Here in Puerto Rico, we are very sentimental. Valentines Day always brings a flurry of activity as folks scramble for their special valentine's flowers and candy. One doesn't have to look far though, as the roadsides are crowded with stands selling flowers, candy and large baskets for your sweetheart. Some of the vendors take to the street, as the fellow in the photograph above, so there is absolutely no excuse for forgetting your valentine's gift!
So much activity and so few blog entries... oh my. These include a great New Year, an opening of Todd's new photography exhibition at Rincon of the Seas, work on a new musical play-list in preparation for our performance in early February, the return of high season here at the Lemontree and... ta ta, moving the rehearsal with Rincon Players into high gear.
Yesterday, the players in our play reading group, Rincon Players, went to the venue for our staged reading of Sylvia on behalf of ARF, the Rincon Animal Rescue Foundation. We began to work out the blocking for the production and to consider some of the challenges of the space for performing the actual production. The performance is scheduled for the 17th of February and so, we have our work cut out for us!
We went up to Isabela yesterday afternoon late. The waves up there were amazing so we took this still and video! Still rolling in STRONG. Puerto Rico has experienced waves this large and powerful only twice in the past ten years...March 2009 and Now. Usually the waves here are much more gentle and behind the Lemontree we often have "lakelike" conditions. Soooo, these waves bring us joy and excitement and the thrill of seeing something that seldom happens. We've still had guests in the water here at the Lemontree and surfing on the northern beaches of Rincon. Living right on the ocean one comes to take each day as it is presented and enjoying the thrill of what nature brings to us.
Today is Christmas Day in Puerto Rico and across this green island families are gathering, meals are being prepared, enjoyed and shared. Marilyn, the assistant manager here at the Lemontree, told us that she would bring by a Christmas meal for us... and wow did she, all the Puerto Rican favorites. Of course the lechon... pasteles, rice and gandules, macaroni salad and potato salad... and to top it off, a delicious postre.
This year our oldest son who teaches at the University in Mayaguez is with us... and so with the help of some coquitos ( a PR Christmas drink we actually created this year) and the movie, Holiday Inn, we watched and heard Bing Crosby sing White Christmas (click and you can too!) while outside the sun shone, the waves gently lapped up on the beach and the palms swayed. How is that for multiculturalism?
In a little while we will go off to a friend's house for and evening Christmas dinner... ah yes...the Christmas spirit is alive and very happy in Rincon, Puerto Rico.
The time has come and all over town Christmas parties have been offered. Friends inviting friends, family gatherings and music especially Parandas... more on these at a later date.
This evening we went to the home of a good friend who participates with us in one of several overlapping groups. She had invited about 25 others who we see during the year... all full time residents. The food was excellent as she is an incredible cook and baker... the conversation and catching up was delightful.
Of course there was some music in the form of an electric keyboard. Bella Janehas been eying these instruments for some time and tonight she had a chance to try one out and to see it demonstrated by a real pro-what fun!
A word about these photos. It is said that the best camera is the one you have with you... and so it was tonight. These three shots were taken with a very old cell phone camera... e-mailed and picked up on an ipod touch and quickly edited and then sent back by e-mail for posting on this blog. All work on mobile devices...whew, do we live in a technological age! The photos created have the presence of a glance and so you have gotten a peek into our Lemontree life tonight.
Christmas or Natividad has crept up on us this year. We had been slowly getting the Lemontree decorated with bows and wreaths but today we caught fire and the Lemontree blazed with light. Here in Puerto Rico we are a bit late as most people set up their decorations over Thanksgiving weekend. Many houses are decorated to the hilt so our yule display is a bit, how shall I put this... minimalist... . The central courtyard is festooned with lights, some with little Frosty the Snowmen..., illuminated candy canes and our festively lit palm. Here we celebrate till Epiphany or as it is known in the Spanish world, Three Kings Day.
Bright rope lights go up the stairs and illuminated wreaths add holiday cheer. Recently in San Juan we saw a kind of shooting star or falling star light which if we can find it might find a place at Lemontree next year.
We also set up our own tree which is positioned in our sun room and so is visible to our guests. Years ago we created a "tree of life" and continuing that tradition, our tree is still decorated with ornaments signifying "life." Collected from many holidays to various places and visits to museums and shops, we have animals of the jungle and farm, glass fruits, vegetables and berries, fish, birds, and sparkle is added with glass icicles. Taking out the ornaments and hanging them, memories of Christmas's past flooded back. Funny how a simple little ornament can spark so much.
Yesterday we received a call from our neighbor. A most unusual bird had landed on her terrace. She wanted us to look out and see what the bird might be. It was at some distance but I knew at once it was a Brown Booby. Very exciting as very rarely do we see one of these. The only other time I remember was five years ago when I was working as a dive instructor on one of my first trips out to Mona Island... I was leading a tour and we had just surfaced when one of these birds landed just a few feet from me. It would duck its head under the water and look around, probably for fish... assuredly not at me. These birds are native to the Caribbean and yet are rarely seen. Here at the Lemontree we regularly see Pelicans, gulls, Frigate birds and Sandpipers by the shore, but not these Boobys.
Today I was surprised to see the bird again, but on our terrace. I grabbed my camera and slowly began to shoot moving carefully closer and closer. I was sure the bird would take off but no, he just stayed calm and kept an eye on me.
The boobys are reputed to be long lived and mate in stable pairs. When I lived in the city I never came into contact with a creature that was not man-impacted in some way. Yet, here by the shore, one has the possibility of all kinds of encounters with the world as it might have been a thousand years ago. The basic rhythms, melodies and the occasional adornos eternal.