Yaucomatic

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In November my mom and I drove to Yauco – a city about 40 min drive from Mayaguez. At first I planned on taking the kids too. Mom suggested we go alone. But it’s culture! Art!

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I’m SO glad we didn’t take them haha.  It was about 90 degrees out, with no wind and endless concrete radiating the heat back up to us. Sweatsville.

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Yauco is a cute city on a very steep mountainside. After Hurricane Maria the city decided to revitalize itself with murals strewn around the city.  They call it Yaucomatic

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One of the biggest murals are these famous steps. I actually think this painting was here pre-Maria but I’m not sure.

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Mom trying to look cute while sweating

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She took a photo of me.  I can’t be behind the camera all the time!

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Yauco is like any other city and has abandoned and broken down homes all around

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Down the street from the steps. Yaucomatic has a Google map on their website showing where all the murals are

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My family saw this road with steps at the end the last time we drove around Yauco

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My main goal was to see the colorful street with all the houses painted. But Yaucomatic didn’t have that on their handy Google map…so we just guessed a street and entered it into the GPS. We saw this view as we totally went the wrong way.

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Google GPS tried to direct us on numerous staircases (not helpful) and the most steep and twisty roads imaginable.  In fact, I actually stopped to ask a guy if we were indeed on a road and not someone’s driveway.  I’d die driving here in the dark. We saw our destination waaay over there….

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I should’ve taken more photos of the crazy road. But we were laughing, I was trying not to flip the car over sideways and suck it in as we squeezed by other cars. This is the road curving around a house.  Is it two way? Yeah, I think so.

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You know a street is steep when the sidewalk is steps

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Eureka! The city – or someone – put out a city and a PR flag so tourists could snap their selfies.  Cool!

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There were several other groups of tourists walking around – and it was a Tuesday midday!

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The locals were talkative and said that the residents volunteered to have their houses painted and the same artist is doing a similar street in the city of Aguadilla.

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Me thinks Mayaguez could use some artsy lovin.  It’s pretty ugly (is that an oxymoron?)

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Capturing the shadows

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Mom opted to stay at the bottom but I climbed up up up the steps to the top

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Looking down from the top

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The prettiest abandoned building ever

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Would wouldn’t be happy seeing these steps? There was a house at the top of this very long stair-strewn trail.  I assume there was a road up there for easier access to their home than the long route I took…

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I made this photo intending to make it black and white – nice shadow!

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A chatty local said we could walk up to this porch – no one lived there.  Um ok…it smelled like piss 🙁

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Love these!

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What’s with the stop lights?

Ever since we returned from summer break the stop lights around the Mayaguez Mall (where half the traffic of the city filters through) are either blinking, mistimed or off completely. And that changes hourly.

Our route to the new school now takes us along highway 2 for a mile. I noticed that police officers are manually changing two traffic lights by plugging in a device to the electrical box at the intersection.

IMG_8408Sometimes there sit in their car.  Sometimes they look menacingly at the traffic.

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In any case – aren’t the cops better used in another capacity? Shouldn’t they be giving out tickets to all those cars that run the reds right in front of them every morning instead of playing civil engineers? Don’t they have computers to analyze traffic and create algorithms for optimal traffic flow? Because the cop at one light isn’t paying attention to the other guy’s lights and there is always a huge backup along the road. So this stupid method isn’t really working anyway.

So strange.

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Is Puerto Rico loud or is it just me?

I have sensitive ears. I get them from my Mom. My sisters complained that as kids if they wanted to share something secretly they’d have to walk down the block so she wouldn’t hear.

Even now, I can’t sleep with the windows open because all those damn roosters wake me up – I think they are a kid calling out for me.

I even complained to an employee at the movie theatre because the previews were SUPER loud. Ok – even Trevor was covering his ears that time. They turned it down.

Me and a guy named Jose are the only two people in Zumba and kickboxing that wear earplugs. I tried salsa dancing at Pik Akí without earplugs and think I did permanent damage. So … I decided to investigate my world around me.

I downloaded the free app Decible X and began taking measurements. Everywhere.

At at red light I asked my kids to make the loudest noise they could. Jeez girl!Honestly the inodoros at my gym hurt my ears when I flush. So I took that measurement. The ambient workout music by the machines… this didn’t seem too loud to my ears.

