Friday, February 29, 2008

Old San Juan and the Caves

We did go into town one day and explore Old San Juan. On our way up to the fort this iguanna went running by us. They are not native to the island but are thriving. As we turned around and looked up there was an iguanna sunning himself on the fort.
This is a view from the fort. All of the landscape in Puerto Rico is so dramatic and stunning.
We walked behind the town to Ponce de Leon's garden. This carving is in it. It is a Taino indian petroglyph. The Taino indians are one of the native peoples in the Carribean, with not many left. I'm not sure if this is real or a copy. They have some wonderful petroglyphs on the island.

A fountain in the garden, his house is in the background, which he never lived in, died before it was completed ( I guess he never found the fountain of youth). His family inhabited it for some 400 years, now its a museum.
Part of the house, I love the wooden doors/ windows.
Another fountain in the gardens.
Old San Juan's downtown. The buildings were painted wonderful colors with beautiful iron balconys and carved wooden doors. We had a great Puerto Rican cocktail there called "Mojito", rum, sugar, club soda and lots of chopped up fresh mint. Later, we went to a local restaurant called Babaos and had the local dish called Monfongo, fried, mashed plaintains with chicken and red creole sauce. It was so good.

The next day we went to a different part of the island and did some caving. Puerto Rico has a huge cave system and people come just for the caves. Here we go down in, notice I have no hat on, that was kind of scary with all the bats hanging from the ceiling pooping!
Inside the first room.

Matt venturing in deeper.

Back outside we hiked around to other caves, there were a lot of these beautiful butterflys.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Exploring the wilderness of Puerto Rico

When we left home there was a terrible blizzard and it was bitter cold. This is a picture of our bird feeder before we left. Hours later we were in the tropics with a warm breeze and lots of color! We kew we would be doing lots of hiking and snorkeling but didn't anticipate where our son would take us (although we should have known), I don't think we hardly ever saw another tourist the whole trip except our one day in old San Juan and then we went when the cruise ship was leaving port. It was wonderful.
Our first day we drove to El Yunque in the mountains and hiked down the mountain through the rain forest. It was sooo beautiful but difficult due to the wet rocks and slick mud.
These are the snails that live in the rain forest.
It was so lush and green. And most wonderful, No Bugs! Maybe it was because of the time of year but we never had any problem with bugs.

We hiked through a lot of mountain streams, look at the size of this leaf.
This is a mile down the mountain at our picnic ground. We had to hike back into a spot with big flat rocks to sit on.
My son and husband jumped in to cool off, the line running down the middle of the picture is a vine that ran about 100 ft. from the top of the tree to the water.
Our kids know how to pack a gourmet picnic. We also had smoked salmon sandwiches with cream cheese and cucumbers on home made rolls my daughter in law made (gluten free). My favorite meal to eat anywhere, is a picnic.
And a glass of wine to take the pain off the climb back up the mountain.
As we started off the rain began, here I am hanging on to a vine to help me cross the stream.
Back on the top. I love this fern with the biggest fiddle head I've ever seen.
The flowers were so striking. Over the next few days I'll post some more of my pictures of the trip. My DDIL and I did find some of the local textile traditions. Luckly, she can speak spanish so she spoke to some elderly local ladies in Old San Juan, they showed us some new born outfits and kept saying estopilla, we weren't quite sure what they ment. A few days later we we're in a little town called Ponce and there was a local fabric store. We went in to look around and Alka heard the customer ask for estopilla, we watched and found out it was 100% Ramie, and comes in pastel colors and white. There was a young family there buying some, a local seamstress was making their daughters 1st Communion dress. The father spoke some english and explained that the fabric was used for making new born clothes, christening outfits and 1st. Communion dresses. It was so interesting talking to them. Then, the day I came home Alka found out from another local elderly lady that Mundillo (bobbin lace making) is a Puerto Rican tradition still being practiced today in a little town called Moca and there are some very famous lace makers living and teaching there. In a nut shell they believe the art started about 200 years ago with the arrival of the Spanish, French, Belguim, Italy, etc. The needle work was taught in private schools run by the Catholic Church. It's estimated the some 9,000 persons across Puerto Rico make mundillo. Next time we go back, we're off to Moca to visit the museum and some of the lace makers.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Happy Valentines Day

I've been playing with needle felting Valentine's day cards. I used a wool fabric background, needle felted the bird and grass and blanket stitched on my dyed wool fabric heart and birds, beak, then I machine stitched it to a blank card (but I forgot to open up the card before I sewed it so it became a postcard!).
A couple of hearts with funky yarns felted in, before I sewed them to the card stock I stamped dots.

My friend Deb from Alaska made me this beautiful needle felted pincushion for me for Christmas. It's much more detailed than the picture shows. I love it.
And this one, I think she made them both differently, maybe this one with soap and hot water. They both feel very different. Am I right Deb? Here they all are with my basket full of wool roving Deb sent me. It's a lot of fun playing with the roving.
My husband and I leave Monday for 2 weeks in Puerto Rico. Our son and daughter in law live there and my Aunt and Uncle and cousins who I haven't seen since I was a toddler. We're looking forward to seeing everyone. We'll be doing a lot of snorkeling, hiking and seeing the wilderness of Puerto Rico. I hope to have some interesting pictures when I return, hopefully I will find some sort of native textiles. I'll see you Feb. 26.

  • Deb Hardman
  • Allie Aller
  • Jenny Bowker Cairo