As promised, I said I’d be posting this month’s featured newsletter: My First Month in Puerto Rico, to my site. Now keep in mind, I began writing this newsletter with the intentions of it to light-heartedly showcase how the things I grew accustom to on the mainland, are no longer an option here.
This was before the earthquakes began.
A 6.6 earthquake shook the island (one of the first 6+ magnitude earthquakes), with one death accounted for, and many injured – I feel incredible sadness for those that lost their loved one(s), have lost their homes, all the while still picking up pieces from Hurricane Maria. But what I can tell you is this: Puerto Rico and the people that live on this remarkable island, are strong. Some of the strongest and kindest people I have met while traveling this crazy world. Puerto Rico is a united community, and through the good and the bad, everyone is there for one another.
Lastly, a few more additional changes have happened since writing this newsletter, such as: multiple earthquakes (and continued tremors), and deciding to travel to the west coast (we’re currently in Rincon as I type this).
It’s officially been 4 weeks since we’ve moved to Puerto Rico. I began writing this extremely long email, that explained nearly every single day since being here. And although a possible select few of you (hey mom and dad!) might like reading all those details, I figured it may bore the rest of ya! So I decided to sum up my first 4 weeks with some of the challenges and realizations I’ve encountered.
1. Language Barrier
Initial Challenge: When it’s time to head out, anxiety strikes. I don’t speak Spanish, like, at all. Of course I know the basics, the hellos, the goodbyes, the how are yous, the “Is the sale still on at Nordstrom’s?” type of lingo. But if I were to have a flat tire, try to ask for directions, I’d be SOL. Also, I was totally kidding about the Nordstrom’s comment (for those of you who don’t know my dry humor yet).
But the anxiety when going out, is a crazy feeling – and to be completely honest, I feel really stupid at times. Say I’m at the grocery store, and someone asks if I need help, all I can do is just stand there with this blank stare on my face, and say, “I’m so sorry, do you speak English?” I die a little inside each time. Granted, majority of people I’ve encountered here speak both Spanish and English. But I can’t help but feel inferior, and almost as if I’m disrespecting the culture without being able to communicate in the language of the island.
Actual Realization: When it’s time to head out, and anxiety strikes it motivates me to work harder, study more, and learn the beautiful Spanish language. In today’s world, some people truly only believe they need to know English. But, why? English is a beautiful language too, but, imagine if you could speak multiple languages and learn other peoples stories, struggles, successes? We’re limiting ourselves from experiences that could shape us to be better people – and if that’s not motivation to learn another language, I don’t know what is.
Currently, I’ve got the basics down; and I’ll continue to learn and push myself out of my comfort zone to immerse myself in the culture, and learn Spanish.
Initial Challenge: Let me say this, where we’re currently living, there’s very few conveniences – very few. It took us 9 days to set up wifi (another story for another time), and I can’t just pop in the car and drive down the road to pick up some speciality jams, charcuterie boards, etc. And a really big convenience that I used a lot in Scottsdale was Amazon Prime. That does not exist here. I was spoiled in Scottsdale, I could Prime Now, and have something arrive within an hour – not here. Prime is not an option, and so far my fastest delivery was 10 days.
Actual Realization: When we moved here, I knew I’d be making a lot of changes – whether I wanted to or not – and I was good with that. Most of the changes I personally was ready to make anyway, but there were some I didn’t acknowledge or consider until being here. And one of those was the excess amount of (pardon my French) shit that I had.
When we live in a world of excess, and one that tells us that the more we own the better or happier we’ll be, the line between want vs. need can become blurry. With a click of a button I could have something delivered – I didn’t even have to think about it. Just CLICK, and it arrived. However, I can’t do that now. Every purchase I make here is a conscious decision, there’s no more impulse buying.
With everything going on in the world, including our (human) carbon footprint, it’s time I reevaluate where I stand as a consumer. And as of right now, I’d like to help our planet by learning to consume less, recycle more, and stop purchasing more than I need.
Click to the next page to see what’s been the most challenging to adjust to on the island.