Archive for February, 2010

I guess that’s why they call it fishing and not catching

Posted in R&R in PR on February 25, 2010 by robdc

I know I usually take pictures of stuff I eat and the restaurants we hit and such, but honestly they don’t hold a candle to our daytime activities on this trip. I will say that if you do find yourself in Culebra at any point there are one or two points of interest as far as food is concerned, otherwise if you didn’t bring your own you’re pretty heated. The first is Mamasitas, a place owned by the demon offspring of Tommy Chong and Jimmy Buffet, and styled as such. All the wait staff says dude a lot and wears bandanas. Despite these facts it sits on the channel from one side of the island to the other so the view is nice and the food is pretty damned good. The other spot is a pizzeria, but a sort of island haute cuisine sorta’ of pizzeria, if that is even a thing.  The pizza is made to the highest of laid back island folk standards, there are also plenty of stray animals roaming the grounds and Rafa is kinda weird about animals. He picked up this cat and kept it on his lap through our dinner, I told him it probably had mange, he didn’t know what mange was and named the cat “mange” then continued to pet it and feed it table scraps.

IMG_2316I still think he’s going to break out in a violent skin rash in a few days. but he enjoyed his eating companion.

The next morning gave us another great sunrise and some bad news, serious wind coming from the south west that made returning to San Juan a possibly very uncomfortable experience.

We embarked either way on our return trip, planning to fish for at least half of it. But once we left the bay things were in a bad way, so we headed north of the islands to hopefully take refuge in calmer seas, I have to say this return trip was a workout, since the waves were coming from behind us and off center, every time we hit one it moved the boat in such a way that it tried to pitch out the person standing to the right of the center console, take a wild stab at who that was…

Either way we got north of the islands and dropped lines, time passed and the slightly subdued waves continued, I think we may have caught one fish the entire day, then we hit the half way point of Fajardo and the lines went nuts, when we all turn we couldn’t believe it, a god damned bird had taken a nose dive into our lures believing them to be a small school of fish, the poor thing was stuck. So we had no choice, we had to reel it in and get the hook or hooks out of it. I felt like buster, “there’s a bird on the boat!!”, “but it, walked on my pillow!!”

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Rafa’s holding a shirt over its eyes because the thing was vicious, but we got the hook out and it flew away happy as a clam. So we got back to port having caught a grand total of one tuna and one bird today, better than nothing I guess, if we had caught a fish using a kite I would have been pretty impressed so I took it as a win.

We headed back to Rafa’s where we cleaned up and took some siestas. I admired his passion for rum and his rum shrine:

IMG_2325That piece of green rock  in Buddha’s lap is one of a few I picked up on the beach in Culebrita, not sure how many are gonna make it back to the states but I got 2 or 3.  Then we headed back to my aunt Mari’s for a nice family dinner. All the aunts, being las picuas que son, got us all matching shirts and made us take pictures in order of height and skin tone.

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As clearly shown in the pictures above, the shirts say ‘Puerto’ on the front and ‘Rico’ on the back, and after several days at sea, I am still the whitest person for hundreds of miles. Then the aunts wanted to get in on the fun and did all the poses we refused to do:

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Then after a damn right gourmet dinner prepared again by Leo (who I realized has prepared every meal and snack I’ve eaten since arriving in Puerto Rico, less a steak at Mamasita’s and the pizza we picked up) a cake was brought out and people started singing happy birthday. I looked around to see who we were singing to. Ever heard that saying “if you’re playing cards and you don’t know who the sucker at the table is, it’s you” well, there were no suckers as I looked around the many tables and no one refraining from singing as is usually the want of the person who’s big day it is, then they brought the cake and candle over to me… odd since my birthday is next month but hell, who am I to pass up cake and a song (the Puerto Rican version of which is twice as long and contains a spanish refrain that I am completely unfamiliar with) so I stay until they got to the part I didn’t know, then stood smiling (well, trying to smile since pictures show I have very little competence in this area of being) and singing. Cake was had by all and smiles all around.

