Saturday, September 24, 2016

Black out- schmack out!

Meanwhile, underwater, Mother Ocean don't care about no black out.

Actually, this was shot the day before the Big Black-Out. We did two dives with Island Scuba in Guanica on the south coast of the island.  Our first dive was on The Wall to a max depth of 100'. The Wall continues down for another 100' or more.

We saw the barracuda and two reef sharks on the first dive. The barracuda were there but not interested in us. The reef sharks were curious but they see divers a lot so we didn't freak them out. They swam around us and kinda checked us out but that was it. Scary? Not a bit of it! It was incredible to hang out with these amazing creatures.

Our second dive was on a shallower (55') reef. It is a beautiful reef but the most interesting part (besides two hiding nurse sharks) was the coral farm. We noticed big healthy patches of staghorn coral. We have tiny bits of staghorn coral at Shacks but nothing like this.

And this was just one of several patches like this. We were wowed. Then we saw this:

The local dive community and the DRNA (Department of Natural Resources) are cultivating the staghorn coral on these frames.

Then they transplant the coral to new locations to start new colonies. We have a friend who is doing something similar with coral reefs in Hawaii. I would love to do this locally.

We did dive at Crashboat the day of the Big Black-Out.

I still don't think Mother Ocean cared if the lights were on or not.

Friday, September 23, 2016

36 hours of the Apocalypse

So you may have read (or maybe not considering how "The Media" treats Puerto Rico) that we had an island-wide black-out. The details depend a little on which account you read, but the basics are a fire started at one of the electric authority's (AEE) generating plants. As a self-defense mechanism, the rest of the system shut itself down. It was 36 hours of the Apocalypse.

People lined up at gas stations like this was the last tank of gas they could ever get. It was like the 70s and gas shortages and rationing all over again. People stocked up on water and canned foods like a Cat 5 hurricane was coming straight at us. Traffic lights were out. On an island where stop signs and traffic lights are sometimes more suggestions than actual rules, people didn't know what to do when there were no lights at all. I must say, from what I saw, the police did an unexpectedly excellent job handling traffic.

It was difficult to get news since almost all news comes electronically, either on TV or via the Internet, so no one really knew what happened or how long power would be out. Really, there was very little to do but make the best of it and ride it out. It was kinda like camping.

I want to copy something here a friend of ours wrote and posted on Facebook:

For my English speaking friends I am translating a post from this morning regarding the blackout. Everybody specially the media and the government have been continuously saying since yesterday that this is a crisis. Well I'm here to say that this is not a crisis, this is an inconvenience, a big one btw and an uncomfortable situation. No, having to recharge our phones in the car is not a crisis. Not being able to turn on the a/c is not a crisis, no, having to eat out because you have an electric stove is not a crisis either. I'm afraid to break the "terrible" news but having to put away your groceries in a cooler with ice is way far from being a crisis. A crisis are situations like the one that our Venezuelan brothers and sisters are living where they have to make lines that can take hours and even days just to try to get something to eat, not to mention that they don't have medicine. A crisis is having a car and not being able to move it because there is no gas anywhere like what happened in Cuba at the beginning of the 90's. A crisis is having to wait for a water truck because there is no such thing as water in your homes like in Ghana. A crisis is loosing family, friends and even the bed you would sleep on because of a natural disaster like a tsunami, an earthquake or a huge flood. Nothing like that is happening here. Traffic is flowing without any problem thanks to the excellent work the police is doing, our grocery stores have everything as usual, nobody has died because the battery of the laptop died etc. Let's be grateful for all our blessings and stop calling any inconvenience a crisis.

Mimi is absolutely right. this was an inconvenience, and really, a small one at that. For all the bad-mouthing of "the system" in Puerto Rico - and goddess knows there are enough problems with the system - the folks working on the problem restored electric service to most of the island in 36 hours. I think that's pretty damn good. In Michigan we could go 36 hours without electricity in the wake of a winter storm. Back there, we depended on electricity to heat homes. Back there, it was below freezing, often below zero degrees. Here it was still in the 80s. Yes, it was hot without fans and air conditioners. But nobody froze to death.

As Mimi so correctly pointed out, we have SO much to be grateful for. A few hours without electricity is a pretty minor inconvenience.

And there was a bonus: the night sky was beautiful without all the lights!

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

The path to PATH

A couple of days ago I wrote that Elaine has been working on certifications in equine assisted therapy. She is working with the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship, P.A.T.H. International.

Here is a short overview video of what P.A.T.H. is and does. By the way, this video was recorded at Fieldstone Farm in Chagrin Falls, Ohio, That's where Elaine was training in August. I had the opportunity to visit the facility - wow! What a beautiful operation!

