Friday, October 28, 2011

The Mystical, Magical, Composition Notebook

You know the one. Black on the cover and kind of speckled. Lined, empty, full -of -possibilities paper on the inside? Ya, that one. As a teacher I used to have kids buy several as their school supplies and with my own money bought many more for kids whose parents were cheap or lazy or who didn't have a buck. After math activities I would have the kids write about why Mrs. Kruse would have them do what we did. The beginning of the year I would get such "magical" thinking as "because it was fun," or honest ones like "because she said so." At the end of the year many of the kidlets would surprise me with things like "I think she wanted to make me think about how things are made," or "this wasn't  fun, I had to work a lot and think," or "I think she just wants me to get smarter."  Magical, yes, and all recorded in that little composition notebook.

Here in Puerto Rico I have one of those notebooks. When I see things on the internet I write down links, or recipes, or ideas in it. Lately I have recorded clasificados house numbers and realtors numbers in it. In Puerto Rico I am not the only one doing this - you cannot go to a doctor's office or a lab without seeing one. WHAT? Yes, you read correctly. These little notebooks appear in laboratories and doctor's offices and are referred to when the office staff look up codes for lab work, the medical codes for x-rays etc. There is a notebook for each insurance company. Not a printed directory or on-line, on-screen page - a composition notebook. Yes, it is 2011. Today I went to make oatmeal for breakfast, looked in the cabinet and realized I did not have any oatmeal to make. Hmmm, I was just at Walmart and could a sworn I bought 3 canisters since they had old-fashioned not quick ones. Shit. In all the excitement to get out of the store I must have left a bag behind.. I checked my purse for the receipt and yes, I bought 3 and had none. Since I was at the mall this morning to get my elbow x-rayed I decided to see how much of a hassle it would be to see if anything could be done and to my utter amazement was able to leave with oatmeal in hand and NO LINES OR WAITING. Here is what happened.

I went to the door person at the store. "Hables ingle?" "No." "Lunes compro oatmeal aqui pero cuando voy a mi casa no tengo esta." "Un momento."

Then it appears! Like a magical genie bottle or something the woman goes and retrieves a composition notebook. She looks at my receipt, flips some pages and inside that book, 3 days after it happened are the words "Quaker Oats."!!!!! I sign my name, take my oats and happily float out the door with an improved attitude about Walmart. Yes - the notebook is a most powerful thing.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Mangroves of Paguera

Saturday Jeff and I went with friend Tim in his little boat out to the mangroves in Paguera. Jeff had been invited to go spearfishing and I usually don't go is hard to be on the water for hours and hours if all you are doing is snorkeling or beach or boat sitting. I decided I needed a break from the house mess, and since we didn't have to kayak out there I figured it would take a lot less time and be kind of fun. I was right! First we met at a reasonable hour at the Mayaguez Paguera "campus" - the spot where you take the little ferry across to the island  where Tim is doing Grouper studies. We piled into his boat and headed out.

While the guys swam around spearfishing I explored a little island that was new to us. Usually we just go to Cat Island because I don't want to kayak too far out against the wind. We had the opportunity to go to this different and very nice little island that had a channel/lagoon in the middle of it. I walked around the whole thing watching birds and small fish doing their thing. Mangroves are like aquariums and are fish nurseries. I came across this "coconut" circle obviously put here by aliens. 

Then I started  to have camera problems. I take the camera into caves all the time where it is moist and or wet. Walking around in full, hot sun vaporized the moisture in the camera and I had instant fogging inside the lens. This is a bummer since the camera has worked reasonably well considering the abuse it gets! None-the-less I aired it out in the shade and then continued with these foggy shots! I found this patch of morning glory that was reminiscent of spring wildflowers in the mountains of Washington. Different flowers of course but a sweeping ground coverage thing that brought me from sea level up (in my mind).

The guys took a break and we had lunch. Then we picked a spot on the other side of the island where there was some nicer reef, more depth and some fish. I did some snorkeling around until they were done for the day. Then it was back to the island to moor the boat, catch the ferry and go home. The little island is covered with all kinds of iguanas that are kind of good-creepy.
On the ferry back (a 2 minute trip) we enjoyed looking at all the colors of the houses along the water. The foggy camera doesn't show them in their best light but you get the idea!

