Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Cueva Humo

We hadn't been caving for a while for a few reasons:  our main caving buddies (Tom and Diana) were gone for a month, Jeff went on vacation and then traveled for work (another month), and then the University started up and the weather got strange etc etc. After the last ill-fated-we almost suffocated to death trip we needed a pleasant cave excursion. We had been to Cueva Evaporada and walked to nearby Cueva Humo but had not gone in. We had coordinates to the house and the short walk we figured would be no problem. We called up some willing cave buddies for this trip. Ron Richards, Bro, his friend Richard, Jeff and I met up at Panaderia Lourdes and went to the cave. There was no problem finding the house or the "trail" to the cave! These two caves are just enormous. Richard is here at the entrance to Cueva Humo. Inside was very very muddy but there were some clean white areas. The formations in parts of the cave reminded me of Cueva Convento or Balcones in Florida PR. Bro is taking a look around. After climbing up a little Bro and Richard are taking in the sights. When we see logs way up on cave walls we know it isn't magic that gets them there. We start looking around for safe high spots just in case the water rises!

3 ants on a log - nope, just the guys traveling down what was a very very slippery spot. Everyone ended up on their butts. After looking around we went through a large tunnel and around a sand bank and came to flowing water. At the "end" there was a rope hanging. Jeff and I didn't want to go into the water (swimming). We waited until Richard and Bro scaled the wall on a rope we don't know who put in place. Once I am wet I have to keep moving or I get really cold so I skipped the wet part and Jeff and I took the high road (upper passage we thought might meet up with them) while Ron took water temperature readings. Since the guys were walking up stream we can only presume that water cascades over the spot where the rope is? It wasn't clean so maybe the water comes from underneath? Jeff and I got to the top of our passage and could look down at Richard and Bro. Then we sent the wet ones into the sump aka bamboo raft area. They could not find a way on. Then it was back out scaling slippery little slopes and walls while exploring any little holes we could find. Ron makes his way up a slope.

My favorite formation in the cave looked like bubbles kind of or popcorn. Bro is holding up the walls here.
Poor little bat cadaver. Looks like he died pinned down in his own guano. This was a nice trip with nice friends. We took our time so we didn't get overheated and could really look around and explore. It didn't seem like the most strenuous cave until the next day when the tops of my thighs were talking to me (and still are)! We spend maybe 6 hours inside and came out the pouring rain and thunderstorms. While we were in there we had to call Bro and Richard out of the sump area when I noticed a sudden stream of muddy water that suddenly appeared. Gotta keep our friends around to cave with! Can't wait until the next adventure!

Friday, September 14, 2012

You Know You've Been Assimilated When...

We have been here for almost 5 years now and I have noticed some things. I think I have been assimilated. You know you have been assimilated when:

- you have lost all use of your hands and now point to things with your feet
- you ignore all flashing lights from emergency vehicles and especially police (since they are driving around   
  with lights on so criminals know they are coming)
- you are compelled to touch absolutely every piece of everythnig in the store and not buy anything
- you open everything in the store
- you block any and all intersections while driving
- you pop the emergency blinkers on at the first sight of rain
- you get excited about a hacked up chicken smoked with car exhaust on the side of the road
- you do "even steven" to block everyone on the highway
- you expect nothing so you won't be disappointed
- you regularly run red lights and turn where you aren't supposed to
- you back up on the highway for a long ways (is there even an exit there?)
- you don't pay your tickets since they'll lose the record that you paid it anyway
- you say "it's not that bad" a lot

