Thursday, December 31, 2015

Out With the Old!

So long, 2015! You brought turmoils and triumphs and gave a fine example of a wild roller coaster ride. I know I'm not alone in happily ushering you out the door; your replacement is moving in. Tonight!

You flashed bright lights on the worst of people and the best of people, and sometimes it seemed the worst side was winning. Lessons were hard fought to get to the truer view, that we can only do what we can do, but we sure as hell better do it. When the love of freedom and a respect for life combine, it's pretty powerful goo. 

Being a small fish in a big pond is better than not being a fish at all!
You gave me the realization that it's okay to be afraid and just keep on going anyway; it seems the worst that can happen is a crash and the dark, but really? The worst that can happen is playing it so safe nothing happens at all. 

I learned I really don't want to meet a bear in the woods. But if I do, I'll be ready as possible. 

Just meeting a running load of bull is plenty awakening
In the wake of your days, I re-learned (and will again and again) too many times about grieving and saying final farewells, whether I was there to say them or just had to accept that last farewell, even if it was years in the past, really was the last one. That's the lesson that sometimes motivates me the most, living out loud to celebrate those who aren't still on the journey with me. That laughing and crying are the same coin that never stops flipping.

I found out (for sure this time, I mean it!) that plans are just a way to get to goals and that holding tight to plans means you might never get to the goal. I learned to let go to go forward. With sweaty hands clenched with fingers so tight that uncurling them took conscious effort. But wow, did it feel GREAT! 

It's a great big beautiful world out there;
I've just begun scratching the maps
Here's the zen of it, every step taken forward already is the goal reached in getting to the Goal. Got that? Of course you do.

I learned I really am not a mountain Mama. Give me a flat coastal road any day, even while the thrill that scared the hell out of me majesty of those mountains and cold waters meeting is a drama I'm looking forward to exploring more.

2016 isn't a date on the calendar, it is a mindset, already happening, a re-falling in love with life and loved ones that has me grinning and excited. It is in the faces of the crazy crop o' babies born this year, with more on the way. I look back at old photos of old year endings and see children who are now almost adults and others well on the way there. It goes fast, doesn't it, gentle reader? 

Hold tightly loosely, buckled in and waving free, to yourself and to each of your loved ones. The ride will be taking off. Now.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Happy Boxing Day!

Around here, while Christmas Day is over, we're still in holiday mode until at least January 7th, the day after Three King's Day. When I first got to Culebra, Christmas wasn't really that big a deal, which was pretty nice in a lot of ways. Not that commercialism runs rampant here, it didn't then and it doesn't now. But I liked living where a holiday was really celebrated for what it is supposed to be about, whether I believe in it or not. 

Of course, there are those three camels that are left hay in shoeboxes under the beds of girls and boys for gifts (a special present for the good ones, something akin to dirt for the naughty) to be left in exchange...

And, don't forget what today is. Happy Boxing Day!! 

Christmas yesterday was a round of seeing friends throughout the day. First to the beach where we were late arrivals but the food was still plentiful, and we got there in time for some strumming and singing.

A rainbow greeted us, after a fast rain swept in on big winds
That obviously didn't last long.
I took this photo twice, wondering what kind of bird kept sweeping through, but it was a football. 

A joyful noise

Because what's more classic than palm trees gathered over an open beach?
We stopped for a respite where I got to share in some coquito, which is liking having Christmas on your tongue (one of our hardware stores sold homemade coquito this year, in a number of flavors...try getting that at Home Depot) and then moved on to the next party.

It's always good to have a brief catch up with people
you usually only see in passing.

The last stop was to see some old friends who had all the family together from points north. With all their babies. Imagine you have three children. Then imagine they all have children in the same year. It was a beautiful baby city, with cuteness everywhere.

Once I got home, I remembered a house along the bay I wanted to take a photo of, its lights cheering the nights. First I had the settings wrong, but it was such a great error I'll let you see it anyway.
Martini and drinks glasses, with straws included. 

This is what I was really trying for. It looks better from across the bay though.
I missed the rising moon, but she was shining bright, with only a few drifting clouds to keep it interesting. I also missed the parade, being at the other end of the island and enjoying the moments while time slipped away. Even for Culebra, it was too late to catch it  Next year!

Oh Christmas Moon, Oh Christmas Moon

Have a solicitous Saturday. Do something serving your servers.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Culebra Gifts ~ Happy Christmas!

This won't fit in a stocking, but here is some Culebra Christmas Eve. Thank you, readers, for all you give to me all year long!

Maybe next year I'll focus first. Maybe not!
Feliz Navidad!
The mangoes were hung by the street with care 

Our Howard elf delivered the last of the gifties

Juan Juan and his daughter getting ready for friends and family

Chuck being his practical funny self
"It keeps the wind from messing up my hair."

