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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100+ days after

While our life has returned to relative normal (aside from periodic power outages when they work in the area, which results in the darkening of major stop lights on the highway – whahoo! Free for all!), life is far from normal for our cleaning lady, our babysitter, and our kids’ school. All who still have no electricity. And from what I hear, many inner island municipalities still are cut off from regular infusions of supplies and reliable medical care. I haven’t ventured up to the inner mountains but from the sounds of it life up there still resembles life immediately post Maria.

There are, however, morsels of after effect that are harder to see. We still receive a newspaper everyday (never signed up for it) and it mostly gets recycled straightaway. But today I glanced at the disturbing and heartening articles.

Municipalities are getting creative to build themselves up. A few are receiving help from volunteers and retired electrical employees to get back to normal. Others are waiving rent fees for their Plaza kiosks in an attempt to re-stimulate the economy and probably entice residents not to leave.

On a more disturbing level is the reports coming from the police departments. No money = officers workin for free. Not gonna happen. City cops are getting paid through channeled federal money. Overtime pay has dried up months ago so thy any cop on duty avoids overtime at all costs. So if that cop patrolling is nearing the end of their shift, let’s just say they are a little less inspired to take any action that might require lengthy paperwork (arrests, tickets). Hm.

Many times around the holidays my reunions with friends result in some sort of hurricane rehash. Whether to mention nightmares during the aftermath, to feelings of helplessness or the psychiatric process our brains and society travels through after something like this.

I have several professor friends and they said the university’s meal program now serves over 1000 free meals daily to students who might otherwise be sustaining themselves on a few crackers a day. We’re not sure what the students situations are specifically. Many have parents who no longer have a roof on their house or are still without power. Maybe some simply don’t tell their parents they are going hungry because they don’t want to be a burden. The professional line between student and professor is blurred when the teachers are exposed to survival stories of their students and their families. How can you keep a professional detachment when you know your students are so stressed out and hungry? Can you really deduct points for students who submitted their English essays handwritten because use of a computer let alone a printer was a little too much to ask? Security around campus has also been reduced due to budget so students are a little more reluctant to walk around after dark. Sad.

Puerto Rico will rise. But oh is it so slow. Thankfully the impromptu junk pile in my area has been cleaned up. Work crews are clearing the felled trees on the sides of the road. Electrical workers managed to repair our electricity when it was out for 12 hours on Three Kings Day (a national holiday), and if the crowded malls, restaurants and movie theatres are an indication of the economy, it seems to be doing ok on the ground level.

Mayaguez also managed to have their traditional Christmas festivities in the plaza. But it was smaller than usual. We still enjoyed it.

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Puerto Rico se levanta

Puerto Rico rises.  It’s the new slogan after Maria.  When we returned one of the first things I noticed was the abundance of PR flags on cars and houses. Displays of local pride were always on the low side here (I always noticed much more tshirts, bumper stickers and flags for local teams back in the States versus here). It’s nice to see a passive show of support and unity.

This is something I just never saw before Maria

Together we are stronger – we are collecting first aid articles and canned goods for the damned by Hurricane Maria. Ok, it actually means Damaged/casualties but that’s not as funny to say.

I went out and bought a $2 flag for our car. I can hear it whap low-lying branches when I drive. oh well.

Posters and tshirts abounded too.

Efforts to have a normal Christmas are underway as well (the usual holiday lights are up in the plaza).  And memes bringing much needed humor abound too.

Crash Boat beach is in Rincon, very far from the famous Ponce sign haha

How do I decorate for Christmas without lights?

Welcome: I only have available ketchup and straws

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The show must go on…even in the dark

When a major tragedy strikes a wide population, there’s an urgency to return to normal as soon as possible. However ‘normal’ has a new look to it post-Maria.

I personally wanted to wrap myself in a cozy hammock until life returned to normal for me, but after so many weeks away from home I was eager to return to whatever new ‘normal’ awaited me.

All stores are open now. At least in Mayaguez. I have not ventured into the mountainous towns.

There are broken electrical poles and lines all over the place. Many transformers line the road and now swerving to avoid them is part of the new norm.

People have kindly marked the low hanging wires with bright cloth.

The potholes have grown exponentially

Hwy 2, the main road looks fairly pre-hurricane except for shredded billboards and bent store signs. There’s at least one stoplight not working but it actually makes traffic flow smoother haha

A beloved landmark of Mayaguez lost its top. The Caribbean “Olympic” games were held here in 2000 and a giant torch was erected. Now it just looks like a silo. And that dumb silver arch completely crumbled too.