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Up and Coming Food

It was in July, after the BB episode, that the garden shade-house thingy got covered and I started making my trays and filling them. The time to start plants in now, but I couldn't wait...seeds are cheap entertainment...and I can always replant! I couldn't help myself so I planted things and am having some results! As soon as the really wet weather comes (if it does) I will most likely lose some things but I don't really care. Things around the yard are always available ...it is just a question of whether I want to eat them or not. When it comes to jumbo guavas the answer is NO. Too sweet and too many inedible seeds. I don't want to make guava jelly (sweet) or pastry goo so I leave them for the birds. Much more entertaining. I gave the gutters another go and this time thinned out the lettuce. It appears that my not thinning them last time was the problem. Things are looking good! We have these fat bananas that have a few more seeds in them and are kind of orange inside. Manzanas are my favorite but the size and shape of these is perfect for making little banana plates to balance other things on.
I gave the gutters another go and this time thinned out the lettuce. It appears that my not thinning them last time was the problem. This time things are looking good!
 This is kale and the malabar climbing spinach I let reseed itself. The kale grows really well (why I don't know since it is a cole crop and we are in the tropics). I coat the leaves with nutritional yeast, cashews and a little olive oil and dehydrate them into chips. Yum! The reviews on the spinach are not so yummy - ya gotta mix it with better greens since there is that familiar tropical slime thing going on.
I've got one out of the 5 lemon cucumbers I planted really taking off. I am using cement mixing trays as the beds and put lots of holes in the bottom. I put aluminum screen in the bottom and a mix of mostly compost and some soil I loosened up by leveling my shade-house area. There is a tray of lettuce I've already thinned and a tray of cilantro.
I made myself a little sampler plate. I've got baby lettuce, wing beans spinach and micro-greens. What a disappointment on the micro-greens. I made an entire tray and they are stunted micro-greens or maybe they are supposed to be like that? I think they'd be better if I sprouted them in my sprouting jar. That's what I'll do with the rest of the seed. They are powerful when they get a little bigger like the radish and mustard tops but come on, micro greens aren't worth the hassle. I eat papaya on my granola, freeze it and dehydrate it. It is always good to have around. I continue to save and plant seed so I probably have a dozen trees ranging from 15 feet to 5 inches. I've got some peppers I probably started from seeds from something I ate. A lone pumpkin might be ready for Halloween. I'll carve it instead of eating it.

All my little trays that I hope will be lush with food some day soon. Turmeric looks like any ginger plant. The root is supposedly good for digestion and coloring food but I just like growing cool stuff because I can. Wing beans are all over the fence. I REALLY want zucchini. I mean REALLY want it. I have only gotten a couple in my previous attempts - just don't like humidity.

So stop and smell the lantana and grow some food today!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Sunrises, Sunsets, Sahara Dust and Fog - Lots of Weather

Our house is a great weather watching place. I never thought much about sunrises or sunsets because I've never been able to observe them before over time. The sun used to set to the left of Desecheo Island (December) and then moved pretty far north and started setting over the hills. Now it moving back toward Desecheo Island. Where it rises is changing a lot too. I can see it from bed. It is travelling south and gets right in my eyes now if I don't pull the blinds down. Soon it will be coming in through the computer room window instead of the bedroom. I had no idea there was that much change until we moved into this house. I digress...lots of cloud action over the last month or so. This first one is kind of a Marge Simpson cloud (at least her hair). Everything looks like a made-up watercolor. Clouds form every-which-way all at once and even move in opposite directions. On day started out with bright sun and then this triangle of fog just barreled in. Pretty soon the entire valley toward the east was filled with fog.

Then you have clouds moving in from the left and a finger of dark cloud reaching out to touch it. Sometimes you get popcorn and color...other times gigantic towers pushing upward (note how small the royal palm looks on the left - that's how big this cloud is).

For the last couple weeks we have had miserable Sahara Dust just hanging in the air and water. The sunrises and sunsets are obscure like you are looking through a filter - and you are, just a dust filter. I'm not a big fan.
Whatever the weather, I get to see it all from the porch! Right now it is 105 degrees and 27% humidity outside. I'm not gardening in that! Inside is a balmy 89 and the fans are not moving the air around much. Out the window I see clouds and it might be rain heading my way. I kind of hope it is!