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Puerto Rico weekend

Submitted by eagle on Sun, 05/19/2019 - 17:59

Now getting the hang of San Juan.

It's much easier to maintain cleanliness, do work, etc., while in comfortable quiet place than in noisy places or out camping. In PR than in Cuba.

 

Below, you can find a bunch of blog posts from my first few days in PR, and from my stay in Cuba. I didn't have much wifi in Cuba, to the point that barely had enough to leave the country.

Rock & Roll!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :)

Puerto Rico blog May 18, 2019

Submitted by eagle on Sun, 05/19/2019 - 17:59

So far, Puerto Rico strikes me as the most boring Caribbean island. It feels like a chunk of Florida broke off and floated into the sea.

 

The Spanish-speaking people seem like gringos. They mostly speak English.

 

I ate mofongo, a pile of fried plantains. Delicious!

The same chain stores. Highways. Things seem private, fenced off here, even more than in the continental US. I've seen entire streets and neighborhoods behind fences.

Puerto Rico blog May 17, 2019

Submitted by eagle on Sun, 05/19/2019 - 17:58

Street signs are in Spanish, Puerto Ricans speak Spanish, but they seem to want to speak English with me. Their English is fluent, but they have an accent and sometimes make typical Spanish-speaker mistakes.

Maybe I'll teach English in PR.

Maybe I'll stay at some hotels, now that I can use bank card again.

Maybe camp out again now that I'm in PR.

I'm getting the hang of Puerto Rico. Seems like a boring American city, but with beautiful weather, and Spanish! :)

Just what I want! :)

 

Puerto Rico blog May 16, 2019

Submitted by eagle on Sun, 05/19/2019 - 17:53

Whew/Woo!

Another day, another country! :)

 

So far, Puerto Rico seems like a beautiful if straightforward country.

I like the people so far, more than in Cuba. I felt the same way about Puerto Ricans versus Cubans in Miami. Both are Latin, Caribbean people, with warmth, comforting food, cool music, etc. Puerto Ricans seem way more relaxed. Cubans seem more insistent.

Seeing store shelves stocked with stuff, what a different sight!

The restaurants here cost considerably more, but provide more of the mains, less of the staples.

It's like being in the US, which it is!

I still haven't figured out many of the details of the country. Is it also considered its own country? What language(s) is/are official? Etc. The signs are in Spanish, people speak mostly Spanish but more English. It feels kind of like being in Texas, etc. It's like being in a Miami neighborhood.

So much to do!

Would Cubans even believe in drive-thrus?

It's much more pleasant in Puerto Rico. Relaxing, boring, etc. Less interesting, scenic.

PR is a more developed economy.

So far Puerto Ricans strike me as somewhat plain. Plain-looking women, plain food, etc.

Closing down tons of open tabs, from Nauta (Cuban wifi often failing, requiring reconnections), Airbnb (often failing, requiring refunds), etc.

PR seems developed to the point that, like other parts of the US, there are few kids. Tons of suburbs, cars, fast food chains, etc.

One benefit of Cuba (in addition to another benefit of muchos pedestrians, etc.) is the plethora of fresh people.

Toyota may be the unofficial car brand of PR. Straightforward, works.

So many products and services. When people are free to buy and sell, they find offerings and prices that suit needs, in often unpredicted ways. It just works.

Puerto Ricans seem more respectful than Cubans.

Some life/travel lessons:

It's insane in this environment to expect peace & quiet, to expect things to go according to plan, etc. Instead, take the plunge, adapt! :)

It often takes two or more tries.

Puerto Rico blog May 15, 2019

Submitted by eagle on Sun, 05/19/2019 - 17:48

Upon entry in PR:

Seems far closer to my ideal society than Cuba or mainland USA does!

No huge police presence.

No huge government presence.

Things seem to work.

Laughter! :)

Capitalism works.

So much to think, see, do, try, say, etc.

Things often go "wrong," mistakes happen, etc., but you find ways to travel.

By the way, I think I'm a solid fit for travel, or travel for me.

There's even a subway in San Juan, apparently! :)

Apparently it's hard to get decent Airbnb directions in PR, too. :)

So far Puerto Rico seems like a bigger, more modern society than I would have guessed.

Pop. 5 million? 3 million.

I want to spend a couple of weeks catching up, exploring town, working, meeting people, eating, etc.

