Sunday, May 16, 2010

Congratulations, Ana

Last night we had a great celebration at Ola Lola's: Our good friend Ana is graduating from college and we got to host her Graduation and Commencement Bash-o-rama. The celebration included the first (and hopefully last) performances by the Celebratory Durr-Durr Band. "Dr." John Delametter, "Dean" of the department of "FUNdamental Science," presented Ana with an official, framed diploma from "Loy-ola Lola University." And the commencement address was delivered by none other than Forest Gumpp's mother's ghost. Everybody had a great time, especially the new graduate. Congratulations, Ana!

All the drinks last night were served "shaken, not stirred." If you have friends in Puerto Rico on Facebook or Twitter, you've probably already read about the earthquake last night. A 5.8 magnitude quake hit Moca at 1:16 am. We are 12 km (7 miles) from the epicenter. I was just getting to bed after Ana's party and definitely felt the house shake. It felt like being right next to a major road and having a bunch of big heavy trucks go by very slowly. A lot of people we know slept (including Elaine) slept through it.

From what we've heard so far, there was some minor damage to buildings but no one was hurt. There were however a lot of freaked out people.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Leave Arizona to the Arizonians

A friend of ours just got back from a business trip to Phoenix. She is a beautiful, dark-skinned Puerto Rican woman. In Phoenix she was stopped and asked for her identification. She produced a valid Puerto Rican driver's license and was told that it was not acceptable because it was "not from the US." Our friend responded "yes, Puerto Rico is part of the US." The officer who stopped her said, "No it's not," and demanded her passport. Of course she did not have her passport because - since Puerto Rico is in fact part of the US - a passport is not required for US citizens (which all Puerto Ricans are) to travel between the island and the mainland.

Arizona's new anti-immigration law is scheduled to go into full effect on July 28, 2010. The law "obligates police to make an attempt, when practicable, to determine a person's immigration status if there is reasonable suspicion that the person is an illegal alien[21] during a police stop for some other offense.[22] Police may arrest a person if there is probable cause that the person is an alien not in possession of required registration documents." Acceptable documents are "the following four forms of identification: (a) a valid Arizona driver license; (b) a valid Arizona nonoperating identification license; (c) a valid tribal enrollment card or other tribal identification; or (d) any valid federal, state, or local government-issued identification,"

Within a week of its signing, the bill was changed with "the amended text stating that 'prosecutors would not investigate complaints based on race, color or national origin.'[25] The new text also states that police may only investigate immigration status incident to a 'lawful stop, detention, or arrest.'"

(Quotes are from Wiki-pedia.)

The Arizona governor said "profiling will not be allowed" to enforce the new law. If there is no profiling, on what basis will the the police determine "reasonable suspicion?" Either everybody is presumed innocent, everyone is presumed guilty, or some people are presumed guilty and others innocent. There must be some basis for how the latter are determined. Sounds like profiling to me.

By the way, on this same trip in the same town, our friend was denied entrance to a club while her lighter-skinned companions were admitted.

Seems like Arizonians want Arizona all to themselves. I say let 'em have it.

Friday, May 14, 2010

A new arrival

Sometimes something is going on and you just don't understand it and then you discover the Universe had something else in mind for you.

Last year at this time we were planning to go to Milwaukee to perform at a kite festival. At the last minute we had to cancel because of Elaine's shoulder injury. Instead of flying kites in Milwaukee, we were here, opening Ola Lola's. On Friday night, our son (whom we hadn't seen in more than two years) showed up with a friend and our granddaughter completely unannounced. It was a tough decision to not make our trip to Milwaukee but when we saw Steven walking across the parking lot, we understood why we were supposed to stay here.

Something similar has happened this year. For three weeks we have struggled to find travel arrangements back to Milwaukee to perform at this year's festival that fit both the event's budget and ours. We had just figured out we couldn't do it when we got the message that a horse we were planning to adopt in July was coming TODAY.

Holy Horse! We spent yesterday racing around making arrangements for her and this morning about 10 am she arrived. She - her name is KTJ - is a three-year-old filly rescued from the race track here on the island by Save the Horses, Inc. and Hacienda Siesta Allegre. She's a big girl, 16 hands plus. She needs to put on some weight but otherwise is in good health. She has been trained, ridden and shown by a young girl on the east side of the island for several months which is why we didn't expect to see her until July, after the show season. But the young rider is no longer showing her and now KTJ is here.

