Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Last day in Puerto Rico

Let's celebrate!
With a delicious seafood dinner

at Pito's on hwy 52, approaching Ponce from the West

It is a very relaxing place, with good food

and a lovely view.

Well, to tell you the truth I have stopped there last time when I picked Disa from the airport in October.

I have been too sick today to celebrate. Managed to get the last errands done, ship mt stuff by mail to Atlanta... and collapsed in bed, conserving energy - or what was left of it, for the trip tomorrow.

But I felt like a celebration was in order.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

I feel like going postal

I hope my sanity returns someday.
I wish it would return as soon as tomorrow and I would wake up being my old self again: a sane, nonviolent, open minded and openhearted liberal.
But today, if I had a machine gun, I would most likely open fire at a group of locals gathering on the beach under my balcony, enjoying 72 hours of a non-stop beach party with a non-stop obnoxiously loud music.

And totally ignoring my pleas, my helpless cries to turn the music down.
So today I would coldbloodedly mow them all down, men, women and children, to silence that obnoxious noise. And then I would take a nap!
I could not run away from them this weekend, not even for a spell of a silence, because on Thursday I was diagnosed with a bad case of infection and ordered to stay in bed at least till tomorrow. And I am sick like a dog...
I used to like Latin music (I doubt that after this weekend I would ever be able to), I used to like Puertoricans ( again, I am not sure that after this weekend I will ever be able to).
I used to be nonviolent - but today I would kill gladly those inconsiderate monsters on the beach.
And, I am afraid, that after 72 hours of being tortured with increadibly loud Latin music (who cares if good or bad??? 72 hours of Chopin or Bach or Vivaldi would be waaaay too much! especially at that decibel level!) if I ever hear a loud Latin music again, my instinctual reaction would be to want to murder - quickly - anyone who plays it.
Oh, boy, I used to be an open minded liberal - today I am closer to being a racist that I could ever imagine!
Of course it is not the beach goers race, not their skin color that makes me today want to coldbloodedly murder them all - it's their obnoxiousness, their total lack of consideration for people, who live in my building, as well as for people, who might want to enjoy the beach - without having been forced to listen to their choice of music at their chosen level of deafening amount of decibels.
Now I understand first hand at least some of the mechanisms behind the so called "racism" and "racial profiling" - they are likely to have nothing to do with race as such, but are perhaps only an unfortunate result of obnoxious elements of a lifestyle of a group of people, people behaving according to a different set of cultural norms (and now I am being euphemistic - liberal that I usually am).
I hope this weekend - and the beach party outside my windows - will end soon and that I might soon start regaining my sanity.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Punta Tuna

Punta Tuna is an architectonically gracious lighthouse on Maunabo coast.

Dramatic vistas abound as you approach it from the west

on a winding roller-coaster of a road

But the beach to the east of Punta Tuna is calm and tranquil.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

What to do with a car when leaving Puerto Rico?

The simplest answer would be to sell it, wouldn't it?

But what if it is the beginning of spring, when both the surfers and the snowbirds leave the island, many of them also planning to sell their cars?

What if it is the middle (I am being optimistic here) of a worldwide economic crisis, a severe credit crunch, AND the biggest glut of cars - new cars, used cars - imaginable?

What if I have been duped into overimproving the car mechanically (practically new everything, high performance, heat resistance etc., low mileage), so it drives like a brand new car, while the outside shows signs of the car being driven in Puerto Rico: a few scratches, a small dent, where someone must have bumped into me on a parking lot... and fled ?

How many thousands of dollars am I likely to lose if I sell this car in Puerto Rico?

And how many if I do not sell it?

What can I do with this car other than sell it?

I do not need it in the US, because I do have another car there. A tad older, true, and with more than twice the mileage, but always driven on US highways, performing well, all services performed on time and without a hint of a problem. I plan to keep my US car - in the US.

But what if I decide to move back to Europe at least for part of the year?

Due to the peculiarities of my country's pension legislation, when I live inside European Union, my European pension income more than doubles. Something to take into account when I am getting older and might soon not want - or be able to - work at all, right?

Since I have owned my PR car for over a year, I am entitled to import it to Europe duty free - so shipping (around $2000) would be my only expense plus adjusting the car to European regulations: asymetric instead of symetric beams, etc.

