Monday, November 25, 2013

Marbete "Insurance" and the Bumper Bump

This is a tale about almost escaping Puerto Rico without a car accident (mirror tapping doesn't count). Yes, 6 years of driving all over the island on little roads and bigger ones with erratic, mean, and oblivious drivers. It finally happened - the bumper bump. I normally am not in the car during the morning traffic when every one near a school blocks the road...when people have their free stuff appointments...when the 40% of the people who can and should work actually do (lowest labor participation rate of all countries). I was 10 minutes behind Jeff because we were dropping the Kia off to get the engine light checked out. I am on 112 right before it joins 2. There are 10 or so stopped cars in front of me - stopped at the stop light. BAM! The guy behind me apparently was texting or talking or both or had non functioning brakes or whatever and he just smacked into to me. He doesn't even get out of the car. I hopped out pissed off and stayed in the road blocking 20 cars behind us so he couldn't escape. He says "sorry" but my bumper is pushed in. "Sorry" doesn't cut it. He has a friend who can put a bumper on for me (stolen probably, just what I need). To his "sorry" I say "911." I call the cops and then Jeff who circles back. I take a photo of the bumper, his car license, his face etc. The cops actually show up in 15 minutes or so and pull out (you've seen it before)...a black and white composition notebook (like you used when you were 10) Same kind they use in the laboratories, at Walmart for forgotten goods, at MRI/Xray places. He gets my report, license, marbete, last four digits of the soc sec number, phone number etc. He gets the guy's info - none. He writes NO LIC in the book and then the guys supposed name (no ID), address, contact info. Typical. He tells me I have to have a 4 digit report code before I can go to the Asociacion de Suscripcion Conjunta del Seguro de Responsabilidad Obligatorio. The guy has to go too, but he can't because he has an appointment. The cop LETS HIM DRIVE AWAY without a license! I am just amazed. Why even have a license or ID if it doesn't matter? Apparently you can just drive around without one and without any ID hitting cars along the way without even a ticket.

We drop the car off and I drive Jeff to work. I do some shopping and go home figuring this is a lost cause or will be more trouble than it is worth. A couple hours later (after I get home) I get the call with the 4 digits I need. Now I have to drive back to the "adjuster" place to "make the appointment.". I time this with collecting Jeff and picking up the car which has to be collected before they close (4pm). How hard can it be to make an appointment? Well, making an appointment isn't getting a time. It is a whole other thing. You go into a holding corral and wait. Then you get called to a back room. Your appointment is someone dialing a number and putting you on the phone to give someone the VIN number, numbers off your marbete, phone numbers etc etc and the story. After 8 minutes or so on the phone you get a day and time to, you guessed it, come back. So why couldn't this be done on line or by the person who hands you the phone?

Now I have the appointment and I get the news that I also have to get an "estimada." Awesome! My appointment is for Friday and today is Wednesday and late in the day. Thursday I go to the guy who does my car inspections. I know he doesn't do it but he is always helpful. That is where I find out that there are really only two places I can go to get the estimate. I can't just go anywhere. He describes some place near a cemetary and gas station but I don't think I'll find it. Then he tells me about one on 111 near a certain ferreteria. That I can find. I find the ferreteria but not the place but I ask around and someone points to a grey carpa so off I go. All I have to do is point, the guy looks some stuff up and prints out (printer with tractor paper) my official estimate! I am done and it hasn't even been an hour! The estimate is for $1,490 dollars. Yikes. The truck is a 2000 with lots of miles on it and a rusted bed with bangs and evidence of mirror tapping.

The next day I go for my "cita" which turns out to be at a real time and I get the adjuster to look at it, print a bunch of stuff off the internet about the truck, records mileage etc then sends me to an English speaking person who tells me I am getting $608 due to depreciation and an extra $100  if I bring in paperwork for another appointment to show that the work has been done. I got the check THAT DAY because miracle of miracles the other guy actually did his part and went in. All in all this was fairly painless and my "windfall" has paid for 6 years of buying a marbete! Amazingly I did not encounter problems with Jeff being on the title. The marbete is the marbete - it insures the car not the driver or owner.

Here's a little more about that marbete. This is the most expensive insurance on the planet. The insurance is for $4000 and costs about $99. REAL insurance is $318 for $300,000 of coverage and towing. Marbete is like the Payday Loan of insurance. Puerto Rican's have 70% home ownership (higher than in the US) and they just don't get it about insurance. In my case this worked out but someone we know still hasn't had her accident resolved when someone smacked her car in San Juan. The guy was at fault and just hasn't gone in. It has been MONTHS. Plus the $4000 of coverage won't begin to cover the damage to her car so she is left in limbo while her REAL insurance dukes it out in an endless nightmare that will probably involve court and trips to San Juan eventually. So like everything else here it is a crap shoot. In my case though it went smoothly and didn't involve hours. I actually can say it was efficient - definitely a first! Word of Advice though - get REAL insurance especially if you own a house. There is so much room for fraud it is scary and if you are a gringo watch out!

