Tuesday, August 23, 2011

El Mejor fin de semana. :)

La Parguera
    Where to begin? I’ll start with my girl Joanne. She’s my new friend/role model I met while playing pool after the cool fenced off ocean thing. She is retired at 48 and all she does now is go to the beach and eat at her favorite restaurant, Moon’s. She basically forced us to go there and not only did this place have delicious food, but our server/chef was vegan and I most definitely crept him out by how awestruck I was to meet him (potentially the only other vegan in PR). Needless to say, I ranted about the food and eagerly tipped him way too high. I don’t know if you can tell, but this is a picture of me SO HAPPY to have a full meal!! =)

      My favorite day thus far was spent at my friend Julian’s houses in Lajas. Early Sunday morning four of us set out on his adorable rickety little orange and purple motorboat to go see Caracoles. Caracoles is straight up exotic; I had no idea places that beautiful were even real. The water is as clear as crystal and as we walked through the mangroves in the water, I have ever felt more serene in my entire life. This excludes the part early in our excursion when we were climbing through the trees (completely and dry and clothed), and I intelligently decided that climbing higher would increase the fun. My branch obviously ended up snapping and I went tumbling into the water… entirely spoiling our peaceful moment. My back is now decorated with a lovely scab and bruise to remind us of how funny it was.  
       Then it was time for a nap so we went down the road to Julian’s mom’s house. This house was way fun to explore I was not too surprised to hear that the tidy and highly air-conditioned room where Kasondra and I slept was actually part of the bed and breakfast that she runs out of her house for her yoga students. Sounds like a cool lady right? Well I have only just begun! Not only is she a yoga instructor with the absolute most beautiful and welcoming home, she is a fabulous vegetarian chef with an exotic fruit garden in her huge backyard! Wait, it gets even better! Since the hurricane was coming, she gave Kasondra and I plastic bags and told us to pick as much as we wanted from the trees! This is what I proudly skipped home with!
·      Star fruit (My new obsession, I think I ate about 6 in the span of two days.)
·      Canepas (Strange slimy texture, but very sweet and fun to eat)
·      Breadfruit (They look like bumpy green oranges but she said they were similar to plantains….and yes you can make mofongo with them!)
·      Plantains and pomegranates
·      Chironja (a cross between an orange and grapefruit)
·      Neem (A “magical pharmacy tree” of India, its apparently a natural insect repellent and you can also eat it to improve skin disorders and your immune system)
·      Lemongrass (Yup, I get to make my own tea!)
·      And then some grapes, coconuts, and herbs

      Oh and there was also a litter of newborn puppies in the basement because her dog had just given birth a few days earlier. As if this place needed any more perks… go ahead and throw in four little puppies!

*** Disclaimer: I’m 99% sure that this day actually occurred, but I wouldn’t be surprised if I dreamt this entire place up.

Cabo Rojo
    As I considered quitting school to live in this fantasy world forever, I was told we had to go to the dorms to hurricane-proof our room. We took everything off of the floor, locked it in our closets and pushed our beds up against the doors so that they wouldn’t open. (My windows are really weird, so whenever the wind blows my closet doors will creepily open… so naturally my things would be doomed in an actual hurricane.) We packed up some food and a clothes and moved out to our friend Andy’s house. We anxiously awaited the arrival of hurricane Irene to her party, but she never showed up! Just a little rain, I guess I really should be thankful.

   Irene apparently got lost on the way to Andy’s and ended up in San Juan so the next morning we piled in the car and drove north to Isabela to see the damage/play in the ocean. The boys brought their surf boards and caught some HUGE waves while we sat on the sand and watched like proud mothers at little league…except in our suits…and in the rain. Yes, we were very much aware of how idiotic we looked. However, it was really funny and very cool to see intense surfing in real life. When our friend would catch a wave, Kasondra would yell “Gnarly!!” and we would jump up and down with that little surfer hand-signal of fists with thumbs and pinky fingers sticking out. We got some real dirty looks from the tattooed surfer dudes.