Commerce needs to continue. No electricity hasn’t stopped my kids’ school from opening. They had to invest in a gas stove to make hot lunch and a generator for fans and lights. My daughters gymnastics class was held in the dark. They moved the class to an earlier time to make the most of sunlight.

I know of at least four families that still don’t have power. Three of them don’t have generators. It’s been over 70 days since the huracán!! They too have invested in gas stoves, and are forced to mooch off their friends washing machines and spend as little time at home as possible. I’m trying to be of assistance where I can.

I’ve seen the Puerto Rican water authorities and power companies out making repairs. One cherry picker blocked the entire road on my school route. I had to reverse and take another route, making me 10 minutes late. But that’s not the sort of delay you complain about.

one more observation: Home Depot has an abundance of store displays dedicated to selling cisterns, generators and roof repairs. Haha

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Life still in limbo- post Maria

We returned to Puerto Rico last Sunday. I had a cacophony of emotions knowing that the Puerto Rico I’ve lived in for three years wouldn’t be the one I was returning to. How much was back to normal (would it ever be normal again?). How full were the grocery stores? (I shipped myself peanut butter from Wisconsin). Was our house moldy? Was the mood somber, desperate, disillusionly hopeful, or still in post-traumatic shock?

But mostly I felt excitement to be back home and to re-establish a routine. So what did I find on my adopted island?

A much better place than when we left! The drive from the airport showed many blue tarps sprinkled throughout the small towns bearing witness to the many roofs that suffered damage. (why are all tarps blue???)

We didn’t see anyone loitering around the side of the freeway in search of cellular signal, nor crowds gathering around natural springs collecting water. Signs of improvement.

The most telling drive was up the mountain to and from school.  Most of it looked pretty much the same.  All roads were cleared and accessible, even our creative routes through the valleys.   We could see broader vistas due to fallen trees, but here are some photos from the more notable things we saw:

Landslide in someone’s yard. Later that day a cement mixer was building a wall there

We passed several work crews cleaning up debris along the road. Notice the fallen electrical transformer. These are everywhere.

We saw dozens of broken poles like this, and many more leaning over.

In my neighborhood, the trees that fell and were cut were already showing signs of regrowth.

They were cleaning debris and there was a water company truck nearby.

We had to renew Trevor’s club membership. I noticed they had a lantern by the desk. Just in case 😉

Just drive around it. Obviously everyone has for weeks.

I have to drive over downed wires crossing the road 4-5 times on the way to school.


Sign on the right “Improving day by day” Sign on left “Merchandise in transit”

I couldn’t find heavy whipping cream or cottage cheese in three different stores, but thankfully I think I’ll have everything I need for Thanksgiving next week.

I assume this area doesn’t have power yet…

These poor people have had an electrical pole leaning on their house for 8 weeks.

New roof! See the destruction in a photo in the middle of this post:

Not far from our house the city has decided to make a dump. Mattresses, old appliances, and broken wood now claim a corner by this four way stop sign.

I sure hope this unsightly dump is temporary. There’s a ton more than you can’t see here.

Slowly life returns to normal.  I’d say maybe half of Mayaguez has power now. The kid’s school is running on a generator for one building and I believe simply going without power in the building for the older kids. (Good thing Montessori is low tech!)

This AEE employee gave me the peace sign as I passed. Putting up new poles

Oh and AT&T sucks.  SUCKS!!! Claro, the Mexican based cell company, has rocked. They were up and running here first. Apparently T-Mobile is also working everywhere too. Well, we have AT&T, and thankfully at least the companies have somehow opened access to any tower and when we don’t have AT&T access (all the time) my phone now mysteriously connects to Claro. But that’s only for making phone calls and local texts. No internet on the phone. I can call out of the area when I’m at home. But not 800 numbers. Those just hang up.  So weird.

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adios bolsas plasticas

(this was drafted before the hurricanes)

Way to go Puerto Rico!  Last winter a law went into effect that banned single-use plastic bags in retail stores (and restaurants).

As soon as I moved here I bought reusable Pueblo grocery bags.  I was so embarrassed back in the 1990s when my Mom was the ONLY one who brought cloth bags to the grocery store and here I was-the only person using re-bags at Pueblo. Way to go Mom! You were way ahead of the game.