For now, she is staying up on top of the mountain at the Ramey Riding Club. She has a stall, which she is used to. There is also a round pen where Elaine can work with here, helping to her to get comfortable in her new home. Eventually, she will move down here with Chocolate and - for now - Sahara.

As you can see from the picture, KTJ is a big, beautiful dark bay. We toyed with the idea of calling her Dark Chocolate to play off Chocolate but KTJ she is. She's a little nervous still but quite well behaved for all that.

So now we start on another new adventure. And now we know why we had such a difficult time with travel plans: the Universe was keeping us here to take care of the new arrival.

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Happy Mother's Day

To all the mothers and the mothers of mothers, to everyone who has a mother - Happy Mother's Day. Elaine and both miss our mothers, not just on this day, but every day.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Okay, more new news

Today Elaine and I did our second "solo duo" dive, this time at Wishing Well. We've snorkeled this beautiful reef many times. It's a great snorkel. As soon as you enter the water, you are on the reef. There is lots of life, fish, eels, and many soft corals. And it's not deep.

We've talked for a long time about diving at Wishing Well. There is so much to see there and as beautiful as snorkeling is, you're still an outsider peering in. On SCUBA, you can be part of that world, at least for a little while. You can just hang there and watch the fish. If you swim calmly and quietly, you can sometimes approach much closer to the fish. You can peer under ledges that weren't even apparent from the surface.

On this dive our deepest depth was 21 feet. There is a lot to be said for shallow water diving. For one thing, your air lasts much longer. I'm an "air hog" and even I was down for 45 minutes and only used half of my available air. (For those who aren't aware, because of the laws of physics, one uses more air in less time when you dive deeper. For example, diving to about 65 feet, 45 minutes is about the best I've done using more than twice as much air as I did at Wishing Well.)

The light and the colors are brighter when you are shallow. Water absorbs light and color the deeper you, starting with the red end of the spectrum. On shallower dives the colors are more "natural."

For Elaine the two long shallow dives have been an easy comfortable way to get back into diving. For various reasons (mostly injuries) she has not bee diving for almost a year. These two dives helped her get comfortable under water in (relatively) safe, low stress, (pun intended) low pressure environment.

By the way - that's a lionfish we saw at Wishing Well. Lionfish are a very agressive invasive species that have found their way into most parts of the Caribbean. According to NOAA's National Ocean Service, lionfish have been in the Atlantic for at least 25 years. We're seeing more and more of them around here.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

New news

Before we get back to old news, here's an update from today.

Elaine and I went SCUBA diving today, together, just the two of us. We spent 45 leisurely minutes swimming around the piers at Crashboat Beach. We literally swam in a natural aquarium with hundreds and hundreds of fish, some of which swam right up to us. At one point Elaine was obscured by clouds of sergeant major fish, night majors, Spanish hogfish, and ocean surgeons.

This is something we've been working toward, where we can go out diving together regardless of who else is available. But don't worry, Darryl, we still like diving with you.

More old news later.

Monday, May 03, 2010

New old news

So - where have we been for a month? Here, mostly but for some reason not writing although there is much to write about.

This is something I've been meaning to write about for quite a while. A lot of people are interested in "The Project" down the road from us toward Villa Tropical. According to information we received, apparently the property owners have abandoned the idea of building a condo complex there. (Despite the name, Shacks Resort, it was never going to be a "resort," just condos.)

They are now planning to sell the property off as individual building lots.

This is the communication in the original Spanish and below that is an English translation.

Shacks Resort en Isabela Puerto Rico, es un desarrollo residencial turístico de 112 unidades de vivienda debidamente autorizadas y con plano de construcción. Este proyecto fue diseñado tomando en consideración los más altos parámetros de estética y tecnología con miras a preservar el medio ambiente y el alto valor del área. Su construcción final estará muy atado al alto valor en el predio de terreno.

Los que conocen Shacks, saben que es conocido a nivel como una de las mejores playas del mundo, por la diversidad de deportes marinos que se pueden practicar en un mismo lugar, otros han señalado que es la mejor, por que esta llena de gratas sorpresas como la Cueva del Manatí, áreas para practicar scuba diving, surfing, snorkeling, natación, sky surfing, windsurfing y otros.

