting more and more comfortable with the horses there.

And our gratitude goes deeper and wider. Despite the uncomfortable end of the relationship with the family across the street, we can only be grateful to them, especially Kiko and his daughter Sandra. For nearly six years, they have allowed us--with minimal intrusion--to keep our horses right across the street at very little cost.

Before that, for five years Dr. Lamela allowed us to keep the horses on his property right behind us.

There are many many horses owners with lots more money than we have who cannot get up in the morning, open the window and see their horses. These have been amazing wonderful gifts.

And one more: last week Elaine lost her purse with the usual collection of driver's license, credit cards, etc. She was pretty sure it hadn't been stolen, just misplaced. Friends as far away as Chicago searched their houses looking for it (we have such awesome friends!) as did friends closer to home where it was more likely she'd left it. It didn't turn up and didn't turn up but there was no suspicious activity on any of the credit cards either. She had finally pretty much given up when a policeman stopped at the house.

He told her the purse was at the panaderia (bakery) near the horses' new home. She went there to get a sandwich and left her purse. It was the only time she'd ever been there and she didn't even think of it.

When she went to the panaderia to retrieve the purse, Elaine talked with the woman. She told Elaine this is her mother's panaderia. Her mother found the purse and expected the owner to come back for it. When no one came to claim it, they set it aside. It was someone else's purse, someone else's business, and they had no business going through it. When the policeman came into the panaderia, the woman told him someone left this purse. Would he mind looking through it and see if he could find the owner? The officer found her driver's license and said, "I think I know this woman." He drove down to tell Elaine and thus, the purse was found and returned intact. What phenomenal integrity! And honesty! If only there were more in the world.

But we are humbled and immensely grateful for what there is.




Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Best moment 170814 Romping in the pasture




So the horses seem to be enjoying their new home. What an incredible joy to watch!

Monday, August 14, 2017

170814 Gone but back again

Sit back and settle in for a saga. It's been a lo-o-o-ong but very productive two weeks.

It's not that there haven't been best moments in the past couple of weeks - there have been lots of them. The problem has been getting time to write about them. (Who doesn't have 10 minutes a day to write 50-100 words about their best moments? C'mon! Really?) It's only sort of an excuse. The past two weeks have pretty much been all about the horses and being away from the house and the computer.

Monday, 7/30 - We had a great ride on the beach and the trails. Little did we know then how close we were to our last (for a while) ride on the beach.

 

Tuesday, 8/1 -  Elaine and I took KTJ and Chocolate for a swim in the ocean. If you've been reading this for a while, you know how much we all love that. It was spur of the moment so no photos.

Thursday, 8/3 - A break from horses. Elaine had a party for the volunteers Calorcito p'al Corazon, the group that takes blankets to hospital emergency rooms. One of the best, most active volunteers is our good friend Carole. Her husband Rolf has dementia and needs constant supervision. So Carole could go to the party I was given the honor and privilege of staying with Rolf.

Friday, 8/4 - We were supposed to meet with the mayor of Isabela about land for the therapeutic riding center but the meeting was canceled. Apparently there was some sort of emergency financial meeting in San Juan.

Saturday, 8/5 - We've known for a while that we needed to move our horses off the property across the street. We've been looking for a suitable safe, secure location for months but haven't found one. We had several sites that looked promising but for one reason or another they all fell through. We hoped the meeting with the mayor - the one that didn't happen - would provide some options. On this particular Saturday morning the sometimes eccentric head of the family that owns the property started stringing barbed wire right next to the road in front of the corral and our access gate to the horses. Not too subtle and it kind of freaked me out. He has been known to do unexpected, sometimes dangerous (to others) things without warning. All this led to...

Sunday, 8/6 - An early Sunday morning ride to move the horses to our extreme-last-resort-they-can-only-be-here-a-few-days backup site: Marie's back yard. We figured it would be our last beach ride for a while so we all determined to enjoy it.



At first they were happy in Marie's yard - lots of green grass, for one thing. But they quickly realized how small the area is.


Even though we took them out to exercise as often as we could, they still got bored.


