Monday, October 28, 2013

Shopping for Chili's

Shopping:

 

The weekends, it’s what we all live for right? Some of us stay home and enjoy the quiet and some of us fill every second with crazy things. I like to think we are in the second group. Yes, the crazy group.

 

Our weekend started with driving to Bayamon. We went to a mega box store called Cost Co. The purpose was to buy tires for my car. I am not sure why, but my car has tires that are very difficult to find in PR. This store was the only place that had the tires in Puerto Rico. It was a good day for a drive so off we went.

 

If you look on a map Bayamon is about three inches away from Mayaguez. So it should not have taken us three hours to get there. But the stop lights, traffic and curvy roads turn a quick three inch trip into a really long day trip. Plus we are still in the honeymoon stage or happy exploring stage so it’s still fun to drive and see all the crazy things you see here.

 

The drive was uneventful and we arrived at around12:00. They installed our tires and after buying a few other items we really did not need we were off. I actually saw someone in the checkout line buying a pallet of toilet paper and two full carts of canned Chili with beans.

 

I’ll bet you were trying to think of something funny to say also, huh? The only thing I could come up with was, “I hope that is enough toilet paper?” I didn’t say that out loud at least I hope I didn’t. Sometimes my words just spill out. I even surprise myself. 

 

We stopped for dinner at Chili’s in Barceloneta. Barceloneta is a coastal town on the northwest side of Puerto Rico. In its early days it was known for sugar cane and pineapple farming. It is also an old shipping port. Today it is known for its Pharmaceutical factories and outlet stores. Yep, outlet stores!  Guess where we went? Wait; guess where my lovely bride went. Liam and I wondered aimlessly around for hours kicking rocks. I really don’t think boys like to shop. I’ll bet there is research on this?

 

Anyway we left and made it home by six and decide we would go to the Mayaguez flea market at night. I know, shopping again and at night! What was I thinking? I must be crazy! The parking lot at the flea market was crowded but once inside it was virtually empty. I’m not sure where all those drivers went? It was weird. We only stayed a few minutes and left.

 

We continued our shopping adventure and went to Baskin Robbins. Did I mention that no one should ever order from a drive through in Puerto Rico? It’s true! Don’t do it. They always get it wrong and it has nothing to do with the language barrier. I think they sit in the back and deliberately do this so they will have something to laugh about later. We ended up stuck in that parking lot for over thirty minutes because of an impromptu Puerto Rican classic car show. These classic cars were everywhere with the loudest radios on the planet. All the hoods were open. The engines were bright and shiny and revving loud too. All the girls were in Bikinis. Ok, that last part wasn’t true.  We escaped without having to show off our car and made it home by10:00 and this was only Friday.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Is it worth watching?

I saw a commercial for a car company a few years back that started off with, Someday your life will flash before your eyes. Make it worth watching! It really makes you stop and think, doesn’t it? Maybe that’s what started this crazy journey? I feel sorry for my lovely bride at times. She could have had a normal quiet life in the mid-west of the US. Instead she married a knucklehead who wants to live everywhere in the world. She really has put up with a lot form me. I blame that commercial every chance I get. We have lived in Arizona, Washington DC, Wisconsin, Alaska and now Puerto Rico. It’s hard to believe we have held hands for over twenty years. She really is my best friend and my soul mate. I love her more than she will ever know.

Puerto Rico has become an incredible experience and a wonderful home. We have met wonderful people in every city we go and in every place we stop. On Sunday, we met two fantastic people in La Paraguara. They also moved to Puerto Rico to experience a different life. One of them told me that life is too short not to experience as much as you can, “You only get one shot!” That must have echoed in my head for several minutes. I wonder if he saw the same commercial.

La Paraguara is a unique seaside town on the south west side of Puerto Rico. The ocean is calm and the beaches are covered with immense mangrove forests. The town overlooks over thirty small islands with beautiful white sand beaches. As you drive over the hill into La Paraguara you find yourself in awe of the view. It is breathtaking. This town also offers tours to several small islands and trips to two separate Bio luminescent bays. Of course it has the normal tourist trap stores, bars and restaurants. It is far less commercial than other towns. The University of Puerto Rico has a research facility on one of those small islands. It would be a great place to live. The climate is very different. It is a lot less humid and more like a desert. It is one of my favorite towns so far.

