Tuesday, September 23, 2014

My Grandparent's Colorful House and Gorgeous Tropical Garden in Puerto Rico

With my home tour series I love to share the real homes of makers/creatives/friends/interesting-people with aesthetics to admire. This time I'm sharing a home that's influenced my ethos and aesthetic itself; my grandparent's house in Ponce, Puerto Rico. My love of gardening, bright colors, Spanish-style homes, growing my own food, all of it stems from the very same house my dad, his four sisters and brother were raised on a tight budget.

The guest bedroom where we stay on visits. Bed outfitted with light sheets because none of our family members have air conditioning. The heat! Oppressive.

The area's rough, my family worries when I meander around to take photos of the colorful houses with paint chipping off the cement facades. "They're going to think you're a cop scoping the place out, be careful!" my dad chides when I escape the "safety" of my grandparent's courtyard. During one visit a drug dealer's errand bullet killed a neighborhood kid, on another we witnessed a drug war scene like one from an action flick with helicopters and spotlights while we were coming down from a hill top. (Where we ironically, took photos of a giant cross.) During this last visit things were quiet, it looks like the area is gentrifying. I was told the land was part of a low-income housing project back in the 60s when my grandparents obtained it. 

The furnishings are simple, traditional and homey. During the first visit I can remember when I was 7 I recall things being much more minimal, it looks like a little more is added every time I visit. Funny, after staying with family members for a week my minimalist apartment felt barren and empty. The home was a humble 2 bedroom then, later my grandparents won a bit of lottery money (not millionaire status in the least) and extended the house a bit into the backyard. It's still a humble, cozy abode. My grandfather still paints and maintains his home entirely by himself well into his eighties.

The courtyard, front and back yard are full of ornamental and edible tropicals. Papaya and coffee plants are in the front. Mighty avocado, breadfruit, and starfruit trees are in the back. Combined with bananas from neighbors I cut up the bounty into morning fruit feasts for the family.

I love this retro chalkware piece of a traditional Puerto Rican home with an outhouse, rain barrel, and the national tree in the background. I wonder who produced these very specific pieces?

The backyard is small and narrow but filled with plants and even a cage with birds.

The giant breadfruit tree. Breadfruit is an amazingly delicious starchy food, it's helped islanders survive tough times for generations throughout the Caribbean.

Walking around my grandparent's tiny yard and their neighborhood (future post) set me to dreaming of having my own Puerto Rican abode where I'd grow a killer garden of tropicals in their natural habitat and curate and lovely home.

Above, the day's starfruit harvest before they were chopped in oatmeal. How fun would it be to run a bed and breakfast or hostel in this tropical paradise?

Directly across the street is a colorful playground that brings back memories. I have never seen the neighborhood's kids use it. (Perhaps to hot to play when I visit in the summer?) When I was 7 my mom told me it's full of drugs and used for drug deals and to stay away. I recall seeing cops throw around a couple of guy's bikes before arresting them and didn't understand what that was about at the time. Still don't, actually. Destroying their rides before taking them in?

I love the old doors, thriving tropicals, the colors and collections, all of my family have such beautiful homes.

With any luck we'll be back again, I wish I could share this Eden with everyone. Every time I visit it's tempting to never fly back to Florida.

My brother jumping in my shot. As siblings do.

This is the house where a family of eight was raised and fed on humble means and that innate thriftiness has trickled down to me. We were never rich, but I'm grateful for the lessons the simple life has taught me.

'Til next time, Puerto Rico. Next time we have to explore that bioluminecent bay!

/Comments Off : I'm staying at "The Hostel in the Forest" in Brunswick Georgia today! So excited to sleep in a tree house, walk tails, swim in a suits-optional lake, and enjoy complimentary vegan dinners. I'll be back Friday :D
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