Then we went to another area to swim/get assaulted by waves…
I realize it sounds extremely stupid to swim in a tropical storm, but everyone else was doing it and I didn’t want to be left out! That’s always been a valid excuse, right? The rest of the story is kind of funny and really painful, but not appropriate for my mom (who is about 33% of my readers) so it shall not be shared here. But it’s not a big deal, I’m alive and my fat lip is almost good as new! ;)

The ten of us ended the weekend back in Cabo Rojo at Andy’s, where we cooked dinner together and finally relaxed. By cooking dinner together, I mean that Julian made some really fancy fish entrée (he watches food network), I chopped veggies for the salad, and Andy dumped some canned pears into a bowl. I am exhausted and wounded but it was 100% worth it.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Nunca voy a salir.

Now that I figured out how to post pictures, this is the "airport" I flew into...

First day of School/ Classes

I like school! Its fun to get the small private school experience and all of my teachers are basically cute little grandmas! I'm going to give you the detailed lowdown on each one.
My first class was terrible! It was Spanish-American Literature and could not understand a single word that the teacher was saying. To top it all off, she has crazy inch-long fingernails that are incredibly distracting! She passed out three huge packets of reading to do and I was completely overwhelmed. It took me forever to get through the first one because I tried to be a huge overachiever about it and highlighted each word I didn’t know and looked it up. After a few hours of that without making much progress I just decided to wing it. The next class I understood maybe like every tenth word so I’m taking baby steps in the right direction!
My Anthropology class is going to be great, mostly because the teacher gave me the textbook in English…and she is fluent in English and really nice when I pathetically come up to her after class to make sure I got the gist of the lecture. I also appreciate her speaking to me in Spanish when I try to speak it to her. Most people respond in English which is a huge blow to my ego. English Literature for Teenagers is the best class ever, its for non-native speakers and I better get a freaking A++
 I also like my Grammar teacher, she speaks very slowly and clearly so I don’t feel like such a failure. =)

Beaches are beautiful, waters are clear and blue, and life is always good. This one was awesome, you walk onto a pier and it leads to this sweet ocean/pool that is fenced off underwater!

Running Escapades
·      It is way more fun to run in Puerto Rico and I have yet to become bored. There is a great little trail by my dorm that is pretty much in a miniature rainforest. A little creek goes through it and there are bamboo trees everywhere. It is also great when someone nonchalantly passes me on a horse (when I’m running through town, not on the trail). The first time that happened I had to do a double take because I was so confused. Its apparently a super casual way of transportation here and I find it hilarious. People will just tie their horse up to a tree on the side of the highway and I am always tempted to go pet them. Oh! Today I ran past two men on their front porch playing their trumpets really loudly… that too made me smile. Other than that, I count lizards that pass by (and try not to squash them), look at cool homes, and see all of the random stray cats and dogs. Which reminds me, I got a particularly great workout today when a terrifying dog chased me away from what was apparently his property. (Elle- I thought about you in the midst of the experience…haha <3) It was the fastest I have ever ran in my entire life, and it was uphill too! He was right behind me barking ferociously and I was frantically seeing my life flash before my eyes and cursing like a fool. Like I said, never boring.

I was going to talk about having the best weekend of my life, but that will have to wait because it has been extended!! Tropical storm Irene has cancelled my classes for tomorrow! Its like a snow day equivalent for Boricuas. (That means Puerto Ricans... just a little useless knowledge to leave you with.)

But hopefully I survive because I am really starting to enjoy my life here and this whole blogging thing. 


(That reminds me! Puerto Ricans love the cheek kiss when saying hello and goodbye. And I LOVE IT TOO!)

Monday, August 15, 2011

Bienvenidos a Puerto Ricoooooo

Welcome to my blog about my studies in San Germán! =) Internet is extremely scarce here so I am not sure how often I will get to post. I also don’t know how people normally blog so I am kind of nervous but here goes! I labeled the sections in case you would like to ignore any because some of them probably suck and aren’t really about Puerto Rico…

I’ll start at the very beginning (a very good place to start)..((Sound of Music anyone??)) I doubt anyone cares about my travel experiences but I am going to share them anyway! That’s the point of a blog isn’t it? You get to say anything you want and whoever wants to read it can, but when you get annoyed, which you undoubtedly will, you can just stop reading!