Now back to that commercial. It has really caused a lot of thought provoking discussions in our house. I don’t even know what type of car it advertises. It doesn’t really matter. We always end up with this. Memories are all we really have. The money, houses, cars and other unbelievable items we continue to carry throughout our lives somehow fade. In the end, memories of family and friends are what we treasure most. Of course, I like the sights, museums and monuments but I always start off with, remember when we went to? Think about it. Most of your most memorable trips are because of the people that went with you or the people you met.

I will remember La Paraguara because of the two people we met there. They were both very positive and fun. They shared their adventure and stories. They welcomed us into their town and even had dinner with us. It is not coincidental that our thoughts of the town match how we feel about them.

Ex-Con

The Ex-con:

Well another weekend in paradise has passed. At least this is what we keep telling ourselves. The normal frustrations still occur but I think we are finally letting the craziness go by the wayside. Life in the Caribbean is truly incredible. We try every weekend to fill every moment with something fun and interesting for the kids. This weekend included a trip to Ponce, La Guancha, and La Parguara. We saw Japanese gardens, the Don Q mansion, a haunted house filled with scary creatures. We even saw some unbelievably big fish and crazy Pelicans with attitude.  Yes, those pelicans had more attitude than my kids. We also squeezed in a day of windsurfing.

On Friday, Jenn and I looked at a penthouse condo on a mountain top in La Paraguara. It has a beautiful 180 degree view of the southern Caribbean Sea. This condo is on the sixth floor of a building built into the side of a mountain. The building is not free standing and was designed to be part of the mountain.  It’s a little small but for the right price we can down size to have that view. After living on the ocean in Alaska we were very spoiled by the view we had. Besides the housing market here is still in the toilet here. So the price should be extremely negotiable? We plan on going back to see it again this weekend to discuss the possibility of changing the floor plan. If it works out we may be living in a new home very soon.

On Saturday, we started our normal weekend adventure a little late. This time it wasn’t as easy to wake the kids and get them moving. Surprised? I was. I will agree it was a long tiring week. But we were able to leave the house by 10:00. We headed east on highway 2 to La Guancha. La Guancha is a seaside port where the fish swim up to the docks and shore line. These are not normal fish. They are the size of dolphins. They look like large carp and are called, Sabalos. They are a protected fish and are hand fed from the docks. The Pelicans are all over the place and are fighting for their share of the food. I think they are a little jealous and that might be why they have so much aggressiveness/attitude? The Pelicans can stare you down like an ex-con. It’s a bit intimidating. We left after being run off by a few angry pelicans.

By now my hostages (My Lovely Bride, Maddie and Liam) were also hungry. I know, right? They stared me down like a pelican. I was instructed by Maddie to find a PF Chang’s Chinese restaurant. I was surprised that Jenn also wanted the same restaurant. Usually we all end up in some lengthy debate.  After driving all over Ponce I found the restaurant and we had a wonderful meal. After lunch my hostages were eager for the next leg of our weekend adventure.

We drove up to the DON Q Rum Mansion. I know what you’re thinking driving, alcohol, kids, and a mansion. This has the makings of a realty show. Ok, I thought that too. But the mansion was donated to the City of Ponce many years ago. The city gives tours and holds events in the mansion. It looks like a castle you would see on the Spanish Riviera. It is used as a haunted house for three weeks before Halloween. We have been to several haunted houses, but we have never seen anything like this. The line to enter was over two hours long but I will admit it was worth it. It was by far one of the scariest haunted houses we have ever been too.  I knew the Screams or Boooo’s would be in Spanish. So I was convinced they would not be able to scare us because we don’t fully understand Spanish yet. But I was so wrong. The Spanish screams and Boooo’s were scarier. We had a wonderful day in Ponce and La Guancha except for the ex-con part.

The next day we spent trying to use our yard sale find. We bought a windsurfer and a kayak for $75.00 each. Yes, I know that’s a pretty darn good deal. We drove to the closet beach and jumped right in. I was surprised Liam got right up and took off sailing. That boy has water skills. Then the wind changed and we couldn’t sail the board back. It wasn’t much fun walking along the beach all the way back to the car carrying a heavy windsurfer. But Liam carried it back like a champ. Someone had to supervise and provide encouragement, right? He stared at me like a pelican all the way back to the car.

The cave



The morning started out slow. I didn’t tell the kids what the plans were for the day. We always try to do something fun and different every weekend. I woke the kids and said today’s adventure is a surprise and to just go with it. No complaining.

That works, right? Telling kids not to complain?

We were up and out by 8:00 am. I was surprised too. But I really think my kids really like these weekend adventures. Or maybe the hang time with Dad? Or maybe they like telling their friends they actually did something over the weekend?

