Rusty sewer pipe – let’s go

Puente de la Bellaca was something I randomly read about and decided we needed to hit next tome we drove ‘up north’ by Quebradillas. Today was the day!

Only making one u-turn then asking a guy in his front lawn where to go (those Spanish lessons pay off!) he told us to drive on the short questionable-looking road. There was a space to park and a path thru the woods. Naturally, I was nominated to walk first to break the spider webs.

Thankfully only a 5 minute hike or certain family members would’ve complained, we reached the bridge! It seemed sturdy enough after the hurricane. Let’s test it by walking on it with our kids!

It’s not that long and you can see some cool caves in the hillside and the ocean. It didn’t even sway in the wind. Haha. But… it smell like sewer.

We were too hot, tired and hangry from partying the night before we didn’t hit the pirate lair on the nearby beach but we’ll add it to the next day trip north.

Turns out my friends Cassie and Britton visited this place too! Read about it and get more history here

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Golfing Puerto Rico style

We’ve really been missing our family tradition of going skating on Sunday mornings. In November we drove to Aguadilla to see the rink, but there wasn’t any apparent damage. Someone nearby said it might open in March, which made us quite sad. So here we are in May and it’s still closed. Obviously it’s not a priority for the city to repair it. Maybe there was extensive mold or something inside…

Instead we decided to give golf a go last Sunday morning. Trevor had already been to the range a few times and knew just where to go. I had forgotten the dress code was called for collared shirts but at least Trevor was dressed properly. No one said anything to us.

The Cabo Rojo Deportivo opens at 7am. We thought we should’ve gotten there earlier due to the fact the driving range was in the blazing sun, but it wasn’t too excruciatingly hot yet at 9:30 when we arrived. And it wasn’t too busy. This Ball has the Conquistador logo on it. You seriously can’t get any farther from Cabo Rojo on the island than the town of Fajardo (where the Conquistador resort is). How’d the golf ball get way over here? HahaThere were several ant hills. This one was peculiar because it was more like an ant ball. I stepped in one right away and got bit by several ants within seconds. The ants show no mercy here. Note to self – wear socks next time.

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Classic car show

Blackouts are distant memories when there are fun things to do around town. This morning we went to a Classic and Antique car show in San German, a 20 minute drive south of us.

The show started at 8am, so factoring in Island time we decided to go around 10:30. Perfect!

Air temp was 85, felt like 90 with the humidity. The kids were only mildly entertained and decided whining was a good way to pass the time

We were able to walk the whole display in about 40 minutes. Trevor and I picked out cars we’d like to gift each other for Mother’s and Father’s Day haha

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Too soon for another apagón

Having the power come and go randomly in Puerto Rico has become standard. Yesterday at the gym when the power went out nobody batted an eye. Little did we know it was an islandwide apagón. Blackout.

At first it felt annoying but when a friend of mine posted a meme I wondered how bad the public sentiment was going to get. How long was it going to last? How dire were people going to act? We have enough food supplies in the house, and are 45% full on our generator tank. I decided not to turn on the generator until night time.

Reports said that the power would come back between 24 and 36 hours. That’s enough time to worry people. I decided to get gas for my gas tank on the way to school. I wouldn’t have enough gas in my car to go up and down the mountain 2x to school the next day. but as I passed the gas station I counted 50 cars – I’m not exaggerating – lined up to get gas. Some of them might’ve been just trying to proceed down the road. It was only two lanes. People were sitting on their hoods because the line was not moving. At least they were polite.

I had planned to take my kids north to Happyland in Añasco but with the gas situation we had to cancel. My Plan B was to go to Krispy Kreme for donuts but again after calculating my gas I didn’t want to waste that much. I suppose that’s why so many people were in line at the gas station. It really really sucks to have to ration the gas you have available in your car knowing that it is a precious commodity.

My very nice neighbor offered to take my kids to school the next morning. We went over to her house after school and tried to assess if we could fit three car seats in the back of her car. The conclusion was no.

My friend texted me on WhatsApp (did you know that functions much better than texting during a power outage?) that her husband found gas at 8:45 PM without any lines. So at about 9:20 PM I went out too. I want to first gas station I saw that had no line (which thankfully was the closest to us) and they only had premium gas left because regular was all sold out. Sold.

