Zika with Parmesan

Zika sounds like an Italian dish but it’s a virus that has garnered a lot of attention in the news recently. Brazil kept the taboo subject out of the Olympic media, but it seems to be the Mecca of Ziki, with the virus spreading to places like Columbia and here in Puerto Rico and even more recently, Florida. 

The Zika plague (as the press has promoted it) doesn’t seem to phase as many people here in PR as it does in the States. Nearly everyone asked me this summer if I was worried about Zika. My answer was generally no, while Trevor’s was a bit more leaning toward yes. 

Mainly I think because he and I read from different news sources. Ok, my news source is Facebook haha (it used to be the paper edition of the Onion so I’ve stepped up people). And my newsfeed is filled with the people of Rincon protesting chemical spraying to combat mosquitos and generally poo-pooing the paranoia that the media is perpetuating. (Floridians don’t seem to care so much. Spray away!) Just today I read this article saying that Zika effecting fetuses was not entirely true. 

But there are other articles stating that Zika is not only harmful to fetuses but to young children as well who have developing brains. (Sorry no source for that). 

So nobody knows what the hell they’re talking about. 

From the symptoms of Zika on average adults, I’d take it over Chickengunya. 

Meh. We haven’t booked one way flights outta here. Just bought our kids pants to wear to school where they don’t have screens in the windows and are outside a lot. But they told me they were too hot. So yesterday I sprayed their legs with deet. But I forgot today and thought ‘meh’. 

And according this article you have just gotten Zika from reading my blog. Sorry ’bout that, amigo. 

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Organic CSA!


One of the first things I searched out when we moved here was organic food. While Natucentro supplies plenty of dry goods and organic leche, they don’t have produce. Enter Sana!

I don’t remember how I first heard about them. But they are an organic CSA in Cabo Rojo. I forgot, or actually never learned what CSA stands for. But it’s the way all the cool tree huggers get produce. To put it simply, get a box full of farm food directly from the farm once a week. Score!

You order online and they come round on Thursday. Mayaguez has a pickup location near the university. Maybe no one else in Mayaguez orders from them, or they are so nice that they just meet me by the Denny’s near my house. It’s on their route anyway.



I had no idea what these were. hello google! Didnt like em


Once during their delivery time I was stuck at the doctors clinic without a car. They obviously understand the whole doctor-can-take-four-hours thing, and they brought my produce to the parking lot of the clinic. Awesome!

The most recent batch I received included some extra bonus food. A whole bag of organic ginger! I immediately made ginger snap cookies for my kids. But…they were really orange gingers! (I should say they were ginger gingers, haha).  No really, my fingers were yellow for the next three days. It stained my kitchen towel. Crazy! The cookies turned out well though.

Today I told one of my Puerto Rican friends about this crazy orange ginger and she told me it was probably turmeric. Oh.

I swear it looked and smelled just like ginger

A perminent reminder of my innocent confusion


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Prices here and there

People always ask me if it’s cheaper to live in Puerto Rico. Yes and no. The kid’s Montessori School is over $10,000 cheaper annually in Mayaguez than the one we checked out in Middleton, WI (for two kids; and that one’s not bilingual!) But imported food is much more pricey. Locally grown fruit is low priced.  And soon I’ll write a post about my organic CSA. 

Prices in Puerto Rico:




And now prices in Woodmans in Wisconsin:  

Dill was over $6 in PR


Much better than 3.29!


PR was only $1.05 a pound. closer to the source I guess (Chile)


was $1.99 a pound in PR


I should’ve taken a picture of the price of piña. Pineapple just tastes so much better in PR. Local food is cheaper of course.  And bananas are plenty cheap. 

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Blood sucking monster

Of all the tropical diseases my daughter could get on Puerto Rico, she gets a tick stuck in her head during our visit to Wisconsin. 

We camped ‘up north’ last weekend, but maybe yesterday’s hike at Picnic Point is where she obtained her passenger.  

 In any case, when I went to wake her up this morning I saw the ugly thing sitting right on her scalp. Thinking it was just a mark from a marker I rubbed it with my finger. Then knew immediately. Ack!! It has already burrowed its tiny head into her skin and was sucking her blood. Do you know how Lyme’s disease is contracted? LIKE THIS!