Big stores like Walmart and Pueblo must’ve bulk ordered plastic bags at the last possible date, because it wasn’t until sometime over last summer Mayaguez finally ran out of their stockpile of plastic bags.  Now I’m no longer the only one bringing in my own bags at Pueblo.

The only downside is now I have to buy small plastic garbage can liners-no more free bags! haha

Walgreens has opted for using paper bags, Pueblo sells durable/reusable plastic bags for 10 cents, but Walmart and many other mall stores just don’t offer anything. So people do bring their own, or make like Sam’s club and just cart it all to their car without bags.





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Homeschool Happenstance

I’m not overly paranoid about my kid’s education.  I know they’ll learn what they need to learn with gentle guidance and self motivation.  Over summer they resisted learning to read because “it’s not school work time!”  I didn’t sweat it.  Summer is supposed to be chillax anyway.

Fall is for back to school, new school clothes, fresh Trapper Keeper plastic ‘let’s learn something’ smell.  (oh wait, that was back in the 80s).

Anyway, school starts mid-August in Puerto Rico. My son is in a new classroom after being with one teacher the past three years. There are new routines and new expectations for him. I knew once he got into the swing of it he’d stop asking, “Do I have to go to school?” in the mornings. Give it time, he’ll be fine!

Hm.  Time is one thing we haven’t been given this fall. Hurricanes cramped our style.  No time to get into a groove.  No rhythm. No routine. We had two and a half weeks of school then a week off for Irma. Then seriously ONE week of school, a puny half day the next Monday and the school principal sent out an email that basically said, “Closed until further notice. Take care of yourselves!” Ok, she was more eloquent and optimistic than that.

Google translate is a little rough. (Maria hit on Wednesday)

At first it was a little joke when my son asked, “Do I have to go to school today?” and I could, in all seriousness, repeatedly answer, “no.” But when it became overly clear that we wouldn’t have school again for another month, I’m not sure if it was guilt or motivation to tackle a challenge, but I realized it was time for homeschooling! Bring it!

Right away in Wisconsin I whipped out some worksheets I had stored at my Mom’s – math and writing. Workbooks aren’t necessarily Montessori approved but I let them pick what they wanted. I hit the library for reading materials and was gifted more workbooks by a local first grade teacher. We took nature walks and learned about hickory nuts.

We went to the zoo and made posters of our fav animals. Yes, one poster had a pic of an elephant butt. Know your audience, right?

In a few days we will embark on a Route 66 roadtrip – a vacation planned way back in spring.  So, without any other rhyme or reason to my homeschooling, I decided to teach them about things we’ll see on the Mother Road.  Geology of the Grand Canyon, science of asteroid craters, chemistry of neon lights, physics of hot air balloons, and the artists who covered various versions of the song “Route 66”.  Heck I’m learning a lot too!

The chemistry lesson about neon went a bit over my 5 year olds head, but she did pet a snake at the ecology center!

If we got 30-45 minutes of work time in a day I considered it a success. All in all, I’ll be happy when school starts again! What a crazy fall.

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Birthdays on the fly

My kids were very curious about Hurricane Maria. Thankfully they were never scared. The only concern my son had, was when I told him we were going to Wisconsin he quietly asked, “Are we going to have my birthday in Wisconsin?”

Oh yeah…I was in the middle of planning that when Maria arrived. I had made cute LEGO themed invitations that I texted out to his four chosen friends for a party on Sept 30. I ordered edible LEGO bricks and bought a huge LEGO set from a British seller on eBay. I was prepped!

Hurricane Maria hit Sept 20. When his party day rolled around our city had been powerless for 12 days and we were already in Wisconsin.

I assumed the invitees assumed the party was off. After all, we were all busy surviving and Toys R Us still had its hurricane shutters over their windows.

But you can’t cancel a kid’s birthday because your life’s been uprooted.

Amidst all that uncertainty of leaving PR I had to give some thought to 7 year old birthday parties. I packed some LEGO books I had yet to give him. I hoped they would stand in for a present since his big present was God knows where in a shipping container detained somewhere Maria (and Irma) hadn’t gone. Oh, and I took the rubber cake mold of a LEGO figure. The one we bought in Wisconsin this summer to use for his birthday cake. It was now flying back to Wisconsin. Oh the irony.

We crowded in my moms nice condo and ate tacos and my LEGO dude cake. Thankfully, he didn’t seem too dejected that his big present was not, well, present. I didn’t tell him that I’m not 100% sure it’ll ever arrive (!!) And maybe those edible Lego bricks can adorn our Thanksgiving pie.

