|the little dot in the upper center is the old coffee facility at Seley's|
|la casa de Seley|
|bar on the side, under the house opens weekends|
This is a place to Remember Who You Are. Inner islanders know how to enjoy life, and have perfected it to an art - if you allow it, it will wear off on you, too, maybe with a little gentle coaxing.
The art of life is in the Now. There may be a future tense in property spoken Spanish, but so seldom is it used here - a way of saying "be here now." Life always happens in the now and there is never ever anything not right in this present moment - what a joy to live understanding that! it's a charm; it's soft, it's laughter and to have a puerto rican friend is to understand that pleasure. when you visit they will ask you, 'todo bien?' - is everything is good? yes, everything is good in the now. Country folk know that money doesn't bring happiness, but joy happens in the now, here, with you, because you are God's perfect creation, and part of this perfection happens all around us right now. wonderous things happen in the now always and only in the now, so if you need things to run on a Swiss train schedule, you will miss the point of being here. Remember, 'don't worry-be happy' was written by one of our sister island neighbors. It's our strong suit, not to let you get caught up in past or future - but the joy, gentleness and calm of the now. I digress, so now up to Seley's, Tetuan, way up on the top of a mountain, a drive along a one-lane roadway winding alongside the mountain, passing and saying hello to anyone, everyone, enjoying homes, charming with profusions of tropical plants and flowers. I give a lift to a little guy walking, school let out early and the school bus seemed not to be going his way today. I was told to follow the road up up and up and at the baseball court I would find the bar. At the top of the road, I found a little guy playing basketball in that court, and called to him, "where is Seley's", he said, "it's here." Of course I am here, now, the sun was shining, it was beautiful, of course I was there.
I see that Seley isn't around, but her friends are. The house is almost entirely covered with flowering vine, and a huge lovely guard dog sits. Luis, who was sitting in the shade peeling fruit with a machete, comes over and explains Seley would be back any minute and seeing my wonder at finding this enchanting farm, takes me to wander the farm and see the animals, explains the history of this finca. The animals residing on this tropical cattle ranch were, like the ostrich and ducks, hawk an swans on the ponds living in paradise, for most had their freedom and those that didn't - had the cleanest living quarters I'd ever seen. So this male ostrich came thumping over - as they walk, they thump, very likely from air trapped inside this huge bird.
Ten most interesting things about ostriches: ready go 1. Ostriches are a true dinasaur - ostrich skeletons and fossilshave been found which date back over 120 million years;
2. The ostrich has the largest eye of any land animal. It's eye measure almost five centimeters across.
3. The flightless ostrich is the world's largest bird.
4. Though they cannot fly, ostriches are fleet, strong runners - they can sprint up to 70 kilometers an hour and run over distance at 50 kilometers an hour.
5. Ostrich kicks can kill a human.
6. Contrary to popular belief, ostriches do not bury their heads in the sand.The old saw probably originates with one of the bird's defensive behaviors. At the approach of trouble, the ostriches will lie low and press their long necks to the ground in an attempt to become less visible. Their plumage blends well wth sandy soil and, from a distance, gives the appearance that they have buried their heads in the sand.
7. An ostrich will live to be 50 - 75 years old.
8. The ostrich egg will weigh 1.6 kg and is equivalent to 2 dozen chicken eggs.
9. An ostrich hen can lay 40 - 100 eggs per year, averaging about 60 eggs per year.
10.An ostrich chick grows one foot taller each month until it is 7-8 months old.
All ya need to know about ostriches, plus they're cute.
Back to our walk, Luis explained that the previous owner of this amazing hacienda was one of the large coffee producers, Utuado being in the heart of coffee growing country, and, bad news, coffee farms are disappearing due to the difficulty of finding local pickers - coffee picking is difficult work; it's grown on mountain sides, terraced, it's hot work and lots of nasty little bugs like fire ants are attracted to the plant. The pickers need to carefully pick so that the fragile branches are not damaged for next year's growth. Finding people who will do this - coupled with the giant coffee growers worldwide - make it a bit difficult for growers. Many of the haciendas in Puerto Rico have been plowed under and have become barren. This farm is now a cattle ranch, having succumbed to the decline of coffee production locally, but what it's tranformed to is a pretty amazing ranch. As Luis and I strolled along, he told me he loved Chicago, Boston and the South, wished he were there working the farms and moving from place to place, but he agreed easily that life on the mountain is incomparable to anywhere; gentle, with a sense of community, clean water, air and always fresh fruit growing. As we passed the time with some easy conversation, I learned that on weekends the city folk arrive looking for some fun, tranquility and good food, and camp out on this 127 acre farm, kids even sleeping in the huge barn, once the center for coffee processing. Seley will make - that is, butcher and cook however you want and whatever you want - an entire pig, cow, goat...... her hands will hand turn and roast on the huge spits, in the open outdoor kitchens, or "fogons". If you've never had this kind of treat, clean meat freshly killed and roasting over an open fire,with some cold beer and good conversation, you my friend are missing one of life's great pleasures. Even vegetarians would be tempted....our cattle are not treated with hormones. Poultry is processed without growth hormones and fatteners. Puerto Rico is the only territory, of all the states, that has refused to artificially fatten or drug healthy cattle. How good is that. Better believe our chicken, pig and cattle have a different taste. couple that with the easy going attitude of the mountain people - and all people are mountain people here - even the San Juan-istas - under the blazing stars on top of the mountain in the rain forest and you have bliss, or the nearest thing to it.
Finding Seley's was one of those delightful things about living here. I'm lucky to live here! Enjoy the scenery at Seley's in Tetuan.
|I got his attention! so this is what the bird that grabs my chickens looks like.|
|the male ostrich made a drum with each foot fall - from air in his tummy. each of the animals was curious and gentle. Note: I skipped the photos of the boa constructor - UGH. he was shedding anyway.|
|The honking watchdogs.|
|a solitary swan|
|These cute piggies have a tidier house than me. they scooted into a corner, one is refusing to look at me, and the other is overcoming his shynes to peek.|
|Two-year old Paso Fino|
|swans and geese cruise the pond, in the background cages of rabbits proteced from the sun, whose fate may be a stew called conejo de guisar, totally delicious! I mean, how often do you know where your dinner came from? uh-huh.|
|I love driving the one-lane winding road up, up and up to get to Seley's at the tippy-top of the mountain.|
if you would care for directions or more information, just email me, it's my pleasure to share adventures of this lovely and amazing place.
stepping off the beaten path with you,
'be yourself before somebody else beats you to it'