Our Irish friends MT and B arrived on Saturday evening and we didn’t give them much time to get used to the time difference, climate or language – Sunday morning started with a “Decorate for the holiday season“-course in Pottery Barn for MT and I, while the boys were bringing home our new dining table that we bought with 60% price reduction on Saturday! MT loves interior design (she used to have a blog called MTeriors) so the one-hour free course was perfect, especially as she has always wanted to visit a Pottery Barn shop.
The course was of course in Spanish, and I tried to act as an interpreter but MT also enjoyed picking out the English words prounced with a Puerto Rican accent (“super-in”, low-key, black tie, and something about Reader’s digest were some of them). She was very impressed by how stylish the Puerto Rican participants (mostly women of course) were, but afterwards while strolling around Plaza Las Americas we also spotted some dubi-dubi women🙂
However, our plan had not been to expose our guests to only the shopping mall on their first day and we headed towards the mountains in the late morning. Maybe not the most clever destination considering the heavy downfalls and floodings earlier in the week but I had read about a butterfly sanctuary close to Guyama that I wanted to show the butterfly loving MT (see what a perfect hostess I am, tailoring the activities to the guests’ interests!). Unfortunately we didn’t manage to get hold of the Reserva Natural Mariposario Las Limas before we arrived, and it turned out that the place was closed. Maybe because of the before-mentioned floodings, as we could see that there was quite a lot of damages to the surroundings.
I don’t know if this is the way they usually dry laundry or if is due to the floods?
We continued our drive in the mountains and as is our habit when travelling around the island we got lost! It doesn’t matter if we are driving in the metropolitan area of San Juan trying to find a Wal-Mart, Costco or a friend’s house, or in the countryside – lost is the reoccurring situation that we find ourselves in*! You could say that it is part of the experience, and that’s what we told our visitors who were more than happy to take in the spectacular views of the green mountains, vistas of the Caribbean sea and locals sipping beers outside the colmados* on the way.
House balancing on the edge of a collapsed road
Nevertheless, this time finding our way was even more complicated since some roads had been washed away in the recent floodings. We were deviated twice from the road but very helpful people pointed out alternative routes to us – which took us down the steepest roads ever (the others didn’t think that my comparison to the streets of San Francisco was a good one!) and past big boulders lying in the middle of our way. One of the deviations was due to the road being repaired while the second one was in desperate need of fixing – the road had completely collapsed and the two houses balancing on the edge of the hole looked like they could fall down the mountain side at any minute. We asked the people living in one of the houses how long they had been living next to the giant gap in the road / mountain and their answer shocked us – for a week! In Europe such a hazardous situation would have led the residents to be evacuated immediately. Despite the fact that it was a Sunday, how come we only saw ONE road being repaired?? Unfortunately the priority seems to be on buying plasma-TV’s without the 7% VAT than to really help the victims of the floodings! Maybe a little harsh, but I believe that the politicians should focus more on rebuilding and clearing the roads for people living in the mountains than subsidising people’s Christmas shopping!
A family fishing
Eventually we managed to get down the mountains in one piece and had a pic-nic by the Caribbean Sea among families fishing and relaxing in the sunshine, and with Vieques on the horizon. The Irish visitors were impressed that all the family members seemed to be involved in the fishing – but they also noticed that up in the mountains it is mostly men in the streets and outside the colmados.
The Caribbean Sea with Vieques on the horizon
*) Colmado refers to a small local grocery shop / bar