We drove down to Cabo Rojo, PR and meet some friends. They had invited us to go hiking with them. I had a long list of items to gather before we left. The kids did not understand why they needed long sleeves and jeans to go hiking in 100 degree weather. I kept saying just go with the flow. But I will admit it was way too hot for that type of clothing. In the back of her mind she must have thought her dad was crazy. We arrived and geared up with helmets, lights and knee pads. This is where she probably thought we all were nuts. I ended up having to tell the kids the plans as I knew they would not carry that gear over a mile to the cavern.

Our friends explained the adventure and warned us of what to expect. They said we will see bats, rats, roaches and crazy looking underground bugs. They said we will see formations that are over 10,000 years old. We might even see a snake or two. Ok, I will admit I almost backed out. They continued with, we will have to crawl on our stomachs through mud and guano (Bat Poop) for great distances. We will have to squeeze through small openings. It will be hard to breathe at times. But you will see things you have never seen before.

Sounds like fun, right? At this point my 17 year old daughter should have been running back to the car. She just smiled and rolled her eyes.  

We hiked for about a half hour and had to climb over an eight foot fence. We found the entrance and my kids came alive. They were ready to see the underground world. Plus the thought of, “it might be cooler in there!” was echoing in their heads. We geared up and crawled into the darkness.

We followed as many of the passages as we could. We crawled just like they said we would. The bats flew all around us making all kinds of horror movie type sounds. We saw a bug called a scorpion spider. I think these were scarier than the bats. It was almost as big as my hand.

As we hiked through the cavern we became increasing thirsty. Yes, that’s it. We did not bring enough water. We drank most of it before we even reached the cavern. This was the one precious item I should have doubled up on. It was 100 degrees and we were wearing jeans and long sleeves with back packs, helmets and knee pads. The cave was 81 degrees so we really didn’t notice it until sat down for a break. Thank goodness our friends were well prepared. They filled our jugs and keep us going.

We explored the entire cave and even found the spot that the pirate Roberto Cofresi hid his treasure. We left the cave and went swimming in the ocean. We had to get the Guana off, right?

It was another fantastic Guana filled weekend in Puerto Rico.

Avocados.

The Gold Covered Avocado:

I have never been more surprised than I have been this past weekend.

The day started with an 18 wheeler stopping in the left lane of the highway. Yes, this happened on the highway. This driver stopped on the FREAKING Highway and walked across to the other side of the highway to buy one AVOCADO!!!! ONE AVOCADO!!!! By the way, avocados only cost about a dollar. Sometimes you can get several for that price. So, these were not gold covered avocados or limited edition avocados. There was no need to endanger every one’s life for these avocados. Of course he also had to have the ten minute conversation about politics, relatives, dinner or whatever. I’m sure his conversation was super important too. The screeching to a stop or the honking cars didn’t seem to bother them. This truck ended up blocking both east and west bound traffic. He brought all traffic to a dead stop for over ten minutes. I really don’t get it. I have been told not to be too surprised by this. This is a fairly normal occurrence.

Then at the Plaza, a nice older lady decided to allow her friend to exit the vehicle from the middle of the road. Yes, it happened to me twice today. This entire scene appeared to be in slow motion. There were parked cars on both sides of the road. This sweet little old lady tried her very best to get out of the car. She waddled very slowly over to the curb and went into the Farmicia. She quickly waddled back out of the farmacia frantically waving her arms. I guess she forgot her phone. Ok, I can handle that. She then slowly waddled back to the curb and turned again and waddled back to the car in the middle of the street. Again the tis entire scene appeared to be in slow motion. She must have forgotten something else? Ok, my patience was wearing thin. The cars behind me started honking. She was actually running this time screaming and waving her arms. It was nice to see her move faster but everything still appeared to be in slow motion. She forgot her purse this time. The traffic continued to back up. The honking did not seem to bother anyone except me. She continued to get her purse and then proceeded to have that ten minute conversation about politics, relatives, dinner or whatever in the middle of the road. After about ten minutes a parking space opened up and they moved over. I was so amazed by their lack of concern. I have been told not to be too surprised by this. This is a fairly normal occurrence.

I really thought nothing else could frustrate me today. I was wrong. It started raining on my way home. The wipers were in turbo mode. Lighting was dancing around everywhere. It was actually beautiful. I could actually see a rainbow in the far off distance. Then the power went out and then the stop lights went out.

