Friday, January 27, 2012

Sunsets, Rainbows and the House

This time of year Moca seems to be kind of windy and misty in the morning until the sun comes up. We did not expect, but are thrilled to see gigantic rainbows all the time!!! I never really thought about rainbows and now every morning I wake up early in anticipation...sitting on the swingy bench with a cup of coffee. Today was a big rainbow day - it was too big to capture the whole thing in a single picture. If ever there was a beam-me-up rainbow this was it!
After looking at it from the front porch I move inside to see if from the counter...

Here are some photos of the inside of the new house. The photographs and art are on existing hooks and need to be placed lower, but it'll give you an idea of what the place is like. This is looking from dining room to living room. The door in the photo opens and you see the arch of the balcony and trees and sky. There is a door to the left as well and it opens to the front wall and rainbow-land. The front balcony frames a look out toward San Sebastian. The too-close road is to the right. Here's looking from the front door into the dining room and kitchen.

This is the front of the house. Unfortunately the house sits on the road instead of the 1 1/2 acres behind the house. We are fortunate that we have no neighbors on 3 sides (a reason we bought it) for now. The 1000 meter square lot next to us is for sale unfortunately so it is a matter of time. I, of course, need to live in a bubble away from all... This front grass will go away. I want to plant two Royal Palms so they can shade the front windows without messing up the view of Desecheo. I want this little area to be lush with flowers, white rocks and who knows what else.
I just got this swingy bench from Home Depot and I love it! I can jiggle it, it doesn't make noise, and I can watch the sun come up out of the wind or search for rainbows!

There is a wooden deck behind the house and we've got plans for it. This could be a highlight of the place (besides Desecheo, sunrises and sunsets) since it is breezy and looks out over the property. It needs a cover on half and a wind break (lattice on the east corner) and some stairs to drop down the front into the yard in addition to the ones that go out each side. There is a TV room, bathroom and guest room right off the deck and this will be the place to hang when it is hot or noisy up above. So far it is really quiet with the exception of cars for an hour or so at night.

 Who cares about a few cars when you are looking out at this? (that's the Atlantic hidden in the mist).

Monday, January 9, 2012

Return to Zumbo

Cueva Zumbo is one of those magical places you want to go back to. Two years after our first visit I went back. Katrina was not able join us because of her injured elbow. Cueva Zumbo requires more upper body effort than any other cave I have been in.
We started our journey by meeting at 8AM in San Sebastian and carpooling from there. I only included this boring detail because I was able to leave my new house just a few minutes before 8AM! There were five of us, Tom, Anthony, Julie, Tim, and I. We made good time hiking to the cave.

Right from the start you have to take your pack off and squeeze by an old log. Then, into the cold water!

Moving through Zumbo is like climbing through a narrow block of swiss cheese about 10 feet wide. Up down, up down, into the water, swim, duck under, take your helmet off to squeeze through to keep your mouth above the water, up, up ,up, down.

Then we got to the “sump”. This is where Katrina and I stopped a couple of years ago. This time ropes were in place to climb over the sump. I put my vertical gear back on here and went up the rope then down the rope on the other side. There were more ropes to climb and rappel. Finally we were “behind” the scenes of Zumbo in a big muddy “dry” room(s). The character of the cave changed significantly. We climbed more ropes and searched for ongoing passages but found none.

We finally got tired and headed back. But to do that we had to rappel down a very muddy rope with very muddy hands. We were very concerned we wouldn’t have enough friction to go down slowly. It took us 45 minutes to get 5 people down a 30 second 40’ rappel. From there we moved much faster.

About 30 minutes from the exit we noticed a little weird bubbling stream. We pondered it briefly and continued our way out. A few minutes later we all independently realized what it meant and we all moved a little faster (as fast as we safely could). We were close to the exit so we weren’t too concerned but water was coming down on us from all over and the color of the water was not the nice clear water we had at the start! It wasn’t supposed to rain but it was!
It was getting dark when we got to the exit. Tom was ready first and up he went. There were some loose rocks at the lip and one shoe size rock whizzed by my helmet and landed right in front of me as I was preparing to get on rope. By the time we all got to the top and put our gear away it was dark! We needed our headlamps to hike out of the jungle. Our trail was a small running river. 