With all that has transpired here and the wonderful people I have met and re-met, it occurs to me that family is a strange thing. Don’t get me wrong I love all the people that have ever been introduced to me as “family” either because there is some bloodline linking us or because the person introducing said family member is as close to them as they are with any of their actual relatives. That being said, I’m pretty sure most of these people are actually my relatives in the classical biological sense, although the direct relations may be hazy, I do know that a grandmother somewhere a while back linked most of the matriarchs of the groups that I have had the pleasure of spending this past few days with in Puerto Rico. Everyone here treats each other with a love and respect that should be a standard for “families” both blood and implied all over the world. I thank everyone who I had the pleasure of interacting with in PR, this has been one hell of a trip and without you it would have not amounted to much more then some days off of work, but now I have the fishing trip of a lifetime behind me and a future family reunion to look forward to.

Cojelo con take it easy,

Rob

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Epic, that’s all I’ve got.

Posted in R&R in PR on February 24, 2010 by robdc

The day began as very few do in my life with a natural wake from slumber at dawn, I actually think it’s never happened before. But as soon as everyone heard me moving around they got up too, and this is what was waiting for us outside:

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A sunrise over the far coast of Culebra that I would call… pretty Ok. Although I was aching in new and exciting ways, and my clearly pale skin is not suited for this type of punishment we here here to fish and God damn it, that’s what we were going to do. What I didn’t know is that we were also going to scope out some pretty epic beaches.

Culebra itself is a damn nice place, its a small island to people from small islands but there are residents. The only ones who leave their houses are mostly ex-Americans who have moved here because they caught a pot charge in the ‘70s from the look of it, and these people are very fond of Tommy Bahama. I’m sure the rest of the island is populated by eccentric millionaires and their harems of women, or at least that’s what I’d like to think. A ferry brings people in from San Juan twice a day, it takes 4 or 6 hours, I have no idea, there’s also a very extreme airport, which I only see planes leave from, when I asked why Leo explained that since they have to land in between so many mountains the only way in is to cut your engines a mile and a half or so away and glide in, sounds exhilarating. Most of the real-estate on the island is build how you would imagine, a nice house on a hill overlooking the beautiful surroundings.

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So we went, we fished, we conquered and it was great but I couldn’t help but notice all these insanely nice beaches we were seeing. We had left Culebra and were trolling the surrounding islands of Culebrita and Isla Norte and these things looked amazing, every now and again one beach would have a boat or some yacht parked on it but they were mostly barren. When we finished a particularly long run around the south western point of Culebrita we went in to take a closer look, this is where we ended up.

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I can’t recall ever seeing water this clear, and remember reading that it was because Culebra has no natural streams, rivers or springs. All the water on the island is desalinated and reused, because of this there is no runoff and the result is this crazy super clear water.

Either way, I swam the anchor in and we went on to the shore, I celebrated:

IMG_2295Then we packed it up and went back to fishing. For some reason, one of our lures was catching only Barracuda today so I won’t go over all the ones that we caught and the trials and tribulations of each one, but I will show the biggest nicest fight of the day:

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Needless to say we were pretty pumped so we ventured around the islands a bit further. we were looking for a spot on the map that looked to be a naturally sick beach but when we got there the surf was destroying it, not exactly relaxing. So we ventured on. There was one spot that you couldn’t really make out from far away though that had on yacht somehow planted in front of it, Rafa consulted the maps and this place looked remarkably difficult to get into but he was confident it could be done, so we did, and when we got there………

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Try to put those pictures into one and you kinda get what we were sitting in the middle of. (I took some better panoramic pics with Rafas camera they will be added later). This was no ordinary bay or beach, this is the kind of thing they make movies about, if I wasn’t so sure the filmed “the beach” in southeast Asia I would have guessed it was filmed here:

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One of those pictures shows the southern rim of the bay and the breakwater at the reef that makes it hard to get in here, the other shows Leo and I being morons. Needless to say, this place sucked up a good deal of our day but there was more fishing to be done so we reluctantly set off, now knowing how to get back here.