I ran downstairs to find my phone by the charger only to have my worst nightmare come true. I couldn’t find my phone in an emergency! Back upstairs? Not there. Back downstairs resting on a wooden train track on the coffee table. Real helpful to have it there. 

Called 911 thinking they could just tell me how to pull it out, the dispatcher offered to send an ambulance. Uh, can’t i just get a tweezers?? Ok, we’ll go to UW Emergency Room instead.  

 It was an easy ER trip taking only around 45 minutes. We were the only ones there! Being a dog tick not a wood tick, the chances for Lyme’s disease was practically non existent. Whew!  

When it was out I wanted them to show it to my daughter. They were’t going to! Hey man, this is an educational moment ha ha  


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Ziki or boring flu?

My poor girl was hit hard with illness not long ago.  I was less worried than my hubby, and he urged me to get her tested for zika virus. Ugh.  Ok.  We went to my ER neighbor doc who treated my chicengunya. Chicungunya. Chikengunya. I used to know how to spell that. Spellcheck offers no help.


I think we got seen relatively quickly because I had texted my neighbor ahead of time.  You pay the copayment for being seen before you see the doc. 

This stayed on about 2 minutes


Then you go in the back to the lab and pay them cash for their tests.  Have a check or card? Trudge back up to the front again to pay. Poor girl did not like being poked by the needle. 

That’s Zika handwritten on the top

  It took them about 15 minutes to determine how much a zika lab test would cost me.  Apparently they don’t get a lot of requests? America is dramatizing zika much more than the Puerto Ricans do.

If this receptionist thought the A/C was cold enough for gloves, she probably wouldn’t like snow


Turns out my girl just had the flu.

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Laser beams and senior photo campaigns

It’s  election year here too in Puerto Rico. Posters are up all around town.  Each one makes me think of a senior photo headshot. 

A fence outside our nighborhood

My neighbor told me Sra Evelyn is positioned to win. And apparently she’s my neighbor! Huh.

He’s got a minivan!

Those who have enough money slap their faces on the side of a vehicle.  Also, why not blare your message from the HUGE speakers mounted on top of a truck? Everyone wants to hear it. Even while they are getting a massage. 

But she has a guagua! (bus)


I don’t plan on voting, but if I did, I might have to vote for Evelyn.  Because…laser beams are coming out of her head! 

Laser beams!!!


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Peeing and doctors 

I feel like I’ve been to a lot of doctors offices lately. Lemme tell you something about the doctors offices here.  It seems the doctors usually work independently in an office building shared with other doctors. Each has their own office, waiting room (though sometimes the waiting room is folding chairs outside the door in the hall) and receptionist. You pay the doctor directly the visit fee (based on your insurance) before you are seen.  Most don’t take credit cards, only cash or checks. 

Every office has a doorbell type button you need to press in order to be let in.  I’d only seen these before at jewelers stores in Chicago!

BUT! The one thing these offices don’t have is their own bathrooms.   You have to use the one in the hall.  The locked one.  Ugh! So when your kid tells you he needs to pee after leaving the doctor, better ring that doorbell again and get the key!


Women’s bathroom sign: Please get a key from the office you’ve visited


No key! Only for people with appointments with this office.


Don’t interrupt this office for the bathroom key. But ring the loud bell to get in!


Doorbell and no key sign


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I stumbled upon the perfect creepiness 

I needed to waste 20 minutes near Post Rd/Calle Betances/2R (it has a lot of names) and I finally walked in the park I’ve been eyeing since we moved here.  It was closed for repair, but reopened a few months ago.

new steps over old, stray cat


lone mango

It’s a cemetery! I guess I should’ve realized that because it says cemetery near the road but I forgot, and it looks like just a park from the front.

Mayaguez has cool cemeteries.  This was is huge – like 4 acres or so.


stray cats


selfies in cemeteries!

Cemeteries are not this cool where I come from.

