swimming with the fishes

I absolutely love fish and aquariums and have made numerous posts over the past couple years of trips I’ve made to the Pittsburgh (here, here, and my favorite one) and Chicago aquariums (the jellies, more jellies, and ugly fishes). So, when we started planning our vacation to Puerto Rico, two obvious questions arose: 1, will I be able to overcome my claustrophobia to wear a mask and snorkel and 2. how was I going to take photos? For 4 days, we were going to be staying on Shacks Beach, one of the best snorkeling areas of Puerto Rico and could rent snorkeling gear for the entire time from our condo group so I knew we would HAVE to try it out. After much deliberation, we decided to take the plunge (haha) and order an Outex get-up for my DSLR, rather than buying a cheap-ish waterproof point-and-shoot that my husband knew I’d never be satisfied with because it wouldn’t shoot RAW (ok, I’m a camera snob. I love my Nikon… it is with me at almost all times). After a few dips in waterfalls and swimming pools and bathtubs, I started to trust that my camera would be ok in the ocean… but still not so sure about me.

However, after getting a brief lesson from the very helpful staff at Villa Tropical (recommended highly if you are visiting Puerto Rico!), we headed out. Felt quite goofy trying to put the fins on, but fortunately it was low tide and the snorkeling area was only like 2 feet deep… Put the mask on and tried to tell myself that I have to breath through my mouth, not my nose. mouth. not nose. mouth. not nose. This was my mantra as I braced myself to put my face underwater. And then OH! MY! WOW!!!! There was so much! All these little and not so little and colorful and not so colorful fish and urchins and caterpillar things and just WOW. And the sun refracts in the water and makes a grid of rainbows everywhere! I was so excited that the first day I couldn’t pause to go in to get my camera, I just wanted to see it all. Anyone who knows me, or is a photographer, will understand that almost NOTHING will make you not care at all about your camera when you see amazingly beautiful things. For the next couple days, I lived for making sure that we were at the beach for low tide. I got a bit sea-sick if we stayed out for more than an hour, or if there was much wind, so we never ventured away from Shacks Beach… but there was so much to see.

Sadly, the pictures don’t do the snorkeling justice. It was still worth the effort, and the Outex was great, so no regrets there. Just wish I had had more time to practice with settings, it’s really hard to shoot when you can’t look through a view finder or adjust settings easily on the fly… but for what it’s worth, here’s what I caught.


resting by the sea

One of the things that attracted my husband to Puerto Rico when deciding on where we should go on vacation was the cemetery in Old San Juan. It’s next to the ocean, between the two forts, and absolutely gorgeous with all of the white crosses and statues. Unfortunately, it didn’t appear to be open to the public. However, you could get pretty close to it by walking out along the fort walls, and I managed to get some pretty good shots. I will confess though, I didn’t see the green parakeets… my husband texted me and I was running over but they flew away before I got there šŸ˜¦

los gatos

I’m still working my way through the photos from vacation… it’s quite the long process– hopefully I’ll finish before I go on another vacation! Today I finished up working on all of the photos of the stray cats that live in Old San Juan. A very friendly bunch of felines, most of them just wait for you to come pet them and then tag along for a bit afterwards. Unlike around here, where people seem to hate stray animals, in Old San Juan it was rather embraced with people leaving plates of food out for the cats all over.

Hitchcock horror!

In Old San Juan is Parque de las Palomas (or Pigeon Park) where Alfred Hitchcock could have easily filmed “Birds” without the need for any props… just a bit of bird seed would do. I was too scared to try, but several people (mostly very brave kids) would hold out a handful of feed and have several birds land on them, with even more fighting for a chance! It looked terrifying but I’m pretty sure their squeals were actually with delight and not terror. I was content with just shooting all of the birds, rather than feeding them. I’m also happy to report that after two visits to the park, I came away bird poo free!

Dinosaurs are ALIVE!!

Before leaving for vacation, I was hoping to see at least one iguana (maybe two, if I was really lucky!), and maybe some other little lizards. Little did I know! The first set we saw were at San Cristobal, one of the Spanish forts in San Juan. There was a pile of rocks and I saw at least half a dozen in the area, thrilling! Saw a bunch of other lizards around that area. Then, on the other side of the island at Isabela, apparently the iguanas can grow up to 5 feet long and are considered a bit of nuisance. Saw a couple more iguanas, a bunch of little lizards (even an itty bitty baby, only about an inch big), and even a couple bright blue lizards (sadly, that was when I was atop a horse and working a camera while still terrified of the horse was out of the question!).

It was pretty hard to chose favorites, so here’s a bunch for you! Enjoy! (and remember, you can click on them to see them larger on black… they are much better that way).