In a normal place everyone would slow down and be more cautious, not here. I have 23 stop lights on my way home. I had made it through about 10 of them. The next 13 lights I knew were going to be fun. Each intersection from that point on had some form of accident. One was really bad. And believe it or not, during this storm someone tried to cross the highway with a bunch of horses. If you can, try to imagine this: Cars traveling at 60+ mph, horses everywhere, no street lights, no stop lights and rain coming down so heavy that you can barely see out the window even with turbo wipers. It was a horrible scene.

Yes, I made it home. I am not sure about the horses or the knucklehead that was leading the horses. But I was glad to walk in my front door that night.

I really wish they would sell Mojitos or Margaritas at the street corners instead of gold covered avocados.

G P S !!

The weekend Road Trip:

It was only 100 degrees with 95% humidity. Let me say that again, “It was 100 degrees with 95% humidity!”

Have you ever tried to do anything in this kind of heat? I know! It’s impossible to do anything except a road trip in a car with A/C. So that’s what we did…

Our plan was to go to Costco in Ponce and get a few items and drive back. We decided to trust the iPhone map program. We just downloaded the updated software that should have fixed the bugs. We really should never trust the iPhone map or any GPS device in PR. After arriving in Ponce we discovered there was no Costco in that town. We then Google searched for the closest Cosco and found that it was in Caguas. We drove north for about an hour. The map program took us to a gymnasium in a really bad neighborhood on the east side of Caguas. We drove back and forth for over thirty minutes trying to find it.

This is when most lovely brides would say, “Stop the car and get directions!” Luckily we both don’t speak Spanish very well. Besides if someone did try to tell us which way to go we would have not been able to keep up with the street names. So that argument never happened. I actually like that part of Puerto Rico, the not asking for directions part. Another weird issue was the location dot on the map. It kept moving further away from us. This still makes no sense to us and was very frustrating…

We never found the Costco in Caguas.

We decided to change our plans and check out the new IKEA in Bayamon. We were almost in San Juan anyway, so it should have been a short drive.

I’m sure you know where this is going… TRAFFIC, TRAFFIC, and more TRAFFIC in every direction. We were in the Friday Puerto Rican rush hour. So we pulled up our trusty iPhone map program and found the store. The weird thing about this new map program was the IKEA store kept moving around on the map. After an hour of bumper to bumper Friday afternoon traffic we pulled into the parking area of IKEA. We were surprised to find a parking spot in front. IKEA stores are normally an all-day shopping adventure. We thought we would eat at the world famous IKEA snack area and wander around in the air conditioning and dream of decorating our future home. We walked in and found this IKEA to be a catalog store. Here you order and pay for your items and return the next day to pick them up. This IKEA only had a few items for display and three cash registers. It was like a small retail store with nothing to actually buy. We were so disappointed. So far the entire day was an EPIC failure so we decided to head home.

While driving home we started to wonder where is the closest Costco was located. So we asked the trusted iPhone, SIRI. She said Costco was 19.8 miles in the opposite direction. The funny thing about this is, we were right in front of the store. We laughed and asked again. Because that’s what you do, right? She gave us directions for another store about 14 miles away. SIRI never found the store right in front of us. I think we are completely done with SIRI and GPS!

Maybe I will stop next time and ask for directions?

Positive

The positive attitude tries to continue.  

It’s funny how life flies by. We have been on the island for over four months. The best part of this adventure is we find time to surf or dive every weekend. It is why we moved here, right?

We adopted a stray Sato. We named her Maya after the City of Mayaguez. She has turned out be an exceptional addition to our home. We have even taught her to stay on the stand up paddle board with us. I will admit she did not enjoy this at first. But I think she is getting used to the idea that a road trip means another water experience. I think her mind goes something like this.
Yeah, Yeah, Yeah, Road Trip, Road Trip, Road Trip! Wait!!!!! That’s a surf board…… Damn it, here we go again! I’m sure after a few months she will be thinking more like this. “Yeah, Yeah, Yeah, Surfing, Surfing, Surfing, I can’t wait! “At least that is what I hope she will start to think.

We also discovered of a Boa constrictor at our back door. Ok, I have seen snakes before like Black snakes, Garden snakes and Rattle snakes. But I have never seen anything like this this! It was huge! This was a little different than seeing the other kind of snakes. Maybe just because it’s so big, I don’t know. But it is a threatening and heart stopping. He eventually left slithered away.
Ok, no one has ever told me that roaches fly!!! We were helping the kids with homework and a roach the size of my pen ran across the ceiling. Let’s call him GIGANTICA! That’s Puerto Rican for BIG FREAKIN ROACH! After all the screaming stopped. I thought I would be the hero and rescue my wife and kids from the roach. I stood on a chair and tried to reach up with a paper towel and kill the roach. This is where the knowledge of flying roaches would have been helpful. As I reached up GIGANTICA took off and started flying all over the house. The screaming started again and everyone ran for their lives. GIGANTICA landed in the kitchen and crawled into our spatula holder. I, being the hero grabbed the container and threw it outside.

