After Maria

I think it was around 3pm when things settled down in earnest after 9 long hours. Power had gone out the night before at 11pm. We never experienced the calm that an eye provides so we surmised we must have been on the edge of it. Although by all previous accounts we were in direct line with the path. By 4:30 everyone, including ourselves, had swept and mopped the few inches of water from our apartments outside.

A quick survey of the complex revealed most of the palm trees were uprooted, beheaded or snapped in half but most of the cars unscathed. A walk around the perimeter confirmed no one was seriously injured or needed assistance. Other than a half dozen units with blown out entrances (due to vacancy) damage was minimal. We were/are lucky.

IMG_2321IMG_2346IMG_2347IMG_2349IMG_2391IMG_2390

Our next course of action was checking in on family members in Arecibo. Driving out of the complex, we were in for a sobering look at the devastation Maria had left. Scraggly barren trees set against a blank grey sky, Puerto Rico’s lush world of color was now in muted tones of destruction. With every block we got quieter, the only thought going through our minds was how would PR ever recover from this? We are sure the east coast thru San Juan received the brunt of Maria, how on earth are they doing? Who is going to help them? When?

In less than a mile we came upon our first impasse, a light pole across the road, we make a u-turn. Not two blocks from there, low hanging intertwined cables and unpredictable flooding blocks our path. Time to turn back, the return somehow seemed even more dismal.

We made rounds again with the neighbors, some we knew, some we had never met before. An elderly man was trying (and succeeding according to bystanders) to catch and kill the remaining pigeons with his bare hands. Not two hours ago we were anxiously listening to the doors rattle so hard you’d think they’d blow off their hinges and now this. Were also told by neighbors Marshall law is in effect, no traveling between 6pm-6am.

Did I mention there hasn’t been any sleeping? Either you are soaked in sweat or the generators are roaring at deafening decibels or your mind is whirring. Usually it’s a combo. You can’t eat because you’re too anxious, tired or hot.

Thursday morning I felt overwhelmingly bereft for a brief time. Looking out the window you can’t help but feel like a tiny desolate forgotten planet not knowing what’s happening. That quickly dissipated after our next ride out.

We grabbed some food and jumped into the car first thing the next morning. This time we made it to Arecibo but all roads leading to our families neighborhood were even more impassable than any we have seen. We had to turn back again. Like the day before, people were out in their rain gear attempting to chip away at the madness around them, not a dour face in sight. In fact, people were laughing, helping their neighbors, chasing their siblings around on the front lawn and generally getting the world moving again.

We learned from emergency broadcasts that Maria MIGHT have zig zagged through PR and exited around Aguadilla but no one really knows. I’m writing this Thursday night, still no contact with any family, worried about how worried they are. A man from Bayamon came on this evening saying there is cell service at Plaza Rio Hondo in Bayamon, we are headed out there at first light to make calls to family. If you are reading this, we have succeeded. We also learned that Carolina mall is gone, Plaza las Americas is flooded and worst of all, Levittown is completely under water, rescues were underway last we heard.

According to reports, there are also ships waiting out the remnants of the storm to arrive with food, water and generators for the entire island. Hopefully they are well on their way by now if not here. Planes with various aids should be arriving before them.

In addition, the Governor has stated “all bets are off” in regards to the promesa board. We’ll see. This is going to be one of the most pivotal moments in Puerto Rico history, it promises to be interesting either way. We’ll see once and for all what can truly be accomplished, no more band aids or short term remedies will suffice.

Insightful article by Ilyana Maisonet

An Exodus and a Return: A Cook’s Journey with Puerto Rico’s Comida Criolla

A cook visits a special pre-colonial restaurant in Puerto Rico and finds herself coming home to her grandmother’s tradition of comida criolla.

Click here to read her story:  An Exodus and a Return: A Cook’s Journey with Puerto Rico’s Comida Criolla :: Food :: Features :: Paste

Wunderground – Long Range & Local Weather

The start of Summer signals the start of Hurricane season. We’re just on our 2nd day of June and we’ve already had two storms. With the extreme affects of climate change, we’re bound to have another interesting year. Wunderground is a great tool for accurate reports here in Puerto Rico and they have an app for just about any platform.

Weather Forecast & Reports – Long Range & Local | Wunderground | Weather Underground

Caño Tiburones

We wanted to access the wetlands in Caño Tiburones, somehow I had it in my mind (oh how we lie to ourselves!) I could see a few flamingos that visit the area occasionally. We ended up seeing one egret, two stray dogs and one very fast mongoose. I have probably seen more egrets in a home depot parking lot.

It was still beautiful and at least we figured out how to access the area via car and a short walk. It was strange to see the old roads previously driven on covered in a few feet of water, like an old ghost town. Woooooo….

In Santurce, parking is a hot commodity.

 

Summertime = Fruit Sunami

My favorite time of year is Summer, everyone is sharing fruits from their yards. Best of all in August we get to have Quenepas, good lawd I love these babies! Those aren’t as freely given away though. We drive around neighborhoods looking for vendors selling the fattest, freshest, juiciest ones we can find. We’re addicted I tell you!