|Evan & Me in PR last summer|
So where was I? Oh yes, still in San Juan! Well of course when we arrived in San Juan, the tropical storm was just reaching. We weren't delayed at the airport and our luggage all arrived together and safely. We had no problems getting picked up. Smooth sailing. We figured the rest of the day could be this easy too, right?
Definitely wrong. So so so wrong. Well, apparently with impeding storms and prospects of flooding, the governor of PR shuts down all governmental agencies and usually most other businesses will get the hint and close too. That means, we weren't able to pay the tax on our cars when we arrived to pick them up. AND that meant, we couldn't get our cars. Ok, fine. haha. We would wait a day, right? Again, wrong..
|Balcony of an apartment in Old San Juan. Very French Quarter, NO right? Lovely|
|Old cobblestone streets of Old San Juan.|
|An area that I apparently shouldn't been taking pictures...|
Government agencies closed the next day too. We were able to go take care of the paperwork at the port where our cars were waiting (it was a tease too, I could see my car in the parking lot). However, this is where things got super tricky. As we were filling out forms, the representatives behind the counter asked how we were going to pay our Hacienda tax (the excise tax to bring my car into their country). I showed her my Debit card (with the VISA logo)... and received a harsh response of "no, that is not a debit card". I calmly tried to explain that it was, but she would have none of that haha. Apparently, down here debit cards don't have to have VISA logos and are just plain debit cards, called ATH. THAT's what I needed! Now how long would that take? Days. Literally.
Thus, after tearing up a little at the amount I had to pay in tax (let's just say... it was several K) and then realizing I wasn't any closer to getting my car, we tried to relax and enjoy some of our time in San Juan. We did get some pretty nice tours from our new "tia" and "tio" - because they were so generous with their time and space for us!
|Passageway at the fort in Old San Juan. Kind of a cool angle, eh? :)|
|The old fort that guarded the entrance to the island. Old San Juan.|
So we opened Puerto Rican bank accounts and hurriedly transferred money from our accounts in the States (of course, the "hurriedly" part really didn't matter because it still took days to post..). After all this (and I'm shortening the story, because it almost took 2 weeks from the day we got there to the day we finally left and ventured down to Rincon), we finally got our cars. We left San Juan, we drove to the west side of the island and settled into our new home in Rincon. That's also shortened too, because there was LOTS of cleaning that needed to be done before any "settling" could occur.
What I have learned:
1.) Always plan for the unexpected. As in, always carry way more cash then you think you'll need. And have several back-up options.
2.) Get used to standing in lines. I have gained a severe amount of patience since this move. I have learned to occupy myself with other thoughts while I wait, in order to take my mind off the monotony of waiting.
3.) Get used to standing in more lines. There is always at least a 3 step process for things that you know only involve one step. I have seen this everywhere now.
4.) Don't be embarrassed to use your Spanish!! You gain so much more respect when you try to communicate with the native islanders in their first language (I did this today with the internet man!). Don't be afraid that you'll say something wrong or in a wrong tense. You show respect and give them the power in the conversation.. and you don't come across like a rich, snotty American.
So now I'm in Rincon and I've started classes. (I'll save my saga of class registration for the next post). There have been lots of neat things I've discovered here that I can't wait to share with you! For example, a neat little spanish bookstore and cultural center, a restaurant with the best fried conch, several great recipes that Evan and I have cooked lately, some hints on where to stay and what to do while in Rincon, an organization that saves stray dogs and lots of other stories!!
|Steps Beach - right down from my house :)|
Tell me some of your hints! For instance, I'm dying to find a thrift store, vintage shop or antique collection somewhere on the west side of the island. Anyone have any suggestions???