Sunday, November 13, 2011

Hello, It's been awhile!

Hello! These are just some updates from mostly about a month ago. =)

A note about La Policía... muy interesante.
       If you are in Puerto Rico, one of the first things you’ll have to acknowledge are the Puerto Rican Drivers. I wouldn’t even call it driving… it’s more like a rat race sometimes. Honking, passing, swerving, and speeding around curves are all usually included in a casual day’s drive. Luckily (or possibly unluckily…) for these maniac drivers, the cops don’t really offer much of a threat. Apparently when you get pulled over, it is completely normal to have a stash of money on hand to bribe the police officer into not giving you a ticket. I think they pretty much expect you to!
      They are also really corrupt in other ways, such as using unnecessary force, taking advantage of women they pull over, and being caught up in the drug market. A little while ago the US government issued a warning to Puerto Rican Cops: they have one year to completely get rid of all the corruption…or else the big old USA comes in and cracks down. I thought that was interesting…and also I feel much safer. (Not that I ever felt unsafe before!)
My one experience with cops was super mild however! We were driving the wrong way on a road (There are so many one-way roads that are usually horribly marked) so we obviously got pulled over. Luckily no one in the car was Puerto Rican, so we were all able to  apologize in our broken Spanish and play the confused/dumb gringo card. After he rolled his eyes at us and told us that if we are going to be driving in Puerto Rico we should start paying more attention, he let us go. =) Phew.

This is an ode to my Tevas... I may love these shoes a little too much. Besides making a remarkable fashion statement that turns heads everywhere I go, they have also become a symbol for my Puerto Rico experience, showing their suitability for every part!!
·      Running- When you live out of a purse/beach bag for an entire weekend, who has room for running shoes? And what are you supposed to do when you find a sweet trail?? Just NOT run it? I don’t think so!
·      Beach- Waterproof and won’t fall off your feet while swimming!
·      Hiking- Easy to de-mud and no socks required.
·      Nightlife- It’s an Island…people understand.

The fact that I can pretty much survive on only one pair of shoes electrifies me with excitement! If it wasn’t obvious. Maybe I should find a new hobby?

In case you were wondering…no, I don’t work for Teva. Maybe I should!

San Juan!
        Love this city! I can totally see myself having a home here one day when I am filthy rich and can fly down on the weekends with my entourage. It is such a nice change of pace when I get tired of the little church/farm town that I live in. And in San Juan I don’t get gawked at like the only white girl to ever exist. There are so many fun things to do within walking distance, like dance venues, beaches, and yoga studios! There was a studio within walking distance from my friend Rubén’s apartment…and I was able to convince him to do a class with me! It was so much fun to do that type of exercise the first time in awhile, listen to a class in Spanish, and watch an inflexible boy try yoga for the first time…Haha.

One weekend that I got to spend in San Juan was kind of like a fun, mini vacation, so I got to play tourist. We went to Señor Frogs in Old San Juan and I got sunburned at the beach…quite touristy, I’d say! We went into a casino too, and I played my first ever real game of blackjack! Very exciting but not thrilling enough to lose five dollars again. On a happier note, my friend gave me a super tropical looking hemp/beaded hair wrap to complete my attempted native/beach-babe image! (Little success achieved with that one, by the way.) I actually just took the wrap out yesterday after almost a month…I lost a lot of hair. But it was worth it!! =)

Another weekend I was able to see the other side of San Juan… and I liked it much better. I had a few hours to kill alone in Old San Juan on a Saturday afternoon so I wandered over to this one thrift/vintage shop. I found my way into the book section and spent about an hour in there looking through fun books from like the 70’s. I had a huge stack filled with Spanish books ranging from grammar textbooks to ones I planned to read to my future kids. I eventually narrowed it down to buying only 3: a real dictionary of the Spanish language (not English-Spanish), a history of the Spanish language in Puerto Rico (I am dying to know what the heck happened to it when it got here), and an advice book about marriage… (it’s religiously-based and from 1980…so I figured it would be a nice and interesting change of pace from what I normally read!) All of this priceless enjoyment and knowledge was mine for the price of $5!

Then I met a single-serving friend who gave me an unofficial tour of the city and let me practice my Spanish speaking all day! We took a walk through La Perla… a neighborhood that used to be so riddled with gangs and violence that people would say those who enter…don’t come out. A few years ago the police really cracked down and it is much safer now, and I felt completely safe walking through. It was pretty cool though, seeing all of the graffiti everywhere. There were a lot of positive messages written, encouraging “Paz para La Perla” and murals of famous Puerto Ricans.

After that lovely little walk we walked around the beautiful Santa Maria Magdalena de Pazzis Cemetery…which was quite beautiful against the water as you can see. It was closed, but luckily the cops are Puerto Rican, and I was wearing my Tevas so scaling the fence was no challenge at all. ;)

El Yunque! This is a picture of me enjoying it.
We had our second exchange student field trip…to the rainforest! It was so beautiful. There are so many different types of wildlife in the forest…I forgot specifics but what I do remember is that there are quite the variety of both orchids and frogs… and most likely lots of other things, ha. At the visitor’s center there was a big presentation of delicious looking products from right there in El Yunque. The crazy little man working behind the desk noticed my enthusiasm and he started cutting open guavas, passion fruit, and ginger root to let me try/smell! It was all too wonderful.

Then we hiked for a bit down to a waterfall where we got to swim in the freezing cold water. I was quite excited about it, and feeling invincible in my Tevas I wiped out pretty good on a rock when I was running around like a hyper child. It ended up giving me the kind of bruise that let me reminisce so I was totally cool with it!

Another huge highlight of the trip was on the way home where we stopped at Sizzler, and got the buffet… Again, again, and again. The six of us felt like it was Christmas morning and talked about how great it was the whole way home =) ! (Boring part of the story, but I felt it definitely needed mentioning.) 

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