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Indiana, United States
Debt free empty nesters...ready to stretch our wings. Life is good and we plan on making it even better. This blog is mostly about our trips to Vieques Puerto Rico, with a few odds and ends thrown in about our life after the mortgage.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Hanging out....

Nothing extraordinary about the last two days, what I mean is there was no major pilgrimage to another secret island spot. We drove out to La Plata and hung out. Yoga in the morning, swim over to the gallery, a little curating where needed, then back to the cabana to enjoy what was  perfect days.

The sand is back over near the gallery, crazy I know. Didn't even take a week for it to change.

Without accepting the fact that everything changes, we cannot find perfect composure. Unfortunately, although it is true, it is difficult for us to accept it. Because we cannot accept the truth of transience, we suffer.~ Shunryu Suzuki

Met a couple from the east coast of the U.S.  and they told us it had been 10 years since they had been to Vieques. I commented that a lot has probably changed since then. They said not really, except that there a lot less trash. They said it was piled up on the roads when they were here before and they noticed how much better everything looked. They concluded that there must be a change going on with the local people regarding the care of Vieques. This was great to hear and made me think that I might be taking a myopic viewpoint on how the refuge is changing. I  guess they are trying and making progress, so I'll accept the signage and look rather at what they're trying to accomplish, helping as best as I can.  And to that point,  I did manage to gather all those plastic bottles around the point out towards Ensenada Honda.  We also made our way around towards Escondida and cleaned it up. There's one monstrous wad of blue rope that I've been looking at for a couple years now that I managed to gather into a pile, but it was too much for me to try and move by myself.

I found another one of those strange seeds that I could never learn the name of or even what it was. The first one I found looked like a plastic hamburger or something. Extremely hard and even felt like plastic, actually looked man made.

 I found out what it is called. Hamburger seed, how about that!

Here's some info from Wikipedia:

Mucuna is a genus of around 100 accepted species of climbing vines and shrubs of the family Fabaceae, found worldwide in the woodlands of tropical areas.
The leaves are 3-palmate, alternate or spiraled, and the flowers are pea-like but larger, with distinctive curved petals, and occurring in racemes. Like other legumes, Mucuna plants bear pods. They are generally bat-pollinated and produce seeds that are buoyant sea-beans. These have a characteristic three-layered appearance, appearing like the eyes of a large mammal in some species and like a hamburger in others (most notably M. sloanei) and giving rise to common names like deer-eye beans, ox-eye beans or hamburger seed.

Speaking of seeds, the nickernuts pods are all green and spiny now. I learned about them a few years ago when we saw a couple women collecting the seeds along the beach at La Plata. I ask what they where planning to do with them. They told me that the string them into necklaces. If I remember right we usually collect the seeds in Feb.  Here's a picture of some of the pods that are now on La Plata:

and here's some info on nickernuts:

Nickernuts or nickar nuts are smooth, shiny seeds from tropical leguminous shrubs, particularly Caesalpinia bonduc and C. major,[1] both known by the common name warri tree. C. bonduc produces gray nickernuts, and C. major produces yellow. Accordingly, these species are locally known in the Caribbean as "grey nickers" and "yellow nickers".
The word nicker probably derives from the Dutch word "knikker", meaning clay marble.[2]
In the Caribbean, nickernuts are used to play mancala games such as oware. The nickernut is marble-like and good for other uses, such as for jewellery; it is also sometimes ground up to make a medicinal tea.[1]
The seeds are often found on the beach, and are also known as sea pearls[3] or eaglestones.[4]
Caesalpinia and Merremia seeds sometimes drift long distances. In 1693 James Wallace referred to them being often found in Orkney: "After Storms of Westerly Wind amongst the Sea-weed, they find commonly in places expos'd to the Western-Ocean these Phaseoli . . . . [F]rom the West-Indies, where they commonly grow, they may be thrown in on Ireland, the Western parts of Scotland and Orkney".[5] In 1751 Erich Pontoppidan described one found on the coast of Norway: "It is of the size of a chestnut, obicular, yet flat, or as it were compressed on both sides. Its colour is a dark brown yet in the middle, at the junction of the shells, it is varied with a circle of shining-black, and close by that another of a lively red, which have a very pretty effect".[6] They were known as 'sea beans' in Scandinavia, where one has been found fossilised in a Swedish bog,[7] and 'Molucca beans' in the Hebrides, where a visitor to Islay in 1772 wrote of them as seeds of "Dolichos wrens, Guilamdina Bonduc, G. Bonducetta, and mimosa scandens . . . natives of Jamaica".[8] The 1797 Edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica said that they were used only for "the making of snuff-boxes out of them";[9] however, there is a long tradition of using them as amulets for good luck,[2] banishment of ill luck[10] or to ease childbirth.[11]