Power came back on in Mayaguez in the middle of the night. It went out for a bit again in the morning but I’m crossing my fingers that business is back to usual.

Blackouts create chaos. Most people hunker down, but I avoided the major Hwy 2 road at all costs. Imagine a major thoroughfare in your city. A six lane street with stop lights every 1000 feet. All those lights were dark and the road because a free for all circus.

This is too soon after Maria. As my friend said, it’s still too raw. People were quick to panic giving a clear message to the government and power company, “We don’t trust you.”

This next hurricane season might be tough.

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St Maarten aviones

Since we are an airplane lovin family, when we found out our cruise ship would dock at St Maarten it really wasn’t a question as to what we’d do there

Go to the beach where everyone gets sand blasted by jets!

Of course we’d be reasonable and stand off to the side when the jets take off.

Rishi was the best cab driver ever! $20 for the four of us to get to Maho beach and $20 back to the port. Better than $8 / person we were expecting. We saw SO MANY broken and sunk boats (and even an upside down airplane) carnage from post-Irma. As Richi said, we in PR felt bad for them when Irma hit and then they felt bad for us after Maria.

He drove us to the smaller but much cooler restaurant Driftwood, on the eastern part of the beach, rather than the busier side most people go. He stayed there until we were ready to go. I can’t tell you how much peace of mind I had knowing we didn’t worry about being stranded. He even let us change the kids’ clothes in his van because there were no bathrooms.

We looked at the airport schedule ahead of time so knew when to look to the skies. So cool!

There are no more 747s coming in but Delta’s inbound from ATL was big enough for us! And when it left it sure did blast us with sand even though we thought we were off to the side. I brought a fair bit of St Maarten sand home in my hair.

The waves were huge so we didn’t swim much. We had a great time. I think the guys at the beach also had fun lookin at the topless lady suntanning.

If you’re looking for the classic relaxing Caribbean beach to decompress and forget about your woes, this ain’t it. Everybody on that beach is there to see the planes and take their selfies. The delicious mojitos at Driftwood restaurant are icing on the cake.

There weren’t any restrooms available and the waves were a bit rough so when we went in we held tightly to our kids. Many adults were getting knocked around.

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Fotos divertidos

This pistachio flavored coffee is green! Made with real nuts

So not cool.

Someone drew happy faces on the parent and baby!

And what does this imply???

Too lazy to pull completely into the space

Not a reference to the other famous Victoria’s store, no no

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Ponce Carnaval

Carnaval was a mystical, heathen-esque party of tumultuous color, sound and steep tradition in my mind. Something to be felt and digested rather than passively admiring. I wanted to attend the Ponce Carnaval since we moved here but the timing was never right.

This was the year! My Dad was in town and we had no plans. Plus – I found reliable information online. This was a deterring factor in years past too. You’d think Ponce would be very clear about the activities but I had to rely on Puertoricodaytrips.com for my info. Although the city of Ponce did have a little poster which said Sunday’s parade would start at noon.

My Dad, the kids and I drove one hour to Ponce to arrive around 11am. The parade was supposed to start at noon so I already felt like we were cutting it close. After all, the little info I gleaned from online said 100,000 people attend Carnaval Ponceño annually. I had plotted out the supposed parade route on my google map. I was as ready as possible.

Sunday was the big parade so we planned for that. I tried calling the info line to ask how early we should get there to get a good parade seat. I’m so Midwestern – Wauwatosa‘s 4th of July parade is SO organized. The past three years I’ve gotten up predawn to reserve seats 3 hours before the parade starts. It’s a well-oiled machine, that parade, so that was my reference point. Plan ahead or be sorry.

We got a good free parking spot very close, spoke with a local woman who said the parade would start at noon, and saw a handful of people already seated. There were plenty of spaces to put down our two chairs in the shade. Score! Now just wait an hour for the parade to start. That’s not long. We located the nearest bathroom (in a bar) and bought a bottle of water so we could use the loo guilt free.

Noon came and went.

Ok. Maybe it’ll start a smidge late. That’s PR’s modus operandi after all.

1pm came and went.

There was a very heavy police presence. We stopped a cop and confirmed that the parade was supposed to start at noon. She laughed. And said it would start at 1:30.

Oye. Great. What’s one more half hour? Well, my kids were very ready to go home by then, parade or not. Mama had already invested this time and energy so no way. This was going to be awesome dammit!

