I'm home. I'm tired. I'm sick. I think I have a cold. Puerto Rico was wonderful. I saw a different side to it than last year when we were merely tourists. This trip I faced reality as a mainlander transplanted to Puerto Rico - and reality ain't always pretty. It's a whole different culture, and it's hard to get used to doing things in ways we (as stateside citizens) don't always consider smart or efficient. There are no such things as doctor appointments. You simply show up and wait with your sick child until your name is called. First come, first served. Forms to fill out for a new baby/patient are in Spanish. If you don't speak Spanish, you are many times out of luck.
The music in Walmart is in Spanish. You are told that you can't bring your shopping cart into the Walmart McDonald's, but you're told in Spanish. However, when they see your blank stare, they either speak English, or they are good natured about pantomiming their request.
I did see the difficulties of trying to adapt to a life there as a young mother whose husband is gone A LOT. It would be hard, and it would make me homesick. But I was so impressed with the support system my daughter has. Such wonderful friends she's met through church, and all are away from family while going to med school, optometry school, or they may be in the FBI stationed down there. They're all in the same boat, so to speak, and they were all lovely and fun. Katie is so lucky to have met such wonderful women to surround herself with. But also, wherever we went, people were kind and helpful. Grandmas in Walmart would stop and say lovely things about my granddaughters - at least I think they were being complimentary, judging from their facial expressions. It was always in Spanish, so I would just nod and smile and say "Si...si... gracias." Or maybe "esta bien" - that one seemed to work too. When we went to the movies, people would graciously guide us to the ENGLISH speaking version of the movie we wanted.
All in all, people were very kind, and it's a beautiful island to visit. And the people themselves are just beautiful - really strikingly attractive people. Last time L and I were there, we stayed at the Sheraton in a touristy section of San Juan, and we did touristy things, and everyone spoke English. This time was different. In the real neighborhoods of PR, your world is mostly in Spanish. Costco pipes in Spanish music. Ditto with Walmart, and the mall. So I suddenly understood why my daughter feels such joy when she's back home, when I hit LAX and it struck me: everything is in ENGLISH. The piped in music, the announcements, everything. All in a language I understand. It was good to be home.
Going to bed now after a glass of EmergenC and a handful of vitamin D. And lots of moisturizer. My skin feels like beef jerky right now. Warm humid weather is tough to get used to, but you just can't beat the dewy effect it gives your skin! Everyone glows...