Yes, we had to buy all new spatulas and a new holder. No one in my house would ever touch them again. But I was a hero for one night. So it was worth it!
I saved my family from GIGANTICA the killer roach from Mayaguez. I think this would make a great B movie.

Another issue we continue to run into is the language barrier. I took Jenn’s car to the repair shop to have the front suspension looked at. I asked for a repair quote so I could buy the parts. They called me about four hours later and said the car is ready and runs great. I was excited because I thought they may have found a loose tie rod or something really simple. When I arrived they told me they replaced the brakes in the rear.
I said, “Excuse me, the car was brought in for a front end problem. The brakes in the rear have nothing to do with the front!”
They said, “Yes, yes, yes the brakes are good now!”
I repeated my statement, “The car was brought in for a front end problem.”
I got the same answer, “Yes, yes, yes the brakes are good now.”
I was so amazed! I paid the $65.00 bill and left. I guess it could have been worse? They could have replaced the engine or transmission. I still have a huge learning curve and an even bigger language problem.

Overall, we are still having fun. The kids are really starting to love school. I am making great strides at work. I call them great strides because any improvement is better than it was. My co-workers are great. We even are making a few friends. And most of all we are learning new things like roaches fly.

Spider web

Spider webs…

I had so many plans to have a great weekend with the family. I had everything planned out. I should know by now that plans always change in Puerto Rico. Liam was sick with an ear ache so that prevented the kids from their scheduled surfing and golfing lesson Isabella. Madison wanted to sleep in anyway. She said she was working on her beauty sleep and its hard work!

So Jenn and I left early Saturday morning and drove to Rincon. Who needs kids anyway, right? We packed up Maya our little Puerto Rican Princess or Sato Perro. It was our plan to teach her to sit on the paddle board so she could go with us on our adventures. On the way to Rincon she threw up all over the back seat of the truck. I forgot to mention she gets motion sickness. Maybe this isn’t such a good plan? We cleaned it up the best we could and continued on to our favorite Beach, Tres Palmas. The waves were huge and the wind was blowing over 25 mph. It would not have been fun for us to paddle board today. So we decided to go back home and pack up the kids for a road trip. I guess we needed or wanted the kids after all. The plans changed again.

In Utuado we were rear ended by an old Nissan Pathfinder with a cattle guard on the front. It mangled the rear bumper of our car. Isaac the driver blacked out and crashed into us. No one was hurt. It was just a little jarring. He said something about low blood sugar. We called the police to report the accident and several hours later he showed up. I’m glad we had some local entertainment to watch while we waited. Across the street a new church was singing songs and passing out prayer cards. We met some incredible people from all over Puerto Rico including Isaac who crashed into us. We had our first experience with the Puerto Rican Police. We were actually surprised. The Police Officer was very courteous. We exchanged insurance information and off we went.

We decided to go to Lago Dos Bocas. It is a beautiful lake in the middle of Puerto Rico. The lake has a ferry system that takes you to the many different restaurants around the lake. Of course only one restaurant is open on Saturday night. We had a wonderful meal with horrible service. I wish this would change. We found out that the ferry driver was the actual restaurant owner. Maybe someone else should drive the boat and he should stay at the restaurant? It probably wouldn’t matter! We made it home around 10:30.

Sunday morning, we went for a walk and bumped into a fellow paddle boarder. He said conditions were perfect and we should go to Rincon. We loaded up the kids this time and headed to Rincon for a fun day in the sun. No dogs this time.  We had a great day. The kids love the water and handle the paddle boards like pros.

Have you ever seen someone walk through a spider web? They make some crazy body movements including swinging their arms all over as they try to remove the spider web. Imagine no spider web and still seeing those crazy movements.

Yep, that is Jenn trying to keep her balance on a paddle board.

We had a great weekend. Even though our plans changed we still found time to be a family and met new people.

Letter from Sato

Letter from our new dog........