Saturday, November 9, 2013


Puerto Rico has been a great adventure but we have decided it is not for us.  6 years has been enough and we are moving on from the Island of Enchantment to the Land of Enchantment for reasons too numerous to get into. So our lovely house is FOR SALE! If you have considered moving to Puerto Rico now is the time! Let me tell you about our house. When we moved from San German to Moca we had learned quite a bit about The Way Things Are. We had some basic requirements that were VERY difficult to full fill. We did not want direct neighbors. We wanted land with mature trees- we moved here to enjoy the fruit and exotic flowers and trees. We wanted views. We wanted somewhere inexpensive and breezy and as quiet as possible. Puerto Rico is NEVER quiet (or it is until it isn't) but we knew what to look for. We wanted to be close to what we do but still rural. We didn't want a Puerto Rico Shoebox, we wanted something clean and open with windows we could see out of and enjoy breezes from. This house is all that and more! 

The house is 8 minutes off of 111 via 125. You pop out at San Sebastian. 19 minutes gets you to the Aguadilla waterfront (diving and surfing and Crashboating). 25 minutes via 112 gets you to Honeywell/HP where the only jobs are and also to Jobos (surfing). 15 minutes gets you to the Isabella shopping center or in the other direction to San Sebastian shopping or Moca shopping and doctors and car stuff etc. 30 minutes and you are in cave country.
We have views out EVERY window on ALL sides. Views of magotes, Desecheo Island, valleys, sunrise and sunset. Because the house is on the top of a ridge we get the views and breezes or even wind around this time of year. It is an awesome house for weather watching since you can see storms all around before they ever get to you if they do. The house is open with 2 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms upstairs with a living room, dining room, kitchen/breakfast bar. The refrigerator is 2 years old with a bottom freezer. Stove is electric and fully functional and the slot has a gas line if you want to change it. The cabinets are clean and modern. Unusual for here.

Downstairs originally was part of the marquesina (carport). There is a large TV room, a full bathroom and bedroom. There is still room for a car/workshop/toy storage as well as a covered carport attached if you want to use the toy area for a shop/storage. Out the screened sliders is the covered deck which looks out over the magotes and landscaped yard.

Downstairs bedroom fits a queen bed, couch and table and has loads of storage. This bathroom is the upstairs main bathroom.
The covered porch wraps around 3 sides for sunrise, sunset, and yard views. The umbrella shaped tree is a quenepa and that is the neighbor side. Both upstairs rooms fit a king bed and chairs/dressers. Both have lots of shelving/storage. Both have windows on two sides. There are no neighbors on 3 sides and it is doubtful there ever will be. We tried to buy the property directly next to us and came to an agreement with the neighbor but he doesn't legally own it. He couldn't sell it. The back of the barbed wired fenced part drops off probably 80 feet after our property (no neighbor potential). 1/3 of the property is chain link fenced and ready for a dog. I painted the house a year ago inside and out. We put on a Danosa roof which has a transferable warranty. There is a very large cistern with pump and back up pump. There is HOT WATER throughout the house (a luxury most houses don't have). If you know anyone interested route them to the blog and have them email me. It is a great house and if we were going to stay here this is about as good as it gets. It is also priced to sell at 170,000 with a substantial cash discount!!!  Someone is going to get a wonderful place to live with lots of fresh fruit all the time: quenepas, guayaba, guanabana, acerola, nispero, canistel, 20 avocado trees that fruit from May until December (still have 2 trees of fruit now). There are lots of guineos - red ones, manzanas, ninos and big ones. Lots of coconut, a fiberless mango, red corazones and pink corazones, cocoa, etc and lots of special trees and plants. Also a yellow and red flambouyant that bloom profusely and an Ylang ylang. I even have a covered area of raised benches for vegetable gardening. It is ready to live in and doesn't require any work. We haven't lived in high desert or desert of any kind but Jeff has traveled to the Albuquerque area for work many times and our hiking/biking adventures will be starting up soon! As always, you'll be able to read about our new adventures hopefully in the new year!

Friday, November 8, 2013

Bi-Polar PR

Parque de Moca is a nice park off highway 111. I have started walking there as a change of pace and a way to combine a couple trips out and away from the house. I only see one or two people there ever and maybe it has something to do with the sign - a plant blocks it so you don't really know it is a park. This place is garbage ANYWHERE. No stray animals. No people sitting around hanging out. There is a soft track that is in the sun but a nice place to walk that is flat and good on the feet. When I get tired of that I do a figure 8 loop on cement that has an incline to it. This part is in the shade.

After the track and the loop I divert to this bench area of "hurdles" where I can get some up and down exercise stepping up and down and up and down. Then I can do the track and the loop and hit the stairs. They are evenly spaced and not slippery. Like I said, this park is very very clean.
There are a good number of shaded kiosks with benches that are in excellent condition scattered around the park with some near the creek, others up high and some near to the path. There are even BBQ pits and sinks but the water does not work.

Also in the park are basketball courts, a volleyball court, batting cages and something else behind a padlocked door.

There is even a fabulously clean swimming pool that is well maintained!!!! Another shocker is that the bathroom is not only open but has a trifecta...toilet paper (in one stall only), soap and running water.

So, all this sounds really great and for walking it is. The problem with the rest of it is that it is all CLOSED. I don't know and won't know what the deal is. I was just told I couldn't swim (been closed for 2 years). Yup, that's right, one of the few places in PR that is maintained and that pristine, clean look is because no one can use it. Bi-Polar PR. Either they have facilities people use that are left in disrepair or this one (a rare thing) that is immaculate and thought out but that no one can use. Another missed opportunity for kids - wouldn't it be nice if they could be active and swim or play volleyball instead of sitting on the guard rail or garbage heap, or out near the road poking on a device. Such a shame.