Airport Adventures
On my first flight to Charlotte, there was a Gamecock on the plane…I was very excited. He graduated like 15 years ago and wanted to talk about the football team so we didn’t have much in common at all but it was still cool!

Then, my next flight from Charlotte to San Juan was a huge plane with 7 seats in a row! I had never been on such a big plane. It was delayed a little because the air conditioning was broken, but I was really excited because I thought the temperature was perfect and comfortable to nap in. After our delay and it got fixed, it was like 12 degrees and I was disappointed =( but then I got hot tea! =) I sat next to this adorable baby that loved to drum on his little book and that just looked at me and ranted in baby talk for like an hour. He was astounded by the bubbles I blew with my gum so that killed another 20 minutes. When we finally got to San Juan, it took us an extra half hour to land because there was an Iguana on the runway… Tropical island problems sure are ruthless!

My third flight to Mayaguez was a teeny tiny plane that sat 8 passengers! My backpack was stowed in the wing of the plane. It was so gorgeous getting to see the island from above. It was like a 30 minute birds eye tour and I got to see the mountains from one window and the bright blue ocean from the other. When we got off the plane I wouldn’t have even recognized it as an airport…Just a field with a piece of road next to it.

Animals I’ve seen
·      Horses and cows in fields on the car ride to San Germán
·      A lizard on a pillar as I was climbing a fence (I touched it!)
·      2 stray cats just hanging out on campus
·      Do ants count? They are all over my friends’ room but not mine thank goodness.
·      Chickens!
·      Not that many exotic ones but I’m hoping that will change soon!

·      The food here is basically all fried meat. I did find a few vegan things to eat such as a veggie baked potato and a mofongo! Mofongos are smashed fried plantains with garlic… I’m totally going to make my own and I’m real excited. I also see a lot of rice and beans in my future and I sort of can’t wait! I was unpleasantly surprised to hear that there isn’t abundant fresh tropical fruit stands on every corner…like I had imagined in my mind for some reason. They import most of the fruit so it is a little bit more expensive than it is in the states. There is a little supermercado on the edge of campus so I have a feeling that I’ll be walking there almost daily considering food will easily spoil in my non air-conditioned room. (Which, by the way I am totally thrilled about… now I won’t have to be the annoying roommate that sneaks over to the thermostat and raises the temperature… J)

My Spanish (spoiler alert: it sucks)
·      Ordering food is a joke when I have to ask for the ingredients in my broken Spanish and look completely dumbfounded when they list off what they are.
·      The majority of the other exchange students are better than me at speaking and understanding which is really helpful!
·      I however do bring a crucial element to the combat against language barrier… my super great ‘super-mini’ Spanish- English dictionary! I am obsessed with it! I randomly try to translate my thoughts and learn new words if I am ever sitting around. I didn’t want to look like that idiota tourist with her nose constantly in a dictionary so I covered it in bright pink construction paper and stickers…and now I look like an even bigger idiota ten year old with a  diary or something. I still really want to bring it out with me to social events but I fear that is completely crossing the line and will undoubtedly prevent people from wanting to be my friend! =/
·      I do try really hard in social situations though… but during conversation I like to discuss my sentence structure and vocabulary while whomever I’m talking to definitely doesn’t…they get confused and frustrated as to why I’m always halting the conversation for stupid grammar questions….Whoops.

Equípate para el huracán!!!
·      That means prepare yourself for the hurricane  and it was on a sign in the grocery store next to a bunch of canned foods. People freak out over hurricanes here and apparently one is coming but it will probably pass right by and not touch us…none have since 1995 but that statistically means we’re due for one. They totally aren’t a big deal, our buildings are made of cement so we are totally safe in them. They kind of sound fun…class gets cancelled and we all camp out in one of the buildings on campus and they make rice for everyone!

Mi Dormitorio
·      I have a huge room that is meant for four people but I share it with one other exchange student, and we are down the hall from the other two girls. So far no bugs woohoo!