Then, maybe a month or two expanding throughout the city.

Then maybe a month or two seeing the rest of the country.

Then maybe boat to Dominican Republic, ride to Haiti? Return to PR?

See if other ferries. Can maybe make PR a base.

Seems like a dense enough country to supply interest for some time, m a few months.

Fresh new country! :)

Part of America. I'll probably get annoyed at the American stuff again soonish. For now it's a breath of fresh air! :)

I'm going for a more tolerant attitude, towards people, places, activities, etc., in PR.

I like small towns.

Big cities can be too loud.

First settle in! :)

Out from the Cuban internet blockade! :)

 

Cuba blog May 15, 2019

Submitted by eagle on Sun, 05/19/2019 - 17:22

A quiet night, after busing then walking.

I feel like I've just about run through my supplies here. I'm down to around 75 cents' worth of pesos. I'm almost done my deodorant, insect repellent. Getting ready to restock! :)

Probably spend at least the next six months, through hurricane season, in Puerto Rico.

Long day!

Made it back to America!

Feels like the future.

Starbucks.

Cubans seem pretentious, despite not being particularly smart, wealthy, beautiful, etc.

Each place has its pros & cons. Challenges anywhere.

Cuba blog May 14, 2019

Submitted by eagle on Sun, 05/19/2019 - 17:18

I think that what you do is more important than what you study.

The cheap things are often better: laptops, food, hotels, etc.

Often not, though.

Cuba is a beautiful country. I'm ready to leave, for the financial situation (low cash). Also, I'm getting more annoyed by the culture, other than some stand-out individuals. On the downside, there are still a few more parts that I would like to see.

I'm happy to have had the chance to see so much of Cuba, on not much cash. $300 US, much lost in transaction fees and other costs, along with perhaps a few hundred more dollars from PayPal for Airbnb.

You can go far for not much money. Especially in Latin America! :)

It's been quite an adventure!

Walking across Cuba in one direction, then busing across Cuba in a different direction. Tons to see, eat, meet, do, etc.! :)

Tons of feet & face pictures. The important parts! :)

I apparently like the architecture.

It's big, it's bold, it's beautiful.

I like how each building is unique, artistic. It's opposite of US where most buildings are identical copies.

I like how the mangoes, so sweet, fall to the ground. You can pick one up almost anywhere. Here, they taste varied, some like fruta bomba, some like spaghetti squash.

I like the Cuban people more now, after having met a number of them.

On a country farm.

I tried taking a nap.

Now around 1:15 PM Tuesday. Planning to set out on foot at around midnight. 7 km to the international departures. Depart at 9 am.

Things it's common to see a Cuban carrying while walking, biking, or riding a bus: chicken, fan, etc.

Cuban people seem insistent.

They want to be heard, seen, etc.

"oye," "mira," "oiste?", etc.

Maybe explains Fidel's long speeches.

In Cuba, because of the poverty (which is because of communism), also because of the traditional society, people use bike, walk. The cities are more compact than American cities. People eat outside, talk with each other. As a result, it's much more fun, interesting, to walk around Cuban cities. (Also, other Latin cities, probably elsewhere.)

A result of the larger number of people walking, biking, is that car traffic adjusts to pedestrians, cyclists. You can walk down a major street with cars, they'll sometimes go around you.

Here, even elegant women ride bicycles, have to do regular things.

I've had numerous advantageous experiences while traveling in Cuba, many unexpected. Often as a result of mistakes, accidents, "problems."

I think that travel opens one to different environments. The interaction w/ geography & culture other than what one already knew provides different insights about oneself & one's larger (general) environment.

Travel just means going somewhere. You can even travel without physiologically leaving home. As one person mentioned, traveling by Google street view.

After around a month and a half in Cuba, I feel like I've finally started to understand the accent. I don't think I'd gotten to that point in Miami, despite the Cubans there. I may even have picked up some of the accent and vocabulary, even though I still think it's the ugliest form of Spanish. Oiste? ("You heard?") I also have a much better sense of the culture & geography.

 

Cuba blog May 13, 2019

Submitted by eagle on Sun, 05/19/2019 - 17:15

Confirmation of flight! :)

Place in San Juan, cheaper than tonight's place in Bayamo, Cuba!

So many things I have yet to learn about Puerto Rico.

Metric/imperial/mix.

