Sunday, August 31, 2008
I picked up my Puertorican teenage cats last Thursday, on my way back from the conference in San Juan. I was lucky - they both were near the casita, so I could pick them up and go, without having to spend another night there (I am still a bit horrified of a prospect of staying there after having been trapped inside the last time around).
Got the keys to my new place yesterday evening and today moved the cats and some stuff from Aguada. Tomorrow I'll move the rest of the stuff from here. Unfortunately I could not persuade anybody to work on Labor Day weekend, so I am doing the move from Aguada totally on my own - carrying stuff up to the second floor. Worse, I'll aslo have to do a move out cleaning tomorrow myself, since no local wants to work on weekend. Tuesday, yes, but not on a Labor Day. Great! And I'll have to live superminimalistic for another week. And without internet!
Sometimes, I swear I HATE Puerto Rico!
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
And I am here, since yesterday noon, freezing my extremities off, together with circa 50 fellow sufferers, wrapped in all clothes they brought, sweaters, jackets, woolen caps (some people, obviously knew what to expect, while others did not) even comforters!
I wonder what the tourists say: "I have been to Puerto Rico! Brrrrrr" ????
For me, personally it is not the end of suffering. I have unexpectedly been thrown into four twelve hour (!!!) days of advanced conversational Spanish, expected to discuss - intelligently, if possible - issues like "modelos y tipos de pobreza" and "descubrimiento social???"... or whatever... I can't really think in any language after 12 hours of that!
I knew I would have to discuss stuff like that... I just naively thought that I could do it in English, since it is a US government organized event. Silly me....
Good night, ladies and gentlemen, I am bushed... and frozen, and ... worst of all ... they serve an abundance of very tempting sweets FIVE times a day, so I better take some more insulin, again...
Two more days of frozen Spanish immersion from 7 am in the morning till 7:30 at night.
If I survive this ordeal I'll be back ... on Friday perhaps ???
Wish me luck, please.
Friday, August 22, 2008
Simrishamn is a fishing town, since early middle ages. (It was first mentioned as a municipality in XII century and as a town in XIV century).
These pictures were taken during an annual Herring Festival. Lot's of boats in the harbor - all on display, all preparing for the evening parade of boats.
Most of them very modern. And the buildings facing the harbor are also rather modern, though made to look like the traditional architecture of the region.
But already on the main street leading to the harbor most of the buildings are old, though very well maintained. The street is full of small restaurants and cafes, and - during the Herring Festival - overrun with tourists.
A bit higher up on the same street, close to the town square there is more small shops, boutiques, than eating establishments. Here the banner advertises an Ibsen play Miss Julie by a local theatre ensemble.
Still higher, a small side street leading from the town square is almost deserted.
These are the typical townhouses in a residential zone. Many of them are medieval - at least on the outside. They usually have charming small gardens with flowers and herbs at the back. Just like the one I had, only more established.
Scania (Skaane), where Simrishamn lies, is the breadbasket of Sweden. It is also well known for its gardens: herb gardens surrounding medieval churches, flower gardens surrounding noble mansions
Here, a quiet picnic square under an old oak (supposedly 700 hundred years old) and a nearby house in traditional style of wood crosses filled with plastered straw bales, more or less the same age as the oak.
Thursday, August 21, 2008
... a one bedroom condo overlooking the beach in Punta Arenas, Joyuda, Cabo Rojo is now under renovation, befor I move in during the Labor Day weekend. That's how it looks now:
This is the entry, with a window facing towards the resort, away from the beach.
This is a partial view of the kitchen. the empty space on the far wall is waiting for a washer/dryer combo. I was fascinated by the fan, its color and shape - red capsicum fan in the kitchen! Also by its placement: you can't open the kitchen cabinet over the fridge with the fan running. This window also faces the resort.
My bedroom window
And the view from the bedroom window. Notice glass in all windows. :-)
And this is the view down from the balcony. There I would have to jump, if I were ever trapped again and there were no people around to assist me ;-)
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
Sunday, August 17, 2008
Friday, August 15, 2008
The conflict in Eastern Europe just added some new layers: Poland, my country of origin, got concerned about Russia bullying its neighbors and - speedily signed a missile defense agreement with the United States. That enraged Russia and Moscow threatened Poland with 100% punishment.... whatever they mean by that.
But back to Georgia: in today's NYT is a great photo reportage about the human cost of the Russian attack on Georgia by a very talented Polish photographer, Justyna Mielnikiewicz , whose other pictures from the Caucasus can be seen at her web page.
The world, unfortunately, is NOT becoming a safer place. Will Poland again fall a victim to being a buffer between East and West. Just like Georgia is paying for being between Central Asia's oil and the West?
Thursday, August 14, 2008
I know.... 'in August???' you say - 'when its hotter there than a capsicum pepper???'
OK, OK, I promise we shall just take a strol and a water taxi on the Riverwalk (Paseo del Rio). How does that sound?
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
But the war is now supposedly over - thanks to Sarkozy? - so I'll return to PR topic tomorrow, I think.
