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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.

Friday, February 20, 2015

No more commando....

Sitting  in our room at the SJU airport hotel this evening and Lorrie, my every so loving efficient and always taking care of me wife, points out:

a. your shoes are here
b.your  socks here
c. your  underwear here

Socks! oh my god, who the hell want's to wear socks.
Shoes...dress shoes..you mean hard soled shoes?
Underwear...my gawd, is there no humanity?

You know your leaving the Caribbean when you can't go commando anymore....


“I say, beware of all enterprises that require new clothes, and not rather a new wearer of clothes.” 
― Henry David Thoreau, Walden

Our last day on Vieques, which was today, was so very nice. I know I keep saying that each trip gets better, and you think I'm just pimping Vieques, but I'm not. It is  getting better and  better. We can't believe how fast this trip went. We can't believe how many people we saw that we knew and how many new people we met. We can't, after 13 trips, believe how beautiful it is.....

and La Plata...well I just can't explain it. I can just show you pictures in hopes that some of the beauty that is Vieques will be conveyed:

We had some time to kill before our flight off of Vieqeus and having had such a wonderful time at the airport cafe upon our arrival, we decided to spend some time at the very end of our trip with Lyman (sp?). The menu for this evening was fried pork dumplings, made by his wife, who is about 1/3 the size Lyman and is asian. Let me tell you we were blown away. I had these fresh made pork dumplings with pickled ginger. Super great food and much, much better than what we could find at the SJU airport.

Speaking of food, again, we ate at Taverna, night before last and it was bad. We had a meat lovers pizza that was akin to someone offering you a handful of Himalayan rock salt, without a water chaser.  There was no flavor other than salt. Bad, bad bad.

This morning we made our last stop at the Mambo for this trip:

I tried to take some pictures inside that might convey how narrow the isle is between the grocery shelves. If you were to spin to fast you would dump couple shelves worth of merchandises.  It's an amazingly small colmado that has way more than you would think tucked inside:

Like so many other colmados on Vieques it has it's regulars, sitting outside having a Medalla  at 9:45 a.m.

I miss it already and we've only been off island about 1 hour.

I'll miss it a lot more tomorrow when I don my socks, shoes and underwear.

Only 8 months till our next trip.


Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Different perspective......

What a full day, wow. I got up early and took a walk to watch the sunrise. How often do we take the time to do that? Actually make a point to watch the sun rise. Not see a sunrise on the way to work or catch a glimpse of one. To make the effort to watch it happen. To a lot of people this would seem a tedious task to undertake. To me it was anything but tedious and a privilege.

"When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive - to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love."
-  Marcus Aurelius

Something special, a gift that is given to all of us every single day, but few if any (myself included) care to take notice of. A different perspective.  I do think the words of the song, although about Syd Barrett, could just as easily apply to any of us caught up in chasing the ghost, which is life, or what we think is life. Sorry, nearing the end of our trip so I get philosophical, but humor me and think about it for a moment. The words of the song are haunting and speak to the trade offs we make and how it limits our perspective and the pain it causes, pain we are not even aware of.

So, so you think you can tell
Heaven from Hell,
blue skies from pain.
Can you tell a green field
from a cold steel rail?
A smile from a veil?
Do you think you can tell?

Did they get you to trade
your heroes for ghosts?
Hot ashes for trees?
Hot air for a cool breeze?
Cold comfort for change?
Did you exchange
a walk on part in the war
for a lead role in a cage?

How I wish, how I wish you were here.
We're just two lost souls swimming in a fish bowl,
year after year.
Running over the same old ground.
What have we found? The same old fears.
Wish you were here.

Ah, I love that song. I suppose as we're landing in Indianapolis I need to play "Welcome to the machine."

We have been stopping by the Mambo most every morning on our way to the refuge. Each morning we buy a 12 pack of Medallas and 2 bags of ice. Over the course of the last week I have been practicing my Spanish with the young women who has been checking us out. Today she rewarded me with a piece of candy for my "Dos bolsas de heilos." Lorrie just laughed.

Today we were the FIRST ones on La Plata. Beat Judy and Andre by about 5 minutes. Finally.

 We always and I mean always park at spot 25.

Today I suggested to Lorrie that we maybe park at a different spot. She looked at me odd and said "but there's no one here and OUR spot is open?" I told her I realized that but maybe we could try something new? She agreed. Something new amounted to driving down to the next spot and parking. It also meant setting up the cabana in a new area, well maybe 75 feet further east down the beach from our "old" spot. Not a mammoth change, like going to a new island or something.   As we were unloading Andre and Judy drove by. Andre later told me that when they drove by he told Judy that there's no way that was Curt's jeep. He would never leave his spot. 

