This is a amazing interview with Illustrator and co-owner of Soda Pop Comics here in Puerto Rico. Here they discuss the exodus of many brilliant and creative young professionals before and after hurricane Maria, a must read.
Private groups and individuals are flying out to Puerto Rico as I speak to help with the relief effort’s, there are some truly amazing people out there. I’ve been told there are 10,000 troops here already.
As of today we have yet to see any groups handing out water, food or supplies. That doesn’t mean it hasn’t been done it just means where we live, those items aren’t available to us or they are in a location not broadcasted.
We’ve gone out twice to FEMA locations that were reported on the radio and when we arrived there was no one. We still have to search for very long hours and stand in very long lines to purchase water IF it is available.
As I’ve said before we are one of the lucky ones in that we live close to the metro area and all the roads are cleared. So imagine how the remote areas are faring, it must be incredibly frustrating and feel hopeless.
If there’s one thing I would ask of those on the mainland, is to contact your Congressman, contact whomever you think would be able to help, tell them that we need more people here…we need many, many more people here helping.
Workers here are overextended, hospital staff/police/military are exhausted and overworked. We need people to replenish these workers so that they aren’t overextended.
Supplies are not getting to Puerto Rico residents as desperately needed, we need more truck drivers, we need more helicopters, we need more pilots, we just need more.
I think it was around 3pm when things settled down in earnest after 9 long hours. Power had gone out the night before at 11pm. We never experienced the calm that an eye provides so we surmised we must have been on the edge of it. Although by all previous accounts we were in direct line with the path. By 4:30 everyone, including ourselves, had swept and mopped the few inches of water from our apartments outside.
A quick survey of the complex revealed most of the palm trees were uprooted, beheaded or snapped in half but most of the cars unscathed. A walk around the perimeter confirmed no one was seriously injured or needed assistance. Other than a half dozen units with blown out entrances (due to vacancy) damage was minimal. We were/are lucky.
Our next course of action was checking in on family members in Arecibo. Driving out of the complex, we were in for a sobering look at the devastation Maria had left. Scraggly barren trees set against a blank grey sky, Puerto Rico’s lush world of color was now in muted tones of destruction. With every block we got quieter, the only thought going through our minds was how would PR ever recover from this? We are sure the east coast thru San Juan received the brunt of Maria, how on earth are they doing? Who is going to help them? When?
In less than a mile we came upon our first impasse, a light pole across the road, we make a u-turn. Not two blocks from there, low hanging intertwined cables and unpredictable flooding blocks our path. Time to turn back, the return somehow seemed even more dismal.
We made rounds again with the neighbors, some we knew, some we had never met before. An elderly man was trying (and succeeding according to bystanders) to catch and kill the remaining pigeons with his bare hands. Not two hours ago we were anxiously listening to the doors rattle so hard you’d think they’d blow off their hinges and now this. Were also told by neighbors Marshall law is in effect, no traveling between 6pm-6am.
Did I mention there hasn’t been any sleeping? Either you are soaked in sweat or the generators are roaring at deafening decibels or your mind is whirring. Usually it’s a combo. You can’t eat because you’re too anxious, tired or hot.
Thursday morning I felt overwhelmingly bereft for a brief time. Looking out the window you can’t help but feel like a tiny desolate forgotten planet not knowing what’s happening. That quickly dissipated after our next ride out.
We grabbed some food and jumped into the car first thing the next morning. This time we made it to Arecibo but all roads leading to our families neighborhood were even more impassable than any we have seen. We had to turn back again. Like the day before, people were out in their rain gear attempting to chip away at the madness around them, not a dour face in sight. In fact, people were laughing, helping their neighbors, chasing their siblings around on the front lawn and generally getting the world moving again.
We learned from emergency broadcasts that Maria MIGHT have zig zagged through PR and exited around Aguadilla but no one really knows. I’m writing this Thursday night, still no contact with any family, worried about how worried they are. A man from Bayamon came on this evening saying there is cell service at Plaza Rio Hondo in Bayamon, we are headed out there at first light to make calls to family. If you are reading this, we have succeeded. We also learned that Carolina mall is gone, Plaza las Americas is flooded and worst of all, Levittown is completely under water, rescues were underway last we heard.
According to reports, there are also ships waiting out the remnants of the storm to arrive with food, water and generators for the entire island. Hopefully they are well on their way by now if not here. Planes with various aids should be arriving before them.
In addition, the Governor has stated “all bets are off” in regards to the promesa board. We’ll see. This is going to be one of the most pivotal moments in Puerto Rico history, it promises to be interesting either way. We’ll see once and for all what can truly be accomplished, no more band aids or short term remedies will suffice.
Whilst doing some research one night I stumbled upon this amazing flickr account run by Tom Lehman. Amazing because Mr. Lehman collected thousands of vintage slides, cleaned, scanned, edited, identified and attributed each one to their individual photographer. And after that monumental task was completed, he was kind enough to upload them for everyone to see, enjoy and use free of charge. (As long as it’s not for monetary gain)
Most of the photos are of Puerto Rico but there are some other countries among the collection as well. He also has a blog which explains why and how these photographs came to light.