Monday, 8/7 - Marie and I started dismantling the corral and fence across the street, rolling up the electric fence wire, taking down rails, etc. (With everything else that's been going on, that job is only partially complete. I still have to take down the posts. I'm hoping that will happen this week.) While I was working, Fred, the construction manager for a project down the road. drove by. I stopped him to ask about dirt that was dumped on the back of the property across the street. Fred and Elaine got to talking about our project and told him about our meeting with the mayor, now rescheduled for Tuesday, August 8. Turns out, Fred and Charlie (the mayor) have been friends for years. Fred offered to go with us to see the mayor and to help any way he could. Talk about serendipitous best moments!

Tuesday, 8/8 - We - including our new best friend Fred - finally got to meet with Charlie, el Alcalde (mayor) of Isabela. With a little help from Fred, Elaine started her presentation. About half way through, Charlie said, "I'm convinced. What do you need?"

After more conversation, Charlie said the municipio has a five-acre parcel that is not being used and has no current plans for. We have to officially apply to the municipal legislature the first week of September. Charlie is 100% behind our project and sees no problems. The only hick-up is the process will take about three months, putting us into November. That still leaves us with no immediate place to move the horses. Meanwhile, the clock is ticking on their stay at Marie's.

Through a long convoluted chain, there have been conversations using the picadero, an arena and facility for holding horse shows that the municipio owns, as a place for therapeutic riding (TR). We are very interested because it would be a way to start the program fairly quickly. The mayor is interested because it gets his facility used in a very positive way. We can also work cooperatively with our other TR friends to do this. The big problem is everyone would have to trailer horses, either from Rincon, Truillo Alto way on the other side of the island, or from wherever our horses end up. Trailering horses is never as easy as people seem to think. So we were looking for land close to the picadero.

All in all, the meeting with the mayor could not have gone better. It was the most positive thing that happened all week. So far. 

Wednesday, 8/9 - There is a large piece of land within walking distance of the picadero that we've looked at before. Here is one of those times when Elaine's persistence really paid off.

After at least six attempts to reach the property owner, Elaine finally was able to talk with her. Once she understood what we wanted and why, she agreed to let us use the property for three months. We hope to convince her and the neighbors we're great tenants and stewards of the land so we can stay there permanently. That doesn't rule out the land the mayor is talking about either.

Once we got permission to use the land, we walked off the part we wanted to fence first and I was off to HomeDepot to get fence posts.

Thursday, 8/10 - Armed with 50 new T-posts and a brand new T-post driver, I was out bright and early pounding posts. By 2:00 pm, tired and sunburned and proud, I had fenced in an acre-and-a-half.

Friday, 8/11 - While all of this was going on, Elaine was juggling arrangements to get someone who could trailer the horses, who at this point are destroying Marie's yard, to their new home. First it was Friday, then Saturday, then Sunday, then Saturday again.

We went up to Marie's, got the horses out and worked them for a while, just let them get their ya-yas (pent-up energy) out. That's when the idea of riding the horses to the new home first surfaced. We considered riding them Friday afternoon but we figured it to be a 14- mile ride. In the heat of the day. At least part of it at "rush hour." We decided early Saturday morning was a better idea.

Saturday, 8/11 - Up early. We planned to be in the saddle by 7:00. Didn't quite make it but we were on our way before 7:30.




We started riding a somewhat familiar route, down to familiar trails and beach, then past Shacks toward Jobos. Our route was planned to minimize riding on busy roads.







From there we went up Jobos hill which I cannot even describe. From then on we were on roads that pretty much required our full attention so there are no photos until we reached the new home. Tired, hot, and a little confused at first, the critters did not take long to adjust to their new digs.



They've now been there for two days and seem to be settling in nicely.

Next steps: Finish the paperwork for our non-profit corporation. Make formal application to the municipio for use of the land. Check out the picadero to start therapeutic riding. I finally feel like the dominoes are starting to fall into place.

Tuesday, August 01, 2017

Best moment 170729 Shacks again


Snorkeling at Shacks again. This day wasn't nearly as good as yesterday. the sea was rougher and visibility wasn't very good.

Still, getting in the water is better that not getting in.

Best moment 170728 snorkeling Shacks


More vitamin sea, this time snorkeling at Shacks. It was a good day, calm, flat and good visibility, especially for this time of year.

I got to hang out with this guy. Octopus are so cool to watch and so intelligent. They are usually pretty shy and run to hide but this guy stayed out from under the ledges for quite a while.