Kids are flexible. Gracias a Dios

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Fleeing Maria

Fleeing seems like too strong of a word. I should reserve it for the people actually fleeing Serbia or other war torn countries with lives at stake. We got outta Dodge? Sounds like a weekend getaway.

Anyway, it was Friday – two days after Maria hit – when Trevor declared we needed to leave. Ever the optimist I was sure power would be restored in a couple days and school resume in a week. But when we heard on Saturday it would be one more week without power or water, I was convinced we need to scram too.

So, how does one book airline tickets without a phone or internet? You drive to the airport and talk to an agent in person. Problem: we live 40 minutes from the Aguadilla airport and 2.5 hours from San Juan’s. (These are on normal days). We had no idea about the road conditions, if the airports were functional, if there were any flights, and how many other people had the same plan. Remember – there were exceptionally long waits at each gas station and some gas stations were running out of fuel altogether. We had 3/4 tank in our one car. If we wasted gas going to an airport (or worse getting almost there but having to turn around due to road blockage) we would’ve wasted gas for nothing. Or been stranded at an airport. We decided to try Aguadilla on Monday morning. Come what may.

While checking in on nearby friends, we noticed that their neighbor had a satellite phone! We wandered back over there twice on Saturday, managing to see him the second visit. He allowed us to make a 30 second call (at $25 a minute this was very generous). I got my moms voicemail and left the most frantic message instructing here to contact our friend Sheila and work together to buy us airplane tickets. I wasn’t done talking when her voicemail cut me off and the guy wanted his phone back. Ugh! Crap! No! I wasn’t done. I didn’t get a chance to say make the tickets for Tuesday or Wednesday, or that I’d call her back as soon as I could… at least I think I blurted out that we were ok. Immediately I felt like I make matters worse with the frantic tone of my voice. I envisioned her imagining riots and chaos that we were paranoid about. Really we were just stinky and bored and knew we needed to leave so Trevor could work online again. I fretted over how poorly it went. ***later on I learned that Mom and Sheila sprung into action rather than freak out. Great job ladies!***

(I was sick of seeing ‘no service’ on my phone)

I had so much pent up energy flowing in me. With such a overriding desire to get away and not being able to talk with my family, I wanted to be strong and calm but slipping into a depressed funk seemed oddly alluring. My neighbors helped ground me, my kids helped make me laugh. Thankfully they rolled with everything, only occasionally asking for TV or YouTube.

We literally packed our bags, and they sat waiting for whenever.

Hero Gilberto saved the day. He announced to the neighbors on our street that he finally got his landline working and managed to make some long distance calls. We could use his phones to call whomever we wished. Giddy, several other neighbors and I tried calls only to hear busy signals (how do you work landline again?). Oh please oh please God have this work! And yes! It did! After hours of hand-wringing that afternoon, on Saturday night I spoke with my Mom! She was so happy to hear my voice. She was able to tell me that Silvina’s friend contacted her Friday to relay the message that our family was ok. Hurray for phone tree!

Gilberto let us use the phone as much as we liked. Gracias a Dios! Sheila and Mom scrambled to find a flight with four people to travel together. Wednesday at 2pm Delta out of San Juan. We did it! (Merry Christmas and Happy Birthdays to us) Now…we just had to get ourselves there traveling 3/4 across the hurricane ravished country on roads with questionable traversability (is that a word?)

Over the next few days we learned that only 10 commercial flights were leaving San Juan each day. The radar at the airport was squashed so they were using temporary tracking equipment, and keeping traffic flow open for military and aid aircraft. And many of those flights were still being canceled, stranding people at the airports. Rumors swirled about San Juan airport having no water or restaurants open, the news described the scene there as ‘chaotic’. Great! As we tuned into the Weather Channel each night, the news seemed to lesson about Puerto Rico so we didn’t learn much. CNN kept talking about national anthems and football players, so the 15 minutes we could watch the news didn’t give us any useful information. Back to hearsay and the one functioning Puerto Rican radio station for news.

The main question: do we take the northern route or the southern route to San Juan? Northern route = many more stop lights and traffic but more opportunities to get gas in case we ran out due to traffic jams. But that’s where those dams were breaking and flooding was prevalent. Someone said they were u-turning traffic at some point. Enterprise rental car guy said it would take 8 hours going that route. Say what? Southern route: through the mountain so fewer gas stations. Were there rock slides? There was a flood around Yauco that could take hours to get through due to back up. That route might take 3-5 hours.

