With the arrival of Cruising Friends, Patrick and Darnell, we're ready to run the roads and see some spots that I've kept on the back burner... First of which was a visit to Earthship Tainasoy!
Getting to the place was easy, until we left the main highway. The road turns into a one-lane paved path along the top of a ridge with stunning views and steep inclines.
We rejected the first way in suggested by Google because it was a ridiculously sharp bend and a plunge into the unknown... But when we went around the loop, we ended up taking that plunge anyway. There's no getting out of it! Just hold your breath, grip the wheel, and keep your foot on the brake pedal! If I could have closed my eyes, I would have!
We found a place to park along the roadside just below the modestly marked entrance to the compound and walked back up the hill to be greeted by the property owner's son, Oryon. He's a quiet young man charged with the job of signing visitors in and making sure that everyone releases the property from harm. You can also leave donations or buy commemorative t-shirts here.
|Looks like it's got two heads!|
We continued on past some delicious-looking pineapples growing wild and just about ready to eat!
The compound is built down in a ravine with sweeping views of the towering, forested mountainsides. A small stream runs alongside the buildings and stands of bamboo grow wild and tall.
|Descending the stairway, we got our first good look at the place.|
We walked down the wooden stairway to reach the centre of the compound where we were greeted by Noemi, the property owner.
She took us inside each building and answered our many questions about the purpose of the site and how it was built.
The first building is being used as a community centre. It's a little small and newer buildings are being build a bit larger. They're learning as they go and figuring out what is best for this group. Nobody lives in these buildings but perhaps in the future they will!
They're building this project in phases, three have been completed so far. About a hundred volunteers for each phase come from all over the place and live here in the outdoors while they build. You can find a way to volunteer for Phase 4 on their Facebook Page if interested. Or just give it a LIKE to keep up with their progress!
|The shower room is outdoors.|
|Just outside the shower is a small sink|
|The toilet has a beautifully painted door for contemplating life.|
The purpose is evolving and they've begun collecting bees in hives and are producing some lovely honey infused with local fruits. Noemi said that the bees were gone briefly after Maria, but they have returned and are growing in number. Very encouraging!
They use trash and donated glass and plastic bottles, and cans to fill the tires that form the walls of the buildings. They've learned along the way, that using cardboard to insulate their ceilings is not optimal, because it moulds and deteriorates very quickly, so they plan to switch to styrofoam in future buildings.
|Some cardboard was used in the ceiling but they'll be transitioning to styrofoam|
|Different wall types and the power plant|
|A large gourd grows in the overflow from the toilet.|
The goal of this project is to live green. They're completely off-grid and use solar panels to charge the batteries that run the lights. They are collecting water and using it several times. They drink and cook with it, shower with it, clean with it, and water their crops with it. Their sewer is flushed with grey water and even the overflow from the toilet is used to create a green space.
|Noemi explaining the next phase|
|The tool shed|
|Grey water garden|
|They're experimenting with different wall finishes|
|The cistern collects the rainwater that runs from the rooftops via gullies.|
They are always accepting donations of trash, glass and plastics to be used in Phase 4. They cut the glass with a tile saw and use it in many beautiful ways for decorating their walls. They let the light in similarly to stained glass. It's beautiful!
|The trash is stored here to await the next phase of building.|
|There is a lot of bamboo, but it's not suitable for building|
|Walking down into the current kitchen area which is outdoors beneath a tarp.|
|The goat mansion. They use goat leavings to help feed the chickens who live underneath, then use the droppings as fertiliser.|
|Outhouses off beside the kitchen area|
|The kitchen and community area|
After a thoroughly enjoyable tour with Noemi, we braved the steep hills getting out and stopped at a nearby mountain sports bar called Breaks for refreshment. The mangos are coming into season and we have passed thousands of them just lying in the roads and gutters. We picked up a few of the more recently fallen ones. I love them with fish tacos!
|Mangos lying in the gutter across the street.|
|I love that they have "beach bars" in the mountains!|
|Sangria hecho en casa!|
The food at Breaks looked and smelled heavenly, but we had one more discount coupon for the little restaurant in Yauco, Cocina Fresca, and planned to us it for a late lunch before we went on to our next agenda item for today's outing... Our coupon was for two, and there were four of us so we got to order from the menu and everything looks so good here. The exterior, while neat and clean, does give one pause due to the fact that it is adjacent to a gas station. But don't let that deter you if you ever find yourself in the little town of Yauco... The menu here is top notch and the owner is a sweetheart.