Sunday, January 8, 2012

Still Amazed at the Views

The view from the balcony, living room and bedroom is of Desecheo Island when it is clear. The Island is that hump surrounded by ocean (just looks like a line of blue) between the two little gate toppers! Jeff is going to do some trimming across the street so we can see it even more!
After gazing for a while I went into the yard and found this gigantic banana unlike any bananas we had before. The banana is to the left, an orange is on the bottom and the other odd balls are nispero which is kind of like a pear texture and a brown sugar tasting fruit.

We cut into the banana and made banana "steaks" that were big enough to squirt a mound of whipped cream on and sit a big strawberry or something on top of it. These are seriously big bananas with no real seeds and a good flavor.
Also in the yard is this big orchid "tree." I have already taken cuttings off of it and strapped them on to the avocado trees. There are 34 avocado trees on the property. Wow.
The only down side to the house (and there are downsides to all houses) is that it is on a road. I have started to put up the privacy ribbon, weaving it through the chain link to give us a solidish wall that will block headlights, noise, wind, and make a little shade for the flowers I will be planting.
It seems like there is a rainbow every day.
The sunset tonight was amazing. Since there was some rain there were lingering clouds and the giant fiery ball of the sun just sat there between the clouds and land.
Inside the house the view out the window looked definitely fake, like some piece of art.
The archways of the balcony framed it perfectly!
One last look at the giant banana. The stuff of nightmares or dreams, depending...

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

We Moved!

Despite the problem with the new house paperwork the owners agreed to let us move in and we did! Our first night at the new house was the 23rd after a long day packing things into the Banco Popular rental truck (wish I'd gotten a bigger one). Since it was the holidays friends were either out of town or busy with families and the job was left to just Jeff and I. On Friday we were lucky enough to have Diana meet us at the new house to help unload. Unfortunately kayaks, surfboards and the platform we built for the king size bed were too large for the truck and we ended up doing many more trips with our car and truck to get everything here. I even did two truckloads of plants on Wed and Thurs! This at least gave us some time to round up the kitties - unfortunately 3 decided they didn't want to take the trip and just didn't answer the food calls on 4 different tries. Mars, Stripes (brother and sister) and Mini opted out on the move and we are still hoping Amparo will manage to cage them at a later date.I am surprised about Mars and not at all surprised about Mini and Stripes taking off. We left all their stuff there, shook food, sat around at dusk and still no kitties. I am going to look again tomorrow. So anyway, here is the giant explosion of sunrise from our balcony!

The view out the kitchen is the best I've ever had and always seems to have a strong breeze coming through the windows. The kitchen looks out to the south and the property next to us is for sale (unfortunately). It is really sloped though so maybe we will get our remaining years here without a house there! We can see thirty miles.

This is the south side of the house with the empty lot next door. Our house has a downstairs but you can only get to it from outside - kind of funky. We think we are going to put stairs from the kitchen door/balcony shown here down to the family room/deck/bedroom/bathroom downstairs. There really Isn't a way to do it from inside without using storage space so outside will probably be what we do.
Every window has a view - this one is from the den looking south and east to San Sebastian.

There is a balcony around the front and sides. The only downside is that the house is too close to the road. There isn't much traffic but it was a trade-off - close to a road but no neighbors on three sides and 1 1/2 acres. We didn't really realize how wonderful the views were!

From this balcony view (and view from the living room) you can see Desecheo when it is clear. The island and a lot of blue ocean is a clear view even though it is 10 miles away! Kind of nice!
Rip has adjusted pretty well. The cats are mainly hanging on the deck behind the house away from the road and on the part of the property where the cared for part meets the wild part. Rip does like to sit on the bed and hang with us at night.
I think I'll plant some Mirto along the vacant lot fence. It'll get about 8 feet tall so it won't obstruct the view from inside, will give us privacy on the yard if there is ever a house there and has wonderful scented blooms. It is also dark green and will make a nice backdrop for flowers. The property has a lot of the fruit we want but NO FLOWERS. How can that be?
Here's a sunset from the front balcony looking out toward Aguadilla and Desecheo.
We've got all kinds of plans for the yard and maintenance on the house that will keep us interested for a while. The best thing is how close it is to Jeff's work and all our activities! Yesterday we visited 5 caves in the Guajataca Forest, ate dinner, and got home before dark. The drive was only 30 minutes! So much easier!!!!