So insert earplugs because here comes kickboxing! Some days it’s louder than others. This day I didn’t think it was too bad, but I bet sometimes it gets close to 90 decibels. Without earplugs my ears would ring after this class. Are José and I the only ones worried about our hearing? Or does he have sensitive ears like me?

Continuously curious, I took some readings around my house. The Okey Dokey brothers were playing on Alexa at volume 10 while I made polenta. I actually had her at about volume 8 but turned it full blast for the reading.

Our giant A/C unit in the sala is pretty loud. We usually turn it off to watch TV.

My Hubster studied electrical engineering and sound canceling. He says for a proper reading of the lower ranges of sound I’d need one of these fuzzy phallic microphones. Oh well.

I took a 2 minute reading in Zumba class on Tuesday. The peak was 102! With the average 89. So what does this mean for my little oídos ??

Uncomfortable feeling starts at 115 my ass. It seemed from my observations that decible level of 80 is my top comfort point for a sustained amount of time, so it surprised me to read that I could listen to level 90 for 8 hours a day. Holy crap! No thanks!

Miracle Ear is much more conservative with their numbers and judging from my own lil ears I’m more apt to use their guidelines. 15 min of level 100. Roger that.

So….where does that leave salsa dancing?? I had to wait until Tuesday night to learn:

It was already loud where I parked. Then I stood where I normally do up front by the band.

This reading seemed way too low. So instead of using the camera feature I went back to the part of the app with the little reader and took a screen shot.

Holy bleeding ears Batman! This was the highest number I metered. Miracle Ear said only 15 minutes of exposure over 100. This band plays for a couple hours. Whoa. So glad I’m the only dorky one wearing earplugs.

Which no one has ever mentioned or stared at. I’m sure they notice. But no one ever says anything. Not that I’m worried, I really don’t care about coolness with my ears.

So there.

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Maria- a year later

 

My sister asked me recently how Puerto Rico is doing one year after the hurricane. (I refer to Maria even though PR was effected by Irma as well). To me my daily routine feels much like it did before it.  I’m doing the family thing, I expect the power to go out a few times a month (or week), it doesn’t surprise me when we don’t have water pressure, and I make sure to have enough bottled water on hand and a full generator tank.

Little things here and there keep the memory fresh in our minds.

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Painted on a storefront in San Juan

Something simple like street lights. After the hurricane my city fixed the street lights near major intersections. But along the rest of the main highway they are dark. I assume the city realized that not lighting up half of the freeway through town can save a lot of money. And most people have functioning headlights anyway.

My friends sold their boat so they didn’t have to deal with that liability during another hurricane season. There are still crooked electrical poles and powerlines on the ground here and there. Small businesses are slowly getting back on their feet.

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Put your hand in Boriqua, this fight’s for you

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We do not understand this democracy

There’s not much else I can write that hasn’t already been rehashed on the news and opinion pages. Life here marches on.

 

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Foto hahas

Balancing act

 

visible license plate optional

Guess I have to wait…

the hazards of living in a very humid environment

I can see around the bike officer!

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only $999 for soda? I’ll take two!

nature’s cleaning service


  

I love me a good religious ball


Googleado – spanglish for Googled

  
  

Google wants to NOT make it me and my aviator hat

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Abandoned Bowling Alley

About a mile from our house is an abandoned bowling alley.  There are many many abandoned buildings all over the city but a bowling alley is an extra special lure.

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For the first two years of living here there was a fence around the establishment, and even though I passed it several times a week I kind of forgot it was there.

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As time (and hurricanes) went on, the fence fell down and the doors blew off. C,mon there wasn’t even a No Trespassing sign. Trevor and I spent part of a date last June poking around. (I didn’t get a photo of the front sign because it was near a busy street and I didn’t want someone yelling at us to leave haha)

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WordPress has jumbled my photo order but here goes. I didn’t plan ahead and bring a tripod but I did the best I could with my SLR camera.  Here’s the main area with the lanes.

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This was so freaky eerie. We didn’t bring the kids because we weren’t sure if there were any homeless squatters around, packs of stray dogs or broken glass lying about. We were alone, but there was certainly evidence of others before us (aka beer cans and a strong smell of piss. ew.)

