Monday, October 20, 2014

Antiguo Ingenio Azucarero La Lucia

Here is a view of a the parking area with a path to La Lucia Sugar Mill.  El Antiguo Ingenio Azucarero, La Lucia off of route 901 in Yabucoa, Puerto Rico.

Antiguo Ingenio Azucarero " La Lucia"

This is old machinery from an old Sugar Mill, La Lucia,  in Yabucoa, Puerto Rico.  It is located off Route 901 and it has recently been made available for people to approach it safely. They added space for parking.  

On the Road to Maunabo

The Ride to Maunabo-- a picture tells a thousand words

One of the reasons I drive to Maunabo.  The irresistable views and ever changing canvas.

The Ride to Maunabo

I love to travel this route...I don't like the traffic.  So when I go I take the path of least resistance from Isla Verde.  Which one is that?  You might ask, considering that sometimes there is gridlock at every turn.  You turn west to take La Baldorioty that has no lights but is a traffic nightmare.  Once you approach the Tunnel-- El Tunel Minillas, what was slow moving traffic practically comes to a halt.  Depending on the time, once you exit the tunnel to head either towards Caguas, a busted car can slow down the ride.  I don't even want to mention how the Caguas Expressway 52 is a nightmare from two thirty to seven--  perhaps even to eight in the evening heading towards Caguas.  So what do I do?

I take the Teodore Moscoso Bridge.  That's right.  I fork over three dollars and thirty cents.  And I do it with pleasure.  I avoid the whole harrowing mess but taking the bridge, turning towards Trujillo Alto, crossing through Venus Gardens, and then coming out through Cupey Alto around El Senorial and hopping on Las Americas Expressway to Caguas.  The little traffic I got this morning was mainly around that light on "Avenida Parana." After that it only took me an hour to get to Maunabo.

It was 8:30 when I got on the Expressway and it was a partly cloudy day which was a delight.  You have no idea how beautiful, lush, and green the hills are just passed the Monte Hiedra exit.  It is a view for sore eyes.  Vegetation everywhere pouring itself down the hills which shady spots all along the shoulder of the road.  The road itself is mostly in good condition by Puerto Rico standards fortunately.  Once you make the curve around the toll booths to head towards Humacao, it is as if you let the horses out of the corral.  The road widens around Caguas and Turabo.  Cars scramble to get into a good position and some are never seen again as they speed into the sunset--not really but you get the idea.  Then the real beauty begins.

There are mountains loping one after another on your left.  You really don't want to drive.  What you want to do is cry because it is so beautiful or you want to take out a camera and film it.  What I really want to do is stop, set up my easel, and start painting.  I want to paint these mountains with the overpass bridge just up ahead with the hills in the background and the trees as a frame.  It is stunning.  I can still see it.

I am driving and scouting how the Flamboyanes are doing.  Most have lost their blossoms and the reddish orange flowers are very sparse now.  I call them,  Flamboyanes menguantes.  Like the moon when it is passed full moon.  Luna menguante, flamboyan menguante.  Just as the flowers are dying down-- it is October after all, the green leaves are renewed and the trees become full with the big "vianas" or seed pods.  Just as the Flamboyanes are spectacular, their seed pods are not any less so.

So on I go, passing exit 14, a particularly dangerous exit. I make a mental note that I need to be on the left lane when I reach this particular exit since I had an ugly encounter with a speeding truck determined to get on the road to Humacao from this blind entrance.  This is not the only entrance that is especially dangerous.  In addition, the road is as rough as sandpaper where it has been patched and pounded a million times. I often find myself manuvering to the left or to the right in order to avoid a rough patch or some pot hole.   It is not a picnic to drive I can assure you.  If it weren't for the views and the destination, I would not take it but for this journey.  Oh my gosh, it is so worth it.

Once I get to exit 23, there is a huge sign pointing to Yabucoa and Palmas del Mar.  There is the beginning of civilization, road wise I mean.  This road leads to route 53 and route 53 is in relatively good shape and the views are no less appealing.  You actually start seeing the ocean in little blimps between the hills which are quite intriguing as well.  After taking the road that leads towards Yabucoa, there is some sort of hotel or university up on a hill.  I need to check it out sometime when I have time.  I will write a post on it, but this conglomeration of buildings is only a distraction to what lays ahead.  El Valle de Yabucoa.  This is where you take a deep breath and sigh.

Nothing is really big in Puerto Rico.  It is only 35 by 100 and there are people to throw up in the air as we say in Spanish.  Gente para tirar pa' other words we have a lot of people.  So when you come to an open space, it is like finding a walk in closet in a tiny apartment. Whew.  That is what el Valle de Yabucoa is.  It is wide and the road doesn't touch it.  It is an elevated road that respected the terrain.  I love driving through it, rather above it and looking at the platains and banana plants below which are neatly planted in rows that look like they go on into eternity.  The only thing that cradles them are mushes of tall curvy bamboo that sway in the breeze with their sparkling leaves.  I could go to sleep thinking about them.