Ha...fooled him. Part of the reason for the change was because of Andre. He's always got some new twist on something to share with me. Yesterday he shared this picture below. He ask me, before he showed it to me, to glance at it quickly and  tell him which face looked happier.  So look at the two faces below and decide which one looks the happiest to you. 

Chances are the face your going to pick is going to be the one on the right. The fact is that they're both the same face, one's just a mirror image of the other one. Why do we tend to pick the right one? Because not only do we read left to right, we look at things left to right! Andre called it our perspective. We need to change our perspective to see things fresh or maybe to even see things as they are. 

So moving parking spots was my way of changing things up, my perspective. Andre was caught off guard, his perspective was changed. Ha...

I believe it was maybe 9:15am. Set the cabana up, did some Tai Chi and yoga and then got ready to swim over to the gallery with Judy and Andre. It was then that I really noticed the skyline. Rain, coming right at us.

It really began raining hard, but the four of us took to the water and made our way over to the gallery. Curating the pieces is a morning ritual for us all. Some people may find it odd or not even see the reasoning in it, but it's all about perspective, now isn't it?

By the time we were finished over at the gallery the rain had stopped and it looked as though the weather gods were pleased and decided to reward us all with some gorgeous blue sky. When I say gorgeous I mean it. Today was one of those absolutely perfect days on Vieqeus.  Check out this panaromic video shot of La Plata, from left to right of course. You can see our cabana if you look hard. Also, the gallery and towards the end you can see the waves breaking out at Limon Reef. I shot the video in high definition, if you've got the bandwidth to run it check it out.:

Like I said a perfect day. Sometime around noon I took a walk up over the rocks towards Escondida and snapped some pictures. Many of these vistas I have seen numerous times, but they never get old.

I love the tenacity of the mangrove. Any little foot hold is all they need.

The yellow arrow is our cabana. They beach was empty. As a matter of fact it peaked today at 11 people. This reminded us from years ago. Strange for the peak of season. 

That's the gallery just right of center is the far distance.

This shot was taken from an even higher vantage point, you can still see the cabana. 

I love the color of the rocks around towards Escondida. That powder blue and salmon hue on the stones doesn't look real.

When I returned from my photo excursion I ask Lorrie if she wanted to walk over to Escondida, via the dirt road, still trying to change perspective. She liked the idea and off we went. 

 It's a different vantage point, walking instead of driving. You miss some things driving. Like  actually how huge the cacti are:

Escondida is hit or miss, most times it's a miss. It tends to be covered in seaweed a lot. When we have, hit it right, it's  really nice and I found it a good beach to snorkel, especially to the right as your facing the ocean. 

Today was one of those days when Escondida was a hit, and there wasn't a soul around.

We didn't take a picture, but the palm that had gotten uprooted from hurricane Thomas a few years ago and that I re-planted had really grown. It's a solid palm now. 

It was so nice that we took a swim for an hour or so. 

Then it was back to La Plata. 

and turn-out #26

There's a nice vista of La Plata as your coming through the sea grapes. 

We couldn't close down La Plata today. We needed to get into Esperanza for the show at the historical trust. Larry Mowbray was showing his late wife's (Clare, who passed away last year) under water photos and I also wanted to meet Larry.

Somehow we got the times mixed up and thought the show was from 4 to 6, instead it started at 6. We decided to hang out at Duffys, hadn't done that in a long time and it was nice to watch things along the Malecon;

We had 2 rum punches, suppose to be the best on the island (seems I hear that every time we order Rum Punch). Ended up meeting with Marilyn. I walked up behind her and gave her a hug. She turned around, taken back and said "what are you doing here?" I said "Why Marilyn, we do spend a month here each year."  We had just stayed at her place in November and had also been there last June. She was also going to the trust for the show. I bought her a rum punch and as her to join Lorrie and I.

There were a lot of people at the showing. Some of which we knew and some  we met for the first time.  Good wine and finger foods. 

The pictures are breath taking. She managed to photo things I didn't even realize were in the waters around Vieques. That large print of the sergeant majors in the above photo we bought. 

Ended up buying another but I didn't get a shot of it. Clare had a remarkable perspective and an ability to capture and share with others, what many of us never get to see. I never got the chance to meet her, but we now own two of her photos. It was a pleasure to meet Larry and I now have a new appreciation for the waters around Vieqeus.

Tomorrow there's a gallery opening in Isabel. We're suppose to meet some people for it, plus have dinner afterwards. Time is flying by so fast.

