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Thursday, August 17th, 2006

El Rincon Familaria     Sancocho at El Rincon     Carmine and Lydia at El Rincon

“No sancocho,” Lydia replied. “Sancocho está agotoda.”
“Sold out? No!”

“Si. Agotoda.”
“Sancocho el lunes proximo?”

“Si. Proximo. Next Moanday.” She said it with a big forward hopping gesture of her arm.

Sancocho is something between a stew and a sopa (soup). Usually it has chunks of biftec (beef steak), sometimes corn sometimes still on the cob, potato, sometimes sweet potato all in a thick broth. It’s wonderful.

But at El Rincon, a little familaria on Carr. 110, sancocho is the lunch special on Mondays. That’s the only time they make it and when it’s gone, it’s gone. It was our bad luck to come in just after Lydia served the last bowls of this week’s sancocho to three hombres. We waited eight months for this.

I don’t know if it was some cosmic karma – after all, they live here and can get sancocho every week – but their big red pick up truck, parked next to us in the sloping parking lot, had a flat rear tire.

We ate lunch at El Rincon anyway. I had a very tender biftec con arroz blanco y cebollo (onion). Elaine had a wonderful lasagna con pollo. Chicken is not something we usually think of in lasagna but it was delicious. With salads for both of us and sodas to drink, our whole bill was about $11.

We did go back on Monday. I had sancocho. But Elaine was so impressed with the lasagna con pollo she had that again.

Ola Lola’s Garden Bar

Tuesday, August 15th, 2006

Ola Lola's Garden Bar at night      Lola      Elaine's Taxi

It’s tiny. It sits on a corner in an out of the way spot on the way back to Shacks Beach. If you don’t know it’s there, the only way you’ll find it by accident is if you’re going to Tropical Trailrides or one of the rentals along Playa Shacks. In just a few months drive-bys and word-of-of-mouth made Ola Lola’s a popular local watering hole.

Lola herself is a character, an expat Americano with a PhD in marine biology and “an eccentric by choice” who writes children’s books about marine life. One of her books about the sex life of a coral has been translated into Japanese and Chinese among other languages.

Her beer list is international with beers from Argentina (‘cause a local requested it), Japan (because she likes all things Japanese and plans to make Japan her next move), as well as the usual Corona, Coors Light, Heineken, and the local Medalla. She serves good wine, some she makes herself, in a place where wine – especially fine wine – is an afterthought. She makes a mean rum punch and the self-described “best margarita in the world.” (Is there a bar anywhere that doesn’t serve the “best margarita in the world?”)

Lola likes local. She serves cheese from a local cheesemaker right up the road. With the cheese she serves these incredible olives she packs and pickles herself in vinegar she makes herself. On Sunday night she has musica by local performers, guys who are carpenters and day labors  but love music.

The clientele at Lola’s is as much a character as Lola. Last night a big wedding party packed the place after leaving the fancy resort up the road.

“Lola’s drinks are cheaper and better,” one guest said. A rum-and-coke (otherwise known as a Cuba Libre) is 3 USD at Lola’s, 6 USD at the resort. A Heineken is $2.50 at Lola’s, 5 bucks up the road.

The well-heeled wedding party sat cheek-by-jowl with four or five local day workers drinking a cold Medalla (the cheapest beer on the menu) on credit against tomorrow morning’s wages. A woman came in after work having passed countless other bars to get to Lola’s “’cause I like it here.”

Ola Lola’s is for sale. Lola want’s to move to Japan by New Year’s. We are thinking of buying the place. Would that be the ultimate expat cliché? Buying bar to move to another country. Maybe I can win it in a poker game.   

Colors of Puerto Rico

Sunday, August 13th, 2006
First sun Today is one of those magic days. The view out my front door is alive with all the colors of the tropics. It ... [Continue reading this entry]

Lookin’ at you from Blue Hole off Shacks Beach

Sunday, August 13th, 2006

Here's lookin' at ya Here's lookin' at you, kid.

Lobster tales

Sunday, August 13th, 2006

Two fisherman came in from a diving trip with a couple of spiny lobsters for sale. Ten dollar each, which was probably to much. But oh, my god. Dinner last night ... [Continue reading this entry]

Into Blue Hole

Wednesday, August 9th, 2006
Into Blue Hole Off Shacks Beach there is a place known as Blue Hole. From the deck of the rental houses along the beach ... [Continue reading this entry]

Kite surfing at Shacks Beach, Puerto Rico

Tuesday, August 8th, 2006
Kite surfing at Shacks Beach, northwest Puerto Rico Shacks Beach, where we're staying on the island's northwest corner, has a reputation as one of the finest kite surfing beaches in the Caribbean/Atlantic. Today it lived up to ... [Continue reading this entry]

Arañitas con pulpo and mofongo con pollo

Monday, August 7th, 2006

The view from El Alambique

3:00 pm

Isla Verde, San ... [Continue reading this entry]

Seal of approval

Monday, August 7th, 2006
8.06.06 6:00 am In the Kalamazoo-Battle Creek International Airport The TSA guards allowed us to keep our shoes on as we passed through the security check point. Something about my shoes set of some unseen sensor and they made my remove my shoes. After ... [Continue reading this entry]

A fine pair we are

Monday, August 7th, 2006


5:00 am

In the Kalamazoo-Battle Creek International AirportThat sounds so-o ... [Continue reading this entry]