Wednesday, March 25, 2015

How Our Lives are Different - One Year in New Mexico (and away from Puerto Rico)

Wow - it has been a year already! We are settling into our new home, making friends, exploring our new home and basking in the glow of everything that is NOT Puerto Rico. Do we miss some things? Yes. We miss diving a couple times a week. We miss caving during the dry season. We kind of miss trying to surf. We miss the avocados. We miss some friends. For the most part though it is just a RELIEF to be out of that place! Here are some ways our lives have changed.

OMG the roads here are clean, pothole-free, well marked, and free of DDA's (dead domestic animals). One of the main reasons we moved was the heartbreak of seeing mistreated dead injured dying animals ALL THE TIME.  There are no water fountains from broken people pulled over dumping shit over the side of the slope or in giant speaker cars blasting super loud advertisements or "music" at all hours. The lights are all in working order and people stop at them. No ping pong moves, red rover or sling shot moves. People let you in and know how to merge. The speeds are pretty scary though - 75 on the highway! Merging onto the highway and powering up is kind of like the Star Ship Enterprise going into warp!

This was the road to our house in Moca - the way things are done there is to put a stick in the hole with glitter streamers and a feed sac. It'll stay that way for months if not years! Cars with speakers and or microphones would drive around screeching "oro oro oro" and I guess people ran out to sell their gold OR the screaming told you the car had baked goods in the trunk etc etc. OR in the case of a funeral something was being blurted out with wailing people walking for a mile behind the thing.

Another difference is NO FOUNTAINS in the road. In PR water lines were all exposed PVC pipe an they made fountains when people ran over them, tried hooking into them to steal water or broke them just for fun. Water here and all the utilities in Placitas are underground. You don't see any of it and they come for free and tell you where stuff is if you want to dig.

Food was terrible in Puerto Rico and very expensive. There were no choices and nothing was fresh. Restaurants were horrid and filthy. Roadside stands burned chemical laden pallets to cook over and there were no bathrooms or running water for the cooks. Yuck. The guy at the San Sebastian farmers market had his avocados in a cage because everyone picked up and squeezed all of them and then didn't buy them - no one would then buy a dented avocado. Restaurants were all paper or foam clamshells with plastic utensils. Imagine paying 25 bucks for a fried fish and "salad" (iceberg lettuce with a single slice of not ripe tomato and thousand island dressing slathered on it) and having plastic utensils and eating it on an always sticky and gross table. Ah, "island life" is pretty filthy.

You couldn't find anything. You had to go to lots of stores to do a single shopping trip. I couldn't find more than 8 cans of cat food because no one bought cat food - they threw their left over rice and beans on the ground.

Food here is not as great as in Seattle but it is more than acceptable. We can find fresh fish, Indian food, great breakfast spots, Mexican food, New Mexican food (green chili everything) and other ethnic stuff. We are still discovering places. Everywhere has real plates and utensils. Everywhere they bring water and bread without you waiting or asking for it. Service is fast and efficient. We haven't had anything screwed up and everyone gets their food at the same time. Supermarkets vary and even the worst here is far better than the best there. Lots of vegetarian selections, tons of fresh produce, so many kinds of bread you just stare at them. Every store has just about everything.

What noise? We hear lots of birds, coyotes, a train (real - not just a car fake out). It is so quiet at night all you hear is your heart, snoring partner or content kitties! We haven't heard any one or anything on a microphone! No religious crap blasting out over the countryside or car turnout. No "promise parties" or parandas going all hours of the night. No head spinning pentacostal rantings on super loud microphones. Nope. Quiet.

Religious folks yelling through the rejas at people getting them to come to the gate and be converted I guess.

OMG all it takes is a phone call. You don't need a birth certificate, social security card, marriage certificate, etc etc to do things. You don't wait in lines all day or for more than a person even. You call on the phone and things get done pretty darned fast and are done correctly the first time. My driver's license the first time in Puerto Rico was around 15 hours and a couple days and I had to prove I had a head, arms and legs! Here my license is for 8 years or something and it took 10 minutes. It came in the mail in a couple weeks. They send reminders for car licensing which can be done on line.

Do you have eyes, arms and legs oh and a head? You can drive in Puerto Rico. And parking? Most people park nose in, none of this park in reverse crap.

In Puerto Rico this photo says it all. We stopped the car and looked with binoculars at a new waterfall we hadn't seen before. Sadly it was a waterfall of garbage the neighborhood just shoved over the cliff.  Here if there is any garbage on a trail it is a single piece and we can spot it easily and pick it up. Garbage stays in garbage cans that actually get picked up before they are full. No banging of garbage cans at 4a.m. in the morning, no dogs knocking them over because they are starved and looking for food. They come at a reasonable hour. Everything goes in the can. There aren't animals all over trying to dig through stuff.

No fart cars, no cars stacked high with scrap metal or bananas or grass. No cars on the highway going 20 with animals tied to the trailer hitch. No one wandering around with a machete or scuffing on the side of the road like the Walking Dead. Shopping carts are all in the shopping cart holder. You can walk into banks and not have to go one at a time and get buzzed in. You don't get ignored at government agencies or stores or any where! There isn't a constant assault on the senses of smells, noise and horrific visual stuff. Nope - things are just so much better and it is so much more relaxed here.

A lot of this is starting to seem humorous now that we don't have to put up with it. Also though we can't believe we DID put up with it for 7 years. Are we sorry we moved to Puerto Rico? No - we had wonderful experiences there. Are we happy we moved away? Absolutely! Having lived there has given us an immense appreciation for a lot of things we took for granted. We are very pleased to be living in a beautiful place that functions.