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Ceiling panels were laying about having suffered from water damage and age. Bowling shoes and pins were on the floor like the building was abandoned in a rush

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Amazingly the wall paint was unaffected by age and time

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I wandered to the behind the scenes by the machines that loaded the pins. Remember, it was pitch pitch black this far into the building.  Trevor didn’t even go back here. I was using my phone flashlight. It was too creepy to dodge around these machines to go in any further.  I didn’t want to step in anything too nasty or get stuck somewhere!

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I told Trevor  we should’ve helped ourselves to a bowling ball or two. haha  But we didn’t.  Probably should’ve brought rubber gloves to touch stuff.

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Trevor looked in the lockers and found a bunch of street shoes. What happened? Halfway through a Saturday night of bowling they made an announcement it was closing and everyone had ten seconds to get out?

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Above and below are photos near the shoe counter.  There were a lot of questionable goop and trash on the floor we had to step around.

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Someone earned this trophy dangit and now it’s broken and dusty. aw.

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I also told Trevor we should help ourselves to some bowling shoes. We didn’t, but why I’m not sure.

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This photo below is the front lobby and restaurant. This would’ve been a cool place! Intricate ceiling, pool table, large bar and balcony seating.

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We ascended the stairs in the restaurant to find the office space for management. What happened here? jeez

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Trevor poked around the very full filing cabinets but didn’t see anything exceptionally interesting. Why was the desk overturned and who did it?  All these windows were broken or just gone.

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This is the second floor of the restaurant.  There must have been railings so patrons didn’t fall down onto the pool table below haha

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I was AMAZED to find these letters strewn on the floor. (I arranged them for the photo). They are bills from 1987 and 1988. When did this place go under??

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We only saw one little doggie who was scared of us and hid in the bush.  More bowling balls outside.

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These must’ve been offices rented out or something. Some areas seemed like it was organized long ago before being abandoned.

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Rock or bullet?

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Sorry these are out of order. This is the lower level of the bar/restaurant again. I love the checkered floor.

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You can see the bar way in the back there.  Those are the steps on the right we took up to the offices

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Here’s wider shots of the bowling lanes. It was quite dark in there!

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We totally should’ve taken some souvenirs!!

Answers: my neighbor was very helpful

Overall it was one, if not the, creepiest thing I’ve done in a long time.

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Disney on Ice

It snowed in Puerto Rico today!!!

We took the kids to Disney on Ice for the second year in a row. Last time we saw it in Ponce. This time we ventured to the Coliseo in San Juan.

Pina Colada vendor walking around. Probably non-alcoholic but do they sell these at the Stateside shows? lol

The 4 o’clock start time came and the skaters began the opening number. If you know anything about island time you know that virtually nothing starts on time. Even the movie theatres say a show starts at 4 but then it has half an hour of previews and starts at 4:30. Not Disney on Ice! I would estimate that at least 1/4 of the audience hadn’t arrived for the start of the show. They trickled in culminating in the people in front of us seating themselves at 4:30.

Arial and a guy coming in late

While my kids watch Disney cartoons on TV, I realized that they have ever seen a Disney movie. Oh wait – my daughter watched Moana once in the airplane. But other than that – none. (Star Wars a New Hope notwithstanding). They know a few characters from a “Five minute Princess Stories” book we have. They enjoyed the show nonetheless.

Trevor needs to teach this move on iCoachSkating.com haha

When Disney on Ice travels outside the States they change the sound track to the local language. PR loves Spanglish so the songs were in English but all the recorded dialogue was in Spanish. The actors tried to lip sync with the words but sometimes they just moved their lips a little and used lots of expression.

Most Puerto Ricans have never ice skated and are pretty impressed with simple skating moves. Trevor was the sole clapper for the double axels and triple toes that we saw. 🙂

Being as the skating world is small, Trevor actually knew one of the skaters. She played Elsa and her name is Anna (don’t get confused here!).

Trevor knew Anna playing Elsa

 

Security was extra tight so we couldn’t go backstage but she and her friend Rachel came to us.