Hola/Hello,

My name is Maya. I am a stray dog from streets of Mayaguez. I wish I could talk English. If I could I say what a happy and lucky puppy I am. My new family only speaks English. But that’s OK they are trying to speak Spanish. This message will be in English so they can understand.

I am surprised by how different my life is from one month ago. I used to search the streets all day and night for food, water and human affection. I do not know what happened to my owner.  And because I was never spayed, I had a litter of puppies before I was a year old.  It was a scary and hard life me. Then one day a nice gentleman that works at K-mart in Mayaguez picked me up on his way to work.  I was covered with fleas and smelled worse than the Mayaguez dump. I was surprised that he helped me. I was really in rough shape. He brought me to Kmart where Mabel and some of the other employees tried to care for me. They brought me food, water and many smiles. I was really hoping I could stay at Kmart. The dog food selection at Kmart was fantastic. They also had a great selection of dog toys. I was in Heaven. I never really got to be a puppy. I really wanted to play.

It was truly my lucky day!  I was paraded around the store like a queen. It was a glorious day.

Then I met my new family. I did not know this yet. A mother and daughter were shopping in Kmart. When they walked out of the store the daughter reached over to pet me. They spoke to Mabel for several minutes in English. I really didn’t know what they were saying. It was all in English….

Mabel told them about her co-worker who picked me up on his way to work. She also said something about trying to find someone to care for me. By then the whole family came in to see me.  The first thing they said was "Let's take her home!!!"

I understood that! 

They were so excited! I think they were more excited than me? Then their mom said "You know you're dad probably will never talk to us again! But let’s do it anyway!”  

They took me to a veterinarian. That was not fun. He poked me then took some of my blood. Then they gave me my first bath, YUCK! They actually had to give me another bath after that first one. I was covered with fleas. I actually enjoyed the baths. Then they gave me medicine and took me home.

I was excited and nervous. I had never had a home before. What is this going to be like? Are they crazy? They could be crazy?

When we arrived at my new home I saw the biggest, most handsome dog I have ever seen! His name is Duke. Duke is a strong handsome dog. It was love at first sight. He was my gentle giant. He is very kind and lets me climb all over him.

But I still hadn't met their father, the Alpha dog.  

The girls in my new family started putting a beautiful red silk bow around my neck. I really didn’t know what was going. Everything they said was in English. It was frustrating at first. Then they put me in a decorated box. I was really freaking out. They are crazy!!!

Then I heard, "HAPPY BIRTHDAY DADDY!!!" and a new person I had never met opened the box.  Everyone in the room became super quiet including me. I knew he was the decision maker. I was not sure what to do. So, I looked up at him and batted my eyelashes. He looked at me and said, "Wow, where did she come from?” I continued to blink my eyes and then he reached down to pet me. I licked his hand then his face. I knew he would help me. I knew he would like me. I knew it! After only a few minutes I was rolling around and playing on the floor with my new family.  

He now calls me his little Puerto Rican princess! I was so excited that he liked me. I sleep by his side every night. I think he loves me as much as I love him.

Like I said earlier, my life is so completely different from a month ago. Now instead of looking for shelter on the streets I get to sleep in a large bed. I wake up every morning and greet everyone in my new family. I have two good meals per day and spend the entire day with Duke, the love of my life.

I want to thank that man that found me on the street and brought me to Kmart. I want to thank Mabel for helping me find a home. And most of all, I want to thank my new family.

I love you all….



Day Who really cares:

Well we had another fantastic weekend in the Caribbean. I hope this isn’t too long?

On Friday we dropped off the dogs at the kennel locked up the house and picked up the kids from school and drove the car to Old San Juan. We were surprised that it only took three hours to get there. The traffic through Ponce was terrible. I will admit the roads were not as bad as everyone has told us. In fact, everything we have been told seems to have been exaggerated. Nowhere in San Juan did we feel unsafe or threatened. We were also surprised how organized the road system was.

One of the most amazing surprises was the GPS actually worked. I know, right???  

We had reservations at the Embassy Suites Hotel in Carolina. We arrived shortly after sunset. It was a nice hotel on the outside even the pool was beautiful. A cruise ship had just arrived and the hotel was super crowded. We were surprised to see the rooms were so tired and worn out. In the first room the carpets were wet and all the furniture was stained or damaged. They moved us to another room which was exactly the same. But at least the carpet was dry. It didn’t matter much because we were not going to spend much time in the room anyway.

