Saturday, December 26, 2009
Christmas went down in fine fashion here on Puerto Rico. We woke up late and almost missed giving Marian her present before she shipped off to Holland for a short visit with her family. Nobody seemed bothered by our lack of punctuality however, and Lucy and Marian both absolutely loved the gift we made for them. Thank God! It took several days of collecting and a whole evening of glueing to make the big "Welcome" stone possible.
The children were thrilled with the pool table we bought them and luckily for us, we didn't kill ourselves moving it to the house the night before. It was heavy! It took four of us to move it through the slippery walkways in the jungle and I swore at any moment somebody was going to drop it or wrench their back. We gave a quiet look of exhaustion and satisfaction as the sweat poured off of our foreheads.
We all made our way to the main house that morning, where Lucy served up some Puerto Rican coffee made the old fashioned way, in a net inside of a pan of boiling hot water. It was delicious, and a perfect start to the day! I was quickly ushered over to the box that the pool table was in and handed a few basic tools by the children. It seems I was the carpenter for the day. I seperated the parts of the table into smaller projects so everyone could get involved. You should have seen us turning screws by hand! It was ridiculously difficult and I longed for a cordless screw gun! Finally after much begging, Lucy procured a very old Black n Decker drill with a bit for phillips head screws.
We had a fabulous dinner of lasagna and rice and beans! Wow, meat! I hadn't had any in a week and a half or so and it was kind of weird to taste my old friend...so weird I had two helpings! It was nice to have some pasta back in my life to offset all the rice we've been eating for starch. We spent the rest of the evening playing pool with the kids on into the night. I think we played 30 games or so and have been playing almost every night since. I think I would have gotten my throat slit in a serious bar game, because Puerto Ricans have a whole different way of playing pool and it is nowhere near legal in regular tournament rules! I won't get into it, but it has been a funny learning experience and many battles have ensued!
This morning I dropped off the car to the rental agency and took a $60 taxi ride back to the house... ouch! I suppose it was better than paying the holiday rate for the car which would have gone from $30/day to $75/day because of the demand over the next few weeks. I re-lived a simple but powerful economics lesson of supply and demand. The cab driver dropped me at the gate to the property where I opened the gate with the electronic beeper. You should have seen the look on the neighbor's face as I walked through the gate onto the private road. $60 and a mile and a half of the steepest gradient you have ever driven... or in my case walked, and I was a sweaty mess when I reached the house. On the way up the road I ran into Kevin, who was riding one of the horses down the road. He greeted me and laughed at my sorry state while passing, but I still beat his ass up the hill!
When I got to the house, Alwin was cooking up an awesome pasta creation that included beans, veggies, and a host of sauces and spices. We chowed down and lounged around the house for the afternoon reading, playing on the computer, listening to music...etc until Jeffery brought a surprise visitor to us! There in his tanned hands was an even more tan baby boa constrictor! Finally! Finally, finally, finally...Thank God!! I have been traveling to this island for almost 10 years, four of which I have mostly stayed in the forest and I have searched almost everyday, the ground and tree tops for this elusive Puerto Rican Boa! Now, I was playing with a new born that was less than a foot long and looked like it was in danger of being crushed by Jeffery's hands. We let him go right in front of the house and watched him slither away into the dark forest for his next meal of crickets and frogs. They graduate to a healthy 6 to 8 feet long and eat rats and small animals when they reach maturity. Jeffrey promises the next time he sees a big one he will capture it and bring it by. I can't wait!
I know snakes freak a lot of people out, but I love them. I always have. I owned a few as a child and one of the pythons I had when I was in college would fall asleep with me while I stroked its scaly spine. I would then sometimes accidentally fall asleep myself and wake up in my bed with the behemoth stretched across my belly and her head tucked under my chin like a child or lover would do. I know she probably could have choked me out, but she never did and to this day I miss those lovely moments spent with my reptilian comrade.
This was my first boa here, but not my first snake. I have a funny bathroom story that many of you have heard and some of you have lived through. I will share at a later date because it deserves its own whole blog post! It is a truly funny memory!
I am jamming some ELP right now and finishing up my evening chores. I hope you are all well and happy as pie! Love, Jeremy.