Found this strange looking yellow fruit on a vine. Don't have any idea what it is:

Update ------------------------------------------------------

I have since learned, from the help of an anonymous commenter here on the blog, that this is called Cundeamor or bitter melon. After doing a little digging I came upon this article about some research in to bitter melon:

Bitter melon juice may be efficacious against pancreatic cancer, according to the results of in vitro and animal studies conducted at the University of Colorado.1
Although no clinical trials in patients with cancer have been conducted, bitter melon (Momordica charantia), which is commonly consumed in parts of Asia and Africa, has previously been shown to have activity against breast, prostate, and colon cancer cells.
In the University of Colorado studies, four pancreatic cell lines were treated with juice obtained from bitter melons purchased in a local store. A single 24-hour treatment reduced the viability of the various cell lines by 54% to 98% after 72 hours, suggesting significant, broad spectrum anti-cancer activity.
Two cell lines were tested to determine if treatment with bitter melon juice increased apoptotic cell death compared with untreated cells. Apoptosis increased from 12% to 32% in one cell line and from 11% to 34% in the other cell line.
Western blot analysis showed that bitter melon juice activated two regulators of apoptosis, caspase-3 and caspase-9, and upregulated several proapoptotic molecules in both cell lines; overall the bitter melon juice also had variable effects on several antiapoptotic molecules.
Adenosine monophosphate-activated protein kinase (AMPK), which is activated when cell energy is restricted, was more active in treated cells than in untreated cells, suggesting that bitter melon juice was starving them of energy.
To study the effects in vivo, the researchers next grafted human pancreatic cells from a single line to athymic nude mice and administered bitter melon juice orally for 6 weeks, with apparently positive results: at the end of the study period, xenograft volume and weight were both significantly lower in treated mice than in controls. The mice that received bitter melon juice had no weight loss and there were no apparent harmful effects on the pancreas or liver.
Apoptosis is regulated by a balance between proapoptotic and antiapoptotic molecules. Compared with tumor cells from untreated mice, tumor cells from mice given bitter melon juice showed an increase in proapoptotic proteins and a decrease in antiapoptotic proteins, supporting the results found in vitro.
The researchers' interest in the effect of bitter melon juice on pancreatic cancer was sparked by the observation that the juice has mild hypoglycemic effects and has been used in traditional medicine to treat diabetes, a disease that increases the risk for pancreatic cancer (Related: Relationship of Type 2 Diabetes and Cancer Risk). They speculated that, even in the absence of diabetes, bitter melon juice might have favorable effects on pancreatic tumors.
“Three years ago researchers showed the effect of bitter melon extract on breast cancer cells only in a Petri dish,” said Rajesh Agarwal, PhD, co-program leader of Cancer Prevention and Control at the Colorado University Cancer Center and professor at the Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, Denver, CO.
“This study goes much, much further. We used the juice—people especially in Asian countries are already consuming it in quantity. We show that it affects the glucose metabolism pathway to restrict energy and kill pancreatic cancer cells.”

full article here Chemotherapy Advisor

Portia trees are in bloom along the beach, but I think they bloom all the time because I remember seeing this one blooming in Feb.

Lazy days just hanging out watching the shadows get long and everything turn that golden color.

Thinking about either going to Playa Grande tomorrow or hiking east of Playa Voltia to what I believe is/was called Purple beach, which rumor has is supposed to be open sometime in 2015.



  1. The orange fruit on the vine its called Cundeamor.

    1. Thank you, I did some research and found it's also called "Bitter Melon". There's some interesting studies regarding this plant.