IMG_6487 IMG_6497 IMG_6500

There was an opening in the outer wall, which led to the ‘poor’ peoples area.  At least that’s what I assumed. It was wonderfully creepy.  Beautifully neglected.  And even mother nature was making it haunted with vines hanging down off the trees.


extra crosses, tiny plots

It made me smile so broadly! Oh the photos I could create here! I will be back with my camera!  I am literally rubbing my hands together brainstorming all the possibilities!


Palmer is a German name…not Puerto Rican…hmm…

IMG_6506 IMG_6507



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Signs of a bankrupt country

There are a lot of things I like about living in Puerto Rico.  But sometimes it’s just too hard to ignore the effects of living in a country that is poorer than the poorest state (Mississippi) with a corrupt government that is desperate to declare bankruptcy.

Growing up, I learned about countries with economies that spiraled down into depression, and I often wondered what it was like to live there. I had penpals in the USSR, I visited El Salvador after their long civil war, and more recently read about Greece and other European countries not doing so well.  Did they have riots? Bread lines? Chaos? I guess now I can answer those questions myself.

No. (not yet?) For now, the public is going about its business.  Going out to eat, seeing movies, taking Zumba classes. Life on the ground level still seems normal. However, we still receive a newspaper every day (I don’t think the landlord knows that he’s still paying for it). It’s a dramatic paper, but some titles just jumped out at me that demonstrate how a poor government looks.

Literally means: “$67 million taking mold”. There was an ambitious sports complex project in Bayamon that ran out of funds and is deteriorating rapidly.

Three major landfills were closed due to not complying with the regulation laws. No money to keep these services running properly.

There was another article about how the government is running out of money to supply food to the prisons. I think they actually stopped for a weekend.

And another rumor about lowering the minimum wage to $4.75 from $7-something now.

And of course, we still lose power at least once a week for no good reason.  I don’t think there’s adequate funds for tree-trimming around powerlines, etc.

I often thought the police should start handing out tickets to drives who plow through stop signs, run red lights, have no functioning break lights, and who park in front of fire hydrants.  They would make a fortune! And I don’t break any of those rules, so I thought that was a great plan.

This scribble says that we were obstructing traffic (my friend deciphered it)

Well, nobody asked for my advice. They had a similar thought in mind. Except their plan called for a lot less work for the police. Because instead of actively catching people really breaking the law, it seemed the whole west side of the island got a great idea to make thousands of dollars ticketing people who parked near beaches.  Where they park all year round. On the public street.  Where there are no “No Parking” signs. And we never get a ticket any other day. Except this weekend.

tickets 2

This was posted on the Friends of Rincon facebook page


tickets 1

Even the municipal vehicle got a ticket!

Mayaguez was hosting a huge collegiate sporting event.  Rincon was hosting the annual whale watching festival. My family figured we would avoid those crowds and just go to Buye Beach (the closest and one of our favs). We returned to our car to find a $50 ticket. $50!! Ok, $15 maybe, but $50???

Lemme complain a smidge more: There’s no way to pay this ticket except to physically walk into a government building and stand in line to pay. Can I swear now? Can’t you just supply a telephone line to pay by credit card or a mailing address to send a check??

Low police.  Very low.

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Abandoned. Everywhere. 

In my last post, I wrote that PR has the most cars per square mile in the world. But I’d be so bold as to say that at least 1/4 of those cars are sitting around abandoned.

I drive through a slightly dodgy neighborhood on my way to school. I take the most direct road straight though it (past the shoes hanging from the telephone wires above). But one day a garbage truck was blocking the road so I took a slightly different route to circumvent it. Which led me deeper into the neighborhood. To find nearly every house had an abandoned car.
  I took all 12 of these photos in a 4 block stretch. Some cars you can’t tell are abandoned from the photo, but believe me.  I could tell they were.
  Some had aged flat tires.  Some no wheels at all. Some just had a layer of dust, while some had bushes growing on them.
  Is it hard to get rid of an old car here? What’s the process? Is there a large fee? The hassle must be more than the people deem worthy if they are willing to put up with all these eyesores.


I could have snapped one more, but the nice guy in front of it was kindly waving at me while feeding his chickens (in the road). I thought it would be rude to just snap a photo of the old car behind him. And risk hitting one of his chickens.  In the road.

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