Donde vivimos

We have a selection of rooms in our apartment. Here is what they look like.

The apartment has two doors, one in the living room and one in the kitchen. This, according to Pat, is due to an architectural decision which allowed the servants to enter the kitchen, make the food, and leave without ever being seen. Horrors!

We have elected to use the kitchen entrance because we are uncouth. Also this allows us to pull a baby gate across the opposite opening and keep the cats from making a run for it. Pat has dubbed this “the airlock,” and I am only angry I didn’t think of it first.

So the kitchen is sort of the de facto first room.

After that you have the combined living/dining area. It contains various things for the cats to sleep on. Their favorites change weekly.

To your left you have the bathroom. Mind the giant sloth.

On your right is the theoretical guest room. Currently it’s more the room we put things we’re not sure where to put yet.

And straight back is the bedroom. This is where we keep the other things the cats sleep on and/or under.

There you have it! Oh, yes, we have a pool.

A cerca nuestro apartamento

Good news – we have a permanent apartment!

We have settled in Isla Verde, a neighborhood in Carolina juuuuust outside San Juan city limits. If you come visit us, you can enjoy:

… direct beach access…

Disclaimer: this view is from our floor lobby, not our apartment proper. Alas, our circumstances are dire.

… mountain (and airport) views…

… al fresco meals at sunset…

… and a one-mile walk (along the ocean) to a dedicated brewery with some seriously excellent food and booze.

Among other things!

Don’t want to share a bathroom with us? The Ritz-Carlton and Marriott are literally and nearly literally next door, respectively.

We’re putting the finishing touches on the apartment’s innards. Next time: a photo tour!

Pat’s Trabajo

Construction Inspector Pat

It’s been about 2 months since I started my new position and I figured it’s about time I pull some weight and write something. (Note: The government frowns upon employees posting online so I won’t get into too many details.)

All and all things have been really good with my new position. My coworkers are all entertaining and more importantly, seem pretty competent. My boss is demanding but takes care of everyone on his team. Additionally, he has taken to mentoring me in a learning a variety of Spanish curse words. I’ll leave those for a separate post.

The work itself is interesting and will undoubtedly be challenging. The project our team is currently undertaking involves pulling down an eleven story tower down which sits directly on top of an active hospital; needless to say demolishing a building “quietly” is not an easy task. As a side note, I also need to figure out a way to get the tile mosaic off the side of the building (about 80 feet up) and put down in front of the main entrance without destroying it; feel free to contribute ideas.

It’s definitely a unique experience being the only gringo in the office (and throughout most of the hospital). So far I’ve said my share of idiotic things in Spanish but everyone seems to enjoy it and are quick to correct me. It also works both ways – I’ve become the non-official email spelling and grammar checker.

The guys also are excited to show me around the island and they’ve been a good resource for figuring out places to go explore. Unfortunately, in the last 2 weeks we haven’t had too much time to get out since we’ve been working on setting up our new apartment; another post on that coming soon too.

So things are pretty good and we’re starting to settle in to our new home. As a bonus, Jenn’s work has been happy with her teleworking… so good stuff all around. I’ll leave everyone with a picture of some of my work buddies that hang outside of my office.

I haven’t started naming them… yet.

Clases de español

What’s both helpful and difficult about practicing Spanish in Puerto Rico is that in San Juan, where we live, a solid 80% or more of the people are bilingual – like really bilingual. You can start out speaking Spanish to someone, rummaging around your brain for the words, but they’ve already switched to English because you’re taking too long. As long as you stick to cities and major towns, you could easily navigate Puerto Rico without learning any Spanish at all.

But that’s no way to live, so we are now in the midst of our third week of Spanish classes. They were surprisingly difficult to secure. You can’t swing a (purely proverbial) dead cat around here without running into an advertisement for English classes, but since everyone already speaks Spanish there’s not nearly as much availability.

Luckily we were able to locate private tutors, which come in a symbiotic set: Eddie is a native Spanish speaker and Geraldine is originally a French native who now speaks Spanish and English; she serves as our bridge both in language and in her ability to get into the mindset of a non-native speaker.

Much of the class is precisely what you’d expect: some verbs, some tenses, some practice. What really makes it valuable is the opportunity to converse in Spanish, slowly, groping to say what you want to say with the words you have and then finding out from the teachers if you made any sentences worth keeping for later.

Meanwhile Minxie and Ruffian have learned no Spanish whatsoever. They are cultural ignoramuses. ¡Las gatitas son tonta!

The iguana at the end of this post

This Saturday’s adventure involved a trip to Piñones, just outside San Juan. It’s a little more off the beaten path, lined with little bars and food stalls. Here, have this video I should’ve filmed horizontally but I didn’t so let’s call it POV.

The beach on the near end of Piñones is somewhat craggy – very picturesque but not as good for lounging about. Pretty though.

We grabbed lunch at a place called The Reef, which was… not very good, food-wise. Pat later read that a lot of these places make all their food in the morning and then slap it under a heat lamp for the remainder of the day. But it was an excellent atmosphere and a nice place for drinks. Here I am modeling Medalla Light, a native Puerto Rican beer. It tastes like beer.

Don’t forget to tip your roosters.

After lunch we drove further down the road to a more comfortable beach, featuring an old coral shelf protecting a quiet ocean pool of sorts. We were able to wade over to the reef and check out the ocean on the other side.

So that’s Piñones. Anyway, here’s that wild iguana I promised.

Easter report

Hello! Easter, as far as we can tell, is honored in Puerto Rico by anyone and everyone heading to the beach. For fear of losing our parking spot, we’ve stuck close to home, and by consequence have minimal new stories to tell.

However, a few things have happened. We ran into Benecio del Toro, for one. Pat held a gate open and said “Buenas” to him, and he said “Buenas” back.* Here ends the tale of our encounter with Benecio del Toro.

*Pat is anxious that you know that in PR it is common to simply say “Buenas” as opposed to the full “buenas tardes” etc.

Additionally, Dan and Andrew came to visit. We mostly confined our time to grabbing dinner, as Pat and I have had to spend our weekdays working, but we hit up some new spots with them, including Casita Miramar.

Now we are back from our traditional Easter dinner: tacos and margaritas at La B de Burro. Cheers!