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.
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.
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.
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.