911 Iguana Rescuers

Just go away and leave me alone. I did not ask to be photographed or much less to be saved. I only got myself trapped in here because I wanted to put an end to my miserable existence after my beloved female died in the same fashion, but I did not succeed. I’m a big loser.

I made so much noise after getting stuck, that the human lady who lives in the house right across this fence had to come out and sort out a way of saving my life. First she took a photo of me with her cell phone and then called her sister to boast about my misery. How humiliating!

Then, she left me on my own, and I thought I was finally going to join my female in iguana heaven, but no. I saw this human lady coming my way and now she was carrying a ladder. She neatly placed it over the fence. Then she left again and came back quickly with another lady. They both looked at me while probably deciding which was the best way to cut me in two, and get rid of my remains by throwing them to the river nearby, but I was wrong again. I saw how the first lady climbed up the ladder and jumped the fence. She put something soft around my hind legs and my long tail, and started pulling me back.

Then, the other lady rubbed my head with her fingertips while saying all sorts of nice things I did not want to hear. And, without asking me, she just stretched my forearms forward so they could slide back, along with the rest of my body, through the hole I had deliberately stuck myself in.

I was gently put on the ground and as soon as I felt I was free I gave both ladies a dirty look, waved my throat flap at them and ran away. I think I heard them celebrating, although there was nothing worth cheering about. Now I know it’s no use trying to commit suicide again, because there will be slats on that fence next time.

Hmm, or maybe it’s not my time and I will meet a nice lady iguana very soon…

 

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Do animals mourn?

It is a universal well-known fact that bizarre events seem to follow me and smack me in the face when I least expect them.

A few days ago I noticed a couple of huge iguanas roaming around in my backyard. I could tell they were male and female because they had different colors and the male has a crest that runs all across the upper part of his body to the beginning of his tail.
Well, today, I was outside doing laundry and water hosing the backyard, and I saw the iguanas were on the same place I had first spotted them.

Now, the sad part of this story is that I moved closer to try and see if I could photograph them any closer, and then, the male moved away and I saw what had happened…
The female iguana got trapped in the cyclone fence that divides my house from the neighbor’s and tragically, I discovered that she had died while trying to get through one of the holes.
The male, would not leave his partner. He climbed up the fence, but stayed on guard, watching me. I think maybe he does not know she is dead. I really don’t know what is going on, I’m not an expert on iguanas. I tried to get closer in order to remove the dead body, put it in a bag and take it elsewhere, but the male iguana hissed at me and did not go away.
I don’t know what to do now. I guess I’ll have to wait until the male realizes she’s gone and I can find the way to pick up the dead one. It will be a disgusting event, so I won’t take any pictures of that.
But, on the other hand, I don’t know if these animals are monogamous. I don’t think they are, but I feel for the poor male iguana who lost his companion. He has proven to be far more loyal than many people I know…

St. Sebastián Street Festival

It’s officially the end of Christmas season for us Puerto Ricans, since today is the last day of the St. Sebastián street festival in Old San Juan. And, here is a little bit of history, with permission from enciclopediapr.org:

“Saint Sebastian, whose day is commemorated on January 20, was born in Narbonne, France. The saint was an officer for Roman emperor Maximian in mid-third century. The martyr, who was accused of being a Christian, refused to abandon his faith, for which he was sentenced to death by the emperor. In Catholic imagery, this saint is represented as being tied to a tree and wounded by arrows.

These festivities in honor of Saint Sebastian began in the 1950s. They were organized by Father Madrazo, parish priest of the San José Church in Old San Juan with the purpose of raising funds in order to repair various church buildings. Some years later, this celebration was discontinued.

In 1970, Ricardo Alegría, anthropologist and historian, suggested to Rafaela Balladares de Brito, resident of San Sebastián Street, to resume the festival celebration. With the help of neighbors, Balladares organized the festivities, this time to benefit Colegio de Párvulos, elementary school directed by sisters of charity and also located on San Sebastián Street.

During the first years, a group of musicians would walk through San Juan’s streets announcing the festivity early in the morning. There was a procession from San Sebastián Street to San José Church in which they carried the saint’s image. Cabezudos —people in costumes and wearing masks of enormous proportions which represented the Catholic King and Queen— participated in the procession.

