Tag Archives: Cats

Puerto Rican Odessey- Cats, Dogs, Horses, and Beaches- Oh My!

A few weeks later I’m finally sharing my Puerto Rican travel journal! Enjoy our adventures attracting animals wherever we go!

El Morro, Old San Juan, Puerto Rico

5/26/12

We flew to San Juan Puerto Rico and took a cab to The Gallery Inn, which may just be the strangest and best hotel I’ve ever been to. It is run by this artist woman and her sculptures, paintings, and parrots decorate the maze like halls and stairwells.

Guard Parrots, courtyard of Gallery Inn, Old San Juan

Sculptures, Nooks, and Crannies, Gallery Inn, Old San Juan

When we found our room up a spiral staircase, we opened the door to the patio and a cat ran inside to greet us. Apparently, we were staying in her room. We nicknamed her Rosalita and started buying her cans of Friskies.

Rosalita going through my suitcase at The Gallery Inn, Old San Juan

We walked around sweating in the afternoon sun and went and got dinner at La Fonda El Jabarito. Very unassuming but the locals eat there and its probably the best Mufungo I ever had.  The next day we visited the forts and got more sun burnt walking around. I bought a National Parks Passport in the gift shop and am now determined to get a stamp from as many National Parks as possible.

5/28/12

We took a puddle jumper plane to Vieques from San Juan, Puerto Rico. There were only 6 people on it including the pilot. It was scary but beautiful flying over Puerto Rico’s lush green hills and turquoise beaches.

Flying to Vieques!

When we got to Vieques’ tiny airport we got a ride from a chatty cabbie named Ruben who was a cook for 15 years but got sick of it, “Too much work.” He talked about how much his Chihuahua liked to eat grilled onions but not a certain kind of Alpo. He said his dog actually peed in his food when he tried to change it, “Little monster.” I seem to bring the animal talk out in everyone so we listened politely as we looked out the window at the wild horses roaming around on the sides of the roads.

Wild horses couldn’t drag me away

We arrived at our hotel, Malecon House, in the small town of Esperanza. Malecon House is very sparse, white, and clean.

Esperanza Malecon, Vieques, PR

We took a swim in their small warm pool then had dinner at Duffy’s. Dogs roamed in and out of the outdoor bars and restaurants sniffing for scraps. Afterwards, we headed to the Green Store (which is one of the two convenience stores in the town) to meet up with our guides for a Bioluminescent Bay tour. We were early so we sat outside and ate ice cream and petted and talked to some of the dogs hanging out nearby. Most have collars, but not tags, I guess people just let their dogs roam around town all day. Finally, Vieques Adventures picked us up in a van for the Biobay tour at 7pm. We crammed into a van with a bunch of people and drove through the bumpy back roads to Mosquito Bay. There we waded through the dark and got into clear canoes. We paddled out to the middle of the bay. As it got darker and we were further from the shore, the stars shone brightly and the water started to glow around our moving paddles and canoe. Every once in a while we saw a streak of light through the water as a fish swam by. Bioluminescence is such a strange and surreal phenomena. We roped up our boats together and talked about the biobay and the constellations above. I felt the peace I can’t seem to find in the city out there on the water. I could’ve drifted out there forever but soon we headed back to shore. Thumping over the bumps along the dirt road back to town I tried to imprint the bay in my memory so I could go back in times of stress.

5/29/12

We tried to walk along the trails of Cayo de Terra a small (but bigger than it seems) strip of land off Esperanza’s Malecon. Lonely Planet’s guidebook described the trails as rambling. Next thing we know we’re off the barely marked trails in the woods and can’t find our way out until we hit a cliff. We sort of find another trail and follow it thinking it’s headed to Sun Bay beach but we hit a lagoon we didn’t even know was there. After an hour and some scrapes and swearing my Floridian girl scout roots kick in and I find the trail back. We head to Sun Bay finally and dive in to the warm blue water. I’m not really relaxing and doing nothing on my “do-nothing vacation.”

5/30/12

After having a family from New Jersey take over breakfast loudly at Malecon House we got a rental Jeep and drove to the Green beach. It was so peaceful, beautiful, and calm. Then some family with a kid came over which kind of bummed us out. We really just wanted some peace alone on a secluded beach but whatever.

Green Beach, Vieques, PR

We went to Isabella Segunda and were floored by how different it seemed from Esperanza.  We got lunch at a good place but it took forever to get the food. Afterwards, we did a two-hour horseback ride on the hills and beaches of town. The hills were so steep it turned out to be super-stressful. Dennis wasn’t sure his old horse was going to make it. Mine kept eating plants and drinking salt water.  After two hours my ass was killing me. Finally, we went back to the stable.

We hauled ass back to Esperanza vowing not to go back to Isabella Segunda while on Vieques.

5/31/12

Our last full day on Vieques we were happy, but sunburned and sore from hiking, riding, and canoeing. We drove forever in the Old US Millitary/now nature reserve until we found Playa La Plata (I think?). It was deserted and beautiful.

Playa la Plata, Vieques, PR

There was even a little wood hut someone had made for shade. We hung around there for a while then drove around looking at the creepy old abandoned military bunkers. It was like a scene from some horror movie, a couple on vacation goes to explore abandoned bunkers and finds some crazy predator like a giant rabid mongoose who hunts them. We had an amazing dinner of shrimp and lobster stuffed mofungo and roasted chicken and grapes at El Quenepo. All the restaurants in Esperanza were pretty good, Duffy’s and Banana’s had reasonably priced burgers and sandwiches and Tradewinds had great food and a great view out over the water.