 

 

2pm came and went. Kids wrestling each other. Mama starting to get angry. Another bar/bathroom trip.

The lady next to us comes to the parade annually but said that this turnout was much smaller than years past. Social media had been warning people to avoid Ponce due to recent violence. Oh. However, we have heard from other friends that all celebrations have been smaller and more subdued after the hurricane.

Before the parade started

2:30 came and the parade started! Finally! Pickup trucks with giant speakers blared music (kids headphones were used again).

The Vejigantes are the masked people, supposedly beating away evil spirits with their balloons (originally animals bladders. Ew). They started the parade.

The parade stops to let people take photos

I’m sure the ape mask is traditional

Ponce has a great fire station museum in the plaza

Ponce 1692

My Dad’s turn to pose

Then came the various floats of the Carnaval royalty, the school marching bands and antique cars. This particular Carnaval is 160 years old.

One of the Carnaval kings

This getup was so elaborate you can see her costume was actually rolling on the ground

Every good parade needs a little drag

Yes, those speakers were blaring music.

 If the parade had flowed consistently it would’ve been about a half an hour. But each group stopped to take photos with anyone who cared to pose with them along the route. The high school bands didn’t advance forward while they were playing a tune, and took off their drums to drink cups of water, and even the float drivers would stop for people like me with big cameras should we put it up to our eye to take a photo. Dude, I’m waiting for the best lighting – don’t stop for me! Thanks for the thought I guess. The parade was about an hour long.

Midway through, a guy in the parade was waving to my kids and nudging his companion to look over at us. Now, my kids are blondies in a sea of dark hair so I assumed he was just gawking at their fair hair. Until my son said, “The guy who serves lunch at my school is in the parade” ah. It’s a small island I tell ya.

This young girl and the boy below here were given Capri Sun juice boxes, which I thought would make a great photo of juxtaposition. But she saw me and hid her juice every time I raised up my camera. So much for candid street photography

And a Moana float – cause why not??

We thought it was over so we packed up and went for another bar/potty break, only to come out and see there was a bit of the parade still going on. I missed the iconic stilt walkers but oh well. We were hungry and had enough merriment.

This dance group did a hip hop dance to Cinderella…hmmm…

evil step mom

I’m glad we went just to satisfy my curiosity. I can’t say I’d ever drag my kids to that again though. It was an ok parade. The photos of the costumed people make it look more awesome than it really was. But it would be a cool experience for people who don’t go to too many parades. Maybe I’d go with adults to check out the evening festivities at the plaza where the parade ends. And drink. Maybe next year we’ll stay home and make our own masks.

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Salinas Speedway drag race

Drag racing. Something I’ve only seen in beatnik films and old musicals. How I stumbled upon discovering the Speedway in the town of Salinas I’ll never remember, but it was fate that I did just days before a big race rally. And we had no weekend plans. So…we headed east.

The Facebook page was surprisingly informative. The race schedule said they were starting prelims at 3pm. So 4:30 seemed a good time to arrive. Because you know…island time.

Easy to find (with some terrifically creepy buildings nearby just begging to be photographed)

I wonder if these grandstands ever fill up

$15 per adults. Chillens were free. Decent bathrooms, bar and fried food and all the burnt rubber you’d care to inhale.

I wondered if any other gringos ever venture here. We were certainly the only ones there that day. The ticket guy chatted us up and said he used to live in Boston.

Trevor and I didn’t know how people would dress for this. We stick out yet we still want to blend in haha. The clothes we picked were fine. I made a Princess Leia braid to balance out all the testosterone of the event.

Bursts of four rounds of cars would race and then there’d be a 5 minute break. It actually moved along faster than I expected.

I’m glad we had the kid’s headphones. Trevor and I used ear plugs too. But I didn’t see anyone else with ear protection. The announcers rolled every r like soccer announcers.  I loved it.

I read this strip is on an old runway. Cool!

After about an hour and a half the kids got squirrelly and we headed back to Ponce for a very unsatisfying dinner at Chili’s.

I’m glad we went. Out of the ordinary.

Terrifically

Terrifically creepy building across the street

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Mr. Ms. Doña Don hey you

I remember the first time somebody called me miss. I think I was about 19 at the grocery store and I almost turned around to see if they were talking to the lady behind me. It made me feel so old.