In addition to the octopus, I swam with a big French angelfish and one of the bigger schools of blue tang that I've seen in a while. It was good to see them back on "our" reef.

Best moment 100727


Another four-legger went swimming!

Amber has always loved the water and loved to swim, ever since he was a pup. When he was small, we'd take him to the lake. If we picked him up, so his feet were out of the water, he would lie quietly. If we lowered him, as soon as his feet touched the water, he would start swimming. Pick him up, the swimming switch turned off. Lower him, the swimming switch turned back on.

Vizslas are bred pointer-retrievers. Swimming is in their being. They even have webbed paws to make swimming easier.

For years, Amber swam in the ocean a lot. He learned to body-surf: he would paddle out then turn and watch for a wave and ride it back to the beach then swim out to do it again. He would play "fetch the stick" in the water until his legs were too tired to move. And then go one more time, (For the record we never let him go that long.)

In the past couple of years, as the issues with his back end and back legs have progressed, we don't take him swimming much. It's pretty hard on him. He's not as stable when the waves hit him. He still runs on the beach everyday and some times plays in the shallows, but he doesn't swim much any more.

We were going for bit of "vitamin sea" therapy and decided to take Amber with us. We were just lounging in the shallow water so it was a perfect time. He walked out - a little unsteadily - and started float. And then to swim. I think he really enjoyed the swimming and it was a joy for us to watch. He didn't swim long or far (we used to remind him that Desecheo Island is only 17 miles away but he would still have to swim back) but he got to swim again.

As long as the ocean is calm and flat, we'll do that again.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Best moment 170726

It's been a pretty low-key week with not a lot going on good or bad.

Wednesday seems to be a catch-up day. Our morning yoga session with Rosie was wonderful - as always. Sometimes yoga is more work than other times and Rosie always encourages us to go a little farther, a little deeper. I always feel so much better afterwards. There is so much that I am carrying over into everyday life. I stand and sit straighter, not slumped over; my shoulders are more relaxed and not hunched around my ears. My breathing is better, more purposeful beyond just necessary.

Elaine taught at the stable in Rincon yesterday so she missed yoga. When she came home, we went out to work with the horses. Our friend Lisa stopped and told us it was a beautiful evening to take horses to the beach. So we did! A short bareback ride and into the water we went. The beach was more crowded than we expected but everybody was fine. The people on the beach seem to mostly enjoy the "show" of the horses in the water.

Chocolate went swimming again with me on him. Riding a swimming horse is such an amazing, different experience.

Wednesday night we had an incredible lightning and thunder show. I was outside watching when I notice an odd thing in the sky. The edge of he system, whatever it was, was right over our side yard. To the east the sky was clouded over and crashing huge lightning bolts and thunder. To the west of that line - and it was a hard edge - the sky was clear and full of stars. Really quite amazing, almost like something from a sci-fi movie.

So, Wednesday - a day with two best moments and another moment of wonder! A pretty good day all in all.

Best moment 170724

We had a great, fun night at Ola Lola's. Friends we haven't seen in a long time stopped by and spent most of the evening. And it was a good night for business overall. That's a good ti\hing after some of the slow nights we've had.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

170721 A digression


You would think those whose life and livelihood depends on the ocean would be the most conscious and respectful of it. Not so. I found this just lying on the beach yesterday. I thought it was just a bit trash dropped or washed up. When I picked it up, I discovered the aspirin bottle trash had a wire leader and a fish hook attached. On the one hand I applaud the fisherman for the creative reuse of the plastic container. On the other hand the jerky fisherman left the trash AND the hook lying on the beach. Fortunately I picked it up and it didn't wind up in a dog's paw or child's foot.

 I so want to respect the fishermen but they make it impossible.

Definitely not a best moment, but I needed to rant. 

Friday, July 21, 2017

Best moment 170720 Steps Beach, Rincon


Have you seen the documentary Chasing Coral? It's streaming on Netflix right now. (At the risk of sounding like a Netflix commercial, even if you don't have Netflix, you can get a one-month free trial. If you have any love for the ocean, it's worth it just to watch this video.)

The video follows a mixed group of folks who set out document the coral bleaching on the Great Barrier Reef.  It is a beautiful, amazing, enlightening, heartbreaking film.  I won't say any more about the film, other than to say - watch it!