We called Tuesday midday to confirm that we still had a flight. Mom gave us big news: flight was now at 11am, not 2pm! OHMYGOSH WE GOTTA LEAVE NOW! There was a curfew for the whole island 7pm – 5am. Even if we left at 5am with all these questionable road conditions we didn’t want to risk missing our sacred flight. Our best option was to drive Tuesday afternoon and figure out sleeping accommodations at the airport. We rented a car to avoid paying for long term parking, finished up details and hit the road. As we were running around our babysitter Madison stopped in to check on us. She also told us of drivers getting robbed at gunpoint in San Juan and gas tanks being chainsawed out of parked cars. Don’t tell me this right before we leave!!!

I was so sad to leave my neighbors Sonia and Ron without saying goodbye in person but I left them a note. I told Gilberto to eat our frozen chicken before it rotted and use the generator as needed.

As fate would have it we broke speed records getting to San Juan. The flooding in Yauco was dry and no debris blocked the road. Not wanting to stop along the way (those looters! Actually we didn’t know which rest stops actually had running water or if we’d be stuck in a three hour traffic jam) we put our kids in pull-ups just in case. They weren’t too thrilled about that.

We saw many strange sights along the way. Groups of people were gathered in the most unusual spots holding up their cell phones apparently gathered at a purported hotspot. Other groups were stopped along the side of the highway reaching into random bushes. It took us a while to realize they must’ve found a trickle of waterfall or natural spring and were filling up water jugs. Tank trucks traveling with valuable gasoline were given police escorts (one driving the opposite direction on the shoulder of the highway!).

5:30ish we rolled into the airport. Expecting chaos, we saw a nearly deserted departures area with plenty of security milling about. Delta ticket counter would reopen at 6am. It looked like many other families had the same curfew issue because they were claiming spots on the floor to hunker down for the night.

The airport hotel was booked and didn’t have A/C anyway. We had a picnic dinner and ‘slept’ in the car in the parking structure.

Enterprise rental car office looked decimated and wasn’t open in the morning so we were forced to park the car with the keys inside in the public area of the ramp. We took video and photos documenting our drop off. What else could we do?

Lines were long and slightly confusing but they actually moved relatively fast. I felt a little guilty because people who had flights booked before the hurricane hit had their flights completely canceled. The new flights were sold to people like us who bought tickets after the hurricane. What a mess.

Only one security checkpoint was open then we took a hike to our terminal. Can you tell from my photos that there was no A/C in the airport? Everyone was fanning themselves and those of us with German heritage were especially dripping sweat. Literally dripping.

This screenshot says it feels like 92 degrees. Outside. It was a sauna inside.

A friendly Homeland Security guy told us we’d have good luck of our flight going out because it was a morning flight. The afternoons ones were more likely to be canceled. Good! We did indeed board ontime and the airplane felt so cool and comfortable! We had to rearrange seats to sit with our kids.

I told people that I wouldn’t relax until the airplane was at least halfway to Florida so if there was an emergency we wouldn’t u-turn to San Juan. Maybe that was a premonition because about 10 minutes after take off I kid you not, they TOTALLY made the dreaded announcement “if there is a doctor on board or anyone with medical training please identify yourself to the flight attendants.” I’ll admit I felt anger at whomever had fallen ill. Thankfully there was a doctor onboard who tended to the lady and they laid her on the floor near the front of the plane. Her elderly husband was sitting next to Trevor and they kept asking him questions about her medical history and her meds. Poor guy. We shared our snacks with him.

Arriving in Atlanta was emotional for the whole plane. I could sense a collective relief. We all waited patiently for the ill lady and her husband to leave first.

I only broke down in tears when we were rearranging our seats on the second flight so our kids could sit next to us. One guy was reluctant to move away from his window spot. The flight attendant tried to be helpful by reminding me that next time I should select seats when purchasing the tickets. That did it! I explained that someone else bought us tickets on Sunday etc. etc. After that nobody complained too much about being booted out of their seats and the flight attendants kept asking me if I was ok all the way to Milwaukee.

I don’t know if anyone read this far, but thanks for taking an interest. I feel sad for leaving my friends. We had to take care of our own family but I want to be there to support them. I’m sad for Puerto Rico but hopefully this will allow improvements to blossom in the long run. I’m actually looking forward to getting back and starting a routine again. After all, it’s home.

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