Sunday, January 8, 2012

Puerto Rico Baby

In late June of last year, we got a call in the middle of the night that Leo's mother was sick and in the hospital in Puerto Rico. This was a Monday night. By Tuesday morning, we were on a plane from Detroit to San Juan. The airlines have this thing called "bereavement flight" or something like that, where if there is a death or sudden illness in the family, you can fly at the last minute for a (somewhat) decent price.

As we descended into SJ, the pilot said over the intercom, "Wwwweeeellllcooommmeee to Puerto Rico!" and alot of people clapped. Leo told me it's a tradicion when people land in PR. A lot better tradicion than flights I've taken from Mexico where people pray and make the sign of the cross upon take-off.

The first thing I learned is that Puerto Ricans love them some parades and getting in their cars, blocking the streets, waving flags and shouting. And apparently they love traffic jams. What we learned had happened was there was a basketball player (originally from PR) who plays for some team that had just won the whatever big basketball contest and was returning to the island. You would think the guy was a king the way everyone was so excited. It took us an additional 2 hours to get out of that mess.

According to Leo, all Puerto Ricans love a celebration...they celebrate their own holidays and the mainland US's. And any other they can think of.

After we got Leo's mom sorted, we walked around old San Juan, which wasn't that exiting to me since it was very touristy although we were there in the hurricane season.

One day, we drove the MIL to her hometown in the center of the island,a little town called Comerio (River eater is the best translation I can think of). Apparently, year ago a little boy got caught in the river's tide and called out that the river was eating him.

It definitely isn't a tourist town so that was what made it so interesting. We walked around the downtown, hung out around a church plaza and went to a hippodromo (horse betting track bar) that the MIL's cousins owned. Weird to say but it looked like a divey corner bar that could have been found in any Midwestern town. Old arcade games, smell of smoke, TV's in every corner and cheap beer.

I also learned in Comerio that Puerto Ricans have a special word for OJ. In other Latin American countries, it's called jugo de naranja but when I asked for this in the store, the teenage boy working there just looked at me until he had an epihany and he's like, "Ohhhh, jugo de china" which means Chinese juice. I have no idea how orange juice would have anything to do with China but that's just how the Puerto Ricans roll I guess.

One other trip we took was driving along the top of the island to reach the "Surfing Capital" called Rincon (or corner). Apparently it's a world famous town but not being a surfer I had never heard of it.

It was a cute little town but if you're not into surfing, I didn't think it was worth the trip (it took us about 3 hours) because it's a regular 2 lane road with stop lights the whole way there. There is an airport there though so if this is your destination, I highly suggest you fly.

What finally made the trip so memorable though it that we helped the MIL clean up some stuff around her house and since it's in the tropics, the breezeway to the car port/garage is an open wrought iron gate.

Leo and I were moving some bags and we were like WTF smells so bad? We couldn't figure it out, we smelled everywhere until finally, I was like, "Ok, it's's my shirt." Turns out a stray cat had gone through the garage and sprayed all over the bags (I had carried them to my chest while Leo had just picked them up which was why my shirt reeked).

Leo was like, " El gato hizo pipi" and laughed. Nice. This was how we spent our 6th wedding anniversary...getting sprayed by stray male cats.

Memorable at least....

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