Of course, I would have to factor in the higher cost of living in Europe and the nonfinancial aspects: both positive, like living in a multicultural, multilingual surroundings, with a plethora of high culture at my fingertips, both old and new; easier access to less processed food, hormone free, antibiotics free... but also an emotional cost of being across the ocean from my only daughter, my practically only remaining close relative...

But if I spent winters in Florida and summers in Sweden, or France (I would prefer Italy, since I know it much better than France, and love it, but in Italy I would be taxed to death, due to the peculiarity of Swedish-Italian tax treaty), it might work, beautifully even... for a while, at least, since the question is: how many more years will I be able to effortlessly hop on a plane and fly over Atlantic twice a year... with cats? And how expensive might it become?

I do not really have time right now, in the moving rush, to factor all these aspects into a meaningful equation, so I guess I'll just have to leave the car here somewhere for a few months or so, until I make the decision what would be the least expensive way to get rid of a car in Puerto Rico. Sigh...

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

My last electric bill in Puerto Rico

The AEE (Autoridad de Energia Electrica) procedure for returning your electricity deposit is not designed for people who leave the island.

After you inform AEE- in person, in their office, not online - though you can pay a bill online, thanks heavens: in PR a lot of stupid errands has to be done by foot, or wheel, not by phone or email, which would be a lot easier - that you no longer want to have electricity in your place, because you are moving away, they tell you to await a letter from them in about a week's time.

Ok, the letter arrived two weeks - not one week - later, but, surprise, surprise, there is no check in it. Just a statement that you have a credit with AEE and that you have to go visit their office - in person - again, to collect your money, I am hoping.
But what if you need to have electricity up to the day you move away from the island???

They apparently do not want you to move away - at least not with your money!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Traveling with cats and packing ... again!

I moved close to a hundred times - I think - overland and overseas - and yet it is the first time I'll move my stuff using USPS.

Because I am not taking any of the furniture this time (I am making a deal with my landlady for them, since it is far easier to rent a furnished condo that it is to rent an unfurnished one - overpriced that it is - in the current economic crisis ), few household goods (practically only cats' stuff: their toys, beds, to which they are accustomed, dishes, etc.) and not yet sure if I'll take a car - but that's another post.

I am taking cats - all four of them - and have found a way to fly them all myself, at once, to Atlanta (due to family's health issues I can't yet go to Florida as planned): on Delta and Cape Air, so I don't have to drive to San Juan.

OK, flying four cats costs me four times more than my own ticket (I wonder why: the two small ones will be stowed under my sit - in one container, small enough to fit there, yet large enough to allow them to nap huddling together - as they love to do anyway, while the two larger - and considerably older ones - will be sharing another, larger, container, being shipped as luggage in a pressurized, air conditioned compartment of the airplane) plus the added expense of four health certificates issued within 10 days of travel.

Here again: nobody asks me to bring a health certificate for myself, as if people could not spread infectious diseases, but cats, who spend all their time inside - save for the balcony - they are indoor cats - need to prove they are healthy!

Also, my two older cats are experienced international travelers and have their European "cat passports" - electronic chips with detailed information on them and their guardian - under the skins of their necks. The two Puertorican youngsters don't have those, yet - they are not going to Europe - at least not yet, so they need collars with identifying info instead, in case they somehow got lost somewhere.

This - long - weekend is all about packing. I found out that the USPS takes suitcases, provided they are locked - and it is a good thing, since with two containers of cats I can only take my computer with me as a carry on and no more than one suitcase as a checked luggage.

So most of my clothes and linens will fit in them. Books - except the huge, so called coffee-table editions - I plan to stuff all in large size flat rate boxes, thanks to advice from Jeff, who used them for heavy, yet small, tools, when he and Katrina moved here, and thanks to Miri, who mused recently about fitting a 50 pound of ceramic clay in each of them.

Larger shipping boxes I found at Home Depot, at prices lower than U-Haul on the mainland. There I also found stretch wrap and bubble wrap, but no packing popcorn and I decided to take my flat screen TV with me.

But supposedly Office Max has it, so off I go to Mayaguez Mall to look for it and also to look for locks to my suitcases. Perhaps Wall Mart? Or the stand where they make spare keys? (Office Max had packing peanuts, different kinds, different size bags, rather pricy, but.... A key making stand next to Wall Mart had a good selection of locks, including suitcase locks)

If I don't find it, an employee at Home Depot suggested that they have one and two inch wide foam panels, which I can cut to size to cushion my flat screen with - it looks like it might work, so I shall see.