Elaine has completed her first PATH certification and has started a second. She is also taking a class in October that deals specifically with working horses and veterans. Since by percentage of population Puerto Rico has the greatest number of people in the U.S. Armed Forces of any state or territory, there is a need here.

This is our Next Great Adventure. This is why Ola Lola's is for sale.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Fire and smoke

Today is THAT day when we remember and mourn the horrific events in 2001.

By my friend Linda's birthday (happy belated birthday, by the way!) on the 7th, the memorial postings are ramping up. This year the big post was this year's high school freshman class will read about 9/11 as an event that happened before they were born. By my friend Vicki's birthday on the 10th, probably half the posts on Facebook are about 9/11. There will still be posts tomorrow on my friend Stacy's birthday.

"Never forget!" "Remember!" Photos of the WTC. Photos of firemen and other first responders. Those of use how were born then get to relive the horror.

But there are also reasons to celebrate on this date. Today is my love's birthday.

 Not everyone thinks it's appropriate to celebrate anything on this day. For first couple of years we struggled with it too. But then I realized 9/11 was her birthday long before 9/11/2001. Celebrating a life and remembering, honoring, respecting the victims in the WTC are not mutually exclusive.

So today I am celebrating her birth and her life with huge joy and gratitude. If they didn't scare the dogs, we'd have fireworks

Happy birthday, mi amor, mi dushi, mi querida!

Tuesday, September 06, 2016

How I spent my summer vacation

Now that Labor Day is behind us, summer is "officially" over. Schools started here the first week of August so that was effectively the "end" of summer here. But then, we live on a tropical island so it's always summer here. Right now it rally feels like summer - hot, muggy and threatening thunder storms. We've got lots of thunder, just waiting on the rain.

Of course with the end of summer and the return to school comes the "what I did on my summer vacation" assignment. Since I haven't written in a while, I thought I'd take that on.

After Amber's birthday (my last post) I had a birthday. No, it is not the something anniversary of my 21st or 29th birthday. I have 65 years and am proud of it. I'm still here, still, kicking, still diving and riding and taking Amber (and the other three dogs) for his daily walk on the beach.

I got a bouncy house for my 65th birthday party. I've been in bouncy houses at other people's birthday parties, but I've never had one for my own party.

(One of the many reasons I don't do selfies!

And a cake that had it all!

Thank you, mi amor!

There has been some diving...

(Oh goddess - another selfie!)

but honestly not as much as I'd hoped for. It's been a very wet, rainy summer (this time last year we were in the midst of a terrible drought and they were rationing water). Lots of rain - especially in the mountains - screws up visibility by washing lots of mud and other stuff down the rivers and into the ocean. But there have been some really good dives.

Elaine was gone for a week in June and three weeks in August back to the States for training as we work towards the Next Great Adventure (more on that in a bit).

While Elaine was gone the first time, her mare KTJ was in a clinic in Arecibo for surgery on her leg. That was a rough time for all of us. Elaine was gone and her horse was having surgery. I was here without her taking care of the "ranch" and Ola Lola's. (That's one of the reasons I didn't do more diving.) Chocolate and Zip really missed KTJ and were glad when she came home.

It's taken KTJ some time to heal but she's doing fine. Elaine is finally able to work her nearly every day and has just started riding her again.

While Elaine was in northern Ohio staying with Amy and Miguel and the grandkids doing her second round of training, I got to sneak away to join her and visit.

Ola Lola's - to many people's chagrin - has been closed since the first of August with no hard deadline to reopen. We're doing maintenance and repairs that we can't do when were open and getting the house and business spruced up to sell. Yep! Ola Lola's is going on the market. If you or anyone you know is interested in "living the dream" on tropical island, get in touch with us. We may be able to help make that dream come true.

Of course, the big question everyone asks is "Why?" Very popular, top-rated bar/restaurant - why sell? For one thing I've been doing this for nearly 10 years (!),This is the second longest I've ever had a job. And, we're moving on the the Next Great Adventure.

We're looking for some land near here. We are creating a non-profit to have horses assist in therapy for people, especially veterans, and people assist in therapy for people-damaged horses. Elaine's work in the States this summer was toward two certifications for equine assisted therapy. She just completed the first (YAY! Congratulations!) and is on her way to the second.

So summer is over. I would say it's back to work and in a way it is. It's just different work with a different focus. We (half-)joke that you know you're truly on island time when you don't know what day it is any more. Elaine and I were talking today that we really don't know what day it is. For now we don't have that hard deadline of 3:00 pm Friday to open Ola Lola's so what day it is doesn't mean much. Our lives revolve around the animals and occasionally diving and working to get Ola Lola's ready. Not a bad life!