Thanks to Tim for a nice day on the water. He got a couple Lion Fish and Jeff caught a Jack and Parrot Fish. We had a nice fresh fish dinner. Yum!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Cueva Ensueno (Dream Cave)

First off, was it a dream or a nightmare? Jeff and I headed out on a SEPRI (cave group) trip that lead us to Cueva Ensueno in the Camuy area. I had just crunched my knee the night before - smacked the kneecap on the road and it was swollen and raw. I needed a diversion from the selling-the-house mess so I figured I'd go anyway and skip the second cave. Cave 1 was a short walk and short cave so I figured it'd be ok. There are different reasons people go into caves- for some it is a totally ruckus affair and totally social and for others, like us, it is a quiet commune-with-nature-and-marvel-at-nature-with quiet friends kind of thing. This trip was ruckus. The cave itself, once I could think, was quite beautiful and very decorated. It was a small cave but it was full of helictites and flowstone. What it lacked in "adventure" (climbing, crawling, swimming etc) it made up for with formations. Here is Dallas working his way through the cave.
The group, like most groups, was too large. 15 people is just too many to move through a cave. Too many personalities, too many "missions," and definitely too many people moving at different paces in tight places. To move carefully you have to have some room so you can stay fluid. When people jam up, whoever is behind has to shift their weight around while they are crouched in uncomfortable positions. People just don't seem to understand this and they don't leave room for fluid movement. This is when formations get bumped, hand prints get on clean formations and things break. Oh well. I always try to be first or last because I move smoothly and quickly. Didn't happen this trip. So back to the beauty. The room was covered on the ceiling with helictites, or what Puerto Rican's call ecentricios (don't know if I spelled that right). I figure that means "eccentrics" or something close to that since they are the anti-gravity grow-in-all-directions formations. This cave has beautiful ones! Here Jeff is pointing out another one...
Here it is up close. At the end there were the drippy, candle-wax flowstone formations. Perfect for Halloween.
This was my favorite formation of all - a giant slab of bacon hanging from the ceiling. With the bacon and helictites it is clear where Chihoully got his inspiration (underground and underwater and flowers I think). Nature's chandeliers trump anything man comes up with.This formation was HUGE!
It was also very clean and well-formed. It was very high up so it was intact without damage.
More helectites..
The water drops show that the formations are still growing.
Here Bro is on his way out. Above him are lots of stalactites and shields.
Leave the dog a bone.
The jungle walk is always full of beauty as well. Here a palm has a multi-colored trunk. I'll leave out the worst nightmare. Sweet dreams!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Guest Blogger - Rip

First off, it ISN'T RIP as in Rest In Peace (which would be kinda a cool name) they named me after some fairy tale dude Rip Van Winkle or something whoever he is. Like I care. Yeah, I'm the "guest blogger.' Whatever. All I know is the I'm having a nice little snooze on my tent when the proprietor gives me a shake and hatches the plan for me to tell what's happen'n at the compound. Soon as I do it I can get back to important stuff....

So She's built a cardboard shanty town in the main room that is kinda cool. The Tuc (she hates it when I call her that) is worried and won't leave  the house, but me...hey, when I'm sitt'n on top of the boxes I can keep an eye on everyone. I can see Mini comin' into the yard and can give her a good chase right back out. She might be a little freaked about shanty town too. Yeah, the boxes are great! When Dakota, the old fart, nods off in the big box I can scare the crap out of him and poke through the hand holes..

Tuca likes the bouncy ball room. She tunnels to the bottom and just sits there. What a freak!

Mostly everyone is just hangin' around. Sometimes the phone rings and the proprietor spins off into a frenzy and takes my tent, our beds and chairs and makes them disappear. Still don't know where they go.

Then we've gotta scatter 'cause intruders come up the drive. Yeah, so somethin's goin on and I'm not quite sure what. Things seem to have calmed down some and the crazy cleaning has stopped (kind of tired of "Ocean Energy" wafting around stinking up the place) so maybe things are all figured out. Gotta go - Mini is comin' across the lawn....