Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Photo of the day 30 de enero de 2007

Late again. Sorry.

Sunsets over the beach are beautiful here. Because the bar is open four evenings a week, I only have three days to catch sunsets. I don't always make it but I try to take advantage when I can.

We are literally on the most northern point of the island. This time of year we have to get a little way around the corner of the island to really see the sunset. In this photo the sun sets over the next point along the beach, about a mile west of where we get on the beach from Ola Lola's.

It's a little strange for me to be on a beach facing north. In Michigan all the beaches we frequented face west. The quality of the light here is very different from that in Michigan (which has a lot to do with the difference in latitudes) but the direction of the light is very different on a north-facing beach.

More to come.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Photo of the day 29 de enero de 2007

Trying to catch up.

Sunday the waves finally came up, making the surfers happy. I spent an hour or so at Wilderness Beach photographing the surfers. It was fantastic.

The surfers' use of technology is interesting. There are web sources that predict the swell size and direction. Surfers then decided which beach is likely to have the best conditions and head there. They constantly check their Blackberries for the latest conditions.

Some of these guys are hardcore. The two guys who spent Saturday evening at Ola Lolas had to leave by noon to catch a late afternoon flight back to Florida. They were at Wilderness at first light (about 6:30 am) so they could get at least four hours of surfing in before they left.

There are a few more photos at


Monday, January 29, 2007

Photo of the day para 26 y 27 de enero de 2007

Sorry no photo for the last three days. Too busy doing what we moved here to do. I'll try to make it up to y'all by posting a bunch of new pictures to Flickr later today.

This weekend was a perfect reminder of why we made this move. Friday and Saturday were very warm - weatherunderground says 84 but it felt warmer than that. WU also says there's a 10 mph breeze. More like 4-5 I'd say.

It was a lot like summer is here, sunny, very warm, light winds. The ocean was been calm and flat for two days. Quite a contrast after the 12-foot+ waves earlier in the week. The kite surfers and surfers aren't particularly happy about it but we snorkelers are overjoyed. Finally, a chance to get in the water and SEE something and to swim without fighting the waves and current.

I finally got out to Blue Hole on Friday. It was beautiful, just amazing. I swam and dove in Blue Hole alone for almost an hour. The morning sun cut shafts of white light through the blue water. Every now and then a fish would slice through the sunlight and absolutely glow. A column of black and yellow striped gobies glittered in the light, a vein of gold against the shadowed reef.

Saturday was a bit more churned up. The surfers were all checking their Internet sites, looking for "swell reports." All the reports said the swell should come up Saturday night and be great on Sunday. Saturday night, two surfers were sitting a Lola's. Suddenly one cocked his head. "Hear that?" he said. "Here it comes, right on time. Looks like Wilderness [Beach] tomorrow."

But that's another story. And a whole 'nuther bunch 'o photos.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Solitude...and photo for 25 de enero de 2007

The solitude of this day is wearing heavily.

The people from CRIM (obviously a government acronym but I have no idea what it stands for) were supposed to come esta manana (this morning) to "inspect" the house. What this really involves is checking to see if I am in fact living here. It's important because since this is my primary residence and the property is less than an acre, once this is done, I get a paper that says I don't pay any property taxes.

Also with that paper, I get to go to Isabela to get another piece of paper called a "patente." Again, I have no idea what it is except I have to have it to go to the next office, the Oficina de Muebles. (Who knows?) From them I get and yet another piece of paper and then I take all these pieces of paper to the oficina de bebides alcoholis and finally (maybe) get my actual permit to run Ola Lola's.

So anyway, the CRIM people were supposed to come this morning. Fine. I have a lot of work to do in the garden. So I figured I'd spend the morning working in the garden then either go start the next round of paperwork or have the afternoon to go to the beach. Afterall, it has been a postcard day.

Alas, t'was not to be. CRIM never did show up so I sat and waited pretty much all day for nothing, wasting a nearly perfect day.