I loved this valley long before I ever saw it in person.  I was meant to love it.  I couldn't understand why my mother who was from Naranjito, a little town nestled in the mountains, had a picture of this valley in her living room in Trujillo Alto.  In fact, it didn't even say, Yabucoa, anywhere on the picture which was easily 24 inches by 24 inches.  After several years, the picture had become discolored and it looked like a 1950's television spot. Black, white, sad blues, and grays mostly. I despised the condition of the picture yet I had memorized each part.  Why did she keep it?   I guess it was the idea of the expanse, just her love for this island, or erhaps she remembered what it originally looked like.  Who knows?

Whatever the reason for keeping it, it wasn't until crossing this bridge without the distraction of conversations with my daughters and their families and upcoming fun, that it finally hit me.  This was the valley in Venus Gardens on that wall.  It was a valley big and wide and abundant.  It was that place I had seen many times, not in my dreams but in Mom's living room.  And it wasn't a boring faded blue.  It was alive in all shades of green with cows going out to the meadow and with field after field of plants.  El Valle de Yabucoa, the Yabucoa Valley, as they say as you enter, zona bendecida.  A blessed zone.  It is.

And we haven't even started going up the road on route 901 to Maunabo. We haven't even started.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

This is what I don't like about the Tropics

Invest 90L.
Tropical Wave.
Weather conducive to development.
The sounds of a hurricane reconnaissance plane going to investigate.
Upgraded to a Tropical Storm overnight.
Sustained winds of up to 45 miles per hour and further development possible.
Now they are talking about a Hurricane Watch for US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.

This is what I don't like about the tropics.
Tonight I saw the orange sunset, ominously announcing the bad weather that is coming.  It took me back 25 years to the night before Hugo,  standing with my father looking into the evening sky and he telling me, "Tu ves ese cielo anaranjado?  Pues ese cielo es señal de que viene una tormenta."  [You see that orange tinged sky?  Well, that sky is a sign that a storm is brewing.] He knew that way before NOAA had their fancy weather radars.  He knew it when he witnessed those strong hurricanes that swept frequently through the Caribbean and his poor section of town on Guanajibo Beach in Mayaguez on the western side of the island.  Though they got the bad weather last as it arrived on the Leeward side of the island first, it always took it toll there, too.

Hurricanes with their furious winds that sounded like screeching jet engines on the street next to our house in Guaynabo.  Now 25 years later, I am situated a block from the ocean in Isla Verde, surrounded by glass windows and high rises.  As well as being that much closer to the ocean surge.  No matter.  This is not a hurricane yet.  Right now it is a Tropical Storm.  Yes, they can be gusty.  I know I hate gusty but yeah, that is how it goes.  Gusty.  I will have to pull up my green awnings that I have in the porch.  If I don't they will be twisted like a pretzel.  The plants will have to come in of course and my hammock.  A trash can will need to be filled with water since that is one of the first things to go but what can one do?

This is only a Tropical Storm I tell myself.  Thank goodness.  Oh, and I am living in a concrete building this time, not in a wood house like in Orlando with 90 mile per hour winds when Charley blew through in 2004. The first of four.

This isn't so bad.

I just wish it wouldn't howl!

P.S.  If you want to track this storm, I found a pretty good tracking map at AccuWeather:

Thank you, AccuWeather!!

Monday, October 06, 2014

The Shemitah by Jonathan Cahn

This book which is the embodiment of the seven year cycle which culminates in the paying off of debts which can be a blessing for a nation that follow and obeys God.  When a nation departs from God this same Shemitah year becomes a curse and judgement to that nation.  Please listen to the following program on TBN featuring Jonathan Cahn at the end of the program.  Mr. T and a talented singer appear first but then Rabbi Cahn comes on.  It is an amazing warning and call to all of us to repent and return to God.  Let him who has ears,  hear and respond to his call!!!

I can hear the shofar sounding!

If the video doesn't come on, please follow this link: the Lord/ec/VvazJqcDplvSEQ-WJ8OfCSzhpItG4VCt#ooid=VvazJqcDplvSEQ-WJ8OfCSzhpItG4VCt the Lord/ec/VvazJqcDplvSEQ-WJ8OfCSzhpItG4VCt#ooid=VvazJqcDplvSEQ-WJ8OfCSzhpItG4VCt

Saturday, October 04, 2014

Hazy Day in Puerto Rico

The Sahara Desert dust is at it again.  Look how dusty the mountains look in the background. It is not just the dust, the dust causing respiratory problems, and it increases the heat since these microscopic pieces of sand reflect the sun's heat and increases our temperatures.  I can't wait for a good rain to clean off the atmosphere.

Thursday, October 02, 2014

Making Boiled Peanuts

Secure some green peanuts. You can come by them in almost any supermarket down South.  I got them at the IGA supermarket in Camden.  I frozen them and packed them in my suitcase.  They travelled well and now days later, I removed them from the freezer.  