The moon gave a fine show

Chuck and Jorge
I didn't know they were born in the same hospital!
(but not on the same day or year)

Jorge explains a great piece of Culebra art

This couple came in bearing gifts, cool LED keychains.
I'm not quite sure how this got so blurry,
but I love this guy so he's staying!

A Culebra Christmas always includes the horses

Brave little man

Tonight she'll be full but she was very, very close last night
Have a frolicking Christmas Friday! Do something forward.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Street Life ~ Culebra

Unless you live someplace with a seriously strong sense of home land, it's almost impossible to convey the current that runs through Culebra. It isn't always 'all for one and one for all' but when push comes to shove (as it has before -i.e. getting the Navy out - and no doubt will again), the bond that ties Culebrense to this island (and transfers, on another level, to those who have made this place home) are strong as steel cables and just as interwoven, with history and personal stories. A walkabout shows this better than my words can ever do.

The new alcadia

These stencils are all over the island

I don't know who planted this garden at the old school

But it is thriving!

Painted on the side of the Ecological School

In order to never forget what happened here
(and, in the form of leftover unexploded ordnance, is still happening)
Making music on the street
Blowing kisses

'Are you with me? C'mon!'
A yearly pleasure all lit up
Just because
Every winter we grow a new crop of sailboats in the bay
One night before Christmas, one night before the full moon. May your literal and metaphysical stockings be hung by the palm tree with care, to bring you joy in the morning, whether you are celebrating the birth of Jesus or celebrating because you have another day to wake up to, filled with wonder, amazement and miracles.

Have a take it to the roof tops Thursday! Do something transformational.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Closing In On Christmas Around Here!

I think I heard Julian's parranda music about 4 times on and off in the wee hours as he drove the barrios, without recognizing a single song. But coming out of dreamland and drifting back to it to music had me smiling.

Great tree from the tire guy!
I was looking at the bay in the late afternoon when this flock of birds went by. My camera was inside so it was just going to be one of those moments to record in my memories. But then they came back again. Maybe it would happen again, time to run for the camera? Yes and yes. 

The sun was in just the right place to have the white and blacks of their wings look like flashing lights, sharply outlined. Another Culebra gift. 

Enjoy the season! 

Have a wandering Wednesday. Do something waggish.

Monday, December 21, 2015

What is That in the Bay?

Yes, I know it's the season of holidays and all should be shiny and bright, but here's a Culebra time out moment for wondering exactly what we're doing. I wasn't planning on this but I'm happy to take that baton and run with it. 

Since MaryAnn said what so many living on Culebra feel, with her well known combination of harsh truth and humor, I'm going to give her the post lectern today. Along with the comments. Facebook is a public forum, accessible by and to anyone, so I'm not outing anyone here (but if you hear some cheers when you read the comments of a few...that's me).

Before reading this, though, here is a snippet from an article by a travel writer for the Miami Herald. The title of the article is Five Islands Where Cruise Ships Won't Cramp Your Style. It was written in November of 2014. Leaders of Culebra, you want tourist dollars? Tourists travelers don't WANT cruise ships! They can be had anywhere. They want Culebra to be Culebra. Really! Just so you know. Stop this before it's too late. We're a few steps over the line, but it's not too late to get back to where we should be.

Satellites lolling off the east coast of Puerto Rico, Culebra and Vieques have yet to taste mass tourism. That’s largely because the U.S. Navy owned much of the two islands during the region’s big tourism buildup, using them for troop training and bombing practice. The Navy left Culebra in 1975, and in 2003 Camp Garcia on Vieques became conservation land administered by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Trust.
Today, the islands are gradually awakening to a tourism-focused future. But cruise ships have ignored them, leaving undeveloped beaches for you and me to explore.
Sleepy Culebra, the smaller of the two, can be explored in a leisurely couple of days. Fine snorkeling reefs shelter the island’s beaches, several of which are reached on unmarked trails. Flamenco, a mile-long semi-circle of pillow-soft sand, regularly appears on lists of the Caribbean’s greatest beaches — just one small hotel and a campground overlook Flamenco. An uninhabited offshore island, Culebrita, has other coves — a great day trip.

