Saturday, July 25, 2009


YESTERDAY, was ecoturist day in the COUNTRY OF CAGUAS. I went to visit the dentist, Dr. Hector Davila in the same office since the beginning of times. I was a little disconcerted at the radio station selection. To such a point that I called to find out if
he was actually in his office. Once the doubt was settled, I just look at the pictures of
the typical magazines found in such offices.

Fifteen minutes into the waiting some familiar fellow entered with khaki shorts, a blue polo some boat shoes and white puma socks. He was let in by the doctor something
surprising since one believes one should be called first. I could not recognize the voice since the conversation was kept very low. Until I asked the doctor's assistant if this person was the brother.

And he was. Victor Davila, I had seen him 25 years before in PLAZA the monster mall. I recalled the conversation and so did he. A great rare encounter in
a dentist office. By the way the visit went fine. Our conversation went briefly by the
memory lane and Dr. Davila was kind enough to change the corny bachata music by something more stimulating, the voice of GINA MARIA HIDALGO.

I left the office in a great mood and walked the ten or so blocks to Mr, CABANAS Flea Market on Georgetti St. It has been probably the only worth visiting market of that
kind anywhere in Puerto Rico. The idea came after his visits to USA. In the beginning people thought him crazy, but he has developed a niche like no other. One can find LPS, antique radios, door knobs and so on. We met in high school and went to college. It is one of the few people I grew up with still able to keep a conversation
and a great sence of humor, an easy smile and laugh.

Miguel Montanez, came after that. This guy has cut my hair approximately since 1969. His original barber shop was a beauty with those antique barber chairs no
longer in existence, cozy and comofortable. At any rate, Miguel is a great conversationalist and has kept his agreeable nature for all this decades along with Dr. Davila, a basketball, music mentor, Cabanas, and Miguel Montanez.

I went later to visit Mr. Moreno, who owns an almost empty cavernous furniture store. I had a nice conversation with his employee, Luis, about the great possibility e to convert this huge space to rent by the hour and play table tennis. There are no places to practice such elegant, exciting, fast, requiring of great reflexes and imagination
sport. Something I have missed for decades. It can not be done alone.

All these conversations are probably a world record for this humble servant or yours
truly. When they take place the misanthropic germs fall and hide for some time.. Memories from yesterday, a nostalgic trip to better times.. When the houses, buildings, sidewalks of downtown CAGUAS were not the induced coma, ghost town, boarded up front stores, business, cemetery it is know.

If I was able to cry, I would. Just as when I walk through Ponce de Leon Avenue, or visit Rio Piedras. The concrete asphalt spread, in Puerto Rico is like an incurable skin cancer spreading through out the four cardinal points, an incurable disease, without remedy.

No one mentions it, everyone is resigned.....Lest hope the rest of the world wakes up.

Friday, July 10, 2009


WHEN LIVING among asphalt/concrete since childhood that virtue of appreciating beauty gets dulled or gets lost forever. I noticed the destruction of Puerto Rico at
fifteen, the initial traffic jams, the stress full noise, women getting pregnant left and right. Cars and more cars, right now about eighty five for every one hundred fools,
in a territory one hundred miles long and thirty five wide, over 2,000,ooo vehicles.

How can any one love this day light nightmare? India and China are going the same way. Following that miserable trend of highway, automobile, house, grass, refrigerator,
water and air conditioning set by USA, not many decades ago. TATA is a good example of following those destructive ways to relate to our surroundings without any vision to future, irreversible consequences.

But now lets get to our visitors. The first one, from the bottom, is a Tropical almond,
a tree that one sees frequently in Puerto Rico, in many contexts, but is definitely a
tree for the beach, the sand, the salt breeze where it predominates and looks its best.

What is this tree doing here then? Well all the space was once probably just sand,
some endemic vegetation of all kinds and coconut palm trees, brought by our
original mother country SPAIN. That is why.

Considering the tendencies of construction developers, to destroy as much as possible as fast as they can, the existence of this tree and the Ceiba, on
these conditions, is not far from a miracle. They are both about four hundred
meters from each other, in opposite sides of the Ponce de Leon Avenue, where I conducted the first tree inventory that I know, recently, and appears in endemismo and upinthebreadfruit tree.

For a few reasons: CO2, limited space for the root system and small area to collect water and oxygen. The diameter of the trunk is between ten/twelve feet, the height
between seventy/one hundred. One thing is sure. There is not other Terminalia catappa of this dimensions anywhere. Well, lets make it safe, that I have seen anywhere or know about. More about this later.

The CEIBA, is in the eyes of some, a similar tree to a Bao Bab, that unbelievable masterpiece of nature, and some say/have written that those original blacks brought
to better living conditions in America, used them for their religious rituals as a substitute. This tree is not so popular and abundant. However some, perhaps five,
are well known in Puerto Rico because of their dimensions and age 500 years.

Perhaps the best known Ceiba, is the one in Ponce, the best city of the island in terms
of architecture, abundant, huge trees even though is essentially a gentle desert with
not more than fifty inches of rain a year. Apparently, people who live in extreme heat conditions appreciate trees more than those in other climatic environments.

Observing these magnificent trees, ignored by everyone, pedestrians, drivers, the news media, is one of the few beautiful things to watch in the Metro Area of San Juan. I feel lucky to have photograph them, even if the resolution of the pictures
stink. No one else has written or divulged any information about these gifts of

Those architects/engineers who designed and constructed these tropical 'skyscrapers', should be honored. These two buildings are rare indeed. Perhaps
among hundred of thousands in this concrete/asphalt isle. Everyone else in their guild are notoriously disconnected, enemies of nature. They leave the ground pretty much as a rotten carcass with their huge tractors to plant concrete. Construction developers have destroyed all that matters: flora and fauna, soil, water, air. In EVERY continent, bluffing as PROGRESS.

More about this later on the fifth paragraph... IN PUERTO RICO, there is no inventory about trees that I know. Not even where I live. I did the first inventory
recently from the University of Puerto Rico in Rio Piedras to Miramar St in Miramar,
a wealthy, clean neighborhood. I counted perhaps seven hundred trees in a ten mile stretch, and about one hundred empty spaces in which trees were supposed to be.
One third of the seven hundred are mutilated or diseased, and ignored by blindfolded claimed environmentalists of every tribe and niche..

But lets keep the image of these two, Terminalia catappa and Ceiba, to ease the daily visual pain of this daylight nightmare that is Puerto Rico, USA.