As part of the activities, neighbors decorated the street and their home’s balcony. They prepared dresses for the traditional dances and typical foods. They also served as hosts of the musical shows. Additionally, in front of José Campeche’s house, Puerto Rican painter of the eighteenth century, there was a small exhibit of paintings. Later on, an artisan fair was included in the festival; it still takes place.

Today, the procession reaches San Juan Bautista Cathedral, located on Cristo Street. The Cabezudos parade, which now includes characters of Puerto Rican folklore such as Juan Bobo, the General, and Diplo, goes through the streets of the islet, followed by the public, which sings and dances to the beat of the music. There is also a formal dance as well as conferences.

In time, the San Sebastián Street Festival has become very popular. More than 200,000 people participate in it. Its fame has transcended the island; it is now internationally renowned.”

Last year, they dedicated the festival to Ricky Martin. This year, the festivity was dedicated to José Feliciano. I’ll leave you some photos I took. Enjoy!

3 Kings Night with Balún & Mima

Epiphany, January the 6th, or 3 Kings Day is a big holiday for hispanic people all over the world. We get to celebrate the birth of baby Jesus and the belief that 3 kings from the Middle East came to visit and honor him with gifts in Bethlehem. So, everybody exchanges gifts and children get toys and all that, but I decided to go see Balún and Mima at ‘Y no había luz’s’ studio theater.

When you got there, you had to leave your shoes on a table at the entrance. They had conditioned the floors with cushions and comforters. That way everyone could sit down and enjoy the show without inconveniencing those behind you. I love the way they had set up the stage.

They also had set up an improvised bar where they sold beer and other beverages. You can see some of the theater’s props hanging around. ‘Y no había luz’ specializes in puppeteering, stop motion and short sketches. I like the bomb lamp.

Balún opened the show and they were glorious. I love their music so much that if in my lifetime, someone ever approaches me with the desire to make my novel into a movie, I will definitely have Balún to do the music score. I like how they combine electronic sounds with musical toy instruments, like the piano-flute and the toy xylophone.

Nora plays the bass and the tiple, and she is wonderful.

Angélica plays violin, accordion, and other instruments, plus, she sings beautifully.

Balún also invited other musicians to join them, but I don’t know all of their names. What you see in the center is a box with grass. The night before 3 Kings Day, you’re supposed to prepare a box with grass and a bowl of water for the kings’ camels to eat and drink. You have to leave those under the Christmas tree, where your gifts magically appear next morning. Some people even leave milk and cookies for the kings…, of course they all do this for their kids. I remember my parents helping me and my siblings out, choosing a nice shoe box and picking up the greenest grass, and have it all ready under the tree for the kings to come and leave presents.

This is when Mima came in to join everyone. The fusion they made was exquisite. Wish I had a video camera to record some of it.

And here is a last one of Mima and Angélica playing the musical saw. It’s a shame the photo did not come out so clear.

To make up for the missing sounds in this post, I have searched over You Tube and found a lovely clip from Balún. Hope you like it.

And I also found an experimental video someone made, with one of my favorite songs from Mima, Damen.

And yet, another video. This is Mima playing live the song, ‘Agua Fría’.

Balún has a website with some free downloads. Just go here: Balún Online

Mima has a website too:
Mima Música

Hope you get to check out their awesome music!

Old San Juan

For me, there’s nothing like spending a Sunday afternoon in San Juan, particularly the old part of the city. And if that Sunday happens to be New Year’s Day, well then, it’s even better.

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I just love the cobblestoned streets,

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the narrow alleys,

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the steep streets,

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the not so steep and slightly wider ones,

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the Christmas decorations,

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and the street performers at Plaza de Armas.

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Aside from taking photos, I also like to sit down and enjoy the performance.

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And my sister likes posing in front of groovy old hippie vans.

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Some people like walking at Ponce de León Plaza,

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but we chose to visit the Totem. My sister got in the way, but it’s ok, I don’t mind.

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Right in front of the totem , there is this spread out floor fountain where children love to play all year round. I confess I have gotten in there too, but I won’t be posting that one…

for now.

Wishing you all a wonderful New Year 2012.

M.