Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Excerpts from the Book "You Can't Make This Shit Up" Chapter Marbete Again? Road Chaos? I'm at a Loss?

Yes folks, it is time for another installment of "You Can't Make This Shit Up!" The events described here are real or surreal depending on if you are a local or not. Even though I have been here almost 6 years I am still frightened/amused/disgusted/at a loss over today's events. I started the day off with high hopes of great fun and enjoyment. I could not for see how or why things would unravel. I planned on visiting my friend Liz in Rincon. Rincon is not somewhere I go often (prefer to stay North of Aguada) so I am not super familiar with all the back roads. The truck has been overheating so I took Jeff's car (which turned out to be a VERY GOOD THING). As I was about to leave the power went out. Good, I thought, it should be back on by the time I get home. I travel down the ridge and find a giant power truck and power lines layed out all over the road across the part everyone (in any direction) has to cross. I stop. There isn't a cone, a flagger or anyone. I look up and the guys signal that I should just drive over the lines. I do. They are putting in cement poles so maybe things will be better during hurricane season - anything is better than the crappy termite eaten wooden leaning ones! I continue on when I go to turn at the ceremonial figures to go to Rincon the road is completely flooded and everyone is just stopped haphazardly at all angles waiting. This is a bad scene I want no part of so I do a fast U-turn and get onto highway 2 - the biggest road in the west...the one that goes north to south on the west coast. I am driving along just fine, then go up a hill and it is a parking lot! At this point I am locked in by cement baracades down the middle and no turn offs. I sit. I sit some more. It is creeping a teeny bit but mainly just sitting. Over an hour I am sitting. Meanwhile the road is like the Walking Dead zombie road scene. Cars are now pushing in between cars and filling the shoulder trying to cheat and get ahead of everyone else. People are almost hitting each other to go where exactly? Nothing is moving. Total chaos. All the lanes and non-lane sides of the road are full of cars pushing and honking and it is starting to get scary. Then I look on the other side of the barrier - there are cars jumping the shorter curbs and then going the WRONG WAY on highway 2. This is not pass-up back-up, this is full on driving the wrong way. Then I see a cop doing it. I see someone doing a real pass-up back-up for a half mile before he disappears out of sight. Meanwhile there are people continuing the right way on the highway just ignoring the wrong way people at full speed like this is normal. After a long while I eye a short curb I can hop. I get out of the car and ask 3 people if I can cross in front of them (it is really only 2 lanes but 3 cars are lined up). They let me cross, I hop the curb and head the correct way home happy to be alive. You could feel the tension, it was like caged animals all shoving and pushing and angry. Is it because of flooding? An accident? Cops can't get through- ambulances can't get through - the shoulder is packed with cars- didn't hear a helicopter. If it is flooding couldn't they have put signs and cones out or something last night? I may never know.

In an effort to salvage the day I figured I'd take care of the car marbete. Miraculous as it may seem we actually got paperwork in the mail for it. Not triplicate but a xerox duplicate. CAICO insurance is great, so I already received the insurance voucher a couple weeks ago. This voucher means I am insured through them and therefor only pay Hacienda (government office) part of the cost instead of the whole amount. So I know the car inspection place can't handle the voucher part, but figure I'll get the inspection part while I have the car. I drive right up, there is no line, he does it and tells me unfortunately he can't sell the sticker because Hacienda is having problems and won't give them any. I knew I'd have to go to the colectoria so I don't really care. I drive up to this unmarked gate and park. I go through the unmarked double doors and aha! INSIDE is the collecturia sign! I go in and as before, there was NO ONE THERE except 2 workers and a security guard.


This is where it gets mildly interesting. I hand the guy my vouchers and inspection certificate. He disappears behind the door (like the magic curtain in the Wizard of Oz), comes back and says I can't have it. What do you mean I can't have it? THE DATE ON THE VOUCHER IS MAY 14 and it is not May 14.  I AM TOO EARLY. What shit kind of logic is this? I have already paid my insurance premium and am insured. I have the inspection sheet. I have the CESCO (DMV) paperwork. They have "procedures" and cannot accept the voucher until exactly May 14th or after. So apparently you cannot pay for it early? It's a fucking sticker for god's sake! After talking him through some options I paid for it in full, got the fucking sticker and now will have to get reimbursed from the insurance $100 bucks or so. What a load of shit and inefficiency. It is just unbelievable stuff that happens here ALL THE TIME. You can't refill prescriptions until you have no pills. You can't pay for your marbete using your voucher unless it is an exact day? Give me a fucking break. So now I am back home. The power is STILL out so I have put on the generator. After yesterday's rain there was a huge termite hatching which is another things you can't make up.
All kinds of winged termites fluttering and beating the windows, doors and any little opening anywhere in the house to get in. The cats are watching and occasionally jumping. Mainly though there are just piles of wings in and out of the house that need cleaning up. Today's traffic mess was the first time I have really felt unsafe and frightened in Puerto Rico. I think the whole place may be unravelling. Can't Make This Shit Up!

