Bats & Black Cats

Somehow Halloween went from celebrating so much going on in this time of year to... logos. Certain images just signify Halloween now... pumpkins, witches, bats, spiders & black cats. Not that any of these are in particular scary (Ok we have some big hairy Caribbean spiders that would make your skin crawl, but I digress), but some have a very long tradition and association with Halloween and some just... do not.
Here in Puerto Rico we take our witches (brujas) extremely seriously, being that most of the island believes strongly in Afro-Cuban Santeria (Orisha), and the existance of Brujeria (witchcraft). Although the Caribbean is not known as some of the countries still killing wtiches in 2013 (7 Countries That Still Kill Witches) still the Caribbean bat and our homeless street cats that happened to be born with black hair desperately pay the price.

Puerto Rico was home to 16 types of bats, but 2 species have already gone extinct, like so many Caribbean animals that have left the face of the Earth recently. According to the book Bats of Puerto Rico: An Island Focus and a Caribbean Perspective by Michael R. Gannon, the Caribbean holds some of the most fascinating species of bats, and these creatures are the only naturally occuring mammals on Puerto Rico that were not introduced by the Taino, Spanish, or Africans. Other than those who eat only nectar or fish, most species of Puerto Rican bats are happy to live off of our very bountiful array of insects, or rotting fruits. You would think we would follow the example of Austin, TX and love our bats unconditionally! We are trying, through the Puerto Rico Departamento de Recursos Naturales y Ambientales, to identify where the majority of these little guys live so we can declare conservaional habitats for them, and there are many programs trying to educate and open the local communities to how awesome these little guys really are!

Black cats are not so lucky, and still do not have public opinion on their side. Every year around Halloween, and every unlucky Friday the 13th, there are reports of black cats getting killed on the island. Local T/N/R professionals Save A Gato always have their eyes and ears to the ground, helping the street cats of Viejo San Juan, Puerto Rico, and they always find fosters or temporary homes for their pure black friends on the street. No animal shelters will, or should, have any black cats available for adoption, for fear of them being abused, tortured or killed. Even if not satanic or witch-like, black cats still have a negative aura to them on the island, and should be protected at all costs during these times of the year.
Hopefully throughout the year we will promote bats & cats enough that by next Halloween they will be a little less scary (or scared) and shown a bit more love!

Local Events Early November!

Sueña en grande un pequeño agricultor

de el Nuevo Dia 
29 de septiembre de 2013

Sueña en grande un pequeño agricultor

José Esteban López aspira a crear una escuela agrícola para niños de su pueblo
La familia de José vive en el barrio Vegas Abajo, en el área urbana de Adjuntas. (JORGE.RAMIREZ@GFRMEDIA.COM)
Por Sandra Caquías Cruz /scaquias@elnuevodia.com
ADJUNTAS – Los juegos electrónicos y la música urbana pudieran cautivar a cualquier niño de 10 años, pero ese no es el caso de José Esteban López Maldonado. Él vive enamorado de su finca y los frutos que en ella cultiva.
“Me gusta la agricultura porque sin ella no hay frutos y sin frutos no hay vida”, subrayó el pequeño de piel trigueña y pelo azabache.
José ama la tierra. También la música típica y la que interpreta con su cuatro entre las apartadas montañas del barrio Limaní, en Adjuntas, donde su padre le obsequió cinco cuerdas de terreno para que las cultivara.
Carmelo López, padre de José y quien trabajó de vendedor en una joyería, se encarga de las restantes cuerdas que poseen, todas en el sector Helechales.
José tiene tres empleados que le ayudan en las faenas agrícolas mientras él estudia el quinto grado en la escuela Francisco Pietri Mariani, a pocos pasos de la finca. Siembra café, plátanos, guineos, chinas y guayaba. Gran parte de ellos los vende en un mercado agrícola que realiza la Universidad de Puerto Rico, recinto de Cayey.

Island Farmers Markets to Enjoy!!

Plan Your Own DAY OF THE DEAD Bash!!

You have a space, a few friends, and a vision. Day of the Dead done right... at your house!

I believe most Mexican foods were created for fiestas! It is so easy to find great party portions, dips and chips, and finger foods done quick and easy! A quick vegan 7 Layer Dip, Black Bean Avocado Salad, Yucca Taquitos & a couple trays of brightly colored cupcakes should win over any crowd, but for more tips, http://www.veganmexicanfood.com is the way to go.

This is where Pandora really pays off. Mariachi music is the best, and our favorite Mexican artist, Lila Downs,  rocks any concert, event, or party! And yes, somehow The Cramps always works as well. For a fun touch put out little instruments around the room as working decorations. Skull maracas are fun on an end table, or for shaking it on the dancefloor!

Color color color!  skulls and flowers cut out of tissue paper are fun, as are garlands cut of brightly colored paper.  Balloons, art, and materials of BRIGHT color always work well. Piñatas can be beautiful (not just for kids parties anymore) and the candies and trinkets can be put out in bowls around the room.

Although the tissue paper cutouts are extremely traditional, if you are looking for a more authentic look, real or dried orange and yellow flowers (Chrysanthemums and Marigolds), small candles, dried corn, bowls of colored dried beans, and hanging bright or dark colored materials are some great ideas.

Face painting-know a tattoo artist or make up artist that can really whip up good Day of the Dead face paint? Put them to work & let them get creative! Not only are all halloween face paints safe & available during this time, but also glitter, sequins, and stencils can make this a lot more fun!

Sugar skull or chocolate skull decorating- Sugar skulls are easy to make (especially if you don't live in a humid climate), and are so much fun to decorate! Brightly colored icings, edible glitters, and cupcake decorations can make beautiful skulls! (recipes and supplies can be found here http://mexicansugarskull.com/sugar_skulls/sugar-skull-supplies.html)

Mix up your favorite punch, sangria, and margarita mixes ahead of time, and chill some Coronas and cut limes, so the bar can run itself! If you have a bartender or extra time, Tequilla Sunrises, Hibiscus mixers, and Mexican Hot Choclate shooters are party boosters!

Have fun, and get creative! I love Day of the Dead because to me it brings meaning, culture, tradition & style to our already spooky Halloween time, the holiday that lost its roots many many decades ago! And as always, any party is always more fun as a vegan pot luck!! Enjoy!