This is a amazing interview with Illustrator and co-owner of Soda Pop Comics here in Puerto Rico. Here they discuss the exodus of many brilliant and creative young professionals before and after hurricane Maria, a must read.
Private groups and individuals are flying out to Puerto Rico as I speak to help with the relief effort’s, there are some truly amazing people out there. I’ve been told there are 10,000 troops here already.
As of today we have yet to see any groups handing out water, food or supplies. That doesn’t mean it hasn’t been done it just means where we live, those items aren’t available to us or they are in a location not broadcasted.
We’ve gone out twice to FEMA locations that were reported on the radio and when we arrived there was no one. We still have to search for very long hours and stand in very long lines to purchase water IF it is available.
As I’ve said before we are one of the lucky ones in that we live close to the metro area and all the roads are cleared. So imagine how the remote areas are faring, it must be incredibly frustrating and feel hopeless.
If there’s one thing I would ask of those on the mainland, is to contact your Congressman, contact whomever you think would be able to help, tell them that we need more people here…we need many, many more people here helping.
Workers here are overextended, hospital staff/police/military are exhausted and overworked. We need people to replenish these workers so that they aren’t overextended.
Supplies are not getting to Puerto Rico residents as desperately needed, we need more truck drivers, we need more helicopters, we need more pilots, we just need more.
Whilst doing some research one night I stumbled upon this amazing flickr account run by Tom Lehman. Amazing because Mr. Lehman collected thousands of vintage slides, cleaned, scanned, edited, identified and attributed each one to their individual photographer. And after that monumental task was completed, he was kind enough to upload them for everyone to see, enjoy and use free of charge. (As long as it’s not for monetary gain)
Most of the photos are of Puerto Rico but there are some other countries among the collection as well. He also has a blog which explains why and how these photographs came to light.
Another useful site is “Archivo Historico y Fotografico de Puerto Rico” which has many fascinating photographs and ephemera as well. Stop by and check them out, as you can see from the examples here, they are really quite remarkable.
The photos I picked to showcase here are just a small sampling and most have been edited to some degree. I hope you will stop by Tom’s site to view the rest and perhaps give him a hand with the identification process.
We’ve had our noses to the grindstone for a quite awhile and decided on a recent holiday weekend we simply had to break the cycle. We headed along the northern coast through Vega Baja, Manati, and Barceloneta, finally ending up in Arecibo.
Near La Boca in Barceloneta we could already see major changes either completed or under way. The public space, El Malecon had been completely re-imagined with a busy new adjacent restaurant, El Bohio del Gran Pescador. Like all new restaurants in Puerto Rico, the line was at least 50 people deep. Further down, another well known restaurant was reaping the rewards of the area’s revitalization. What once was a near ghost town was now flush with hoards of patrons.
We had only driven a third of the distance to the “Birth of the New World Statue” and things were already drastically different. As we meandered in what was now stop and go traffic you could see modern road-side stands, re-opened businesses, the promise of pasteles off a side street, coco frio on every corner and 100’s of families enjoying the playa. It had only been three months since we were last here, with so much progress in such a short time, it was astounding.
About a 1/2 mile before Cueva del Indio we spotted a new restaurant on the left, Camaleón Bar & Grill, busy but not insanely so. Directly across the street is the “Gasolina Beach Club“, a large lot with shade trees, a large clearing for helicopter tours* (we took the helicopter tour and had a blast) and a restaurant in the back. They frequently have concerts and various entertainment events as well. The restaurant is two storied with a wide veranda over-looking the playa. The views are gorgeous, it’s the perfect place to grab a plate of fried guilty pleasures and an ice cold beer.
I should mention at this point most of this progress is funded by Pan American Grain, for better or worse, depending of what side of the issue you are on. If you didn’t know, Pan American Grain’s products are ubiquitous throughout the island. Brands such as Rico rice, Gasolina and Mami cafe. They are the financial backer of “Terra Vista Parkland” and all that encompasses, including the previously mentioned restaurant, beach club and tours. “Terra Vista Parkland” will be a developed park surrounding the Columbus statue. To view the park’s future plans check out their video.
While in the area, we noticed Cueva del Indio’s original paid parking lot was corded off (temporarily?) and a much larger adjacent lot was available. We aren’t entirely sure Pan American had anything to do with it, but it had their stamp on it with similar decor and landscaping.
I’m not sure how I feel about the project itself. On one hand it’s an obvious financial benefit to locals in the surrounding area. I can see traffic becoming a nightmare but there are also plans to widen the road. Widen it how is yet to be seen, PR’s back roads don’t leave much wiggle room. There are groups protesting the development and a petition going around. From what I have read they are keeping the environment in mind, but will they truly? It’s not like corporations haven’t broken promises in the past. If you have any further info on the subject or just want to share your perspective, let me know in the comments, I would love to hear from you.