After a long day, we headed back, the radio station we were listening to, “Radio Joe” is obviously run by crazy people because it played everything from Rico Suave, to Daft Punk  to Eye of the Tiger, to Snow, to Manu Chao, which it was playing as we came into port at sun down, a long full day with many sights to take in, beginning with a beautiful sunrise and ending with a breathtaking sunset.

IMG_2315Cojelo,

Rob

Culebra’s on a boat

Posted in R&R in PR on February 24, 2010 by robdc

Well, you can say what you want about our decision but this is my home for the next few days:

IMG_2240we set off at about 6:15am from the house and got the boat in the water and launched by about 7:30, which I consider to be one hell of an accomplishment. The weather is not exactly anything that anyone wants us setting out in but fuck it, you only live once. We get about A quarter of the way to Culebra and drop lines. Believe it or not I stuck a tuna about 15 min in which is a fantastic sign. We keep fishing and arrive at the half way mark with no incident, where we stop to admire the scenery and enjoy the fruits of our labors. Did I mention that Leo is a cook?

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That’s Leo slicing up some “sushi de atun” , and Rafa enjoying it. Now although I prefer a steak to fish on most days, you can’t beat this type of freshness.

IMG_2248Then we took a minute to enjoy the view on this fine supposedly horrible day. here’s the view of Icacos at around 10am:

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A few hours of fishing later and we arrived at our destination. Culebra:

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And here, is the actual destination:

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And here is the view from our dock, please take note of the rainbow in the background signifying how wholesome and childlike my joy is for  being here.

IMG_2270That’s it for today, we’ll take stock of the water and gas we used up and make our plans for tomorrow, I’m sure much drinking and eating awaits us tonight.

Cojelo con take it easy,

Rob

When the lights go out in San Juan

Posted in R&R in PR on February 24, 2010 by robdc

Lets start at the beginning: When I left you last Leo and I had gone shopping for supplies which included but were not limited to: 2 handles of rum, 1 half pallet of Medalla light and some other stuff. Added to the 2 and a half handles of Finlandia that we’ve got already waiting on the boat and I think should be ok for 3 guys for a few days:

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We bought the supplies while still completely unsure of whether or not we were going on any trip at all but in the mean time, there was eating and drinking to do. Since my cousins are so keen on not allowing me to take pictures lest I look like a tourist this is probably one of the few you’ll see of most of us in one place:

IMG_2233That’s Javi on the left, myself in the middle, and Leo in the pink “chicks go better with beer” shirt. Leo is a trained chef and is at this particular location tonight to provide profesional cooking service to the inhabitants of this establishment and their guests. (this becomes more important later) Here is some of his handy work:

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That’s some ceviche on the left and a nice slice of dolphin steamed with some fresh lemon slices and such “for the aromatics and shit” as described to me by Leo.  I assure you that despite his description of the menu items the food was god damned delicious.

Oh yea I guess I forgot to mention that when we left Costco the traffic lights were out, so when we got to Patricia’s house a few miles away it was slightly odd that the lights were out there as well, I know that the lights were out for exactly one hour and 42 minutes, because just as one of my cousins called out “una hora y quarenty dos min…” the lights came back on.  The drinking continues, the food is great and we abscond to Rafas, with the full intention of going through with the trip to Culebra that no one wants us to go on. We’ll see how it goes in the morning.

All I know right now is that Rafa has my dream pantry, and he has several flavors of moonshine rum for me to sample before passing out.

IMG_2235We’ll see whether or not we wind up going on the fishing trip of a lifetime in the morning or not in a few hours.

