All the foreigners we have met in Puerto Rico swear allegiance to the Costco tomatoes!
I think they sent the wrong ad to Puerto Rico – it’s in French… Actually it is quite common to see that labels on products in Puerto Rico are in English and French, instead of Spanish! I guess because of Canada (Quebec), but there is definitely more Spanish-speakers in the US than French-speakers in Canada…
A normal Puerto Rican supermarket is quite well-stocked and we can find most of the products that we are used to from Europe. However, without Costco we would never eat tasty [red] tomatoes, cheese that has an actual flavour, fresh-looking meat etc… In this day and age it feels so wrong to buy imported fruits and vegetables, meat and fish, but living in an island where there is very little agricultural activity, we don’t have much choice. It is even difficult to find locally caught fish, despite Puerto Rico being an island.
We do try to buy locally produced / grown food stuff when we can. Puerto Rican bananas, pine apples, mangoes, avocados – even though the fruit is sometimes from the Dominican Republic, which is still more local than Canada (where the red tomatoes come from!).
However, there are more Puerto Rican products that we could have tried to learn how to cook and enjoy:
At the end of our 2½ years of living in Puerto Rico we will have had over 40 guests! It has been a very interesting and mostly great experience to be able to show family and friends our life in the Caribbean. Nevertheless, it was very interesting to read about other expat Swedes’ experiences of over-night guests in the etiquette column of Margareta Ribbing (for once I read all the comments!) a few weeks ago.
Here are some tips and rules if you are going to be the host / hostess to holidaying friends and family, or if you are going to be staying for an extended period of time at friends’ places – please take note!
- Explain any kind of “rules” or habits in your home – from which towels to use for the beach to which kitchen ware to use for what (e.g we have glasses, plates etc that belong to the apartment that we don’t use, instead we use our own things), if you take off the shoes by the entrance etc
- Tell your guests to feel at home, which means that they can make a cup of tea, have a drink or a snack whenever they want and don’t need to wait for your suggestion or preparation
- Feeling at home also means that you as a host[ess] should not have to entertain your guests 100% of the time (if you don’t necessarily want to); hand out maps with your address marked, show the bus stop and explain how public transportation works (tickets, timetables), provide a few tourist brochures and tips of what to see in the neighbourhood
- Do NOT: hand out a map with your old address marked – I did that once in Brussels and my poor-at-the-time-pregnant-with-pelvic-pain (foglossning) Latvian sister + family wandered around for hours trying to find my apartment. It is incredible that she actually has forgiven me!!
- Suggest that your guests take care of cooking a meal at least once during their stay! Maybe they have a signature dish – our Mexican guests cooked a Mexican dinner for us one night when they visited us.
- If you don’t have time to drive the guests around (or don’t have a car available during the week), don’t hesitate to suggest that they rent a car if they want to see more of the country – they already get free accommodation so they can’t complain…
- Explain to the guests from the beginning that you might not have time to do everything with them. Regardless whether you work or not, there are things to be taken care of around the home, you are not on a holiday and might not want to spend your days on the beach!
It is great to have guests coming to stay, but what some guests might forget is that yes, it might seem like a B&B but your home is not an all-inclusive resort and it is very welcome to suggest paying for a restaurant meal or maybe the supermarket shopping.
Both my and O’s conclusion after all the visits we have had, is that independent guests are the best. We have enjoyed showing Puerto Rico to everyone, but it can be tiring (and expensive) as well, especially for O who works hard and long hours during the week and then having to play tourist guide on the weekends. Of course we have been very happy to be able to spend time with family and friends when living so far away, and we have felt a little disappointed that some haven’t been able to make it (or haven’t shown any interest at all).
And now I am counting the days to Sunday when my parents and Mrs N[eighbour] arrive from Sweden! O always says that my parents are the easiest guests – just make sure that they have books to read and they will be happy! 😉