Saturday, September 22, 2012

Trip Advisor

Why a restroom photo? To start a discussion about Trip Advisor.

First, let me say in general, I like Trip Advisor. If you're not familiar with it, it is a site where "real people" can post "real opinions" about restaurants, hotels, attractions, just about anything travel related. The idea is travelers can read what other travelers say about a place before they go.

I honestly don't expect everybody to like us (although I secretly do expect everybody to like us). Some people aren't happy because we don't have rice-and-beans. Some aren't happy because there is nothing fried on our menu. Everybody has an opinion about food, good, bad or indifferent.

The opinions I don't mind. I do object to factual errors. Our first bad review complained about an "$8 banana." The same review stated we said desserts are our specialty. Neither of these statements is true. Why does it matter? Because other people read this stuff and believe it. We can - and do - write "management responses" to every review. It takes 3-5 days for management responses to be reviewed and posted. In that time some number of people have read the misinformation and don't know about the response. So that factually incorrect review is all they see.

Some reviews I just don't understand, like the person who said our menu was like "a high school or hospital cafeteria." Dude! What high school did you go to? Elaine spent six days in the hospital in May and the menu wasn't anything like ours.

Which brings be back to the restroom. The picture is our men's room (although it doesn't matter because the two are mirror images of each other). On reviewer described this as a "nasty skanky latrine." Say what? Other people have told us our restrooms are cleaner than those in the nearby big international chain hotel. But that comment didn't make it to Trip Advisor, just the "nasty skanky" comment.

Oh well, it's all part of the business. Gotta take the nuts-o with the good.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

It's early fall in Puerto Rico

It's the beginning of fall here in PR. A lot of people from more temperate climes, where the four seasons are definitely more pronounced wonder how we can tell.

There is a definite change in the light, just like there is in the north. Cooler temperatures haven't hit yet; that won't really be noticeable until December. But some trees to change color.

The almond tree for example changes to a red-orange and loses it's leaves. But at the same time, it gets new leaves and flowers. Strange tree. It's part of that "drops something - leaves, flowers, stems or almonds - 365 days a year" thing.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Birthday adventure continues

Elaine's sister Amy came to visit for Elaine's birthday - and just to "get away." As part of Elaine's birthday adventure, we went paddleboarding on Rio Guajataca with Amy (the sister), Amy (the daughter) and Miguel with Miguel from Verde Azul. We had a blast!

And to close out the day, Elaine and Amy (the sister) went horseback riding on the beach on Chocolate and KTJ. I think Amy liked it.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012


 Mango-orange-agua de coco sangria at Fu-Fu

 Elaine planned her own birthday lunch with her sister Amy (visiting from Ohio for Elaine's birthday) and our Ola Lola staff. She took us to a (relatively) new Afro-puertoriquean restaurant called Fufu.

Fufu is a food made from starchy vegetables that originated in Ghana and is common in West and Central Africa. Local variations here in the Caribbean include mangĂș and mofongo. At FuFu, fu-fu is firmer and more mofongo-like rather than doughy like it's African ancestor. This one had plantain and yuca with vegetables and shrimp.

FuFu also has pasta like this, also with vegetables and shrimp.

It's just a small place but it's wonderful (kinda like Ola Lola's - but way different). We will definitely go back. There's lots more on the menu to try.

We capped off the day with a get-together complete with birthday cake at Amy and Miguel's.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

9/11 (but not what you think)

Today, of course, is 9/11. All over the country people are offering remembrances of that horrific day 11 years ago. Here, we are quietly (or not so quietly!) celebrating Elaine's birthday. Of course we remember those who died in the World Trade Center and on flight 93 and their families who still struggle with the memories - how can we ever forget? But this date was Elaine's birthday first.

We talked and talked and talked about how to continue to celebrate her birthday in light of those events. First we decided we'd move her birthday celebration off by six months and celebrate in April, not realizing that every news, infotainment and propaganda organization would do a six-month retrospective replay. Finally, we - or rather she - decided to claim her birthday as her own. After all, she was here first.

So despite the tragic undertones, here's wishing mi dushi, mi amor, my love a wonderful and very happy birthday.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Horses on the move

For five years we have had the great privilege of waking up and looking out our window or off the balcony and seeing the horses hanging out under the big almond tree or in the yard next door. For five years our neighbors have very graciously allowed us to keep Chocolate and KTJ literally next door. 

That arrangement ended this week. Our neighbors are planning to remodel the house and the yard and don't want the horses helping with the landscaping. All we can say is thank you for five amazing years of having our horses right outside the window.

For the past couple of weeks we've been building a new home for them - right across the street! Our other neighbors offered part of their land as pasture for Choco and KTJ.We had to move bunch of rock and construction material to make a safe space for them. That was a much bigger undertaking than anyone imagined. First we tried a front-end loader. That didn't budge it. Then we brought in a Cat D-4 bulldozer. That moved some of the rock but couldn't clear the whole area. The construction people wanted to bring in a Cat D-6 - at a mere $1200 a day. And they couldn't guarantee it would be done in one day. Ya know, it's tempting We'll work with what we have. 

This could be a temporary solution as well. If the family finds a buyer for the property, we have to move them again. Given that, we're using electric fence for most of the perimeter.It's much easier to remove if and when we need to. This weekend we built another small wood corral for them. It's not as pretty as the first one I built but so far it's holding them and they seem happy. And Ola Lola's guests get to watch them grazing right across the street.

We have such great neighbors! Thank you!

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

First early season swell

Lilac Alvarado rips on a wave at Middles

We got the first little taste of a swell on Monday. It was great timing since most people had the day off work for Labor Day, I went to Middles for a great early season session. This photo of Lilac Alvarado was just one of a number of great photos. You can see all the good ones on our website. is still predicting six-foot plus waves for the weekend. We'll see how that pans out. I'm ready for it.

Saturday, September 01, 2012

Happy birhtday, JI

Today would have been my father's 88th birthday. (He's the tall one in the photo.)

He used to say his birth date was easy to remember - It was the day World War II started. (Hitler and Germany invaded Poland on September 1, 1939.)

I think celebrating his birthday is way more fun. Happy Birthday, JI!