Two good things did come of it: I finished trimming all the hibiscus and I got more hammock time than I've had at any one stretch since I got here. I actually took a nap in the hammock.

Still, it was an unwelcome solitude that feels enforced. I couldn't leave until late afternoon. It clouded up by then so the light on the ocean was like the ocean itself, flat and grey. Kind of matched my mood. Don't get me wrong: I'm not feeling sorry for myself, just a little lonely.

So the photo for today is one from the garden. I'm not sure what this flower is - and surprizingly, Katie doesn't either. It is related to the bird of paradise, but that's all I know.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Photo of the day 24 de enero de 2007

The ocean was wild yesterday. This was taken early in the day, when the waves were "only" 8-10 feet. They got bigger as the day went on. By late afternoon they built to over 12 feet, what the surfers call "overheads." It was awesome.

Today it was much flatter. I several people - including me - went swimming and snorkeling for the first time in a few days. The surfers were happier too. When the waves a big at Shacks, the tend to break early and quickly. They are not great to ride. The smaller waves today were actually more ridable. The only ones who weren't happy were the kite surfers. A few went out but the wind was too light for most.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Language sample

For all you SLPs out there reading this (you know who you are), here's a little language sample for you.

Because mi espanol esta in fact horrible, one of our favorite phrases is "mi espanol esta horrible." This frequently gets a chuckle and a "mi ingles esta horrible."

In our attempts to learn Spanish another favorite phrase is "Como se dice..." (How do you say...) Then we repeat whatever it is four or five times and hope we remember it.

The other day I was in one of our favorite panaderia y reposterias (bread and pastry bakery). I pointed to a particularly yummy-looking sweet roll and said to the woman behind the counter, "como se dice?" She looked where I was pointing, shrugged, and said, "cinnamon roll."

She smiled. Then we all laughed. Some things are the same no matter what the language

Photo(s) of the day 23 de enero de 2007

One of the things that really impresses E. is that we have coconut palms in our yard. And she's right: it is pretty amazing. We have coconut palms in our yard! And a couple of different kind.

A few of the coconuts are just about ripe so I wll me tasting fresh coconut milk right from our own trees very soon.

I wondered about a couple of things about the coconut palms. One, they all seem to have these little chinks in the trunk. At first I thought that's just the way the bark is. I also wondered how they cut the coconuts down. I assumed a long ladder. Well, the photo on the right answers both questions.

The little holes in the bark are caused by the spikes used by the guys who climb the trees to cut the coconuts down. If you've never seen coconuts growing, they grow in bunches, kinda like bananas. A guy climbs up the tree carrying a machete and the end of a rope. He ties the rope to a bunch of coconuts then cuts them loose. A partner on the ground lowers the bunch then sends the rope back up for another bunch.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Photo of the day 22 de enero de 2007

Well, back again. Sorry for the long delay. The recipe for Photo of the day is "photo + internet access." My internet access has been sporadic to nonexistent. They're supposed to come fix it tomorrow. Of course they came LAST week to fix it with no apparent success. However, it is working right now so I'll shut up and get on with it.

This is Doc. Doc is a veterinarian with the US Dept of Agriculture. Originally from Idaho, Doc has been in Puerto Rico for more than 20 years.

He has a great expressive face and a huge intellect. Doc is one of our good friends here at Ola Lola's.

You can see more pictures of Doc on our Flickr site -

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Photo of the day 18 de enero de 2007

Yesterday was finally a good day to go snorkeling and take some new pictures. The wind and waves have kept the water rough and churned up for a week or so. I've been swimming almost everyday but it's mostly been for exercise and to get to know the reef. Yesterday the water over reef out toward Blue Hole was (relatively) calm and clear so I got some new pictures. More have been uploaded to the Flickr site,

There are also new kite surfing photos on the Flickr site. Hope you enjoy them. As always, feel free to leave comments.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Photo of the day 17 de enero de 2007

Today dawned grey and cloudy and rainy but it's turned into a beautiful day. This photo was taken just after sunrise a few days ago. I love this shot.

