French S left yesterday to go back home to Brussels, and quite fittingly it started raining when we walked to the taxi stand and it didn’t stop for the whole afternoon! She had an active Caribbean holiday which included both studies and cleaning… This is her summary (written in our guestbook):
[—] attending a cycling race in Humacao; Daniel Sea Food – its langostas and mofongo; Puerto Rican Spanish lessons; the small quiet and charming beach next to your tower; the Bistro de Paris and its “Tontons Flingueurs” [French film classic]; the Old San Juan’s endless patchwork [of beautiful buildings]; El Morro views; feeling like Indiana Jones in El Yunque; your delicious cooking; the outlet of the outlets [Marshalls]; Costco; the mosquitos; cleaning La Pocita (“Somos grandes”); the Spanish, Swedish, Puerto Rican and French crayfish party; Bacardi and Piña Colada; Guanica – the subtropical forest and its cacti; the superb Guilligan’s Island and the mangrove… there’s no preferential order here ;-) Opps, I forgot LA GUAGUA*… [—]
The atmosphere was great – most of the participants were local teenagers from various schools and sport clubs, and while waiting for the cleanup to start, a few of them were playing drums and singing. S said that it felt like a genuine Puerto Rican moment, which is quite true!
Together with one of my Alliance Francaise colleagues, J, we helped counting all the garbage that the snorkelers and divers brought up to the shore. They didn’t find any refrigerators, but a lot of debris ranging from cans, bottles, plastic bags and food wrappers, to construction material of different kinds. In order to not throw away wildlife, the potato (?) bags of the divers were emptied into containers that we had filled with water. We found a few small fish (payaso – clown fish) and other sea creatures, algae and corals that we brought back to the sea.
Some of the stuff found in the water and on the beach while cleaning. The weirdest was definitely the Nativity scene (Christmas decoration)! Our fellow Puerto Rican cleaners told us that the Schaefer cans must be really old – that beverage (beer?) hasn’t been sold for years…
Hopefully the involvement of the younger generation will increase the awareness of the importance of keeping the Puerto Rican beaches and coastlines clean. Unfortunately the island’s beaches are not as clean as desired… I am always worried about stepping in some dog shit or on broken glass, but hopefully they are a little cleaner after Saturday’s initiative.
After a few hours of intensive work, S and I relaxed in the newly cleaned sea – La Pocita is a very small beach but the waters are much calmer than at other beaches around San Juan.
*) Puerto Rican word for bus and S’s favourite Puerto Rican word (as well as mine!) 😀
**) El Escambrón should not be confused with the Spanish swear word (without the es-) – apparently a commonly misheard name among foreigners in Puerto Rico (as well as the very common phenomenon in Puerto Rico – tapón (traffic jam), which is not the same as tampón 😉 )