We've watched it three times since it was released on July 14. It made me curious and concerned about some of the coral stands near us.

I've written before about the elkhorn coral (Acropora palmata). Once ubiquitous throughout the Caribbean, since 1980 90% to 95% of the elkhorn is dead. The causes are all the usual suspects: rising sea temperatures, human activity (over-fishing, farm runoff, wreckless divers and snorkelers), disease. 

For some reason there is a huge healthy stand of elkhorn in the Marine Reserve along the coast of Rincon. Granted, the protected status of the Marine Reserve has a lot to do with it. But that doesn't completely explain it. The Marine Reserve can't protect against higher ocean temperatures for example. 

I haven't snorkeled at Steps Beach in Rincon since 2015. After watching Chasing Coral, I wanted to see how it looked. On Thursday I had the privilege of snorkeling there with three amazing ladies. For two of them this was their first time at Steps. 

We were very pleased and a little surprised to find the elkhorn healthy and thriving and beautiful.

So there were two best moments in that trip to Rincon: finding the coral healthy and sharing it with good friends.

You can see more photos of the elkhorn in a new Flickr album.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Best moment 170716 On the beach - with horses


Again with the horses on the beach!

This was a Sunday ride on the beach with all of us. And it turned into a bit of an adventure.

Elaine was cantering KTJ down the beach when she saw something out of the corner of her eye. She slowed to a trot. Then she realized what she was looking at was the girth to her saddle hanging loose. The straps that hold the girth to the saddle (called billets) broke on one side. There was nothing holding her saddle on.

It is a tribute to her seat on her horse and the fit of that saddle to both horse and rider that she didn't come off. (Unlike me. When my girth broke, Chocolate and I were standing still. I slid off sideways, saddle and all. I was lying on the ground looking up at Choco looking down at me as if to say, "Whatter ya doin' down there?")

Elaine did a little "MacGyver" repair and we rode home, slowly but safely.

Riding is frequently an adventure and a "best moment."

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Best moment 170715 On the beach


Elaine taught at the stable in Rincon on Saturday so Zip and Chocolate took Marie and I for a ride on the beach. It was a good ride! Choco and I even cantered! Three different times!

Best moment 170713 Crashboat Beach


Pretty much everyone who has been to Crashboat Beach has an iconic photo. Some are like the one above, taken from the overlook on the drive in.

Many are of the bright, colorful fishermen's boats, called yolas, like this:


Or this:


And of course there are at least a thousand drone videos of Crashboat.

My personal favorites are ones that I've take underwater. Under the piers it is like being in a cathedral:


From some vantage points, the piers look like ancient temples of Atlantis, rising back from the sea:


Or maybe the home of a mermaid sea goddess:


We dive at Crashboat fairly often; that's where almost all the beginner Discover Scuba classes are. But I haven't snorkeled there in way too many years.

Until Thursday. Our friend Carole invited us to go along snorkeling. 


Swimming around the piers on the surface gave me a whole completely different viewpoint, a new perspective. This was a view I don't remember ever seeing before. I know I've never photographed it quite this way.

So the best moment for Thursday was seeing an old friend in a new way.






 

Friday, July 14, 2017

Best moment 170712

Does finally mowing the yard count as a best moment? How about fixing the corral gate? That's pretty much what I did.

Except yoga. Elaine was teaching riding at the stable in Rincon so I was going to blow off yoga to get some of those other things done. Then Jen and Suzanne showed up and we had a great yoga class with Rosie.

It would have been such a mistake to miss yoga. It was the best moment of the day.

Best moment 170711


Vitamin Sea therapy.

I'm hoping this will become a habit. I've been in the ocean two days in a row, this time snorkeling at Wishing Well. Wishing Well has always been one of our favorite snorkel sites. We could go there pretty much anytime and mostly have the place to ourselves. Somehow that has changed in the last year or so. Wishing Well - or Peña Blanca as it is also known - has become a very popular beach! With tents and umbrellas and boom boxes it is becoming a mini-Crashboat.





In spite of the crowds the water is still amazingly beautiful. It is still one of the best places to find a turtle to swim with while snorkeling. We swam with this guy for several minutes before we tuned back to shore.

You can see a quick video of this little guy here.