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AMERICAN GYPSY
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Island Time...Parguera Style
parguera anchorage
Ruff Life was a staple in the bay of la Parguera, Puerto Rico for a dozen years, so it was impossible NOT to have unexpected visitors of all kinds. Good thing you don't need many clothes in the tropics. For ten of those years I managed to Dance a Little Sidestep around the Natural Resources fellows (DRNA), who insisted I needed a local registration if remaining longer than 60 days. Until one day I heard, "I've spoken to you before," and this goose was cooked. The Coast Guard also came a-callin' (below), with six commando-looking guys all wanting to step on my dilapidated swim platform at once. "Ma'am, have you ever been boarded by the Coast Guard?" Were they joking? I'm in an anchorage! They were performing spot safety training excercises, and I became the day's subject. I got away without a fine, which was surprising for reasons I won't disclose here.
MahJong Halben Shalimar nuevo dia reporters at sea ruff life nuevo dia
(ABOVE) Boats were always passing through, especially in late winter, when everyone's heading to Venezuela for hurricane season (June through October). I often met the same folks on their way back to the U.S., and others are still navigating the globe. Despite what you might think, most of the time it was First Mates behind the wheels as their Captains hoisted anchors. Puerto Rico is pretty much the same as any U.S. state, full of mega-chains, fast food joints and dollar stores. Here's a snippet from friend and author Steve Pavlidis, who stayed in Parguera while working on his Cruising Guide to Puerto Rico. The striking navy yacht was on a scouting expedition for one of the Men in Black movies, and remained for several days, causing quite a stir. A local reporter was taken with my lifestyle, so newspaper el Nuevo Dia did a two-page spread about Ruff Life. That's them waving goodbye (second from right).
(BELOW) An image captured by Google Earth in 2006 shows Ruff Life anchored in its usual spot, lower left corner. Parguera's many reefs resulted in a mere 18" storm surge following Hurricane Georges slamming into the island in September 1998. THAT's an experience I don't particularly wish to repeat. The flotilla, far right, was celebrating San Pedro. I usually left the boat since the wakes were worse than any crossing. And finally, if you Search images of la Parguera, you'll possibly spot Ruff Life somewhere in the shot. It's there still.
google earth parguera
kayak dog
(BELOW) Here's a fish tale. A vast coral reef existed on Ruff Life's neglected hull, attracting a wide variety of fish. They especially liked chicken scraps and would come up to feed. A friend came over to fish, and was astonished by the two beauties caught within 10 minutes of casting. He later asked to bring along friends visiting the island, knowing Ruff Life was the best, or at least easiest fishing spot around. Excitedly anticipating the evening's supper, this time the resident barracuda was around, with unfortunate but comical results...Chris shot the video and it's on YouTube.
ruff life coral
parguera snapper

I hired a local to clean Ruff Life when I finally put her up for sale. Strongly advising Jose come out for a look-see prior to quoting, he brought up the hunk of coral you see above, declaring, "Ma'am, you've got the worst bottom I've ever seen." I was, for once, speechless. Job took two men, two days, two hundred bucks. A bargain, I thought. Oh, and the reason the coral's sparkly is because once I cleaned out what was living in the clamshells, I dried, glued and glittered it to a jar containing some sand and water from Parguera, which I carry like that Albatross. I'm a sentimentalist, what can I say?
(BELOW
) You can imagine how many beautiful shots I have of sunrises and sunsets, from pretty much the same spot. These are some of my favorites.

parguera skies 1
parguera skies 2 parguera skies 3 parguera skies 08 parguera skies parguera skies 7
Volantines (below) was known throughout the island as the shop for kites, flags and windsocks. Visiting boaters liked to help at the annual Lajas kite festival, or just hang out at the shop on a lazy afternoon. Volantines began as a 5 by 10 foot kiosk on the grounds of the local strip mall, and when the owners expanded the property for individual shops, Volantines, an old Spanish term for kites, got a new home.
volantines kite shop
lajas kite fesival de chiringas parguera casetas whoosh jack pat lajas kite festival volantines
CZAR charmed everyone. The mellowist canine I've met, he absolutely hated the water and wouldn't go in unless he fell in, which happened a couple of times. I'm including his photos here because he's a great example of how Island Time can affect all God's creatures.
doggie lifevest andrea jansen parguera dinghy
(BELOW) I was going to leave these photos without explanations, but I can't. Outside of Parguera, a man was living in the ship and lighthouse he gradually constructed on his property; motorcycling through the Dominican Republic I ran into a cock fight, and witnessed the barb-aric practice of strapping an amber claw to the creature's leg; I always said there were no real rules to driving on the island, nor restrictions on vehicle loads; liquor companies paid residents to display their monstrous advertising gimmicks, but even this Rasta was just too much for the neighbors and was soon gone; an endangered tree on the island was in the front yard of good friends, and despite their dangerous spikes you couldn't cut them down; a gigantic pilon in the Caguas Botanical Gardens; chauffering duty.

And finally, I didn't do it entirely alone. But since the Captain and I are blazing individual trails, I'll have to borrow a tip from Phyllis Diller and come up with a name for my FANG.

Artwork by AJ

If these don't encourage you to throw caution to the wind just ONCE in your life, I'm out of ideas.
 
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