It’s now been five months since we made the move to Puerto Rico and in so many ways it has flown. It’s hard to believe how long it has taken to organize the simple things here. I last posted in July that we had found a home. We have literally just moved in last week. I never believed it would actually happen until we were in the house and had been handed keys!!
We went home to Ireland during the summer to catch up with family and for some events. Our time there was hectic! The day after we arrived I had the pleasure of being the birthing partner for my sister who gave birth to a beautiful little girl named Mary Rose after my late mum. I was privileged to give her first bottle, change her, dress her and spend so much time with her in those early days. She’s a cutie!
Then we went to Galway to catch up Rob’s family to attend the wedding of our friends Stephanie and Vinny. We were disappointed to discover that the accommodation that we had booked for our weeks in Galway turned out to be a scam and we lost a significant amount of money. I was pretty upset about it until I came to terms that at the end of the day its the person who scammed us that has a lot of bad karma coming their way and that we cant get caught up with these things and just had to let it go. The wedding was amazing and it was wonderful to see such a happy couple and to catch up with friends.
The rest of the time was spent rushing around celebrating Michael’s first birthday party with both families and seeing friends. Rob flew back to Puerto Rico after two weeks and I stayed with Michael. We were busy organizing the christening celebration for the new arrival and a few days later we hosted a fundraising coffee day in our home in aid of the hospice homecare that helped to take care of our Mum and allowed her to pass away at home with her family. We owe them a lot. Mammy’s anniversary came around quickly and we had a mass to mark one year. It was nice to see family that we haven’t seen in a while and get around and talk about her. It has been a hard year and in so many ways I just don’t know where the year went.
I flew back to Puerto Rico the end of August with Michael. It was a LONG day but we managed thanks to the lovely staff of Delta airways and the kindness of strangers who helped carry things and watched him while I went to the bathroom. This was particularly true for the Dublin – New York part of our trip but unfortunately not the same for New York – Puerto Rico. I was almost in tears after 23 hours travelling in SJU struggling with three cases, a car seat and a baby while lots of mine and passengers stood back and offered no assistance in helping me get outside to meet Rob. Frustrating to say the least.
Since we have been back I have been really focused on trying to get into a routine. I need it; I’m missing work and the structures that go along with it. It’s tougher being home with a 1 year old than I anticipated and it’s hard to get used to island living and the slower pace that comes with it. The local gym in Dorado has provided some of that routine. They have great childcare and I go four mornings a week, two with a trainer and two solo and I get to take Michael and keep an eye on him. When I come back then he sleeps for two hours which means that I get to have breakfast alone and shower which is just so precious. Already after three weeks I feel better for having something to leave the house for. We go to a baby gym to a music class on a Wednesday morning with some other friends and their kids and its lovely. So nice to see all the kids mixing and integrating together. My next plan is swimming lessons for both me and baby!
I mentioned earlier that we have just moved into our new home. It’s been such a long process. When I viewed the house the owner told me that it was unfurnished so we have been buying some things and trying to get organised. Rob called the owner last week just to confirm details and she told him that she was actually partially furnishing the house! It suits us as we don’t want the hassle of shipping/selling items in two years time but I just wish things could be more straight forward here at times and that people would just tell you what the story is!
I’ve felt taken advantage at times because of my lack of Spanish and being an expat. Even in the gym that I’m going to! My friend also attends and after a discussion on the price we discovered I’m being charged double her quotation for personal training and was being charged more for the membership fee also until she complained about it. I’m not sure why I was targeted but I’m guessing its because they think I don’t know any better!
Anyway, we have been trying to get out more and do things and see Puerto Rico. We went on a hike and Zip line experience a couple of weeks ago and that was lots of fun to do something different. We are going on a helicopter ride in the next few weeks too. A trip to Old San Juan for a stroll and some food and drinks have all been enjoyable experiences. We really need to start enjoying the island and seeing what it has to offer at the weekends.
So after four months I’ve learnt some things.
- You don’t have to stop at a traffic
light after midnight if there’s nothing coming due to safety and car jacking.
- Nobody seems to believe in recycling.
- At times just putting gas in my car frightens the life out of me!
- Siobhan is apparently too hard for people to make an effort to pronounce so my gym trainer has just decided to name me Jane.
- People seem to have difficulty returning supermarket carts/trolleys back to the bay. They need to bring in the coin slots here for them!
- Puerto Ricans do not like to be left at a traffic light after it’s gone green for more than 3 seconds.
- They love to stand in a queue. Especially in Walmart.
- They get married and have kids really young here.
- Apparently it’s illegal to drink and drive but I see plenty of guys coming out of the gas station with open cans/bottles and getting in their cars.
- With the exception of gas everything here is more expensive than home and Ireland is a rip off!
- There doesn’t seem to be any fresh fish and the quality of vegetables and fruit is deplorable.
Dorado really is a strange town. There is such a mix of people living here. You have so many of the wealthy american’s availing of Act 20/22; a huge number of expats who by and large have their expenses paid by their sponsor company and then the local Puerto Ricans. These seem to be split into the wealthy that live in Dorado Beach East/Sabanera/Paseos and then those outside of those communities. How do those people feel about the cost of living here? How do they survive? I struggle to comprehend just how big the social divide is to be honest. From my own perspective I feel how expensive it is to live here so how can those earning the average wage pay for necessities such as electricity and water?
Anyway, I fully intend on leaving the expat bubble over the next couple of months and emerging ourselves in the culture. Dorado is certainly a place that if you never wanted to leave and wanted to be surrounded by native English speakers all the time then it would be totally possible. But where is the fun in that!!