Saturday, March 24, 2007

Trip to the Arecibo Lighthouse

Now doesn't this look like a fantastic place to spend the day? If you like lighthouses, history, a fantastic shore line, the beach, and an up and coming city, you have to go to Arecibo. Last week on Wednesday, my sister Doris and I went to the restored Arecibo Lighthouse. It has been preserved and its surroundings enhanced for educational purposes in a fun atmosphere. Arecibo has a history related to pirates and a private organization has restored the lighthouse and brought in educational elements related to Arecibo's buccaneer, indigeous indian, and Spanish history to make a small historical park. You can see the small "Arasibo" Taino village, a pirate ship, Spanish galleons, colorful murals, the lighthouse, and its treacheours seashore from the park. It is well worth the $10.00 entrance fee.

After viewing the park and taking an excessive amount of pictures we decided to stop for a snack. At the park itself there is a large open air snack shop with its view of the Atlantic, and on that day it was full of adorable preschoolers on a field trip, so we decided to taste one of their pastellilos to hold us over and search for a restaurant. There are two places that can be recommended, Picholo's Restaurant which is where the locals go to eat or El Salitre, both on routh 681, where the Lighthouse is located. Picholo's is an inconspicuous restaurant on the way to the lighthouse and you don't want to miss it. El Salitre is about a mile down the road right there on the ocean. On Wednesday, Doris and I went to Picholo's and enjoyed a filete of swordfish with tostones and salad, which is one of their house specialties. Excellent choice. We chose to try something new and we were both very pleased.

Before or after lunch you have several options. Either see Arecibo's beautiful Plaza, the equivalent to a town square, with its restored church and colonial buildings taking you back to the time of Spanish occupation or go to the beach right next to the Lighthouse with it's pocita (small natural saltwater pool) or continue down road 681 towards Barceloneta and enjoy the seaside scenic route and seeing the bustling life in another typical Puerto Rican town. It's your choice.

Next time we are going to hit the beach first, bring two or three gallons of water to wash up with, visit the lighthouse and then have lunch and a ride around town, or head towards the Camuy Caverns. Now that is another trip I have to tell you about on another blog entry.

Now to get to Arecibo easily, take Route 22, from San Juan and head west. This might take you an hour, and then take route 10 north to downtown and follow the well marked signs to the Arecibo Lighthouse and Historical Park located off route 681. In fact you can get more information at .

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Here are the pictures I was telling you about on the Gurabo Road. There was a refreshing shower falling in the valley and everything looked pristine, and the air was cool and clean. Makes you want to come to Puerto Rico, doesn't it?

I call the bottom one a Puerto Rican picket fence. Ouch, watch out for the barbed wire!
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Road trip from Trujillo Alto to Gurabo

Decided to take a roadtrip yesterday with Mom, and drove from Trujillo Alto to Gurabo on Route 181. I didn't recall exactly the road and the view, but as mom always says you can never get lost in Puerto Rico. So off we went. The view were breathtaking in many areas and I wish I could have taken more pictures, but the roads were narrow and curvy, and it was a time when lots of people were in a hurry getting home. There were two pictures I especially liked and I hope you will, too.

Monday, March 19, 2007

La Escalera

I have been meaning to write this post for a couple of days now and it will not be appeased until I put it down in writing. I was thinking about it yesterday, before I went to church and as Doris and I walked around the neighborhood near the church, we saw a very well kept little garden which reminded me of Don Jose and Dona Ana's house in Villa Nevarez. Just then an animal crossed our path and I told Doris a riddle I had learned from Tito and Nana. "Paso un galan por aqui, no cortado con tejera ni cosido con aguja, que es?" Es un ... That is how he was. Tito that is, always finding a way to make us laugh or challenge our patience. I still laugh though, because he told us that riddle so many times, that I who could hardly memorize anything, know it by heart. "Largo largo como un camino, y rojo como un cochino, que es?" or Nana's que prefiere, miel regalada or miel da?" Though they always argued they were inseparable.

Well, for several weeks I have been repainting, the apartment here in Isla Verde. To do so, I have been using this old rickety wooden ladder that is easily over twenty five years old. I wonder to myself how I still have it. I have been away so long, and yet when I returned to PR, after discarding so many things, this little ladder was still waiting for me. This little ladder that has been to Valle Escondido, El Senorial, Terranova, Costa del Sol, Villa Caparra (under Michelle's guardianship), and now back to me in Costa del Sol. Soiled with oil, varnish, and old paints and it's joints loose making it wobbly, somehow reminded me of Tito.