‘night

Rob

Cuando ya no puedes mas

Posted in R&R in PR on February 24, 2010 by robdc

Today began like most other days, I was woken up by the noise of people moving around a home that wasn’t mine, the leather stuck to my face as a reminder that this was a place where no one should be sleeping and I was doing something wrong. By the time I came to being enough to comprehend that I was on my aunts couch, my  mother was letting me know that they were going out shopping and I was welcome to keep being a vagrant on her fine leather couch. I put on some U.N.K.L.E. and  started my move back towards the land of the living. In my wanderings around my aunt Mari’s place I realized that San Juan residences, this one in particular, had the whole thing figured out. What do I love most about my favorite place to be in miami? The veranda. Yes the view is crucial, and the location is seriously crucial, but at the end of the day its the fact that the people I love are in a comfortable location where there is no hindrance (those that smoke can do so, those that don’t, don’t care because there is ample airflow)  apparently the Puerto Ricans figured this out years ago. I admit there is an issue with the bars, but unlike miami window bars, since everyone has bars on their windows they have taken extra care to make the bars aesthetically pleasing and the result is a grand slam. Here is some of my aunt Mari’s place which you may notice is about  %75 chill space:

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I feel that I’m dwelling too much on how much I love my aunt’s place, lets move on to the unmatched hospitality that my cousins have been showing me.

So Leo and I set out to figure out what the hell we were going to be doing, is this trip to Culebra happening or not? So we ride to Rafa (el Oso)’s house to see what’s up. Of course, he’s not there, but since he lives right on the water and (consequently where I’m sitting right now writing this) right in the thick of all the fisherman and the coast, Leo suggests I try a local favorite, coconut water and black label. Jesus christ, I know this is rare but I think I’ve had a bit too much to continue coherently, here are some pictures of us moving through the coast:

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That’s where I got the black and coco water, and their chickens.

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And those are a few shots out the window as we’re driving into San Juan, you may notice the drink in my hand which is almost encouraged in this place, and one of the many reasons why I love it.

As I’m writing this its around midnight in San Juan and we are trying to get a few hours sleep before a trip that we have been advised not to take. If all goes well Leo, Rafa and I will be hopping on a 22 foot open fisherman and traveling a few hours in open water to a place called Culebra where we plan on fishing and camping on the beach for a few days. For some reason all the Matriarchs have expressed very loudly that they are against this idea, we don’t care. The weather doesn’t seem perfect but we are pretty set on the goal so… Look forward to my next post, it will hopefully be written between tanning sessions from a tent on the beach of Culebra.

Cojelo con take it easy,

Rob

Todo Es Mar

Posted in R&R in PR on February 20, 2010 by robdc

Growing up on an island you’d think I would have been accustomed to the whole being surrounded by water thing, I guess it’s just that I don’t consider any coastal island a real island. This place is an island, and the only thing about anything here that feels even remotely American is that they accept our currency. Other then that, I’m going to be referring to this place a Cuba Jr. from now on, its Miami on steroids. You think the driving is bad in the MIA think again, these people are maniacs and owning a motorcycle is basically a national loophole in the whole red means stop thing. My aunts place is a picture of relaxation, it even has its own mini koi pond for reflection and introspection.

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About 20 minutes after my mom and I arrived, the cousins started pouring in and the drinking started, well not for me, I had gotten personal with a few of these guys on the plane:

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So by the time we finished drinking all the beer (Medalla seems to be the local beer of choice) and headed out, I hate to admit I was already a bit worse for ware. We went to a few spots but wound up in ‘la plazita’ which I can only describe as a more south American grove but minus the 18 year olds, tons of people flooding the streets and live music coming out of every lotto ticket/liquor store which are apparently the only 2 things of any importance to anyone around here once the sun goes down. My cousins wouldn’t let me take pictures because they said “you get to leave, we know these people and they’ll make fun of us for bringing tourists around” but I did manage to snap this shot while no on was looking.

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As you can see, very grove-like. Well I’ve got a raging headache and am severely hung over but everybody is heading my way to pick me up so we can get the boat in the water, I’ll be back with more later.

Cojelo con take it easy,

Rob

2010, set… go!

Posted in R&R in PR on February 12, 2010 by robdc

Well, it’s a new year and time for some new trips, and to start off the year I’m headed to Puerto Rico to visit some family. As is my routine I’ll use this post to keep a list of things I don’t want to forget, luckily since this is a short commute compared to some past trips the list shouldn’t be long.

shorts

sunscreen

season2 of lost on my laptop

book or 2

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