And now, on with the show.
This morning we could hear the sound of THE SEA MONSTAR anchored in the bay- all the way in barrio Las Delicious. All this, for more or less one hundred well fed passengers, on an all inclusive voyage?
Without public hearings or a legitimate planning process governing these major changes to our island, we can only speculate as to what agencies were thinking when they permitted this?
This is what we speculate:
“Let’s let them anchor in the bay! The bay is already so damaged from the years of mud flowing in it anyway. By the way, - who’s supposed to control that?, we are? oh whatever…the bay flushes itself with the tides and corals are just dying everywhere so who cares? What’s the deal with those negative conservationists? They are so NEGATIVE! Who cares about saving the Bay? We should be PAVING the Bay - town needs more parking! HUMMER JEEP RENTALS…This is progress! Listen to those conservationists and their baby manatees born at canal Bruli….blah blah blah, sea turtles in the bay….,blah blah blah, and then they say the nature tourists that want to see them, stay in the guest houses, put money into local restaurants, water taxis and even invest in local social programs. They say these tourists are already educated about the nature they come to see- so they don’t destroy it. They say those tourists visit Culebra for the local culture and don't want to see it spoiled by huge commercial vessels. Blah Blah Blah.... It’s all more nature ….blah blah blah….We can get that by just pretending…hell look at the signs all over town from BADCAFFEINEDRINK saying “Preserve Flamenco Beach” What else do we really need to do? Those conservation a-holes just want to stop “progress” on Culebra! We are "SELLabrating" our resources. 
AND….what about what they say about the bombs? Everybody knows the bombs on the NOAA charts are just a scam so that Army Corps contractors can spend millions in federal funds pretending to clean them up! The conservation a holes even accuse Army Corps of this! 
What have the local fishermen and conservationists ever done for Culebra anyway? Well…. except that Marine Protected Area, oh yeah and those coral farms…and oh yeah years ago, the local fishermen helped to organize the end of US NAVY and NATO abuse of these islands as military target practice…but really, besides that? 
At least finally we can all rejoice at seeing the floating condo-hotel of progress grinding its engines and belching diesel in the bay! A natural resource isn't a “resource” unless you exploit it!” That’s human nature and we are the humans! We are the POSITIVE humans…"Welcome Tourist!" The Negative humans want to protect coastal water quality blah blah blah……never good enough for them! More=More and When in the Caribbean hasnt more been better....well besides what happened to most of the smaller Caribbean islands from this....besides that." 
NEXT WEEK’s prediction: 
“ Wait…What did you say? The high-demand tourists from the cruise are complaining about local service times? They’re not tipping? They are not happy on this little nature island? They did not like their “G-FORCE” taxi ride to the beach, even though technically they were younger when they arrived given the physical ramifications of exceeding light speed as you launch into the air on the hill on the way to Flamenco… What? …
They are dissing Culebra on Trip Advisor?” they are calling it
“Another Paradise Spoiled” 
Damn, who could have seen that coming?” 
Louis Padron Fu@k this boat!
LikeReply414 hrs
Louis Padron We do deserve a public hearing! !!!!!
LikeReply314 hrs
Rob Kingsley Sink it! More artificial reef for coral to cling to !!! Just kidding...
LikeReply614 hrs
Jake Brown F the cruise ships!! Culebra is not for them...
LikeReply614 hrs
Charlie Pena I've suggest have a public hearing, and let them how destructive this big liners are. From my observation all they want to do is use the beaches in Culebra without spending any money. Have the alcalde talk to them and make them understand.
LikeReply313 hrs
Ann Hamrick We don't want that thing here. It doesn't help our economy much. Let it drive by on its way to St Thomas.
LikeReply613 hrs
Judith E. Clark Contact the cruise line and suggest off shore stop not in the bay and organize some local activities where the locals can benefit?
LikeReply213 hrs
Judith E. Clark Just an idea to get some money flowing. How often does it come in? Maybe some music in the plaza where local people can set up their wares? Just saying
LikeReply313 hrs
Coralations Culebra We can put on a show!
LikeReply110 hrs
MJ  Stark
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Ile Rivera Rigau Culebra has become the island of no laws. No one cares, no one who can act on them does nothing, and local citizens look to the other side and continue on. Wake up people!!
LikeReply412 hrs
Wanda Soto Frustration !
LikeReply112 hrs
Charlie Pena The islands are going to have more problem, look at New York, Baltimore, Virginia beach, Miami, California, the water ways are green, u can't see anything below 6 inches and getting worse. You can do something about, tell that governor to start collecting fees for the y
LikeReply28 hrsEdited
Coralations Culebra fees wont protect the water quality Charlie- it only acts as incentive
LikeReply10 hrs
MJ  Stark