When I thought of Tito, who when I met him was old enough to have been my own grandfather, and in many ways he was. The riddles, the kindness, the acceptance, and love meant so much to me. The good example that he was, he adoration of Nana who was not perfect like none of us are, explained why they were honored after 50 years of marriage. Tito once used that ladder in its early days to help paint our house in Valle Escondido. There is a picture immortalizing the moment where he is happily holding Rosita who also wanted to paint.

I am so glad to have that ladder, Tito, it reminds me of you. Splashed with love of all colors, bright and kind, with stories of la abuela zapatona, doors that were fixed, walls that were painted, doorknobs that were always shaken twice, tape and magic marker on walls to frame your pictures of us, las adivinazas, and joy. Feliz dia de tu santo, querido Tito. We love you and remember you, today.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

I went to Mass today

Parroquia Santa Rosa de Lima en Venus Gardens. What a refreshing service. I was so blessed. The church was alive with young people, a significant worship, reverence for the holiness of God, good humor, a sermon full of compassion, yet deep, moving, and poignant discussion on the parable of the prodigal son explained on the personal level and on the national level with how Puerto Rico has turned it's back on God, and that it needs to confess its sin and come home to God repentant. There was so much beauty in that Mass that lasted for over an hour and a half, with contemporary music, the reading of the scriptures from Joshua 5:9a, 10-12, Psalm 33, 1 Corinthians 4, St Luke 15 and other spoken liturgy which was immersed in the Word of God, praising God for his omnipotence and omniscience that when I left I felt fully fed, ready to face the trials that I will meet this week.

Since I am not Catholic, the only time I felt a bit uncomfortable was when I couldn't join the rest of the congregation at their particular prayers. I would have enjoyed participating in their interactive gestures like lifting their hands to the Lord as they prayed which bring you into worship, or saying some of the phrases that are memorized and chanted at particular times in the mass which unite this mass to tradition and continuity from the time Mass was said originally. I know I can buy a little liturgy book, and maybe I will because frankly I enjoy worshipping God in the Catholic Church occasionally. I know God speaks to me many times in the unexpected. One of the unexpected was the soft sound of bells which took me back to my first recollection of hearing them.

It was at Mother Cabrini Church in the middle 1960's. I remember entering one wing of the L shaped building with a side view of the altar. I was only 13 or 14, wearing a mantilla, a head covering for women of all ages. You entered quietly into the cool still room with its wooden with benches and kneeling planks (lacking a better word, because I know it must exist), and hearing the tiny bells or chimes, which I again heard last night. Then there were lots of mini skirts and a lot of look at me dresses and the Mass was in Latin. It seemed to me that people were not coming to church to learn about God. I was thirsty for Jesus and I didn't find him there. It wasn't just Mother Cabrini, it was the whole church. It was in turmoil and didn't know it, being challenged by social upheavals and many times out of touch about the realities being lived in society. So I kept seeking God elsewhere and I found (or should I say, he found me) him. God says that those who seek him shall find him.

Yet, last night, the Word was so evident and the worship so holy, that yes the presence of God was in that place. It is no longer out of touch. There was relevant significant worship yet the solemnity had not been sacrificed. I left very encouraged. It was wonderful to worship with my other brothers and sisters in Christ in the beauty of his presence and to be edified for the week ahead. I don't know about Mother Cabrini today, but Rosa de Lima as well as other Catholic Churches, I have visited recently, are strong. People can meet Jesus there and have a personal relationship with Him. Praise the Lord.

Queen Latifah in The Last Holiday

If you want to see a good movie, actually a remake of a fifties movie with Alec Guinness, which I intend to see, don't miss The Last Holiday. I sound like an advertisement written in a local news paper. The message was so good, especially daring to enjoy the important things in life and setting the right priorities. We may not all be called to be missionaries, but the life we are all called to live a life of significance, whether we realize it or not. The life we have been called to live, we need to live it with gusto. Be honest, brave, and deliberate. In a nutshell, the main character Georgia Burns learns she has only 3 months to live, and with this knowledge she makes some earth shaking changes in her life. There are so many messages, throughtout the movie, but the movie is held together with a thread of her conversations with God, asking him why? walking out of church, starting to live, and as things develop, other people start making changes, and taking action because of her actions. It is a very positive movie, which motivates you to take another look at your own life and ask, am I living my life to my full potential, are there things I would do differently if I had only 3 months to live, umm. That might be the topic of my next blog...