*Helicopter tours are $35pp but you need 3 people for that price. If you are a couple or going solo you have the option of waiting for additional people to show up (who will also agree to ride with you) or you can pay for the empty seat(s). We opted to pay for the third empty seat. Bonus short video of our flight.
You may have heard Puerto Rico experienced an island wide blackout starting on Wednesday, September 21st. Many of you actually experienced it. The blackout occurred when a power switch at the Aguirre power plant in Salinas overheated, causing an oil tank to explode and set fire to 3 acres of land. This in turned sparked 15 fires throughout the island when generators malfunctioned. Fortunately all were extinguished successfully with no injuries. Although sadly, one person died the first night from carbon monoxide poisoning using their personal generator.
For locals, it was an emergency we didn’t have a chance to prepare for. We are used to either out-maneuvering hurricanes or prepping for what promises to be a house party to bunker down and ride them out. This happened without warning, in the middle of the day, in the middle of a work week.
After getting off of work, we like many others, scrambled to get gas, water, cash and ice. Those lines were about a 30 minute wait, not too bad. Stoplights were obviously out but amazingly traffic wasn’t as horrific as you might imagine, even the metro area was just slightly worse than usual. All in all the overall vibe was generally tranquillo considering no one had a clue how long this would last.
We ended up with plenty of food and water but no power left on the phone. Obviously needing a way to contact local/state side family was important so we looked for businesses with generators until we found one with a open outlet. ( Just fyi, if this ever happens to you, avoid the chains and head straight to the mom & pop restaurants/businesses they’re less crowded) Finally with our bellies and phone bars full, we headed home to wait out the next couple of nights.
I would say in terms of preparedness, we had about a weeks worth of non-perishable food and 4 days of potable drinking water. Water was still running in our area so the latter wasn’t an issue. I had just completed our monthly food purchases 3 days prior so I was pretty stressed out we wouldn’t have a way to cook meat that might expire. I really kicked myself on this issue since just two weeks prior I had a propane burner in my cart when I changed my mind and put it back last minute.
Probably the most challenging aspect was sleeping. I don’t think either one of us got more than an hour that first night. You are just drenched in sweat, sticky and miserable. These concrete buildings soak up the heat by day and then release it at night. Opening the doors on street level just isn’t an option for obvious reasons. By night two, even with the exhaustion it was just nearly impossible to sleep again, even the faintest, slightest breeze was a huge relief. Showers were great though, as long as they didn’t end. :)
Other than the propane burner we could have also really used a portable phone charger, a solar powered lantern/radio/usb device and perhaps even a waterBOB. Most of these items would be really useful on our trips around the island as well. And yes, they have all either been bought or ordered. Since our community doesn’t allow gas powered generators we are also looking into smaller solar powered models to run fans and small appliances.
All in all, I think we were lucky the event only lasted a few days, beyond that, things could have declined quickly. Who knows how much gas, water, food and ice we have in reserves or how long it would take to replenish them? On a positive note, Puerto Rico’s massive light pollution was muted for a brief couple of nights, revealing a stunning display or sparkling stars that left everyone in awe. It also brought neighbors closer together, you could hear conversations well into the night peppered with laughter, it was a nice change from the usual routine.
So, how did YOU fare during the blackout and what would have done differently…or the same? I would love to hear about your personal experiences, if you have a moment, please post them here in the comments.
Swimming pools pop up in slums, horses graze in schoolhouses, and public housing tenants pay negative rent on an island whose government has effectively gone broke.
Beautiful coloring book featuring 26 municipalities in Puerto Rico. The title says “Adult” but I think some kids might have a hard time letting you have all the fun. Very talented group of PR illustrators here, well done!
From the publisher:
In terms of the book, this is part of Puerto Rico Presenta’s publishing company where we try to create books and media related to the Puerto Rican culture. This project started when I began participating in adult coloring at a library in the states and decided it would be a great idea to have one representing the towns.
It consist of 30 illustrations, every artist created 5 different towns and one of San Juan. The art was commissioned and they were allowed to choose what they thought the best representations were. I worked with each artist independently until we thought each piece was a good fit for the book.
If you are a bookstore or interested in reselling it you can email us here and we can provide reseller codes for the book. -Alfredo
Illustrators: Rafael Pagan, Victoria Cano, Xavier Ocasio, Alexander Damiani, Carlos Fernandez
If anyone knows the name or contact info of the guy in the video, please drop me a line! (Source: https://www.youtube.com/)