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Hector Colón Culebra belongs to the people of Puerto Rico, not to culebreños less to resident Americans. Or not?
LikeReply9 hrsEdited
Digna Feliciano Digalo en espanol porque no entendi.
Say it in English because I don't get it.Automatically Translated
UnlikeReply411 hrs
Charlie Pena Culebra belongs to the culebrenses not the crooked government of puerto Rico, like my great grandfather, grandfather and other who fought to keep the island from becoming a trash dump.
LikeReply29 hrs
Hector Colón Culebra is a Segment of The Puerto Rican Territory. The beaches, for example, belon TO Puerto Ricans, not to Culebrans.
LikeReply9 hrsEdited
Digna Feliciano Hector Colon, I think you have all wrong, that is not the issue. But nevertheless we as Culebrenses have to take care of our back yard because you and other puertorricans from the main island are not going to do it for us. And by the way, when most of the people come camping to their beaches, because you say the beaches belong to all puertorricans, they trash the place and we Culebrenses have to clean after them.
UnlikeReply99 hrs
Charlie Pena hector colon, like the rest of Puerto Rico, u can't even take care the beaches in the main island. did u volunteer to help when the navy was destroying Culebra and vieques. Like a lot Puerto Rican u have no regards for the hard working culebrenses, so butt out and stay with the rest of miscreants. By the way according to your statement, next time I come down to the island, I will need your house to stay.
LikeReply18 hrsEdited
Kristen Camaret Hector, you are correct that in land ownership terms, Culebra is a property of the commonwealth of Puerto Rico. But what you seem to be missing is that the CULEBRENSE are the people taking ownership over their natural resources (and this includes resident Americans, btw...who call Culebra home and fight for her more than any main island Puerto Rican). Puerto Rico has mis-managed their resources. The main island is trashed. The government has allowed development to destroy the island (the now dead bio bay in Las Croabas is just one example). Puerto Ricans come from the big island and I've watched them throw their trash in the pristine waters as they wait for the ferry home. They feel no sense of 'home' on Culebra. They are the tourists there! They trash it and leave. Or they see opportunity to exploit. Puerto Ricans buy land in Culebra and block beach access for locals or attempt to create huge developments; condos, hotels, marinas. The CULEBRENSE are the people fighting every day for decades to protect their home. Culebra wouldn't be what it is today without them ....and Coralations.
LikeReply15 hrs
MJ  Stark
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Coralations Culebra Miran Hector - Los recursos naturales nosotros defendamos es recurso compartir por el todo mundo---- madre tierra- los manatis, corales y las yerbqs marinas no tengo banderas - no comprendo los limitas myopica de humanidad- Danandos ambiental impacto todos en la planteta punto!
Look Hector - the natural resources we defend it's appeal to share for the whole world ---- Mother Earth-the manatis, corals and marine yerbqs I don't have flags - I don't understand the limit of humanity-myopica danandos environmental impact all at the coconut point!Automatically Translated
LikeReply410 hrs
Coralations Culebra Silencio--- gracia a Dios- el Monstro se fue---
Silence --- Grace to God-the monster is gone ---Automatically Translated
LikeReply210 hrs
Nan Flolid I agree Jake.
LikeReply110 hrs
Maria R Procaccino Disgusting.... $$$hungry..
LikeReply10 hrs
Melanie Vanderveen Where's that ship from, any way?
LikeReply10 hrs
Paul Franklin Few years back, I sailed to St. Thomas with Wonki. Once there, Wonki said: "Sky's dark. See if you can find a cafe, to check the weather."
I set off. Nearby was a little town of souvenir stores, beauty and liquor stores, set up for the cruise ship passengers, like a grander version of the one set up at the DNR dock here, for local artisans, but with an internet cafe.
I strode through the big wide open gates, sat and ordered café.
"Where you from, now?" asked the 'proprietor', all proud and friendly like, as you'd expect of a proprietor.
"Culebra," I answered, equally proud and friendly.
He mused a little, "Where's that's ?" he asked.
"Huh... Uh, there," I pointed. "Right there!"
He furrowed his brow too. "Never heard of it," he said. "I'm closing now," he added. That made sense, the last of the cruise ship passengers were hauling themselves up the gangplank, onto the big ship, and all the other store's 'owners' were closing up too. I watched them follow the last of the passengers onto the ship.
LikeReply19 hrs
David M Smith NO !!! NO!!! NO!!!!!! Please stop this monster from being part of our world... Debbie  
LikeReply9 hrs
Lillian Giddens Yes
Dammed them
Who do we need to talk to...See More
LikeReply8 hrs
Iris Rivera Oh boy!! What can we really do!! It is election time? I am only new to this game. 😟
LikeReply7 hrs
Kristen Camaret I know you all will not let this happen. Go get them, my friends!
LikeReply5 hrs
Natalie Perez its just toooooo much bul shit to handle from babylon......................................thank god for the culebrenses!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
UnlikeReply24 hrs
MJ  Stark
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