You can check out more beach photos at our Flickr site -

Be sure to look a the Kite Aerial Photography and kite surfing sets for more beach pictures.

Buenos dias!

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Photo of the Day 16 de enero de 2007

Kite surfing is BIG stuff here at Playa Shacks. This is one of the top three or four kite surfing destinations in the world. You don't have to take my word for it. A young couple from southern California was in Lola's the other night. They have kite surfed all over the world - Hawaii, South Africa and more.

"When I first thought about coming to Puerto Rico, I thought it would be dirty and dangerous and boring," Ashley said. "Boy, was I ever wrong! This is better than Hawaii - cleaner, much less crowded, nicer people."

"Few places have this combination of wind and waves," Jed added. "This is definitely in the top three or four."

Playa Shacks is now their number one destination for kite surfing even though Hawaii is closer.

What a week!

We’ve had huge winds and some pretty heavy rains (more than 2” in less than 24 hours) occasionally interrupted by sunshine.

Saturday we were without power most of the day and well into to the evening. I opened Lola’s as usual. The beer is all on ice anyway – we just use refrigerators to chill it before putting it ice to get it REALLY cold. The only thing I couldn’t do was make pina coladas. The recipe is pineapple, coco, rum, ice and BLENDER. But we had a really good night any way. It was a very comfortable atmosphere sitting and talking by flash light. (We couldn’t use candles ‘cause it was too windy.)

I switched on all the lights before I opened so I’d know if and when the power came back on. When it did, it was like a flash going off in your face. We all agreed we liked the dimmer atmosphere better so actually turned off some lights.

The ocean has been really rough and churned up. I still go swimming most days but there hasn't been a lot to see, at least not IN the water. I've done some KAP stuff (more about that in near-future post) and more kite surfing photos.

Speaking of photos, I haven’t posted a photo of the day for while. Between the power going off and itermittent internet connections, it’s been hard to get anything up. But that will change today. A new kitesurfing photo is up.

We’ve also joined Flickr. Rebuilding the website to include new pictures has proved much more daunting than I expected it to be – hence the fact there are no new photos on the web site yet. Flicker will let me post more new photos faster. You, dear readers (as Miss Manners would say) , can enjoy them at your leisure.

The URL is

The link will also be posted in the links section of the blog and on the web site.

I'm still getting photos uploaded and organized so check back once in a while.

Much much more to come soon.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Photo of the day, 12 de enero de 2007

We had a big storm last night, lots of wind, heavy rain. I got to experience my first Puerto Rican power outage. Fortunately, it didn't last long and it's (obviously) back on now.

The bar opens for the weekend today and I've got to get ready so I don't know if I'll have chance to do any new photos. Today's photo is of a storm over the ocean taken in agosto de 2006 (August, 2006).

More later -

Photo of the day 11 de enero de 2007

This is the start of (what I hope will be ) a daily post of a new picture taken somewhere in our vacinity. The pictures may be of the beach, of Ola Lola people, taken underwater snorkeling or SCUBA diving, whatever strikes my fancy.

The Photo of the Day will usually be accompanied by a new posting to the new FLICKR site. We'll let you know more about that as it develops.

Today's photo is of a kite surfer at Shacks Beach (Playa Shacks) just about sunset. Looks like fun, eh?

Check back for more about the Flickr site. Pax, J&E

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Back again

Wow! It's been harder to get to write this blog than I thought it would be. I've had a lot of trouble with the Internet service. We think it's the modem. It goes on for while, then it cycles off, then it comes back on. It's been very frustrating. Today for some reason it seems to be working fine. Maybe it knows we're going to swap it out this afternoon.

Getting the bar going - especially getting all the permits - is taking a ton of time. Katie (the original Lola) is so much help. I don't know how I would do this without her. She's been through this before so she at least knows what offices we have to go to. And, her Spainsh is fluent (unlike mine).