Among my friends in Wisconsin, when we talk about each other to our kids we always use the Miss or Mr. before our first names. Somehow using last names seem so formal and stiff. I was calling them by their first names so maybe my kids could too but the miss or the Mr. made it seem appropriately respectful.

I kind of forgot about that living here for the first couple of years. I started noticing my kids referred to the other parents just by their first names. In fact at their school they call their teachers only by their first name. Not even a Ms. And with all of society seeming to go more informal every day, this seems like the natural progression of things. But I still yearn for a little sign of respect for adults, even in a mediocre attempt by my kids.

Encouraging them to speak Spanish, it just seemed too strange to request that they refer to my friends as Señor and Señora. I do not hear anybody else using these terms, adult or child. Nobody calls anyone else Señor or Señora unless you are at a restaurant or some sort of service counter and somebody’s trying to be nice to somebody who is elderly. Certainly didn’t seem appropriate for people my age. Literally I’ve been called joven may times (young). The bank teller said, “gracias joven” when I handed her something. The homeless guy did too! Bless them. Joven! So, if I’m not a señora but I want my kids to show people my age respect…

I consulted some of my friends.

And they most certainly don’t want to be called Señor or Señora! haha. It would make them feel too old and stuffy. One of my friends said as a child she had to refer to her parents friends with the title of Doña (madam). She wasn’t even allowed to look at her parents’ friends in the eye. Kids were expected to look down and only talk if they were directly addressed by the other adult. We are well past that day and age in 2018.

I always addressed my friends parents by their last names when I was young. I still do!

I have many professor friends at the local university. The tell me their students are quite informal with them too. And one was amazed when a student greeted her with a “Hey”! My sister’s university demanded that she remain Dr. Malischke and never just LisaMarie. Maybe they saw this trend too.

So my solution is to have my kids refer to my friends as Ms. and Mr. en inglés. It’s the right mix of formal but not too formal. Don’t know if it’ll catch quickly. My kids kinda look at me funny when I tell them to say Ms. Norma or Mr. Sean. They don’t even use that for their teachers at school. But eh, a mama can try.

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Take me out to the ball game

Atrápala! Means catch it!

Entrada means inning (and entrance haha)

It’s been three years since we went to an Indios baseball game here in Mayaguez. The stadium is quite impressive. (Except the bathrooms but I don’t expect any public bathroom in Puerto Rico to have they trifecta: TP, soap and a way to dry hands). Usually the minor league games around here play right around Christmas and we’re just to busy to make it to a game. Due to Hurricane Maria delaying everything, mid season is landing in January. Cool!We were expecting to pay about $10 each but the guy st the gate told me it was free (in English even tho I spoke Spanish to him). Free is cool. I’d say there were less than 250 people there. In a stadium that could host over 10000. We went with our neighbors and friends from school. More fun with amigos! The Indios played the Cangrejeros from Santurce. Cangrejo is crab. I don’t know if being on the crab team is funny or badass. Imma gunna go with funny. Teehee. Crabs.The only vendors walking around were selling Medalla beers -brewed in Mayaguez- for $2. $2! Wow!The clouds were ominous (the kid’s school is up in those hills) but the rain never came, unlike last time we went.

I failed the Mother Of The Year year when a fly Ball headed straight for our kids. I didn’t even move, I just watched it glide perilously close to the vulnerable youngins . Thankfully Trevor acted and tried to catch the killer baseball asteroid but it slipped his fingers and fell on the seat in front of my son. Later I supposed I could’ve bravely flung myself over the kiddos to protect them. Or at the very least tried to catch the ball too. Oops. Kid’s would line up atop the dugout to catch balls the players threw. They threw one up at us and I caught it!!!! This time I reacted and prevented it from hitting my precious cargo (aka kids) in the noggin. And now I have a baseball! It can go with my old one signed by Robin Yount. Ah, the Brewers. I tried to explain how the Brewers have a sausage race during the seventh inning stretch but maybe that’s a see it to understand it kinda thing haha. They didn’t even have a 7th inning stretch here. I thought about staring a wave haha

I assume the broken scoreboard was a result of Maria, so we just had to remember how many outs and balls there were. The music and sound bites are similar to major league games and I chanted along. Although, with so few people it’s eerily quiet sometimes!

what fun. The kiddos lasted to the 8th inning when the score was 3-3. Good times.

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