Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Cats and a Few Things from the Yard

Well we haven't shown the kitties in a while..have you missed them? We love our kitties! First though, here are a few things in the yard...

These are our first wing beans and a few cherry tomatoes. The wing beans make an interesting x shape when cut cross-wise and taste kind of peanuty raw. They are very fun to grow. The torch ginger is still pumping out tiki torches...

The pineapple continues to grow and I hope gets big enough to harvest before the rain starts (probably in a couple weeks). Too much rain and it won't do so well. Dakota never gets to be a star in the blog so here he is. He is the only guy we brought from the states and he is old. He doesn't really hang out with the others.

Bepo, oh fat Bepo. She is the mother of Stripes, Blanco, Mars and Puff (who we think lives elsewhere).
Chicken who is the old Puerto Rican guy. He is so cute I can't disturb him to make the bed.

Mini is an odd one who has been staying around on pillows or in her basket a lot. She has warmed up to me (not Jeff) and will let me sit with her and pet her. She still is a little skeptical about the need for human touch.

Blanco is beautiful and such a nice cat! He is the one we rescued from inside the log when he was a wee tot. He has gotten soooo nice. I can rub his little tummy and he purrs and purrs. He comes in every day around lunch for a special snack and sleeps under the gingers outside the kitchen door.

Princess is really odd but has gotten much nicer. She rolls when she sees me and likes to sit next to me on the couch. She doesn't see well so she is wary of the other cats.

Pollo and Mars are peering down at the commotion a bunch of the others are causing below on the driveway.

Rip and Stripes are about the wrangle...

Tuca is hiding in the Firecracker flowers...

She runs in and out so Rip will chase her and they both dive in and out of the flowers as if they can't see each other. Rip is going through a little phase where he is asserting himself and terrorizing the others. Bepo, Tuca and Chicken will put him in his place when they've had enough but poor Mars and Mini just run!

The next post will be about the bathroom. The guys spent Saturday and Sunday and are here working now to re tile the bathroom. It is looking nice!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Busy Caving Week - Rob Came for a Visit!

Our friend Rob came from Washington state for a visit. He was excited about the dry caves we took him to last year and had been taking some climbing classes to prepare for some different types of caves on this trip. We just had to take him to Cueva Infiernillo since this cave is quite extensive and still had some unexplored leads. This was trip 5 for us. We didn't do any surveying but we still were in the cave for 8 hours! The first section had some nice large shrimp in it.
Near the entrance, kind of, Bro checked out this previously unexplored lead that was a flat crawl. Here's some flowstone in the nozzle room. There wasn't as much water at the underground lake/waterfall/beach area or nozzle room but it was still impressive!

Of course we had to go to the end (sump) past the stinky methane mud pots. On the way out we had to stop at the "Katrina" passage that STILL has no end - lots of twists and turns meters and meters of unsurveyed territory. We all went for 35 minutes at least and I went another 15. I got so hot and tired (we did this on the way out) that I physically could not push it any further. I think we'll wait until the next dry season to map it. I still don't have a sense of where it will end up. Here the guys (Bro, Rob, and Jeff) are coming across the lake coming back from the sump. We did this cave on Thursday and had to take Friday off from caving to rest.
Saturday we had another adventure in store for us - a Tom adventure. Thankfully we were rested up for it! We started with a few hours in Perdida. Our group was a little large but still very speedy. Juan and Jose (Tom's students), Bro, Diana, Jeff, Rob and myself all went through the jungle and into Perdida first. Jeff and I had been into this cave before and loved it. It was a little different than I remembered it but no less spectacular. After the squeezy entrance it opens up and you drop into the river. Here Diana and Juan are making their way in the river.

There was some water but not a huge amount.Juan and Jose are moving like synchronized swimmers.

This pool has some islands of halcite (?) floating on the surface.

This is a small climb up to some spectacular and delicate rooms I won't show you. Bro is up top and Jeff is guiding his feet down.

We did some slithers underneath rocks and into a few white rooms where we had to be very very careful and thoughtful about where we walked and what touched. There were beautiful places we simply stayed out of since they were so untouched and delicate. So what could beat that? Cueva Perro of course. All Tom told us about Perro was that it was wet and cold and we would go until people couldn't stand it. Little did we know what that REALLY meant. Here is a photo of the entrance (I am in the entrance looking out). Water and lots of it. Our first step into the cave was..water.

 I was pleased to see some small areas that we needed to crawl into that were water free. Unfortunately the water reappeared shortly. If you hate water or don't like extremely low ceilings this is a freak-out cave. A couple people had a little trouble doing the duck unders since their feet couldn't touch bottom and you couldn't see where or if the low part ended. This seemed like a never ending swimming, ducking, suffocatingly low ceiling maze-with-no-end! It is one of those caves that a normal human wouldn't do. A normal human would look and believe that there was no way to pass through. We only went because we know Tom had done it before and therefor it did indeed go somewhere. The problem would be to get out on our own if something happened. It just seemed like a maze-with-no-end. That little bit of gold is Jeff disappearing into the passage. Yeah, we could keep our noses out of the water and had to go underwater a few times.