There is a lot of burecratic running around. Before you can get this permit, you need that piece of paper, but to get that piece of paper you need to have this inspection done. Because it's all different departments, some city, some "state," nobody really knows what anybody else's processes or requirements are. I'd say "welcome to the Caribbean" but it's the same burecratic nightmare everywhere.

So right now I'm sitting waiting for the guy from tech services from my bank to show up to set up my credit card reader. We've only been trying to get this done since before Christmas.

Wow. Speak of the devil - the tech guy is here. Gotta go.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Elaine has left the building

5 de enero de 2007

"There was no good word in English for thei hopeless farewell. My wife and I separated on a winter day in London and we were both miserable...We both thought: What now! It was the most sorrowful of goodbyes. I could not imagine life without her. I tried to console myself by saying, This is [just] a journey because a journey can be either your death or your transformation, though on this one imagined that would just keep living a half-life."

--Paul Theroux, The Happy Isles of Oceania

Today is the eve of Three Kings Day (dia de tres reyes). Three Kings Day is a huge holiday here in Puerto Rico, some say bigger than Christmas even. Like Christmas, it’s a very family oriented holiday, but there are also big outdoor celebrations in the town plazas in Isabela and Aguadilla (the two towns closest to Ola Lola’s).

I certainly don’t feel much like celebrating. Elaine left early this morning to go back to Michigan to finish teaching at the university for the winter. (The university optimistically calls the semester that spans January, February, March and April “spring” semester.) We won’t see each other ‘til she comes back down for spring break in early March.

So y’all go celebrate Three Kings Day. I’m going to go sit and stare at the ocean.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

New Year's Day

Well, we started our first festival de chiringas (kite festival) in Puerto Rico today.

We flown kites on New Years Day since 1990 - and we gotta keep those traditions alive. Promotion for the event was just word of mouth and through the store. We had, I don't know, maybe a hundred people all together either stop in their cars to watch us fly or actually stop and talk with us. A couple of families came and flew kites.

Even though there are several kite festivals on the island, it's not a great tradition here. When we talked about a kite festival, pretty much nobody had a clue what we were talking about. Certainly New Year's Day is not a big time for kite flying.

Since 1990 we've missed only missed flying kites on New Year's Day one time. New Year's Day, 2005, we were on a cruise. We had kites we planned to fly off the deck of the cruise ship. But that day we were doing 16 knots INTO a 68 knot wind. Just a bit too strong for the little kites we could pack in our luggage.

Monday, January 01, 2007

New Year's Eve

We had a GREAT - make that FABULOUS - time flying our Mambas New Year's Eve night. There is a field right across the street from us that we have premission to fly in. The family that lives there was having a big New Year's Eve party and we wanted to fly for them. It rained most of the day and much of the evening so we didn't think were going to be able to fly. But the rain quit about 10, just about the time we were heading to the party. (There are great advantages to having a bar that closes at 9 pm.) The moon was high and bright, just three days before full. So we hooked up the lights to our Mambas and just took off. We didn't tell them we were coming, we just launched. We heard somebody yell, "Chiringas!!!!!" (the Puerto Rican word for kite) and the whole party, 150 people or more, came to watch us fly. More than one person told us watching us was better than watching fireworks.

Flying kites together anytime is amazing, romantic, sexy. But at night, under a full moon, it's absolute magic. We started a harvest full moon festival back in Michigan, just to celebrate and share that magic with friends and the world. Flying on New Year's Eve was almost indescribable. There was such a shared sense of pure joy. And we got to share it with our new neighbors, who enjoyed it as much as we did.

It's interesting. There is a ton of kite-boarding here but very very little in the way of single- or dual-line kites. There are several kite festivals on the island (gotta check those out) but mostly what we've seen is tiny plastic Gayla-type deltas. We now have kites for sale in the bar, just some single-liners from Premier. Hard to say how they'll do; we've only been open four days. But there is some interest in dual-line. We'll see.