Saturday, March 21, 2009


I haven't yet moved out of Puerto Rico - I am staying here till the end of this month - when an invitation to move here (photo of the village above) right away, practically yesterday, for at least three months if not a year, or longer, presented itself.

The village is pittoresque, located on one of the most beautiful lakes in the world, surrounded with majestic mountains - and volcanos, with a spring-like climate year round and inhabitated mostly by very friendly and humble people.

Unfortunately, due to endemic poverty, drugs and a history of violence in this country it is also very dangerous.

And, I wish I could, but can I ???

P.S. Do you know where this is? Hint: it is a tad south and more than a tad west of Puerto Rico.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Green day

It's St Patrick's day and the only green thing I had today was a green sallad for dinner: lettuce, sprouts, microgreens.
For lunch at work there was arroz con pollo - definitively not Irish, so I thought of cooking dinner for a change, but did not found in a PR grocery anything Irish. So green sallad it was. And a green tea. My Irish friends would laugh themselves silly.
But I was reminiscing Ireland today - I worked in Dublin two summers in a row some 15 years ago - on an all-European project. Our hosts seemed to love taking us on pub rounds around Dublin... and I had to hide the fact that I really do not like Guiness. :-((
Otherwise, I loved the green island, Dublin, following in the footsteps of Leopold Bloom, a character from James Joyce's Ulysses, who wanders through Dublin some 90 years earlier... Loved the pastoral countryside of east Ireland, too, all those brambles, leek soup, potatoes, cabbage, corn beef... :-)

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Sunday afternoon

the weather's so so, yet the beach in front of my condo looks like that
and that
Does not seem like too big a crowd, but the noise they make is horrendous. Kids scream, adults shout - all at once, all the time, from Thursday afternoon till late Sunday night, there is no quiet minute!

And I still have two more weekends of that noise pollution to endure...

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Dog sledding

When I lived in Colorado, 12-10 years ago, I took a ride on a dog led sled one weekend and have - since then - been daydreaming - off and on, when I was not dreaming of living in Palau ;-) - of having a dog team and becoming a musher.... even though already at that time I was already at least a tad too old for that... and waaay too unfit. :-(((

But dreams are dreams, so I followed Iditarod, cheering all female mushers, followed all the mushing stories trying to figure out how I could make the impossible possible... but all I was able to accomplish was to talk a musher - whenever I had a chance to take a dog sled run - to letting me "co-mush" ? for a spell.

My daughter, on the other hand, being infinitively more practical than I, just dreamt of having a husky!

Thursday, March 12, 2009


"That backpack's like your symbol of freedom," he comments.
" Guess so" I say
"Having an object that symbolizes freedom might make a person happier than actually getting the freedom it represents".
"Perhaps most people in the world arent trying to be free, Kafka. They just think they are. It's all an illusion. If they really were set free, most people would be in real bind. You'd better remember that. People, actually, prefer not being free."
"Including you?"
"Yeah, I prefer being unfree, too. Up to a point. Jean-Jacques Rousseau defined civilization as when people build fences. A very perceptive observation. And it's true - all civilization is the product of a fenced-in lack of freedom."
Haruki Murakami: Kafka on the Shore.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Sunday, March 1, 2009


You can't imagine just HOW RELIEVED I feel to finally having been able to figure out the way to leave this island soon and without jeopardizing the work I have been doing here - thus without any qualms of conscience !

Will I miss this silvery sea?

No, I am moving to another seafront location - in southwest Florida.
So I won't miss the sea, or the tropical ambience or... the discomforts of living in Puerto Rico! ;-)

I have a new place arranged preliminarly - and - surpise, surprise: due to the recession and overbuilding it is now less expensive to live in Florida's cultural mecca - with its miles and miles of stunning beaches, opera, theatre, ballet, tons of art galleries, abundance of organic veggies at every corner and all the other stuff I could only dream of here - that it is to live in Puerto Rico!

I just need to fly to Florida one of the nearests weekends to finalize things there, so my new place will be waiting for me.

And I also need to figure out how to take some 5-6 suitcases and boxes of my belongings (how on earth have I accumulated so much stuff here, so fast???), 75 punds of books, a flat screen TV and 4 cats off the island with a minimum of trips ( I am hoping for no more than two), and ... how to sell a car in Puerto Rico, while I need it practically to the very last moment....
All the furniture and household goods will go to charity, so that's easy. I'll have them picked up!

Boy, am I glad!