Category Archives: Puerto RIco

Fruit

This drunk guys keeps showing up at our barred front door in the evening offering exotic local fruit to us for a dollar. We are friendly people and he always speaks a little English. We give him the dollar and he hands us the fruit through the bars. Then I get online and look at photos of Carribbean fruit to figure out what we are now the proud owners of.

This is not how I expected to explore the tastes of Puerto Rico, but I’m not complaining.

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Jobos and a breadfruit.

I’m still waiting for the jobos to ripen, but I sliced up the breadfruit last night. It has a fascinating, spongy texture and a beautiful pattern expands out from the core. I boiled some; it tasted like boiled platanos but not as sweet. Apparently you can use it like potatoes in soup. It almost tasted like squash, too. I baked some as well, though our convection oven only goes up to 250. Casper really liked it baked. It kind of tasted like potatoes.


Crying in Art Museums

I finally visited the Ponce Museum of Art yesterday! It is said to be one of the best in the Carribbean. It wasn’t as big as I was expecting and had more classic than modern art, but I still found a piece that moved me to tears. This is not a new thing for me. I usually get dew-eyed in art museums. Once, at SAM, I came around a corner and a huge landscape took me and my tear ducts by surprise and I sat in front of it for quite a while.

Yesterday the one that got me was a piece by Emilio Sanchez, whom, to my surprise, Wikipedia has very little to say about. (Maybe his sparse page will be what gets me to start contributing to Wikipedia like I’ve always wanted to…) I, sadly, can’t find an image of the painting that got me – Untitled (Windows) from 1980. The art museum here just received their collection of his work last year and it wasn’t supposed to go up until April but for whatever reason it was there when I went yesterday.

emilio sanchez - blue and yellow house

This is not the one that moved me so, but it is similar and I like it. “Casita Doble” by Emilio Sanchez, Lithograph 1983

I also saw my first Gilbert and George and my first Lucian Freud in person! And a Rodin, though I’ve seen his work in person before. The other piece that I couldn’t walk away from was this one:

“We Sail Today” by Matthew Ritchie, 2006, oil and marker on linen, around 8 feet by 12 feet


Our New House

We have a house! It is three bedrooms & an actual house instead of an apartment. So much space! Since it was just sitting empty, he was able to give it to us for the price we expected to get a tiny, crummy apartment. We cleaned up a year’s worth of dust. The smallest bedroom is now my studio, the medium one Casper’s space and the big one our bedroom.

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Nuestra casa

Roberto told us we could use anything that we found in the house. This ended up including a full mattress which we are sleeping on now and two smaller mattresses that we made into a couch. Other items that came with the house: silverware, a bowl, a cup, a convection oven, a frying pan, a pot & a table.

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Casper with our water-hauling backpack

On the downside, the house did not have water turned on when we moved in and we just found out two days ago that it would be both expensive and a hassle to make that happen. So we are hauling water from Roberto’s to drink, cook, clean and flush the toilet with. So far we have been showering at his place, too, but might get a camping shower (or make our own? suggestions?). We are looking into buying a big drum of water that we can store in the garage instead of hauling water.

Other downsides include the lack of a fridge (we were going to buy one but are now reconsidering) and a stove (we are using a single hot plate that Roberto loaned us at the moment).

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One of our lizard-friends

There is a pack of five or seven dogs who live directly behind us and a very sweet dog who lives across the street. We also have seen three lizards, the smallest about two inches long, frequenting the bars that cover the front of the house. Having gone by the name of Newt for eight years of my life, I am very fond of them and talk to them every day.

Today we had internet installed which is really, really important to us. It has been about five days since we last got online; this is unheard of for us! Only one person can get online at a time (no router) but so far that is working out. The internet provides us with at least half of our daily entertainment. It offers me a great deal of comfort, not to mention my main form of communication. It also gives us the mental stimulation that both of us require. We both have quick, active minds that need lots of external fuel – ideas, writing, images, music – to keep contentedly busy.

We have been tired and grumpy the past few days as we grow accustomed to this new life. Not having things like an easy shower and toilet get to us even when everything else is falling into place. Roberto continues to help us get settled. And we continue to put into action the things we intend to accomplish here: I have played my ukulele every single day since arriving in Puerto Rico and have painted or drawn almost every day; Casper has his space assembled and has located both the Masonic lodge and Episcopal churches in town.

Though we haven’t named the house yet, everyday it becomes more our new home.

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Us, fresh after giving each other hair cuts and taking showers


Estamos en Puerto Rico!

We are in Ponce, one of the largest cities in Puerto Rico. It is on the southern coast about two hours from San Juan. We flew into San Juan last Tuesday night & stayed at the International Hostel.

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Casper at the San Juan airport

Wednesday we explored San Juan a bit – the masonic lodge and the beach – and Thursday we walked all around Old San Juan.

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The Carribean, taken from atop the wall around Old San Juan

 

That night, a host from Air Bnb in Ponce named Roberto offered to come get us in San Juan for the price of gas. We hadn’t found another way to get to Ponce so were very grateful. He picked us up late at night and we got into Ponce in the wee hours of Friday.

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We spent a day and a half calling apartments (which included me failing at Spanish a few times) and exploring downtown Ponce. We had shared our plans with Roberto and he ended up offering us his uncle’s empty house a block away for the price we were looking for. Saturday morning he showed us the place and we moved in!


Coqui

Every night & early morning, these little cuties fill the air with their chirps. I haven’t seen one yet. They are “a very important aspect of Puerto Rican culture & [have] become an unofficial territorial symbol of Puerto Rico,” according to Wikipedia.

Coqui frog.

 

 


Puerto Freakin’ Rico!

Less than a month ago, we didn’t know where we were headed next. We had our eye on Vera Cruz but Casper’s passport was not going to be ready in time.

Yesterday we bundled up in warm clothes at 3am and Jess drove us to the Minneapolis Airport. A six hour layover in Philadelphia (we planned to get out but ended up napping on the floor of the terminal instead) & then a five hour flight south. It was dark so we didn’t see any of the ocean.

The first thing I did when we got to the hostel is take off clothes – out of pants and a t-shirt and into shorts and a tank top. And then we slept.

Now I’m sitting on the back porch/balcony of the hostel listening to bird song & feeling the trade winds on my skin. Plans for today include me getting to the beach, Casper getting to the cathedral for Ash Wednesday, & finding transporting to Guanica for tomorrow. It’s dreamy.


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