Basado en una gran cantidad de factores y con miras a preservar este pedazo de tierra para las generaciones futuras, teniendo un gran significado, ya que algunos de nuestros hijos han crecido y se han desarrollado en esta playa, hemos tomado la decisión de reducir significativamente la densidad del desarrollo y su concepto para mejorar el balance entre desarrollo y ambiente. Los parámetros en el diseño Los pasos son los siguientes:

1. Reducir la cantidad de unidades de vivienda a un máximo de 31, con solares que varían desde 600 hasta 900 metros cuadrados aproximadamente.
2. Precios atractivos para el mercado local e internacional comenzando en $400.00 hasta un máximo de $850.00 por metro cuadrado.
3. Mantener unas restricciones en la construcción de unidades de vivienda con parámetros de uniformidad, valor de la construcción y discreción de cada dueño del solar para construir cada unidad de vivienda cuando estime pertinente, basado en factores económicos o en el momento que crean pertinente.

Estos cambios convertirán al proyecto Shacks Resort en un diseño de 31 solares de vivienda con un gran valor, debido a lo limitado y difícil que es conseguir solares con frente de playa o acceso inmediato a la exclusiva playa de Shacks. Algunas de las ventajas adicionales para los potenciales compradores son las siguientes:

1. Control de acceso para mantener la seguridad en el complejo.
2. Uniformidad en la construcción, para mantener un alto valor en la inversión.
3. Área de estacionamiento para cada solar sin tener que caminar hasta su unidad residencial.
4. Verjas en toda la periferia del proyecto.
5. Provisión para espacio de estacionamiento para visitantes.
6. Casa Club con piscina para evitar incurrir en gastos adicionales en facilidades recreativas.
7. Disponibilidad de utilizar la unidad de vivienda como residencial principal o someterla a un régimen de arrendamiento que produzca ingresos adicionales.
8. Amplia calle de acceso.
9. Nueva infraestructura de energía eléctrica y agua potable para evitar interrupciones.

Los que tengan un interés real en conocer un poco mas de Shacks Resort pueden comunicarse con nosotros, ya que en los próximos días comenzaremos con reuniones por invitación exclusiva para un grupo selecto que puedan invertir en este bello paraíso.

English translation

Shacks Resort in Isabela, Puerto Rico, is a tourist residential development of 112 housing units duly authorized and blueprinted. This project was designed by taking into consideration the highest parameters of aesthetics and technology in order to preserve the environment and the high value of the area. Its final construction will be very high value attached to the parcel of land.

Those who know Shacks, know that it is renowned as one of the best beaches in the world, the diversity of water sports that can be practiced in one place, others have pointed out is the best, that is full of pleasant surprises Cave and Manatee areas to practice scuba diving, surfing, snorkeling, swimming, sky surfing, windsurfing and more.

Based on a large number of factors and in order to preserve this piece of land for future generations, because it has great meaning, as some of our children have grown and developed at this beach, we have decided to significantly reduce density of development and its concept to improve the balance between development and environment. The parameters in the design steps are:

1. Reduce the number of housing units to a maximum of 31, with lots ranging from 600-900 square meters.
2. Attractive prices for local and international market starting at $ 400.00 up to $ 850.00 per square meter.
3. Maintain restrictions on the construction of housing units with uniform parameters, value of construction and discretion of each owner of the land to build each housing unit when it deems appropriate, based on economic factors or when they deem appropriate.

These changes will make the Shacks Resort project a design of 31 housing lots with great value, because of limited availability and how difficult it is to get beachfront building lots ,or immediate access to the exclusive Shacks Beach. Some of the additional benefits to potential buyers are:

1. Access control to maintain security in the complex.
2. Consistency of construction to maintain a high value on investment.
3. Parking area for each lot without having to walk to their residential unit.
4. Fences around the periphery of the project.
5. Provision for parking space for visitors.
6. Clubhouse with pool to avoid incurring additional recreational facilities.
7. Availability for use as residential dwelling unit or subject it to a principal leased to produce additional revenue.
8. Wide access road.
9. New infrastructure for electricity and water to avoid interruptions.

Those who have a real interest in knowing a little more than Shacks Resort please contact us, and that in the coming days we will begin with meetings at the invitation-only a select group that can invest in this beautiful paradise. (We have the phone numbers if you're interested. )

This is indeed a great step forward. This is in fact a piece of property that is attractive for development. Something is going to be built there. We like the idea of much lower density individual building sites rather than high-density condos.

More old news tomorrow.