I asked if the show had a contingency plan for if the power went out. (I was serious). She laughed and said no. They’d just stop skating. Fair enough. After this tour she is slated to do Disney shows in Europe. Yay! More lip syncing in foreign languages!

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La ultima dia de escuela – mama y dada

The school year went a bit late this spring to make up for the 27 days lost to hurricanes last fall. Thursday was the last school day, so Trevor and I decided to have a mini adventure without the kiddos before we would be in close quarters ALL summer long.We donned our full face snorkel masks and swam around Steps Beach in Rincon! (highly recommend the full face masks-much more relaxing to use and easier to see stuff.)

I didn’t know the [incorrect] date was on the photo. How old school.

This is the 2nd time we’ve snorkeled here (and anywhere on the island). The coral is protected and it’s a popular place to dive. I don’t know why everything is so brown and not colorful. I’m sure Cassie knows. But it’s a whole different world to explore!

But we saw many many species of fish! Blue ones! Stripey! The Elkhorn formations too (which I called Moose when I was there – close enough) and the biggest Brain coral ever. haha

Elk. Moose.

What a big brain you have

There were plenty of other people enjoying the area too, so we didn’t feel isolated. Which actually I liked.

The waves ebbed and flowed and it was fun to watch this school of fish literally just go with the flow.

Usually he sinks in water

We swam for about 45 minutes then called it quits. I’m grateful that we can do something so cool while the kids are in school. We didn’t tell them we went haha

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Festival de la Piña

My daughter and I went to the Piña Festival in La Parguera, Lajas today. That’s in the Southwest part of the island where the climate is very dry. The boys in the family didn’t have much interest in going so the chicas went sola.

An easy 40 minute drive from home, we snagged a parking spot in a dirt parking lot. We started sweating immediately!

I was hoping this was a little better than the coffee festival in Maricao. It was smaller, but there were many more piña-themed items here than there were coffee-themed items at the coffee festival. So that made me happy. Not as many craft vendors but oh well. My 6 year old wasn’t in the mood to shop much. But I did manage to buy a pineapple soap.

At 11am there was already make-your-ears-bleed super loud music playing in the middle of the festival area. Am I the only one who thinks music that loud is unnecessary? I had to carry my girl in my arms while she covered her ears and we rushed past. Oh well.

This poor guy/gal was in a piña costume. It was like 90 degrees outside, and as someone whose worn those costumes a few times, I know that person was DYING inside!

We walked to where the guaguas (buses and trolleys) were taking people to a nearby pineapple farm. Since we pretty much did everything at the festival in like 20 minutes, we decided to go to the farm. We waited about 20 minutes for the 15 minute air conditioned ride to the finca (farm).

Dude behind us is smiling too

Then we waited a short time for a tractor ride through the farm. I thought it would be like the pumpkin rides I’d been to. We get off and walk around looking at the piñas then hop back on and ride back. Nope. It was an 8 minute ride in a circle and the driver pointed out the seca piña plants (they were too dry to grow). But we were in a covered wagon and couldn’t see much. Oh well.

Tiny pineapple on the dry plant

We got a piña colada in a real pineapple. (The girl gave me a funny look when I asked if it had alcohol. No it didn’t. I forgot that you actually have to specifically request Rum in your piña coladas here. It’s ok I was sharing with my kiddo)

We took the bus back then walked to the car. Super hot. But I’m glad we went.

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Papel de inodoro

Toilet paper.

Papel sanitario.

TP.

It goes in the toilet when you’re done. Right?

Not always…read the signs!

(Ok two of those aren’t about toilet paper – one says don’t put your feet on the wall and the other says Imagine if doctors were good football players or movie actos, it wouldn’t be important how much you pay or wait to see them. It was in the doctors waiting room)

I asked my friend why this was such a common request in public bathrooms.

She said it was probably because people use way to much paper and it clogs the pipes. Maybe the pipes are old and maybe the fact that water pressure is not always consistent has an impact. Dunno.

What I do know is that I forgot. Every time. They seriously need to put those signs like two inches from the toilet paper roll or on the floor by my feet. Lifetime habits are hard to break!

My daughter on the other hand has embraced this completely and I have to gently remind her that a home we CAN and SHOULD put the TP in the toilet. Otherwise it smells so bad!

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