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

reinaldo has left a new comment on your post "Excerpts from the Book "You Can't Make This Shit U...":

Katrina you are the most unhappy Gringo resident in PR.Havent learn anything in 6 years .Cant adapt new environment or location that you choose in the beginning, move twice in PR and cant find happiness. That mean PR is not the problem ,you are,why dont you blame your gringo friends about garbage in the caves most puertoricans dontkhow where these caves really are and finally if you want respect and love be humble go watch Dog the Bounty Hunter on tv or youtube might learn something

Jeff and Katrina Kruse said...

Reinaldo,

Go stick your head in the sand next to all the garbage your Puerto Rican friends threw on the ground. Go wave your flag and torture your pets while you burn your plastic garbage in your driveway. Don’t respect anything or anyone. Don’t care how bad it is and be grateful that things are better now. Accept a murder rate of 26 people per 100,000.

I am sorry but it’s taken almost 6 years to realize that PR is a third world country and we should be happy that the police don’t shake us down. We will make you happy Reinaldo because we are leaving as soon as we can. Somewhere where most of the people treat each other with respect. We have met some very wonderful people here so don’t worry we don’t think ALL Puerto Ricans are disrespectful. And are you that stupid to think that it’s the Gringo cavers that bring trash into the caves? Really?

Go back to waving your flag and don’t forget to vote for Independence in the next election because you will be so much better then!

Jeff


Jeff and Katrina Kruse said...

Reinaldo - We HAVE learned. The happiest Puerto Ricans are the ones like you - the ones who have left!

Linda said...

after making your new house a wonderful new home your moving off island? Geesh.. I'm sorry to hear that. My last trip down really pissed me off with the constant water/electric problem. But I still love it there. Of course I'm not full time.

Jeff and Katrina Kruse said...

Linda - Yes. You don't want to be here full time. Our house is wonderful, caves are wonderful and a whole lot of other things that are just neglected or ruined. A land of lost opportunities. When we bought the house we debated - since we will be here 3 years or so rent or own? We could imagine renting and it was not a good scenario! We can sell the house at cost minus "3 years of rent" and come out all right! We always leave things better than we found them! K

Mike said...

Sorry to see the post that 'Reinaldo' left - I'm sure that did not help to improve your mood. Though I do not envy the dramas and hurdles that you endure day-to-day, I must say that I have thoroughly reading about your life there (OK, mostly the cats' lives). I lived in the Soviet Union for a few months in the '70's, so I can completely relate to the "You can't make this shit up" aspects of living in a dysfunctonal society. Hang in there!

reinaldo said...

Mike got a question for ya?Did you adapt to the USSR regarding learning russian,eating different stuff that you use to eating back home?.It seems that white baby boomers americans have a harder time to adapt to different locations compared fRom canadians and europeans(at least some of them try to learn the language in order to communicate

Anonymous said...

After all the bitching and complaints I've come down to a conclution that you will never be happy anywhre you move. Might as well move to the moon, where at least you won't have to deal with traffic, people or garbage and there will be plenty of caves for you to explore. I really feel sorry for Jeff, having to put up with your crazy, moody personality. I'm quite sure you'll be bitching about something else on the moon...

Anonymous said...

Katrina & Jeff:

I've been a reader of your blog for a few years. We lived in PR for 5 years and are back on the mainland now. I couldn't be happier. Although there were a lot of things about Puerto Rico that we love, we made the right choice to move back to the mainland. Life is too short to stand in line all of the time, to deal with corruption, etc.

Wish you guys the best, and hopefully your next move will suit your lifestyle and personalities better. :)

adolfojp said...

It is very difficult for me to understand how J and K can think that it is OK to respond to reader criticism with such vitriol and borderline racist remarks. You've got all of this anger bottled up inside of you and you just wait for the first reader to criticize one of your posts to unleash attacks that rely on off-topic generalizations that are built on every negative stereotype about Puerto Ricans imaginable.