Sunday, August 10, 2008
I woke up happy, made myself a cup of tea, which I was planning to drink on the terrace... but no matter how hard I tried, I could not open the door. It was an old container door, locked with a padlock on the outside, usually after leaving. But this time Goyo, the pet sitter who came to the casita with me, carrying food and water for me and the kitties (I left the casita when it became uninhabitable due to lack of water), must have left the latch from the padlock in an upright position, when he opened the door, and when I closed it in the evening, before going to sleep, the latch must have fallen down, locking me inside.
Oops, I thought. What do i do now?
The casita is a cheapo Puertorican construction, pittoresque, yes, but potentially a death trap.
With only one - metal - door, lockable from the outside and all eight windows with those typical Puertorican aluminum contraptions instead of normal glass windows which could easily be broken if one needed to leave the house in a hurry, say, in a fire, it had a potential of a death trap. My kittens could enter and leave through those windows at will, without effort, but, alas, not me.
I was in trouble. My cell phone did not work there (actually, no ones cell phone does), not even in an emergency mode, so I could not summon any help. My three nearest neighbors in a barrio about half a mile down the mountain were ansent since June, their houses empty. If Cruz, in front of which house I park my car, were home, she would have noticed that the car was not moved and would have come to check on me (as she did before - at that time I was fine, just writing a long report and enjoying the mountains) in a day, two at most. I leave alone so nobody would raise any alarm that I did not get back home. Nobody knew that I left, nobody knew for how long. If my daughter called she would just assume (correctly) that I was in the mountains, where my cell did not work, so not even she would be alarmed.
Without Cruz all I could count on was Goyo, but he would not be coming to feed the cats and play with them until Monday evening. Three and a half days!
And I had no meds - I left them in Aguada forgetting that none were left at the casita. So I was already missing an insulin shot and two Metformin pills. Could I live 3,5 more days without them, without getting into a diabetic coma and dying?
Well, I had to assume I could. But I inspected my food supplies. Not bad: 6 tea biscuits with some leftover peanut butter and sugarfree jelly could serve as three breakfasts. A bag of 3 frozen tilapia filets and a bag of frozen peas could serve as three lunches. For dinners I found one portion of frozen pumpkin soup, 2 pastellitos, one can of ravioli and one of garbanzo beans. That was all, but it was enough.
Water situation was worse. I found 4 small (half a liter) bottles and about one quarter of a gallon in a larger container. About a litre a day - not enough for the heat of the tropics, but, perhaps, if I had not exerted myself too much, that would do. I found another half gallon of an uncertain quality water, which has been used for washing the dishes. I decided to forget about washing any dishes and use the water - after boiling it long and hard - for tea and coffee, or even drinking as such, if I were forced to do it.
I made another cup of tea, administered myself my daily ratio of buiscuits with peanut butter and jelly and started thinking what I could possibly do to get myself out from that (death?) trap.
The light on cassita's terrace is visible from the lower part of the barrio, near the popular picknick place, from the bridge over the stream, that all bikers had to take to reach the neighborhood bar, very popular among them. It could also be seen from some parts of rt 184.
So at dusk, I decided, I would start sending morse s o s light signals: three short, three long, three short ... surely someone would have spotted them and recognized as a distress signal?
That was a plan!
But I also inspected the screws on the windows. Uff, plenty of them, all covered by layers and layers of paint... and not a tool in sight. Not even the smallest hammer, the tiniest screwdriver - they were all locked in a shed, outside. I had two kitchen knifes I could try to use instead of a screwdriver, though, and cans of cat food I could use as a hammer. I'd try that!
After I worked on a single screw for two hours straight without any progress, I took a break, drank a glass of my precious water.... and got an attack of blinding fury after being calm and composed so far. I went to the door and started banging on it - in the place where the padlock and the latch were - first with the cat food cans, later with just my hip and my butt... I don't know for how long... but finally the door opened with a bang and I tumbled out on the terrace. Free !!! Oh, what a feeling!
(I inspected the door after that: the latch was still in locked position but I managed somehow to make two screws in a padlock to losen enough to yield. A miracle of sorts).
Boy, was I grateful to mother nature that it did not make me a waiflike, weak and helpless "mamsell" in distress. I was grateful for my strong and well padded butt.... which most likely saved my life!
But now I hate even more brainlessness of Puertorican housing construction and feel very uneasy now in my Aguada apartment. It has two normal doors instead of one, true, but the windows have three layers to entrap you in a case of fire: those aluminum blinds, nets and iron bars on top of everything! Houdini would be defenceless!
Saturday, August 9, 2008
I have two rather stressful days behind me, as I have inadvertently gotten myself in a potentially quite dangerous - and anyway - somewhat stressful situation. I'll blog about it later, as it might be useful to warn others... but today I am just resting, admiring this magnificent sunset from my terrace. Sunset after the rain.
Wednesday, August 6, 2008
Tuesday, August 5, 2008
Monday, August 4, 2008
And a colorful building.