Saturday, July 21, 2007

Couple of more Pictures

Almonds on the ground in Guajataca. A Flamboyan and the scattered blooms on the grounds, and finally the actual train tunnel used by the railroad when in was active in Puerto Rico. These almonds remind me so much of my brothers, Edwin and Hector. We would stop on our late summer walks to school in Naranjito, to smash almendras with the first slippery rock we could find on the side of the road. If we managed to mangle an almond, we often were rewarded with a skinny sliver of nut. But how tasty it was. Good memories of my brothers. Las almendras.

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Yesterday, I got to ride out to Guajataca. I took route 22 which speedily takes you all the way to Arecibo. But on the way, we took a side trip up to Morovis, the only town in Puerto Rico without a plaza. Though it lacks the plaza, it makes up for it in the enormous amount of beauty on the way up to the town on route 137. The first picture is of a typical street vendor selling mainly hamacas or hammocks. I just couldn't pass it by and had to make a U turn to capture the colors. Down the road I also got a close up of the fluffy feather like plumes of the bamboo.

Once back on 22 we continued west side to Arecibo where highway 22 merges into Route 2. By that time my mom and I needed to take a stretch and we had a light snack at El Buen Cafe Restaurant. Though it is not far from the ocean, it doesn't have an ocean's view but the service is quick and clean. We had a bocadillo and freshly brewed cafe!! Of course, cafe, in el Buen Cafe.

After Arecibo we continued west towards Hatillo and then Quebradillas, with it's two huge centennial trees dividing the highway. People were rushing home oblvious to these two trees' beauty and I wasn't able to stop, but one of these days I will. We finally made it to Guajataca where regular Mirador was closing, so instead we had to go down the very narrow road that leads to the old railroad tunnel. Since this road looks sort of solitario or desolate, it gets you a little nervous to venture down there.

Once, I was out of the car and saw there were plenty of other people around, I started shooting away. Meanwhile, mom was in the car and got nervous and set off the car alarm which started blarring and got my full attention right away. I guess I was taking too long for her comfort. After that I was able to convince her to get out of the car and walk down to the end of the street and took many more pictures than those that are here.

My camera unfortunately doesn't take pictures fast enough to capture those moments when the waves come crashing into the rock ledges just off the beach creating huge splashes of water rising to envelope the shore, but I did the best I could. There were people picnicing, others bathing, and surfers riding the waves. I should have stayed the night. It would have been worth every penny, but I had miles to go before I sleep and promises to keep.
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Thursday, July 19, 2007

Mystery Pictures

Compare these pictures to your memory? Where do you think these pictures were taken. What is the same and what is different? When did we live there? Oh darn, that was a clue...

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Tuesday, July 17, 2007


For years the Morales clan has been playing Bingo in Naranjito, and it is no ordinary pasttime. This is a seriously enjoyable experience where "professionals" singers display their talents, humor, and memory. Though everyone gets a chance to call out the numbers, or "cantar los bolos," those who do it best are the ones I call professionals. They don't do it for a living but for family entertainment. When they call out the numbers it is always with a little comment here and another comment there, and most of the remarks have come down from another generation and are memorized. For example, we say, and not in order:

I 22 (in Spanish of course), los patitos comiendo arroz, arroz rhymes with dos - (the ducks eat rice
O 75, el mas viejo- the eldest;
B-12, la vitamina - the vitamin
N-33 la edad de Cristo - the Lord's age

You might mention someone's favorite number, usually their birthdate, or age, or call the bolos in a particular accent, like my younger sister Sarita does with a Cuban or Dominican accent, which makes us laugh until we wet our pants.

Since this is the second generation playing bingo, Doris went way out to get the original wooden fichas or bolos with numbers, and bright flat multicolored plastic markers. Of course you also have to sew a special bag with a drawstring to put these fichas or bolos in, and she did. If you look at the cards, they are smooth and worn on the edges from years of use and you will notice that many of the bingo cards have family names written on their lucky "cartones" to establish some ownership." This Sunday, I saw Sarita, Gisela, Carmen, Juanita, and Michelle written on some of the cartones. My favorite "carton," has to have 7, 10, 19, and 20 on it. In fact, I should have written my name on the cartones I used this past Sunday since I won, four times! An all time record for me.

Playing bingo with family is not about winning . But of course, it is about winning and some good natured bragging rights( especially when I was younger.) Is this a paradox or contradiction? You want everybody to win sometime and no one to go home poor. If a child is also playing, I remember they were carefully tutored to say the number and letter clearly, and with our eyes darting back and forth from our cartones to theirs, we double checked their cards so they would not miss an estacao or bingo.

Each carton, costs 5 cents to play and the winning prize for the game itself might be a mere forty cents. You are not going to get rich playing bingo in Naranjito, but you will have fun. Even if you don't win that round, you always have a chance to make a nickel or two. You might have noticed the picture of a card, with four words written on them. Estacao means having two opposite(B and O) numbers on the same row, terna, when you are the first to get three in a row or column, esquina for the first to get a corner, and ambo de cabeza, which means you have gotten two numbers on the top row. You can feasibly win three nickels in just one shot if you get two numbers on the top row and two are on corners. But wait, you might not be alone, some one else might have gotten the same corner number or bolos to win estacao, terna, ambo de cabeza, or esquina, and they have to be boleado, which means, that they will call out a number for each person by name who is competing for that nickel (which are also played), and the highest number wins the nickel for that particular estacao or esquina. You also want to be alert, so don't get distracted because that is how you get "pasmada ( which literally means stail), " and if you figure you had a terna or esquina, after someone else calls it, you won't get yours, even if you made it first. You have to claim it when it happens.

You can also win the Bingo round by getting the four corners or the traditional filling the row. But sometimes, depending on how we played we could win by doing the cross, or la cruz by filling in all the numbers around the "free." Another way of playing la cruz, is to play it like the esquina or estacao, where a separate place was set for la cruz. The cruz was often the hardest to do, so we would save an additional nickel for each time it went unclaimed. Sometimes getting la cruz meant getting "una cantidad gordita," or a fat pile of nickels.

For many years, my aunt, Titi Sarita was the Bingo Queen and primary hostess, followed by my other aunt, Titi Juanita, who would take turns hosting the bingo games which were spontaneously solicited after a hearty lunch of arroz con pollo y habichelas. This Sunday was a deja vu, and as you can see only one of the older sisters, Mom, was there for the bingo, as some have already departed, but my sisters and I are ready to continue the tradition and maybe our children will also join us, too. Bingo!

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Lalin's has always been an icon on la Avenida Central or la Avenida Pinero which it is now called. Considering that this in the suburbs of San Juan they do a pretty good job with their monumental horses, don't they?
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