Culture

Geography

Next want to ferry to Dominican Republic, briefly see Haiti.

New country!

Spanish? English? Spanglish?

Food, music, dance.

Yeah, I've been in Miami, but it's different in the country itself.

What are the people like? Friendly? Warm? Beautiful? Ugly?

What are the accents like?

I expect a more balanced population than Cubans.

Cuba's a fairly large island.

The Cuban people are warm, if etc.

It's a very sensory country.

People eat ice cream, greet neighbors, ride bikes, etc.

In Cuba, you can have a pleasant style.

Long day!

Did some thinking. Decided finally to leave Bayamo Tuesday, not Monday. Rested.

Walked around, found some disappointing food choices. I've seen a few "cerveza a granel" (beer from a huge container). They say 750 ml for 3.50, which is like two cans of beer for 15-20 cents US.

Walked around different parts of town than I've seen. Didn't know much about Bayamo before arriving. I hadn't thought of going, didn't even know it existed until recently. I just decided to go recently because of its location on the way to my departure airport from Santiago de Cuba, where I was.

Hot, sunny day. I've recently run out of sunblock. I don't have much cash left, so I've just been playing jump among the shadows. Burned my face and neck somewhat, like a redneck.

Went online. The only place was quite noisy. After working for a while, managed to confirm the details of my flight. Also, booked an Airbnb for tonight, and an Airbnb for my first night in SJ, PR! :)

Went for more of a walk. Bought fifteen pieces of cake from a street vendor, for around $1 US total. The food prices are ridiculously inexpensive here, although it can be tough to find food, at least food that one wants. I'd been craving cake, particularly moist chocolate cake, for a while.

 

Cubans are very efficient, by the necessity of scarcity. Highway posters proclaim efficiency. Cubans ride bicycles. Cuban food often uses large amounts of staples like wheat and sugar, with enough of the flavorings like chocolate or cheese to give a sense, instead of loaded with the more expensive chocolate or cheese like in the US.

 

Cuban products are harsh on teeth: sugar, tobacco, coffee, etc. I've hardly seen floss for sale. I have seen numerous toothless Cubans.

11:29 PM

After walking while eating some of the cakes, I felt satisfied. That, plus the bookings, I felt like it was my lucky day!

 

As I kept walking, I felt someone bump into me. I maneuvered to let the person by, but instead the person seemed to bump into me more. I felt pressure on my laptop bag, which also contained my phone, wallet, passport, and more.

 

I realized that the person was trying to take my laptop bag. An Afro-Cuban had run up from behind me, grabbing the bag. The shoulder strap caught on my arm. I wrestled the bag towards my side, while he kept trying to take it and run. I started yelling to leave it. We traded blows. As he grabbed at my glasses, the head strap kept them on my face.

 

On a small unpaved side street, we fought. After a short while, a passerby was saying "socio, socio." I had seen the person repeatedly in my recent walking through the area. I thought that maybe it was a setup, with the two of them attacking me. Then I felt the pressure on the laptop bag release.

 

The second person was talking to the attacker. As they talked, I adjusted my laptop bag, picked up an object that had fallen to the ground that looked like my phone, and walked away.

 

After rounding a corner, walking some more, I looked more carefully at what I had. My laptop bag remained intact, unopened, with my phone and other possessions inside. The other object was a wallet, containing the ID of the attacker and the equivalent of around 25 cents US. The attempted robber lost his wallet!

I think that fighting back, yelling, having some awareness of the situation and the laptop bag, etc., contributed to the defense. Also, I had read previously, I can't remember exactly where, travel advice to carry items in a bag with a shoulder strap in addition to hand holds. I think that keeping objects tightly affixed can prevent problems.

I'm now backing up photos and stuff from the phone. I'd meant to do so a while ago. Had kept putting it off, was finally going to tonight.

 

I'm thankful to have the laptop bag. After all that work, I would have had no passport, laptop, phone, wallet. Maybe I would not have made it onto the flight. At the least it would have caused serious annoyances.

 

I think I should carry some important items separately, even if I do use them often such that it would be convenient to keep them together in the laptop bag.

I'm finding it hard to stay hydrated in Cuba. Even if I drink as much water as my body can hold, it dissipates so quickly that by later that day I'll feel severely dry again.

I think I've been in Cuba for over a month and a half.

LifeFLOW3D

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