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Photography

A Sunset in Aguadilla

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I can’t tell you where this place is, but I can share the magic of being on the very west tip of the world and watching a sunset. I was born as east-coaster and have lived there all my life (so far) so this was a special moment for me. Could it get any better? Would swimming along the coral and bumping into a curious sea turtle make it better? Yes, yes it would…I can attest 🙂

Click on photo below for more images from the gallery!

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The Gateway to Heaven in San Germán

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El Convento de Santo Domingo de Porta Coeli, or aka the gateway to heaven. It’s one of the oldest churches in the west hemisphere and it is beautiful. The plaza is named after the church and is located in San Germán. It’s a very quiet place though at night, these photos were taken around midnight and nobody was there except for a bunch of sleeping birds!

Puerto RicoTravel

The Lighthouse at Cabo Rojo, Puerto Rico

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Majestic is the word that comes to mind. Quietly, unassumingly, majestic. It just is and does and it’s the most beautiful thing in the world. This is Cabo Rojo, specifically, the area that is home to the lighthouse and cliffs surrounding it. Stay after the sunset and witness a spectacular display of lights in the sky that is like no other I have ever seen. I will give the clouds props for totally clearing out that night though.

I am super behind on posting from trips! Can’t believe it’s already been over 9 months since I got back from this trip and I still haven’t shared nearly all the photos I have to share 🙂

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Guavate – Land of Lechon

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Guavate – otherwise known as Lechonlandia 🙂 because of all the wonderful places to eat lechon aka oink oink. Yep, this place has some of the best pig on the island, plus all sorts of other things, like viandas (root veggies that are way better than potatoes) which can include yucca, yautia, cassava, malanga, green plantains, etc. This is high on the list of choices for my last meal if I had the choice. The scenery doesn’t hurt either, winding roads, climbing elevation, green, sunshine, warmth, etc 🙂

Photography

El Yunque

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El Yunque is a rainforest near to San Juan. It’s not that close, because once you get there, then you have to go a bit further up the reserve, the roads twisting and turning like switchbacks. That’s normal in PR. The roads in the mountains are just built like that. For me, it was like those tea cup rides at state fairs, whipping around corners, not sure if my body was going to stay in the car or not. I loved it.

It was sad when we came because the top of the forest looked like it had been shaved with a giant razor, and it pretty much had. All the lush was gone. It was still there, but the sun came through areas it didn’t used to before. Hiking through the El Toro path in El Yunque was still beautiful though. It took getting directions to get here, definitely not the place to depend on GPS, you have to ask people because we went on the backside of the reserve, not the popular way to go up, but the other way was closed. The mosquitos didn’t bother at all. NOT like New England where they are bloodthirsty and crusading to find any open skin or even skin covered by clothes, they don’t care, they will get through. Here, nothing like that. The mosquitos on the island are friendly. You don’t even notice them. They leave their bite without any pricks or anything. They don’t get in your face much, which is something the New England mosquitos love to do, they love the face for some reason. I could live there, there with the friendly mosquitos. We can sit around the fire at night and have Medallas (a local PR beer).

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The Graffiti of Río Piedras – San Juan, Puerto Rico

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Río Piedras is a neighborhood in San Juan, Puerto Rico known for its graffiti. It’s not popular with tourists because it doesn’t have the reputation as being particularly safe. It is more inland, which means further away from beaches, fancy hotels, and Old San Juan which tourists tend to prefer. Which is why I felt more relaxed here. I really can’t stand tourist areas.

It was raining and quiet on a sunday in June. The streets were empty except for a few people. Shops were closed. Somehow this made the graffiti speak louder, scream actually.

graffiti of aliens, beautiful birds, lizards, exotic creatures

graffiti of beautiful intricate golden bird

empty street in black and white while raining

Fever Ray – Keep the Streets Empty for Me

graffiti that says gringo go home

My personal favorite – Gringo Go Home
more graffiti

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rooster, gaino, photography, rio piedras, puerto rico, san juan

graffiti, photography, fujifilm, puerto rico, san juan

There are a lot of students here. Students all around the world tend to be the ones to spark protest and action. The graffiti stands as a protest without violence, without active police beatings and tear gas. It lasts for a long time. It says we are active and don’t like how things have become. We will not be silent. Plus, we like roosters. 🙂

 

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Old San Juan – Higher Powers

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In the middle of Old San Juan, on Sunday, after arriving at 6am without sleep on an overnight flight, I was still going strong with coffee and more coffee through midday. I wandered by this church, which was completely open and mass was just starting. The church was beautiful, so I just took a few photos by the doorway and didn’t wander inside to respect the mass. I liked this one because of the significance it tells me of the moment. There was something peaceful and special about it. Man and his God.

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Old San Juan – Puerto Rico

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In Old San Juan, the flag of Puerto Rico is everywhere, in all forms. Even painted on a knocked down tree stump. You can’t do anything but admire this country and their communities. I wish the island had never been destroyed the way it was, and I’m not only talking about Maria and previous natural disasters. I’m going way back and then not so far back. I’m talking about the Spanish destroying the Tainos, and then the United States invading and reining with total and unbelievable destruction and abuse. Just google it. Or read The Intercept, or independent newspapers.

Most people in my culture (from the USA/New England) only think of Puerto Rico as a convenient vacation spot, an island paradise where they can go easily and have a caribbean fantasy. Where businesses can get tax breaks. So many people ask me, “Oh, are they US citizens?” or “Oh, PR, where is that?” or “Oh, PR, are they a state?”. This is maddening. They do not even begin to comprehend the history that their own country and culture has with this island. You won’t find this is any mainstream media, but the island’s residents know it and so do independent and alternative non-mainstream-usa news sources. Just to start, the invasion by the US military right when they were going to get independence from Spain, undercutting the economy and chopping their currency making it worthless, abuse by Wall-Street, giving them an illegal debt to pay that isn’t theirs, the horrible Jones Act, the Junta, U.S. Navy bombing and chemical test practice that contaminated the environment, experimenting and forced sterilization of women using government funds, using puerto rican women as guinea pigs for the first birth control pill testing (using government funds), etc, etc, etc…  That’s right, citizens of the United States, we paid for all of that.

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Libertad Para Los Gatos!

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Los gatos en Puerto Rico son preciosos! As someone who comes from a culture where we lock up our animals all day and leash them to allow them outside for a mere few minutes compared to the time they spend indoors, I love the way most cats and dogs are free in Puerto Rico. Not just Puerto Rico, but many many cultures. Yes, there is the debate for public health, but this is really just laziness and the community not wanting to care for these animals. My thoughts. Let’s remember that we are the ones that made the world unsanitary with our whole civilization thing. We are the ones who introduced garbage and disease to nature. We are the problem and the invasion, not the cats. Just sayin 🙂

There is a strong community in San Juan that cares for these animals. This is what they need, not a prison. How would you like to be locked up all day inside when your instincts are telling you to run, hunt, and play with others? No, instead you become depressed on the couch, kinda just like your owner after he/she comes home from work…and how would you like the only time you get to be outside to have a noose around your neck and someone constantly tugging on it? I would certainly not like that.

These cats/los gatos are so friendly! They will come up and say hi, they are curious about you, and are even happier if you respond and engage with them or even feed them (probably what they are looking for). I saw this one playing with an Iguana, who couldn’t be bothered and probably wanted to just take a nap and then climbed up a tree to rid himself/herself of the nuisance. The cat was so free and happy, it was such a stunning sight.

Dogs, the same! Yes, there are some that die, but that’s the circle of life. There are more than die because of our hand in things, in messing with nature, than those that die of natural causes.