Saturday morning we headed to Old San Juan. We walked the cobble stone streets, toured the forts, rode a horse and carriage, flew a kite, had lunch at Senor Frogs and listened to the kids fight. I will admit it was incredibly hot so they had an excuse. We all got incredibly sunburned. We decided to take a cab back to the hotel. Now that was a real Puerto Rican adventure. This should be on the must do list when visiting San Juan. The driver was more interested in talking to us than driving. It was one of the scariest cab rides I have ever had. He blocked intersections, cut people off made illegal U-turns over curbs and almost hit everything on the way to the hotel.  We were shaking when we arrived at the hotel and ended up eating dinner at the hotel restaurant. None of us wanted to go back out in a taxi.

Overall our first experience in Old San Juan was fantastic. It is a beautiful city with a lot to do and see.

On Sunday the hotel hosted an employee family day. The employees and family members brought in some really strange things for the family day. The biggest surprise was a toaster (yes, a toaster). The other items included a George Foreman Grill, actual BBQ grills, a rotisserie grill for cooking chickens and tons of beach equipment. Plus every family had their own huge radio. The pool capacity was around 200 people. The amount of employees and family members that ran into the pool area at 10:00 was around 400 people. It was like a scene from the family day in the movie Caddy Shack. It was absolutely insane, noisy and way overcrowded.

We left the hotel at 10:15 and headed west to Farado. In retrospect we should have stayed to see what they did with that toaster? I really wanted to know? Who brings a toaster to a company picnic?

On the way home we saw some amazing beaches and resorts. We stopped for lunch at Panda Express in Farado. It was so nice to actually have good Chinese food. As we left we thought we would follow the GPS again. This was another huge mistake. Route 103 goes through the mountains and zig zags all over. Plus most of the higher elevation parts are washed out or hanging off a 500 foot cliff. This was not a safe road!!! Wait, It was not a road!!!!

We then went to the Go cart raceway in Ponce. That was a lot of fun. I could not catch Liam or Maddie. They were just too fast. I zipped right by my lovely bride. I think she was on a scenic tour of the raceway. We should have spent more time there. That was well worth the money.

From there we decided to check out the only winery in Western Puerto Rico. It is located in Guanica about fives off Hwy 2. We were surprised by the red house wine. It was actually pretty good. It was not a world class wine but for Puerto Rico it was ok. I guess we were not too impressed as we did not by a bottle to take home. It was more a service issue. The waiter/host was terrible. I think he thought we should serve him?

It was another fun filled weekend in the Caribbean.

Day Whatever:


Well, it's been a while since I have written anything about our new life in Puerto Rico. I started working and that has been an exhausting challenge. Everything is so different here. My co-workers are great. My work environment not so good. The building is in terrible shape. I won't go into to many details about that but I will say that I hope to improve that. 

We had our first real power outage. It lasted an entire day. Scary, huh? The security cameras stopped working too. OMG! No guns! No Cameras! What are we to do?

We did have Mr. Gadgets (Liam) Go Bag. A Machete, MRE's and matches what else do we need, right? He saved the day. 
When the power did come back on it was not enough to turn on a TV. Just a light! And that light was as bright as a lighting bug! The best part about the power outage was the lack of water. The water stopped working and didn't come back on for several days. Liam and I showered in the pool. The girls at school or the gym. 

I keep trying to be positive. That is my role as a dad, right? But life here is so different from Alaska. 

I will admit I am very proud of my family for holding it together so well. We had our first 105 degree day. No one enjoyed that including the truck. It looks like the engine and transmission are burned up. It overheated and died last Thursday. It got so hot the transmission melted too. 
So we are on a quest to find another Puerto Rican beauty this weekend. Liam says he wants a car that can hop up and down. Madison wants a Bentley or Maserati! 

Hmmm, that's an option, 
right? 

Jenn wants a old Land Rover and I all want something that runs! And not a horse. Yes, I know horses are everywhere!!!

I wonder who will win this battle? 

We also have a new addition to our Puerto Rican house. And its not the big lizard who greets us every morning in the shower. That's Pedro he is already part of the family. 

Jenn and the kids were at Kmart getting more STUFF that we really did not need and saw a super ugly little girl dog. The store manager picked her up on his way to work. I guess she was running around on the highway. She was covered with flees and completely malnourished.  She is so ugly that it's hard not to smile when you look at her. They grabbed her and took her to the local Vet. She was in pretty bad shape. They spent a small fortune and saved one small dogs life. 
So now we have a Puerto Rican stray dog protecting our hearts. 

I'm taking today off from work. 

