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PlacesPuerto Rico

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).

Photo EssaysPhotographyPuerto Rico

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

graffiti, fujifilm, black and white, photography

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. 🙂

 

PlacesPuerto Rico

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.

PlacesPuerto Rico

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.

Puerto RicoThoughtsTravel

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.

CaliforniaPlacesTravelUSA

Surfing California’s Coastal Pacific

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Hola, Bienvenidos a X Here X There y a Californie! My American patriots, excuse me, I have Spanish and French on the mind 🙂 I am learning these so I do not sound like an idiot when I go to Spain and France. I will probably still sound like an idiot, but less so than if I knew nothing 🙂

If I could sum up California in one photo, it would be this one. I know this leaves my others to risk of secondary placement if I want to tell a story of place, but’s that’s fine. This is it. The quintessential California shot of the surfer on the path to the beach, the path cracked and dry like so much of the landscape in the summer. This was early in the evening on the PCH, and on the way to San Francisco. It was magical as the sun had peeked out through the cloud cover that was there for most of the day to shine on that very path, and that very surfer. Beautiful, no?

CaliforniaTravel

Foggy Days on the PCH

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There is something very romantic about fog, perhaps it’s the mystery, the unknown. Too much of it though can wear easily. The entire time driving up the PCH from LA to SF, it was covered in fog.

This photo is from the “Big Sur” section of the PCH and specifically in the Julia Pfiffer State Park. Boy, was it beautiful!! We had slept in the car the night before because there was no cheap place to stay on the way. It was actually really awesome, we stopped at this small resort hotel that was wayy too expensive for us, but they had this little trinket market shop next to it where we purchased some water, beer, and ramen. They had a microwave where they let us cook everything. Once we had our very healthy dinner, we pick-nicked in the car in the hotel parking lot, raised a bottle to a fabulous road-trip so far, and curled up in our sleeping bags. Early the next morning found us driving through this place, where we stopped and checked out one of the most famous views on the PCH. It was stunning and it was just us.

 

CaliforniaPlacesUSA

Observing the Observatory

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Observing the Observatory. This is the edge of one of the corners of the Griffith Observatory in L.A. You can see the entire skyline from here, it is quite a staggering view. I had actually posted the view from there here. The Observatory itself is a cool subject. It holds an amazing telescope that you can walk up and see, for free!

I love this angle of the Observatory because it seems like the world drops off at the edge when in reality it’s only 50ft down to the hill. Just another example of how photography doesn’t show us all the reality, just a hint of it, just a moment, just a crop of life. 🙂

CaliforniaUSA

Cat Napping Overnight in Yosemite

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Yosemite – a place of giants 🙂 I had to get myself back to Vegas from San Francisco all in less than 24 hours and it was about a 11 drive with no stops. Crazy right?! The things you resort to after about 8 hours to entertain yourself, I’m glad I was alone. The scenery helped. I chose to take the route through Yosemite and down the desert of Nevada. It was brilliantly beautiful and f***ing hot! The max was 115 degrees and I’m very glad the car held through. Because NO ONE was out there.

I started driving back from SF later in the afternoon and didn’t make it into Yosemite until after dark. I saw nothing because it’s Yosemite and completely dark, there was no moonlight either, it was a new moon. So I was getting tired and had already pulled over at a small motel to take a nap. It was about 2/3 in the morning. I was driving up and up and up and then saw a pulloff, which I took full advantage of and settled in to sleep. Not the most comfortable night, but when the light in the morning woke me up, I was astounded. I had unknowingly parked next to one of the most beautiful views I had ever seen, with the most beautiful sunrise coming along. I was surrounded by mountains, tall pines, and a view of the downhill that was spectacular. It was such a precious moment.

So I started driving again and just couldn’t close my mouth, I think “wow” came out at a rate of 100 times per minute. I couldn’t stop too long or I would miss my flight waiting for me in Vegas, but I made a few and snapped this photo. It was so peaceful. I only ran into one couple who had stopped in the same spot as me. This was also 5/6 in the morning and the tourists hadn’t started packing in yet.