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:
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.
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!)
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.
Sad to see so much damage, but good to see that progress is being made. I bet the kids are happy to be home and back in school with their friends. The blue tarps are made here in South Dakota at Raven Industries. They have a plastic films division that makes everything from blue tarps to film for scientific Balloons. Mark retired from Raven 3 years ago and still consults on a few projects like Project Loon that has been in the air over Puerto Rico in an attempt to provide internet service for AT&T from balloons flying at 80,000 feet. The program is basically in its infancy so any service provided was purely experimental. I’d be interested to know if it worked and how much. Raven also built the hot air balloon you flew in and if your satellite continues to work, you and the kids might enjoy the Macy’s parade on Thanksgiving where almost all of the parade balloons were built by Raven as well. Who knew that our meeting in NM would have so many connections. ?
I love learning stuff like this! So….why are they BLUE? haha
And….can you get us tickets for the Macy’s parade next year? lol
The blue color has to do with FEMA and Samaritan’s Purse. It is also easy to identify which homes have been taken care of and which haven’t.
As far as Macy’s goes… maybe. We don’t have as strong a connection as we used to. Do you want to be a spectator or a handler?
So glad to hear you are back and can participate in the community. PR will rebuild and rise up. So happy to see green coming back to the island!
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