Next you rinse and place them in either a big pot with water or into a slow cooker because they have to boil for at least four hours.  I am choosing to do the latter since I will not have to watch the pot while they are boiling.  I am now an experienced lady since I did my first batch of peanuts in Camden!  Please laugh.  Doing them one time hardly makes me experienced but it does give me some confidence.  I love that they tasted a little salty but that I controlled to a certain extent how much salt they contained.  The other neat thing is that I also know how fresh these peanuts are.  Am I excited that I am going to have some boiled peanuts here in Puerto Rico?  You betcha!  

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

South Carolina

Some of my favorite things these past two weeks. The poem is a little disjointed and skips around among the places I visited. I still enjoyed writing it.

Favorite South Carolina things:

Long hilly rollercoaster two lane highway
bridging Orangeburg to Lugoff
Shrimp boats
paths to the beach
dotted with flowers and
beach oats.
Friends that are faithful
Home cooked meals that taste
like something
Boiled peanuts, regular or Cajun
Wappoo river
West Ashley
muddy banks during low tide
gleaming in the sun,
She crab soup,
antique stores,
and galleries
long extended conversations
Gullah songs
and spirituals
oak trees that look like they have been
there for centuries
big, fat, and round
dressed in Spanish moss
Southern Drawl and
courteous gentlemen
The Citadel

Horse races
Trophy Cups
and hardworking people
that work till it hurts
to put a smile on your face.
Some people just don't know and
they wouldn't have it any other way.

This poem is dedicated to Mrs. Mary Elliot who passed away this week after living a life of service to her family, friends, and community.  God bless her soul.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Silver Meteor Train Experience

If you have been debating if you should take the train, the answer is yes! Resounding!   In fact, I am a senior silver haired person.  For that you get a substantial discount and it is worth it. But it is also perfect for families with children.  I saw a whole family with two small children and grandparents traveling together.  They had plenty of room and the kids had room to walk about and it was as if they were in a family room.  Of course everyone had their gadgets and so many saw movies.  By the way, they did have electric plugs on the window side of your seat where you could recharge all your electronics.  Neat feature if you ask me.   On the other hand, I could have read a book (in fact I did finish one from Orlando to Patlatka) or watched a movie but I was enjoying the movie quickly flowing by on my side screen, i.e. the window.  When traveling try to secure an even numbered window because you will have a better view.

Other reasons to use the train include:  you don't have to deal with traffic, buy gas in strange places, car trouble, and confined quarters.  It is a great place to make friends and I did. We chatted all the way from Patlatka to Charleston and walked up and down the corridors several times.   These corridors are long and you do have to step from one car to another to get to the dinner/snack car.  This little connection between cars was where you had a reality check that you are on a train after as the union between cars could be felt but I managed to use the handles between the cars to give me more assurance.    It was an innoucous but I wanted to be extra safe.

As I walked the train, I noticed that at the end of each car there were rest rooms.  Sometimes the occupants were not neat, especially the men.  Nevertheless, I always tried to leave the restroom neater than how I found it.  Frankly, I think there should be someone monitoring the restroom for cleanliness.  Other than that, I have no complaints.

As for food, there was a snack car which offered cookies, chips and even sandwiches that could be warmed up.  Hot drinks with cream were offered as well.  In fact, I bought a cheese and cracker snack box which was perfect for the trip.  The snack car also doubled up a lounge where commuters could go to hang out as well.  Some were reading a book or newspaper while having coffee.  Later we had the opportunity to have dinner in the dinner car with white table napkins, hot fresh cooked food and a waiter.  Oooo la la! Yes, it was extra but it was worth it.  

When traveling by train, consider splitting your trip into portions.  That way you do not have to stay on the train at night since roomettes are a bit pricey.  I did observe though a lot of people actually sleeping on the train since they had no one next to them.  So that is doable as well.  Just bring a nice jacket or light blanket or pillow so you can be comfortable.  I had planned to read most of the way but the Lord had other plans and I chatted with a new friend.  Such is life.  

Did I say, I loved it?  I sure did, didn't I?  If I had a chance to travel again, I would do it in a heartbeat.

So if you have an upcoming trip, consider Amtrak.  It is environment friendly, efficient, timely, and clean.

Riddle and a Rose

Brilliant roses and a jet black cat...
which reminds me of a riddle my father in law once told me.  
He was more a grandfather to me than anything else. 
Any way, here it goes in Spanish:

Hace un rato paso un galan por aqui,
todo vestido de negro,  
no cosido con aguja, 
ni cortado con tijera.   
Que es?

A while ago, a handsome creature came by here;
all decked out in black,
his were clothes were not sewn with a neddle
nor were they cut with scissors.   
Who is he?

Photo Bomb

Well, photo bomb might be a slight exaggeration but Selah and Pookie, a sweet black cat, meandered into my pictures.   They would not be ignored.


Enjoying a quiet morning among the flowers and the natural airconditioning which permeates South Carolina these days.  So wonderful to sit outside and enjoy the breeze ambling through a line of stately oak trees.