The low, water-logged maze did open up and there were some nice areas. I think the exciting parts were the I-can't-believe-I-am-doing-this low swimming parts. Diana and I got extremely cold and did not do the last couple duck unders to get to the open pit that you can rappel into. Nor did we get to the bat room. We figure we will be back again to map the watery grave section of the cave past the pit that no one did. Next time we will rappel into the pit and possibly attempt the nasty-even-lower-death trap section. Diana and I got a chance to look around while we waited for the others. I explored an upper passage but didn't want to get stuck without anyone around so I didn't go all the way even though it did keep going.Here Jose is giving the "we are going in here?" look.

On the way back the way out looks just as implausible as the way in. You have to submerge and peek around to see where you can fit and just hope it continues somewhere.I saw this natural sculpture sitting on a ledge. Thankfully the way out seemed shorter than the way in. The way in just seemed like it took forever and was full of the "are we really doing this?" thoughts. It seemed doubtful we would be finding our way out again. Coming out though it was just a matter of staying to the right and swimming fast to try to get warmer. I think everyone was happy to see daylight and a little sun after this one. I have to say this was super exciting because it kind of pushed you mentally and every turn was full of anticipation of the next. I don't know what the other half of the cave is like but I don't think I want to do it in the wet season. Any rain while we were in there would have been disastrous. At this point in the year I think finishing up the cave will to wait until next year...

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Que Paso?

Well I've been a little sick the last couple weeks so we haven't been up to our usual activities but still have done a lot of things. The last cave we were in was Cueva Cucaracha about 2 weeks ago. We had to crawl over 6 large Puerto Rican Boas to get into the cave.

Last weekend I was feeling really horrible but we decided to go to some rope practice anyway. I have been having trouble with my rappelling device (I don't weigh enough to make a micro-rack work) and I wanted to make sure it wasn't operator error and also wanted to try different rappelling devices to see what was best for me. The verdict is...a STOP. I got to borrow one and rappelled down this crack with it - I glided freely in a controlled way that was comfortable on my shoulder and in my mind. While we were there a TV crew was filming our group as we practiced a rescue. Jeff will be taking the cave rescue course in another month or so and needed to practice some different knots. There is a lot to learn and we need to learn it! We practiced at a park near San Juan at this crack.

Here are some guys securing an "injured" caver in a liter. The camera man filming the final end-of-rescue.

Big Red, my pet rooster (I guess) stabbed me in the calf and shin with his nail-like spurs. Ow!

Torch gingers started blooming in the yard. It is so strange to see a giant living tiki torch come up from the ground to about eye level!

We have the bathroom ready for workers (no one in sight yet though). I've got the seguro...

and all the supplies. The mano de Buddah (Citron) fruit is developing nicely.

Holy $#% - the cashew has the cashew at the end of a bright red fruit! I didn't know the fruit would be red!
There are several hanging on the tree and the birds have already gotten to them.

People supposedly eat the fruit but it is a weird texture and flavor. I planted it for the nuts which I will need to learn to process. This book is a pretty good one if you are into odd fruits. It is in Spanish but arranged like all other identification books so it is easy to understand. This week will be very busy. Our friend Rob is visiting and arriving tomorrow. We will be caving probably Thurs - Sun depending on the weather. So more cave photos soon and who knows what will be happening in the yard!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Supernatural Natural Stuff in the Yard

Well I don't know how this photo fits in the blog but I was excited to see limes on one of my shrub/trees. This I think is the Limon Dulce tree and it has limes of all sizes on it. There are 2 or 3 other shrubs and one of the others also has the beginnings of small yellow lemons on it.

Coming up the driveway used to be just boring dirt/grass. I put in a bunch of Trinitaria since it is a dry area. When they aren't blooming I want to rip them out...but then comes the dry time and they absolutely explode into the most supernatural colors you can imagine! The flowers look like paper. I love the subtle way this one gradates from white to pink.

Who can beat this? I don't think this is on the color wheel. After blooming I shape them because I want balls of color and not scraggly shrubs.

Tuca (cat) has an unnatural relationship with her buddy Big Red. She loves this rooster. They wander around together and she tries to rub on him. Last year the avocados were comparatively sparse (we still had hundreds) but this year I think will be a bumper crop. Look at all the blossoms on this one small branch of this one tree! I think it will be a self-pruning year - the branches get so heavy with 2 - 2 1/2 pound fruits that entire branches break off!

Hibiscus is another really nice flower. I like this one because the foliage is variegated - pink and white and green leaves. I got this one because I couldn't resist the copper flower. How can natural things be so unnatural?

More Trinitaria...

The Trinitaria frames the agave nicely here.

This still is such a bizarre thing to me - a cashew at the end of a fruit. The fruit gets a lot larger and the cashew just hangs on the end in this bizarre way. Who decided to eat this? (the seed has to be steamed to get the nut out and is apparently very toxic)

More avocado blossoms. Yes, this will be a great avocado year. I'll probably be able to sell a truck bed full of them and have more than enough for ourselves and friends.