So what is that agenda item? We've been to this town no less than four times... and I had no idea that it was hiding such treasures. I found out some days after our last visit that there are many, many murals created by island artists scattered about the narrow streets here.
The project is called Yauchromatic and you can take a look at these amazing pieces of Urban Art on their website, but they are far better in person!
After a lovely lunch, we picked the one closest to us and started our search! It was such fun, sort of like an adult easter egg hunt. Some of them were tucked back away from the streets so we parked and walked to find them. It was great exercise with a purpose!
We didn't see them all, but we did find a few that were not on the map... and we will be back here for sure when we have more guests to visit. Here are the ones we found. I've named and numbered them so you can find them easily if you're looking at them on the interactive map on Google. (you can import them into your Google Maps to find them easily) I've also scattered some photos of the lovely old buildings we found along the way. One of my favorite things about this island is the historical buildings. Instead of tearing them down, they revitalise them and use them as homes and businesses. They are like living pieces of history.
|#8 Bob Snow|
|A local business... not on the map!|
|#15 Jean Carlos Ortiz Bimbo|
|#9 Sheez Nicole|
|Not on the map but awesome anyway! Life Doesn't Change, Generations DO!|
|These corner buildings are popular!|
|Life is like snow in the sun. Time passes and the new ones come. Blessed is he who does good.|
|#10 Rafa Enrique Vega|
Two sides of #11-1 Omar Vélez - a car was parked in the middle of it. You can see the whole thing on the website.
|Click to go to the website for more photos and information|
Several murals are in clusters and we found the project name among these around the beautiful and historic town plaza. This one has a representation of the church that dominates the plaza.
|A majestic old theatre!|
|#1 Javier Vecino Cintron|
|#2 Andres Cortez|
Quoted from the website: Resident of Culebra and with only 15 years old, Andrés considers himself the youngest PR muralist. He did not study art, however his talent has been reflected in Projects such as Santurce Es Ley, Culebra Es Ley, recently in Ponce Es Ley, Las 50, among others. In the month of April he painted the Tanque located on the Flamenco beach of Culebra. His passion is art, and that is why he will soon start studying at the Humacao Specialized School soon.
|#3 Carlos Amador|
|#3 continued around the corner|
|Unlisted and not sure what medium. Some pieces are mirrors!|
|Next we drove to another area where several pieces were clustered. We found this lovely space!|
|I love that these little towns memorialise important figures. A bench beneath a tree immortalises this man.|
|Baby kisses! #4 Nube Negra|
|#5 Cristian H. Duque|
|#18 Nuestra Bandera Yaucana|
|#6 Manuel Morales|
|Unlisted near #6|
|#7 Doel Santana (SKO SF)|
As mentioned above, we didn't find all of the murals. Google Maps kind of dropped the ball here and there are multiple routes that lead to roads that have been blocked off, perhaps to move traffic among these displays, but while we were looking for #14 (never found) we happened upon the second phase of Yaucromatic, called Brisa Tropical! (It's on Google Maps as "Macromural Brisas Tropical) The street was blocked off and there were vendors and a band playing as the Saturday night fiesta got going. The sun was beginning to wane so we took some photos from below and will check this portion and those others we missed, next time!
Just seriously... WOW! I can't WAIT for our next guests to come so that we can return to this awesome place. I think there are a whole bunch of little towns in the US who could learn from these places in Puerto Rico. This is "Neighbourhood Revitalisation" on steroids!!! The people of small towns all over the island have used nothing but talent and gallons and gallons of paint to make something amazing that draws visitors to their town. The restaurants benefit greatly and that money filters through the local economy, because there aren't many big US chains operating in places like this. Brilliant!
I am becoming familiar with the work of these local artists and you can find their art scattered throughout the island. Come to Puerto Rico and learn to love her as we do!