Surfs up in Isabella. Cya

Day 22:

Day WHATEVER:

I stopped keeping track of the days. I'm trying to buy into my new life and my new world. My new favorite world is , MA√ĎANA. We still love it here. So we are doing something right.

I started work and that also has been an experience. I HAVE SO MUCH TO LEARN!
We are settling into the new house and adopted a stray dog. She is the worlds smallest Pit Bull.  
I'm hoping she will come out of her shell. She is very  timid. The kids named her Maya. They say they named her that because of the town we live in. I think they named her that because we live at the end of the world. A Mayan 2012 thing? Who knows? 

I had to buy another car. That too was a ridiculous experience. From the purchase to the payment everything was difficult. Plus, the DMV really needs to be looked at. Wait in this line to buy a tax stamp then wait in another line to sign title off. Then wait in another line to get the mybeta. I'm not sure what the mybeta is for? It just seems to be another tax? I lost entire day to that process. 

We discovered a few more exciting things. The wild monkeys run in packs. These monkeys are bigger than I expected. Kinda like small apes. Crazy, I know.
The other new thing are the snakes! Yes, BOA's and they are not small!
We found one in our window the other night. 

Everyday brings frustrating, exciting, challenging things. 

Two months till surfs up!! We are getting excited....

Day 21:

Day 21:

Another amazing day! 

Have I mentioned how much I love Puerto Rico? Everyday is truly a gift. 

We are in the middle of a banana plantation. We get to see different kinds of bugs everyday. Bugs that we never thought existed. Some of this bugs are super tiny flying bugs and drive you crazy. Others are as big as  a car. The grosses is the cockroach. They thrive here due to the high amount of rotting fruit. It nice to see these right away in the morning next to the bed. 

We woke up late around 8:00 am and killed a few cockroaches. We then jumped in the car to look at a recently foreclosed property. After about an hour we finally found it. Again the GPS took us to the top of a mountain no where near the actual property. I will never trust a GPS again! Why do I keep trying? The house is located in a weird place. It would have been hard to make it into a home for us and needed way too much work.
We went back to the cabin with great sadness. We had really thought we could make something work with this one until we saw it. We have been living out of a suitcase for 21 days, We saw no end in sight.

When we pulled in front of the cabin the kids were out front. They had made us breakfast. It was so sweet and it really cheered us up. And it was good!!! The fruit smoothie was the best. 

Charlie came by for coffee and started to help making calls. His Spanish is way better than ours. He helped us find a few more places to look at. The temperature was starting to become more and more unbearable! 

After breakfast Liam and I took off for the gas station. The temperature started to get into the 90's by 10:00 am and the humidity was off the charts! We decided to head over to one of the first houses we looked at. When we pulled in front a cleaning crew was there. Liam and I walked through the entire house again.we didn't find any cockroaches. That was it for me! I knew this was it! 

We drove back to the cabin. I asked Jenn to come back out to look at that house again. She reluctantly did. After 5 minutes and no cockroaches she also was convinced and we agreed this was it. We called the realtor and closed the deal by 7:00 PM

We have a house and we have the keys! 

After that super fast life changing event we drove back to the cabin. 

Something really strange happens here in Mayaguez on Saturday night. Maybe in all of Puerto Rico? Everyone who owns a horse goes for a ride in the dark. They wear dark clothes on dark narrow streets. The riders met at the top of a dangerous, winding hilly roads and drink a lot of beer. No brightly colored clothes. No bright reflectors. Nothing to keep them safe from speeding cars on a Saturday night. 
It's crazy and unbelievably dangerous!!!!

To celebrate the new living arrangement we drove to Ricon to eat at a Thai restaurant called, "Ode to Elephants.". It was so hard to find in the dark! But after an hour of fighting each other and the GPS we found it. It's just up the hill from the world famous Pools Beach. 

This restaurant is by far one of the best we have found in Puerto Rico. The food was fabulous. Service was great! The prices are cheap. And the it has the best views of Rincon and Aguadilla. 

ESTA EXCELLENTE!!! MUY BUENO!!!! I am trying. 

We left Rincon headed to Mayaguez around 11:00 pm. The roads between were filled with Police, broken down cars, horses, beer cans and crazy drunks walking in the middle of the roads. It's like a scene from the Walking Dead TV show. I felt like I was driving in a video game. I had to dodge crazy hazards, find my way in a maze of dark narrow streets and avoid the speeding and stumbling drunks on horseback. 

I think from now on we will stay inside on Saturday nights with the cockroaches. 

Did I mention I found a real coffee shop? 
Thank god!!!!

Things really are starting to turn around...