Another useful site is “Archivo Historico y Fotografico de Puerto Rico” which has many fascinating photographs and ephemera as well. Stop by and check them out, as you can see from the examples here, they are really quite remarkable.
The photos I picked to showcase here are just a small sampling and most have been edited to some degree. I hope you will stop by Tom’s site to view the rest and perhaps give him a hand with the identification process.
If you love art as much as I do, this event is a must see. As far as I know it’s the first of its kind on the island. Hopefully this will be a reoccurring event for many years to come. Click on the banner for more information.
From their website: MECA, short for MErcado CAribeño (Spanish for “Caribbean Market”), will take place in Santurce, from June 1st-4th of 2017 at the Conservatorio de Música de Puerto Rico. Founded and directed by Tony Rodríguez and Daniel Báez, MECA will be the meeting point and international platform for the Caribbean art market, made up of a brilliant assembly of young artists and galleries. The main objective is to stimulate art collection. Puerto Rico has a growing art market—with a prosperous artists’ community—that is making a solid statement in the international art circuit.
Good coffee is literally everywhere on the island. That little panadería around the corner, the hole-in-the-wall colmado or in your local placita.
But if you really want to learn more or taste some of the very best coffee on the island, I suggest a tour of one the many coffee farms. We’ve been to a few and have always enjoyed the experience.
Any day trip in PR is an adventure so planning ahead is imperative. Some of the farms I contacted for this post told me many visitors call the day of or before to make a visit. That just isn’t possible in many cases. Some of these farms are run by families who cannot have regularly scheduled visits due to their small size. They are more than happy to show visitors around when they aren’t busy maintaining/running their business though.
The following offer Coffee Tours and/or lodging on working plantations. All of the businesses on this page offer 100% pure Puerto Rico grown coffee. Please see corresponding notes for each.
Sandra Farms | Adjuntas | Offers tours by appointment and sells coffee, chocolate and cigars. Call 787 409 8083 for reservations. Tours are any day of the week at 11am and 2pm, lasting approximately 2 hrs. Coffee & chocolate tasting at the end of the tour. $15 per person, children are free. Inquire for Senior Citizens discount. You can also email them to reserve a visit. A pdf map is available at request for clear directions.
Hacienda Tres Ángeles | Adjuntas | Tours & Coffee Shop, visit their website or call 787 360 0019 for reservations. Tours are on Saturdays at 10 am, last 2 and a half hours and cost $15 for adults and $5 for children under 12. Adults enjoy a cup of hot coffee while children are served hot chocolate, both also enjoy a baked good.
Café de Puta Madre | Adjuntas | Offering free tours. This is small family operation, please call in advance at 787 436 2026 for reservations or message them on Facebook.
Hacienda Palma Escrita Call Maria @ 787 210 8252 for reservations. $7 per person. Tour takes approximately an hour.
Hacienda San Pedro | Jayuya | Tours, Coffee Museum, Restaurant and Gift shop. Tours are available on Sat & Sun 12:30, 2pm and 4pm. $10 per person, children under 5 are free. Tours last approximately 45 minutes. If your group is 12 persons or larger, please call ahead at 787 828 2083.
Hacienda Tres Picachos | Jayuya | Tours & Museum. Call 787 828 2121 for reservations, by appointment only. Tours are usually given on Saturday, Sunday and Monday and last 1 hour 15 min. $10 per person, children under 12 are $7. On weekends they are open for breakfast at 9am if you would like to dine before your tour.
Café Nativo | Jayuya | Call 787 315 7881 for reservations. Open Saturdays 8:30-1:30, $10 per person and lasts approximately an hour and twenty minutes.
Hacienda Gripiñas | Jayuya | Hotel & Restaurant on working plantation, tours were not offered at the time of this post, visit their website for details. 787 828 1717
Gran Batey | Utuado | Call 787 636 5442 for reservations.
Hacienda Buena Vista | Ponce | Restored Historical Site that is part of the Conservation Trust of Puerto Rico, call 787 722 5882 for reservations. Tours are $13.38 per person, Wed-Sundays, English speaking tours are at 12pm. Tours last an hour and a half.
Hacienda Pomarrosa | Ponce | Lodging, Tour and tastings offered, call 787 844 3541 for reservations. Tue-Sat 11am daily, $20 pp. To skip a call, email the day you would like to visit, number of persons and where you are driving from for clear directions. GPS is not accurate according to the company. Tour lasts two hours.
Café Lucero | Ponce | Tours available by appointment, call 787 848 8387 for reservations. 6 person minimum, $18.95 per person, $15.95 for children 10 and under, tour lasts 2 hours. Leaves between 10-10:30am on a day determined by reservation. At the end of the tour, patrons enjoy a cup of coffee, a bottle of water and a muffin or cookie.