Me and a 300+ year old tree, Vieques

6/1/12

We headed back to the little airport and ate at the little café outside. You can check in and then go back outside and eat there! Security is pretty lax. We flew back to San Juan and took a cab to Ocean Park to the Numero Uno Guest House.

Ocean Park, San Juan, PR

Ocean Park is the beach most of the locals go to in San Juan and it isn’t as touristy as Condado. We went to the beach for a while then got dinner at La B de Burro which had great burritos and awesome Luchadora artwork everywhere.

6/2/12

We got picked up by this guy Manny from Eco Action Tours to go to El Yunque which is a national park/ rainforest. Manny was a stresswad about all the traffic and kept saying, “Oh no, this is a crisis!” We could tell he spent some years in NYC from his accent so we tried to joke around with him a bit. After picking up some other tourists and driving about an hour we finally got there.

Me and Dennis in El Yunque

We stopped at various points of interest. One was a lookout tower, another an older gentleman’s house and farm within the park. Apparently, he had a Salvia plant that Manny was trying to get all of us to eat and get high.

Manny and Salvia plant, El Yunque, PR

Next we parked and hiked up and down hills to a series of waterfalls and pools you could swim in. It was pretty crowded but if you hiked up above the main pools beyond a barrier you could find pools with no one in them. Dennis and I found one and jumped in then realized it was freezing which felt pretty good on a hot day.

Waterfalls and pools of El Yunque, PR

When we got back to Ocean Park later that afternoon we went back to the beach for a while then had dinner at the local, awesome diner/ bakery Kasalta’s. I drooled over the pastry case as I ate my Cuban sandwich then ordered the best Tres Leches I’ve ever eaten.

6/3/12

After our last beach morning, we headed to the airport and back to NYC relaxed and ready to face it. That lasted about a week for me and now I’m ready to get out of here again! So I finally after 12 years without a car, I looked at and bought one! Perhaps, getting out of the city more even for day trips might make it more bearable. Hopefully, I can afford it….

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Filed under Dogs, Travel, Writing

Love and Loss of Two Great Friends

Yesterday, April 17 2012, we finally had to let go of our 17 year old cat Itty Pity. She took care of me for 13 years–practically my whole adult life. She moved up to NYC from Florida with me back in 2000 and has been the one consistent thing through years of trying to “figure it out” in Brooklyn. I will greatly miss being poked in the face in the middle of the night, meowed at from the top of the refrigerator in the morning, and having to share my popsicle’s with her (she had odd tastes). Though she’s mentioned a lot in Dogs of Brooklyn her poem was edited out. Sometimes its hardest to write well about those closest to us.

Itty

The Ballad of Itty Pity

You found me splayed out on top of the garage waiting

for Debbie-gut punched by first love’s fist. My scorecard

read “World-1, Susie-0.” You sniffed then paw poked me,

claws scraping my sweaty Florida arm waking.

You’d had enough of your 5 cats, 3 dogs, and 2 lovebirds

predicament at the old Tallahassee house on the hill—Precious,

who they thought was a she soon they discovered a he under

all that white fluff fur, now he’s going by Mr. P.

Harley’s biker cat matted mange, Merlin’s 17-year-old

tongue hanging out, Phoebe’s cantankerous mews

of the news of the day. Enough of dodging the dogs

out back’s barks and bounds—Busho, Kota Bear,

and Honey the red (not hot) dog. Your green eyes plead

as you nuzzled my shoulder rattling my sobs with your purr.

The 2 lovebirds, Debbie and Dan, walked up laughing,

told me to take you. Itty Pity goes to the City

in my final escape from the liquid air of Southern states.

You howled the whole way up in the U-Haul as I changed

radio stations every few minutes much to my Dad’s dismay.

We moved into our first apartment alone, an illegal

underground bunker in the middle of Park Slope. We prayed

there’d be no fires, and you didn’t see the sun for two years

like some prisoner. At 22 it was the best I could do, you forgave

me for your own bowl of kibble and a warm bed.

Then we moved on up into that sunshine St. Marks apartment

above the dogs across from the lumberyard sawing drunks.

You stared out the window at the trees and birds for hours

while I broke my heart over and over. Debbie called,

said the 2 lovebirds broke up and started drinking again.

You just sat by me cajoling cuddles, snuggling sickness out—

it took years. Finally after ten years you molded me into less

of a mess, though the latest apartment has sporadic heat

and I come home smelling of other animals. This city—a bunch

of boxes and bodies stacked up on top of each other all waiting

for their turn in the spotlight, at love, at peace in all the noise

and distraction. You just want me to come home.

_____________________________________________

Yesterday also marked the loss of one of my oldest clients. Ginger who I took care of for about 12 years. She taught me it was ok to not want to be lonely, with her sad pleading eyes every time I had to leave her. She was one of the fastest dogs at Prospect Park in her day and would run circles around everyone. Here’s her poem from Dogs of Brooklyn.

CASTLE QUEEN
Olive sleeps squished up in a fruit bowl on the kitchen
counter, her striped and spotted tail swishing over its
ceramic side, taunting. After hours, she wakes to case

the clank of the front fence gate. No hurry, she stretches
long and yawns, slowly making her way. Ginger’s ears
perk at the stir and thunk of kitten kitchen table pranks.

Ten years castle queen then along this coy cat came,
sauntering around like she owns the place. Ginger’s
toenails click on the wooden floor as she investigates.

From nowhere a white paw socks her muzzle gray.
She jumps back barking and looks up to find Olive’s
tiny frame towering over her dog, mocking. Quick,

to the window chase! Distracted, retaliation will have
to wait while they contemplate all of the people out on
the sidewalk marching in time trying to keep pace.

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Filed under Brooklyn, Dogs, Poetry