Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Exploring New Roads

Writing this blog has been a chance for me to grow. My confidence in my photography and my writing has been increased during the two-and-a-half years that I have been doing this. In fact, writing this blog has given me a chance to expand my horizons, and to try different forms of writing. Traveling can inspire many things. It has gotten me to go beyond just writing travel guides, and to attempt some fiction and poetry. Here is some of what I have produced.

The Lion’s Dream

I was walking through the collection at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, and I saw Henrí Rousseau’s painting The Dream. Rousseau (1844-1910) was a self-taught painter during the post-impressionist era. His work is considered Naïve or Primitive.

The Dream is almost surreal, with its positioning of a nude woman reclining on a day bed in a jungle. While Rousseau has written about the dream being the woman’s dream, my attention was captured by the two lions whose faces are in the center of the painting. This short-short is what came from this inspiration:

The Lion’s Dream

By Jonathan Lessuck (inspired be The Dream by Henrí Rousseau)

Henri Rousseau - Il sogno.jpg
By Henri Rousseau - Unknown, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=10749748

-What do you want?
-Open your eyes!
-Open your eyes!
-Why? It’s the middle of the night!
-That’s what I thought, but something is not right.
-What do you mean?
-Open your eyes!
-Shit! Where did all those people come from?
-Good, you see them too.
-What happened?
-That’s what I was going to ask you!
-But where did our home go?
-It’s still behind us. I think that idiot playing a flute woke me up.
-And where did that sofa come from?
-I have no idea. Maybe those people out there brought it.
-But where did those people come from, and why do they stop and stare at us?
-Betty, did we eat those mushrooms again?
-Oh man, I told you it was a bad idea
-Close your eyes and go back to sleep. They will all be gone in the morning.


One of the highlights of the Robert Lehman Collection at the Metropolitan Museum in New York City is Two Young Girls at the Piano be Auguste Renior (1841-1919). It was painted in 1892 on commission from the French Government, to be displayed in the new Museé de Luxembourg. This painting is one of four versions that Renior produced. What I saw was the friendship between these two girls. They are presented as being totally comfortable with each other, enjoying an afternoon of song. It inspired this poem:


By Jonathan Lessuck (inspired by Two Young Girls at the Piano by Auguste Renior (1892)

Auguste Renoir - Young Girls at the Piano - Google Art Project.jpg
By Pierre-Auguste Renoir - ZAGwT97hbG0-sg at Google Cultural Institute maximum zoom level, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=21857233

The day was warm but mother
            Said don’t go out
So we sat at the piano

The song was new and
            We didn’t know it
But you played and we sang

Sunbeams bathed us and
            Lit the room
Which we filled with our voices

An afternoon spent in
Joyous song
You and me, friends

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Visiting the West coast of Puerto Rico

El Faro de Morillos

I have traveled to Puerto Rico enough times that it is beginning to feel like a second home to me. I have become very comfortable traveling around the island. However, in all of my visits, I had never been to the island’s west coast.

It’s not that Puerto Rico is very large, but, at the size of Connecticut, the west coast is just far enough away from San Juan that you pretty much have to stay overnight, and The Amazing Ms. D and I never had a reason to pay for a second hotel in addition to our digs in the Capital. So when Ms. D’s cousins suggested sharing a house in Boquerón for a couple of nights, we immediately said yes.

Boquerón is a small beach town of about 5000 full time residents in the southwest corner of Puerto Rico. It has become a vacation spot for people from all over the island. Boquerón has beautiful beaches, great seafood and amazing views of the Mona Passage, which separates Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic.

The most beautiful of Boquerón’s beaches is Playuela also known as Playa Sucia. It is inside the Cabo Rojo Nature Reserve. The beach sits at the end of an inlet between two towering limestone cliffs, with the Caribbean on one side and salt flats on the other. This section of shore is undeveloped, so if you go, bring in everything you need for the day, and take out all of your refuse out with you are there are no cleaning crews.

Looking down on El Playuera

At the top of one of the cliffs in the Nature Reserve sits El Faro los Morillos. It sits 200 feet above the water, looking out at the Mona Passage. It is the second lighthouse built in Puerto Rico, constructed in 1887. The lighthouse is similar to many in Puerto Rico, with the tower rising up out of a building that served as the home for the keeper and his family. The keepers lived on site until 1967 when the light was renovated and fully automated. While the light has remained active, the building fell into disrepair, until a renovation project started in 2002. Today the building is home to several galleries and historical exhibits, along with space for local artisans to sell their goods.

Playa Sucia and the Salt Flats

Your author and The Amazing Ms. D enjoying a cool sit down

It is a nice walk up from the parking area to the lighthouse, but there is a better reason for the hike – the views from the top of the cliffs. Turn one way and you can see the limestone cliffs on the other side of the bay. Another, and you look across the salt flats to the island mainland. Turn again and it is the Mona Passage that fills your view. All of it is beautiful and worth the time and effort to see.

Looking up from the parking area

Walking up to el Faro

Limestone cliffs

The town of Boquerón has a small central area that sits along a beach where there are many restaurants and bars. We had lunch an excellent meal at Terramar.  Serving fresh seafood and pizza, it is a great family place for lunch or dinner.

Boquerón is part of the municipality of Cabo Rojo. The area was incorporated in 1771. It is the birthplace of Ramón Betances, the father of Puerto Rican independence, and that history is evident in the town today. It’s a beautiful plaza has three flag poles, and three flags fly overhead: the Cabo Rojo municipal flag, the Puerto Rican flag and the flag of the Lares Independence movement. The area around the plaza has many old if not historic buildings. The day we visited we had lunch at a nearby restaurant called La Herencia. Fresh, tasty criollo food was prepared by a family that has been serving the community for three generations.

This old building houses a café

Flags in Cabo Rojo's Plaza

Bust of Ramón Betances
The nearest city to Cabo Rojo and Boquerón is Mayaguez. About 15 km (10 miles) north of Cabo Rojo, Mayaguez is the eighth largest municipality in Puerto Rico. It was founded in 1760, and today is the main population center in southwest Puerto Rico. Mayaguez’s main plaza is Plaza Colón, one of the oldest plazas on the island. It was designed in 1842, after the town was destroyed by fire in 1841. Like most of the main plaza’s it was designed to be home to both the political and religious centers of the area. At one end is the Alcaldía – the old city hall, now a museum of municipal history. At the other is the city’s cathedral – Nuestra Señora de la Candelaria.

El Alcaldaría

Nuestra Señora del Candelaria

The plaza is dedicated to Cristobal Colón, who is said to have landed on the island in this area. At its center is a statue to the explorer. The plaza is lined with 16 street lamps, held aloft by odalisques representing women from Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. The historic center of Mayaguez is filled with old and historic buildings. It is worth taking the time to walk around enjoy the architecture. After your walk, stop at Rex Cream for a scoop of artesian ice cream offered in many flavors that you won’t find at home.

Our trip to Boquerón was another chance to get away from some of the more touristy parts of Puerto Rico. It was a time to enjoy the parts of the island visited by Puerto Ricans. It was a time to see the island like a native.