La Plata in the morning, might even try a different parking spot, who knows.

Great day and we enjoyed every molecule of it.


Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Johnny Quest eats Qeema....

Ah yes...that's the sunrise from this morning...shaping up to be a great day. I'm soooo glad that rain finally moved on out.  Yesterday was a total wash, pun intended. We stayed inside all day other than going over to dinner at Judy and Andres for qeema. Ever heard of that, qeema? I hadn't but if it was good enough for Johnny Quest then it's good enough for me. 

In the 1960s animated TV show Johnny Quest; episode Riddle of the Gold, Johnny, his father Dr. Benton Quest, his friend Hadji and their guardian Race go to India in search of the Maharajah of Jahilipur. During their stay they are feted by criminal Abdul Cassim posing as the Maharajah whom he has killed. At the Maharajah's palace Cassim introduces the boys to Qeema and another dish Biryani.

Did you know that October of last year saw the final holdout of Saturday morning cartoons finally cave in. And just what killed Saturday morning cartoons? Cable, streaming, and the FCC. In the 1990s, the FCC began more strictly enforcing its rule requiring broadcast networks to provide a minimum of three hours of "educational" programming every week. Networks afraid of messing with their prime-time slots found it easiest to cram this required programming in the weekend morning slot. The actual educational content of this live-action programming is sometimes debatable, but it meets the letter of the law.

But more importantly, with hundreds of cable and satellite channels to choose from that don't have to abide the FCC's guidelines,  kids these days can get their animation fix any day of the week. With the rise of cable and satellite, advertisers no longer had to cram all their kid-aimed commercials into the four-hour Saturday morning block. When the money left Saturday mornings, so did the cartoons.
Add in mobile streaming from Netflix, Hulu, and the like, and you'll realize that the kids  we're raising today don't even need to dash to the TV in time to catch the opening credits. They can just watch whatever, whenever. Sheesh.

I know, I ran off on a Saturday morning cartoon tangent. Sorry about that.

Andre told me he had a Pakistani friend who used to make qeema for him and that's how he got introduced to it. It is typically minced mutton curry (lamb or goat) with peas or potatoes. Keema can be made from almost any meat, can be cooked by stewing or frying, and can be formed into kababs. Keema is also sometimes used as a filling for samosas or naan. The word for a similar dish in Armenian is "Gheymah" ղեյմա and in Turkish "kıyma".

Andre made ours with beef. We had qeema over rice with Calabaza.

 Calabaza (West Indian pumpkin) is a large winter squash (Cucurbita moschata) that resembles a pumpkin and is typically grown in the West Indies and tropical America. It is typical in the Morales store, quartered and wrapped in clear plastic.

Great meal we had with them. For desert we had yogurt with papaya and starfruit.

Sitting outside watching the sunrise with our friend this morning. This rottweiler is the most loving sort of dog. Very well behaved and quiet, but she loves to be loved.

Gonna be a beautiful day.


Monday, February 16, 2015

Who'll stop the rain.....

Ah yes, this is why we come for two weeks at a time

That's the radar from this morning, not a whole lot different than the last 4 days. Yes four days. We've never had this happen before in Feb, never. Copious amounts of rain have fallen in the last 4 days and there's been a high surf advisory in effect.

I was reminded yesterday, why this is still not such a bad thing.  Below is the forecast for Vieques from yesterday:

And here's the forecast for back home:

That's a 70 degree temperature difference. Yeah I can deal with a some rain. It's days like the past 4 that make me realize how important the furnishing are in a rental, especially seating and lounging. Try spending four days in some house that has those rattan chairs or worse no seating inside at all. We've been in both and we're thankful we're not there now. 

But this is crazy weather, unlike any we've experienced before. Even the Vieques Peeps are complaining about it. Maybe I need to find a pilon and re-align the crystals. 

If you have no idea what I was talking about with the pylons, never mind, if you do then you'll get it. In the end I opted for a pita instead of a plyon:

That'a more of the black bean salsa over eggs with Coqui Fire sauce. If this masterpiece doesn't appease the weather god's it surely will my stomach.

 The rain finally let up and we saw this  double rainbow:

Which expanded into a full arc:

So knowing that you can't have a rainbow without sunshine we packed up and headed for  Playa Chiva.

The above picture is about as good as it got. It began raining again after a couple hours. So back to the house and maybe another pita. 

As I'm typing this post here at Beso's there are hints of blue sky appearing in the west, which is the direction this storm track is coming from. This is a good sign and may just break this grey streak we've been in. 

Fingers crossed