And I've been hesitant to make this comment in the last few months because I know that your response would probably be to tell me to run over a stray dog on my loud motorcycle while throwing some garbage and waving a Puerto Rican flag, because that's the kind of rhetorical quality that you guys usually answer with. Can you imagine how many negative stereotypes about the average American I could come up with in a single sentence? And yet, none of us do this because we know that these kinds of cheap insults are offensive to everyone and not just to the subject of the verbal assault. Your responses are offensive to me, a Puerto Rican who usually enjoys your blog but who never commits any of the sins that you include in your stereotypes.

And the worst part is that you've lost all sense of perspective. Today you complained about traffic that was caused by floods as if this were an exclusive Puerto Rican phenomenon. Your post didn't even show empathy for the people who might have been affected by such floods. That's borderline narcissistic. On other posts you've complained about how successful businesses on the island are doing things wrong because they're too full to cater to you personally. You've ridiculed the locals for consuming cheap cheddar cheese regardless of the fact that the average Puerto Rican household can't afford any better. You've complained about how locals inconvenience you by not working on the weekends because they want to spend time with their families. You've complained about how people bring their families with them when they have to spend hours at the government offices. For every valid complain that you have about the island you manage to list another one that has nothing to do with the island and everything to do with how random things inconvenience you. You're not just bothered by Puerto Rico, you're seemingly bothered by everything. But to make sense of things, everything that bothers you, you label as Puerto Rican.

And please, don't start with corruption and murder. Because in terms of corruption we're nothing special compared to the USA and murder is the direct result of the war on drugs of the USA. And it would be naive to think that the current state of the island has nothing to do with a century of American occupation and territorial policies. And I don't say this as a Puerto Rican who votes for independence. I say this as an educated Puerto Rican who votes for statehood in every referendum.

Jeff and Katrina Kruse said...

Adolfojp, You are absolutely correct with most of your remarks. We are stereotyping and we are glad you do not fit the stereotype. Stereotyping has nothing to do with race and Puerto Rican's are not a race.

Please let your feelings be known about the US. That way we can hope to change and improve those things. Sticking your head in the sand and saying everything is fine does nothing to improve things.

We have lost perspective! We used to be able to tolerate a lot, now we have become hyper-sensitive. Just the other day we were yelling at a guy near our house because he appeared to have dropped off a dog in front of our house. We were mad because animals have been dropped off here before. This misunderstanding was my fault for my poor Spanish. He later came by with his wife who spoke English and explained what he was doing. In the States I would not have assumed that someone was dropping off an animal. I would have assumed he was trying to catch the dog and I would have offered my help. You can understand why I thought the worst when the worst has happened at my house and I see the worst every day driving to work (a dozen starving dogs walk HW112 every day).

PR's murder rate is 26 per 100,000. In the states is around 7 or so. Yes 7 is bad! Where we moved from (Washington ST) it was like 4 something. If we need to talk bad about the US let's start with health care!
Jeff

reinaldo said...

Bien dicho hermano.There no better political status for Puerto Rico than ELA, Statehood on the other hand wil i be the end of BORICUA identiy will be like Hawaii that have loose its language and a lot o its polenesean customs.Regarding Independence PR is not Signapore,the only colony from England, that got better as an independent territory, they got natural recourses like oil.With that oil we don't need behind the Gringos , the Gringos will be behind us begging for us.

reinaldo said...

PR is not a 3rdworld country. Its an american territory like the Virgin Islands,Guam ,the Samoas,havethe same currency, same postoffice,same president.I have heard same coments from the city of Miami and Los Angeles boy been called Banana Republic.

H LOP said...

As in any other place there is a lot to improve. I agree that we have to improve on how we care about our natural resources and how we deal with animals too. Still being a colony of the United States for over a 100 years had done a lot of damage to the character of many foes...It is not the USA the one that contaminate with chemical and radioactive garbage places like Vieques? It is not the same country that for years had controlled the economy, migration, drugs policy (and even traffic, do not forget Iran Contras and more recently the gun trafficking scandal in Mexico). The same country that sends our young guys to nonsense wars and return them physically impaired but even worst with their mind and spirits broken. It is not the same country that have educated Puertorricans to become dependent upon them? There are many marvelous American (gringo) people in PR and in the Mainland...There are also a lot of great Puertorricans in both sides of the sea. Even Mainland with so many resources have lots of problems...Had you been in New Orleans (remember how people behave during Katrina?), Detroit, Newark NJ and many cities like NYC, Boston and even LA? Whenever you have social disadvantage, lack of education and racism you are going to have places with problems similar to PR. We are a symptom of bad USA government practices that even Mainland is not immune to. In our case magnify by being a colony. Shame on the USA government for that. Seem like you miss white suburb America....sadly that is an isolation from what America really is and do not allow for the real change necessary to avoid the debacle that big empires always suffer.