About Us

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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.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Still on island....

A quick update since the cellular gods have shined on Vieques in the last 24 hours I have a cell signal, barely. Not enough bandwidth to upload pics or video..which i have a ton of.

Lorrie flew out a week ago and I decided to stay on for a month. To say it's a Spartan living is an understatement. Our first week here we had to take showers out of a bucket, bucket shower, and we're flushing toilets with sea water. The water has been on steady now for about 2 weeks it's still up in the air on whether it's potable or not, although many are are drinking it and not having any problems . I've been making coffee with it. Most of the Islanders say they can live or  at least make do without electricity, but it's very very difficult without running water. Gas lines are horrendous. I got at the gas line today at 6 a.m. and I'll probably need to be here at least 4 hours. At 6 a.m. the gas line ended just past the fire station So that line runs on 997 from  the fire station all the way  to the Mobil gas station as you're going into Isabel crazy long lines. Ice is still sometimes hard to find and  the stores seem to run out pretty fast. Some days that I can't get ice. I only run the generator at night.  It takes one gallon to run the generator overnight for about 8 hours. I run two fans and charge some Electronics.  For lighting in the house I'm running all solar lights and they're great.

There is plenty of food on island and a decent choice of dining options. Being one of the few vacationers, if thats what i am, has allowed me to get to know people, especially restaurant owners, on an intimate level. I just cant save enough good things about Curt and Kelly, the owners of Bananas. They are in the process of renovations on their lodging in back of the restaurant and let me tell you its really nice. I absolutely hated hearing about a Subway opening on island a few years back, but that subway has been a godsend. They are open from 6am to 11pm. They brought in huge generators and run the place like normal. The wifi they have been running was one of the few spots on island to connect to the web.

The gas situation on Vieques is horrible. I spent 2 days waiting in line for over 3 hours only to be turned away. Unless they find a solution its a killer for tourists. Plus its a regular gordian knot near any of the stations. No 5 gallon gas cans to buy on Vieques. I had a friend find me one in Fajardo for $30. I paid her $50. When i got it i felt like a kid at Christmas.

As of now,  none of the refuge is open. It has nothing to do with ordnances, but with debris on beaches..i.e. acetleyn tanks, propane tanks, needles and just a bunch if stuff that could hurt someone. I got this from a guy that sweeps for ordinance s and has been on island for a number of years.

I have been able to do a lot of work for different home owners. The reason Im staying on  for another month is because Vieques Love ask if i would help to put some temporary roofs on houses for people in real need. Myself and another carpenter are attempting ti make it happen.  Its nice to help..we need a lot more of that in this world.

I wish i could upload some of the pictures and video i have. Amazing stuff. I am thoroughly enjoying myself..dispite the Spartan living conditions.

:-)


Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Crossing the Rubicon....



In  just 3 days Lorrie and I will be boarding a plane for Vieques. Yep...call us crazy. We are going down  to help, as much as that can happen. We are going so I can stand on the beach and raise my fist to Maria and say "you will not change the way we feel about Vieques, you bitch!" We are going down with Bill and Joy to tag team this project.

Sounds good, albeit maybe just a tad naive. Vieques is a mess, a real mess. I have heard everything from  little to no  communication, water is hit and miss, no electricity, apocalyptic stories about waiting in gas lines that start at 3am, little food,  and gangs of looters riding horseback.



But any of us that go to Vieques regularly know full well the power of the coconut telegraph. So based on what I do believe to be accurate (or as accurate as one can possibly be 3k miles away), this is what I have learned:

No electricity. Nada. Power is being restored in and around some areas of Puerto Rico.  I believe 17% of Puerto Rico now has some kind of power. I heard that street lights were on in Fajardo. That's the good news. The bad news, someone cut (intentionally) the power cable running from Puerto Rico to Vieques. Scratching my head on that one, but you can add it to the ever growing pile of obstacles. The fiasco with the Whitefish contract will cause delays, maybe long delays, in restoring power. It's already been a month. Did you know there's a  power generator on Vieques? Been there for many years specifically for use in this kind of disaster and  has the capacity to provide power for  all of Vieques. Unfortunately is was never maintained and is now in disrepair (I've heard unusable).

I am taking a generator with me. I am checking it with United Airlines. I bought it at harbor frieght at a cost of $429. It weighs 47lbs/53 in box (hence the $100 overweight charge from united). We also have a propane snorkel conversion kit for the generator. Now, I say "we", when actually the generator is for Jeff Blanding, the owner of Pure Vida. We are staying with Jeff at Pure Vida. He can't check it with his airline, but I can.  I had reached out on Facebook about trying to find a vehicle and Jeff was the first to respond. You see, there is no way to contact any of the rental car agencies and I had heard that Maritza's had their fleet in use by FEMA, Red Cross and other disaster response people. Not much  I can do to help without a vehicle.  I have to say I was bowled over by the outpouring of help from the  house rental owners on  Vieques. We have multiple houses to stay at, plus multiple offers for vehicles to use, all for FREE. Yes..you heard that right, for free. I plan on working on as many of the houses that I can. Simply amazing and I will pay it forward.

