Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Nice swell to end the season

This week we've enjoyed a nice, good size late-season swell. Because of that, we haven't been diving but the local surfers have enjoyed it. And there are some good pictures from a couple of sessions. You can see them on our website, www.PuertoRicoSurfPhoto.com.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Special Guests

Many of you know we moved to Puerto Rico from Michigan. Back there one of our favorite brewers was Bell's. Oberon. Amber Ale (our dog is named after this beer). Best Brown Ale. Java Stout. The list goes on and on. We lived just over a mile from Bell's Eccentric Cafe. We could walk there from home and, uh, find a cab or a ride home (as walking was no longer an option.)

When Carlos Delpin first started bringing good beer to the island (no offense meant to Medalla and Corona), I talked to him about getting Bell's beers. Fortunately for all of us, Carlos and Larry Bell know each other and it wasn't too long before we had Bell's.

This past weekend was the Craft Beer Festival in San Juan. Andy Klein (of OneTenThai) convinced the Bell's brewery reps, Tina and Cindi, they needed a trip to our side of the island to meet us and to see some of Puerto Rico besides San Juan and to eat at OneTenThai.

We spent a wonderful afternoon and part of the evening (after OneTenThai). We treated them to a night at Villa Tropical. In the morning before they had to get back to San Juan, Elaine took them sightseeing around Isabela and Aguadilla.

They now have some great stories to take back to Larry and the rest of the Bell's people. We have their promises to come back to Puerto Rico soon.

Thanks, ladies! It was great meeting you and hanging out with you.

Friday, April 26, 2013

KAP is back!

Two months and four days (but who's counting) after my KAP rig went in the ocean while photographing the Rip Curl surf event, my completely rebuilt KAP rig finally successfully flew.

I've tried a couple of times before but there was always something that just didn't quite work right. Yesterday at Pozo Teodoro (a little tide pool at the east end of Middles Beach) I got it up and got it working. There are still a couple of tweaks I need to make to get it to 100% but it felt really good to have a camera back in the air.

I am especially pleased with the images from the new camera, a Canon SX500is. I wasn't sure I would like it but I do. The pictures are clear and sharp, better than what I was getting with my old camera.

We uploaded the best of pictures from this session to our Flickr page. Here's hoping there's lots more to come from this new rig!

Thursday, April 25, 2013


Yesterday I spent the whole day running around, almost finishing our taxes. "Almost" because we have to file an amended return because we did not receive a particular document and so it got left out of our original filing.

One of the business tax documents we have to get here is called a "patente," a patent. There is no equivalent I know of in the States. After you file your state business taxes, you file this form with the municipio (the city/county) and pay the amount it says. You need the patente to do business. It is not the same as the license or the commercial registration. Essentially, it is a tax you pay that gives you the privilege of paying taxes the rest of the year.

While getting our patente, the people in the municipio discovered a discrepancy between our sales tax reports and our end-of-year gross receipts. A number was mistakenly entered twice which inflated our end-of-year figures. To fix it I had to pay additional sales tax plus penalties and interest. Yes, even though it was a mistake. That's what figures on the papers said and the figures don't lie.

So part of our amended return to the state will (hopefully) correct this problem before we get hit with penalties and interest from the state as well.

But that's not the point of the story. At the end of this process at the end of a very long day, after shelling out nearly $200 extra, I sat there thanking my friend in the municipio finance office like she'd just done me a great favor!

I guess in a way she did. She did help me fix a stupid problem.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Everything is late in PR

There is a running (sort of) joke that everything is late in Puerto Rico. If a party invitation says 7:00, don't expect the party to start until 9:00. Or 10:00.

This year, even Tax Day was late. Monday, April 15th was a holiday so Tax Day wasn't until April 16th.

And yes, I procrastinated way too long and had to stand in line for two hours to fill my taxes. (Here, even if you mail your taxes in on time, you have to go to a government office called "la colecturia" to have your tax form stamped.)

Thursday, April 11, 2013

not much time

Not much time for anything right now. We had a major crash and lost about six months of tax data. Now we're frantically trying to recreate it from paper receipts in time for tax day. See ya!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

A little diving

There's been a little lull in the waves this past week which made for some good diving. Darryl and I had a couple of good dives at Natural and then I tagged along on a Discover dive at Crashboat.

I love diving Natural. There is always something different to see. One day we saw five spotted eagle rays; the next day we didn't see any. One day we saw the school of Atlantic spadefish from a distance; the next they were playful and all around us. Most days we see turtles, but not always.

Crashboat is always an interesting dive as well. A lot of people have an overly simplistic view of Crashboat. True, it is not the most challenging dive site. It's only 35-40 feet deep. Only rarely is there any current. Experienced divers - who are good with their air - can swim around the whole site three times and still make it back to the beach with air left. But...it is one of the "fishiest" dives we do. There are so many fish out under the piers. Since the mooring platform collapsed in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, we have another "wreck" to dive. Fish love to collect in the spaces under the sunken pier. It is in a cove sheltered from all but the biggest and westerly swells with an easy-in-easy-out all-sand-bottom beach next to easily accessible and good parking. All those things make Crashboat a perfect dive site for beginners and for discover dives. Some "serious" diver shun it but I love it. It's usually a beautiful, fishy, relaxed dive.

And sometimes we see some really interesting things, like this Monsanto GMO-inspired fish with fins:

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

April is National Kite Month

Kiting offers more ways enjoy than any other activity/sport/hobby/pasttime I can think of. From the simple joy of watching a child's kite dance on a spring breeze to the extremes of crossing frozen continents towed by a kite, kiting offers something for nearly everyone.

In between there are:

Kite makers create kites from paper or fabric that range from simple to the amazingly artistic, from thesize of a postage stamp to more than a hundred feet long.

Pilots of two- and four-line stunt kites dance their kites across the sky in routines choreographed to music. Kite boarders, kite buggiers and kite surfers get an intensely athletic workout as they harness the power of the wind to move across snow, desert and ocean. For KAPpers - Kite Aerial Photography buffs who like to take photos from the sky - kites offer a platform for lifting cameras to give us a different perspective on our world.

Kites have been used for science - think Ben Franklin and the Wright brothers - and exploration of the atmosphere: until the advent of the high-altitude weather balloon, kites provided most of what we knew about the ocean of air above us. A kite lifted the antenna for the first trans-Atlantic radio transmission. Sometimes dismissed as mere toys, kites have been used in wars: one of the first historical mentions is a of kite used by a warlord in China more than 2,000 years ago.

The American Kitefliers Association (AKA)and the kite industry celebrate all the various ways to get outside and enjoy kites during National Kite Month every April. With recognized festivals, fun-fly events, workshops and exhibits throughout the world, National Kite Month is all about celebrating the sky and bringing the joys of kiting to thousnds of people.

For more information and to find a National Kite Month event near you, check out the National Kite Month website at www.nationalkitemonth.org. To find more ways to get involved in kiting, head over to the AKA's brand new kite portal at www.kite.org. But don't just read about it - GO FLY A KITE!