Hacienda Muñoz | San Lorenzo | Tour, Restaurant and Coffee Bar, call 787 736 8427 for directions if needed, no reservations necessary. Wed-Sun 10am and 2pm $15 per person, $10 for Adults 62+ up. Tour lasts approximately an hour.
Café Lareño | Lares | Tours and coffee shop, call 787 897 7762 for reservations. Tours are on the following days and last approximately an hour: Tue-Thur 10am & 1pm. Sat & Sun 11am, 12:30, 2pm, & 4pm. $8 per person, children under 5 are free, children 6+ up are $6.
Hacienda Mis Abuelos | Mayaguez | Tours are free and available Mon-Friday, call 787 265 2521 to confirm your group.
Café el Mañanero | Maricao | Offers tours, message them on Facebook for details. Pricing depends on group size but usually around $10 pp. Tour lasts approximately 2.5 hours and are usually on Sat/Sun. If you prefer to call, their number is 787 312 7045.
Hacienda El Jibarito | San Sebastian | Historic Plantation operating solely as a Parador . Call 787 244 3399 for reservations at their inn.
Some of the best Cafés on the island. If you have one you’d like to share, please let me know in the comments.
Cuatros Sombras | Viejo San Juan
Hacienda Isabel | Viejo San Juan
Café Finca Cialitos | Viejo San Juan
Café Poético | Viejo San Juan
Don Ruiz Cafe & Museum | Viejo San Juan
Puerto Rico’s Café Cola’o | Viejo San Juan
Café Cibales | San Juan
Gustos Coffee Company | San Juan x2
Caficultura | San Juan
Hacienda San Pedro | Santurce & Hato Rey
Café con Cé | Santurce
Museo del Café Cafe & Museum | Ciales
Café Nativo | Jayuya
El Loveshack | Mayaguez
Friends Cafe | Mayaguez
Coffee Festivals | Festival del Café
Fiesta Del Café | Jayuya, PR | February
Fiesta del Acabe del Cafe | Maricao, PR | February
Festival Nacional Del Café | Yauco, PR | March
Coffee & Chocolate Expo | Centro de Convenciones de Puerto Rico San Juan, PR | September 23/24, 2017
We’ve had our noses to the grindstone for a quite awhile and decided on a recent holiday weekend we simply had to break the cycle. We headed along the northern coast through Vega Baja, Manati, and Barceloneta, finally ending up in Arecibo.
Near La Boca in Barceloneta we could already see major changes either completed or under way. The public space, El Malecon had been completely re-imagined with a busy new adjacent restaurant, El Bohio del Gran Pescador. Like all new restaurants in Puerto Rico, the line was at least 50 people deep. Further down, another well known restaurant was reaping the rewards of the area’s revitalization. What once was a near ghost town was now flush with hoards of patrons.
We had only driven a third of the distance to the “Birth of the New World Statue” and things were already drastically different. As we meandered in what was now stop and go traffic you could see modern road-side stands, re-opened businesses, the promise of pasteles off a side street, coco frio on every corner and 100’s of families enjoying the playa. It had only been three months since we were last here, with so much progress in such a short time, it was astounding.
About a 1/2 mile before Cueva del Indio we spotted a new restaurant on the left, Camaleón Bar & Grill, busy but not insanely so. Directly across the street is the “Gasolina Beach Club“, a large lot with shade trees, a large clearing for helicopter tours* (we took the helicopter tour and had a blast) and a restaurant in the back. They frequently have concerts and various entertainment events as well. The restaurant is two storied with a wide veranda over-looking the playa. The views are gorgeous, it’s the perfect place to grab a plate of fried guilty pleasures and an ice cold beer.
I should mention at this point most of this progress is funded by Pan American Grain, for better or worse, depending of what side of the issue you are on. If you didn’t know, Pan American Grain’s products are ubiquitous throughout the island. Brands such as Rico rice, Gasolina and Mami cafe. They are the financial backer of “Terra Vista Parkland” and all that encompasses, including the previously mentioned restaurant, beach club and tours. “Terra Vista Parkland” will be a developed park surrounding the Columbus statue. To view the park’s future plans check out their video.
While in the area, we noticed Cueva del Indio’s original paid parking lot was corded off (temporarily?) and a much larger adjacent lot was available. We aren’t entirely sure Pan American had anything to do with it, but it had their stamp on it with similar decor and landscaping.
I’m not sure how I feel about the project itself. On one hand it’s an obvious financial benefit to locals in the surrounding area. I can see traffic becoming a nightmare but there are also plans to widen the road. Widen it how is yet to be seen, PR’s back roads don’t leave much wiggle room. There are groups protesting the development and a petition going around. From what I have read they are keeping the environment in mind, but will they truly? It’s not like corporations haven’t broken promises in the past. If you have any further info on the subject or just want to share your perspective, let me know in the comments, I would love to hear from you.
*Helicopter tours are $35pp but you need 3 people for that price. If you are a couple or going solo you have the option of waiting for additional people to show up (who will also agree to ride with you) or you can pay for the empty seat(s). We opted to pay for the third empty seat. Bonus short video of our flight.