Water...you need to boil it. This is not really getting much press, but it's what I am being told. Some areas (Lujan, Monte Carmelo and others) have not had water restored at all  post Maria. The water has stopped  a number of times, I hope this does not become a pattern. Mostly it's  due to part failures on generators or pumps. Securing needed parts for repairs seems to be best accomplished by the private sector, rather than the municipality.   From what I can gather they have been woefully negligent on responding to critical needs. Where would Vieques be now with Vieques Love? They just in the last few days purchased a radiator for one of the large generators at the water plant and got it installed. If you can, click on the link for Vieques Love and donate, they are the best.   We are taking water purification tablets as well as a lifestraw family water purifier.

Esperanza has had problems with the sewer system. Specifically not working and backing up into houses in Esperanza. I was told this had been fixed. Once again needed part was secured by private means and fixed.




Gasoline. The gas situation seems to be much like pre Maria, only amplified. Some days there have been lines for gas that stretch a very long way, like over a mile. i.e. I saw a video of a gas line that ran from the new gas station just around the corner from the vegetable museum (if you don't know what I am talking about it's very near the intersection of 997 and 200) and it ran all the way south nearly to the Mambo. I heard people were in line from 3am. So yes...amplified...but....I read yesterday that there was no line. So it's all over the map. I've waited in a gas line while on island, most people who visit more than once experience it.,  for maybe 30 minutes max. I've seen this before, granted not nearly on this scale, but I've seen it and dealt with gas line etiquette, which is part of this whole combustible dance.

Food. Just prior and right after Maria, the shelves at the Morales and the colmados looked like something you would read about in a dystopian novel. But I just read a few seconds ago where Al's is open and has cold Medallas and gumbo for $3. Yee Haw!!! Subway and Tsunami are open.  Lazy Jacks has cold beer and pizza.  Coque Fire is open with a limited menu. There are all kinds of reports about food provisions on island. Some bad, some not so bad. I saw a photo of the Morales and it was very decently stocked.  Lydias in Esperanza is said to be better stocked than the north stores. I know that the Mambo and the Green Store are open. I wonder if the cat is still sleeping on the cases of beer in the back at the Green store? We are not taking any food with us. From what I have been able to glean, the big problem with food for people on island is the lack of internet and inability to use SNAP cards.  Cash is king now on Vieques. Unfortunately many of the Viequenese are cash poor.

The  beaches. Obviously the refuge is closed, all of it.  Sun bay was described as a desert. With the Garcia gate closed as well as Playa Grande, the only swimmable beaches left are the Sun Bay complex. I had read that Fish and Wildlife were using bulldozers to clear roadways on Sunbay. It was said that the road to media luna and Navio was really washed away. They were supposed to try to work on the roads to Navio and Medai luna if possible after work was completed on Sunbay. I have been told by a number of people not to get in the ocean. It seems there is a problem with sewage  getting into the ocean. From what I have read it's both sides of the island. There has been no "official" warning about this, but there's not been much official warnings about much of anything.

So that's where we are at. I will be taking extensive video and pictures while on island , but will probably not be able to upload anything  until we get back.

And across the rubicon we go, wish us luck.

:-)






Saturday, September 23, 2017

Maria.....




Here is  a synopsis of where things stand now, 3 days after Marie. I also have included  what few images have emerged from the island.   I will finish this post with pictures of what Vieques really is and what it will come back to sooner than most might think. Our hearts are breaking. 

As of today no water. Real bad. No gasoline. No food. No communications. Many, many homeowners still have no idea the extent of damage to their homes. A lot of displaced people. Many of the wood homes completely destroyed.  Extensive folage and vegetation destruction  island wide. It is being encouraged NOT to come down to try and help. The social fabric is very thin right now and resources are extremely low. There are reports of organized looting, but that element was always present. FEMA is supposed to be on island today to set up call centers. The main island is suppose to be setting up temporary cell towers. Only 10 planes are being allowed to land at SJU for now and they are reserved for rescue and supplies. So far no fatalities. A lot of people have had no contact with loved ones and friends since Tuesday eve. It is bad.

Here are some of the few images being seen:



























I leave you with pictures of what Vieqeus really is. The pictures of destruction are temporary, transient. These pictures below are what it really truly is. We've met so many people, great people and had such great times. I know we have many more ahead.  Donate to help Vieques if you can. Any little amount will help. Here is the link to Kelly Thompson's go fund me. This is legit and will go directly to the people on island. 

























































































:-)