Wednesday, April 30, 2008


As most of us are well aware, gas prices are going through the roof, and food prices are going nowhere but up. The economy is in a terrible funk. As the "Island of Enchantment" imports most of its food, and is quite susceptible to the U.S economy's upturns and downturns, things are not looking too rosy these days. Consumer and business confidence is at an all time low.

I was chatting with the bank teller the other day about the significant rise in the cost of living. She jokingly told me that it was a good time to go on a diet now, as everything is so expensive. Then, she blurted out... "Bueno, hay que seguir p'alante!" (Translation: well, we just have to keep going forward)

"P'alante" (pronounced as "pa-lante") literally means to go forward. I like using this word because of its positivity. If I'm not mistaken, as I'm not sure if it's spoken in other Latin American countries, it's mostly used in Puerto Rico. In "official" Spanish, it would be "para adelante." In English, I suppose, "chin's up" is the closest expression to it. Puerto Ricans love to say "p'alante" when a difficult situation arises. I would say this is a reflection of their positive attitude towards life.

If you're going through a rough patch in life right now, just think of the word... "p'alante!"

(Note: the photo above was obtained from

Thursday, April 24, 2008

The Challenges of Being Green

(Image obtained from:

As strange as this may sound, one of the things I miss about living in New York is recycling! Unfortunately, it is virtually nonexistent here in Puerto Rico. The only recycling bins I've seen were located in El Morro, one of the most popular tourist destinations in Viejo San Juan. Perhaps, in the eyes of visitors, it might portray Puerto Rico as a environmentally friendly island. Do not be fooled.

According to the EPA, compared to the mainland U.S, Puerto Rico generates more waste per capita. In fact, the "Island of Enchantment" is one of the largest generators of waste in the world. Unbelievable! Recycling rates are also much lower, officials estimate it to be at 15% , which is just half of what the U.S recycles. Obviously, the government should do more. When Wal-Mart and Pepsico, two of the largest corporations in the world, take matters into their own hands and join forces to initiate their own recycling initiative in Puerto Rico, it just goes to show how bad the situation is.

Although the local government has not put the environment on top of its agenda, the private sector has not done an adequate job either. For quite some time, we've been looking for a waste company which can offer us recycling services, as we need it for our business. We've made several calls without any luck. Some just didn't bother returning our calls, while others were simply not interested, as we don't produce enough recyclable waste for them to make a profit. I never imagined recycling could be so frustrating, but when there's a will, there is a way.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

The Abuse of the Spanish Language

Are you familiar with the Spanglish language? As you might already have guessed, it consists of words with a mixture of Spanish and English. The title of the publication on the left says it all, "Magacín," which is derived from the word "magazine." Puerto Ricans are known to have perfected the language, but many Latinos who were born in the U.S are also Spanglish speakers.

I think Spanish is a beautiful language and I find the use of Spanglish to be quite disrespectful. Unfortunately, as I live in Puerto Rico, I am surrounded by Spanglish! I think this is a tragedy. Everyday, when I look through the paper, I just can't seem to avoid words that are not part of the Spanish language. It just feels utterly wrong to see and hear them being used. Here are some examples:

Wíken=Weekend ("fin de semana" in Spanish)
Parqiar el carro=Park the car ("estacionar el coche/carro" in Spanish)
Damme un chance=Give me a chance ("damme una opportunidad" in Spanish)
Hangeo=Hanging out ("salir" in Spanish)

These are just a couple of the many Spanglish words widely spoken. I try my best to avoid using them, but I must admit I do say "parqiar" sometimes without being aware of it. I am not proud of my Spanglish though...

(Note: The image above was obtained from

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Viejo San Juan

I was in Viejo San Juan today running some errands and I wanted to make the most out of my time there. So, I decided to whip out the camera and take some pictures. The weather was great and the trees were in full bloom. This is absolutely my favorite area in San Juan, it's great for walking and I just love the Spanish colonial architecture and narrow cobblestone streets.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

The Beauty of Manuel Antonio

This is a photo taken at Manuel Antonio Park, one of Costa Rica's most beautiful national treasures, and my favorite destination in this tiny Central American country. I wish we had something nearly as beautiful as Manuel Antonio here in Puerto Rico. During our Arenal Volcano tour, a fellow American traveler had recommended it to us and I am so glad we took his advice! We had a wonderful time hiking, laying out on the beach and seeing quite a few monkeys. Although this park is extremely popular with tourists, they actually do arrive by the busloads, it is still relatively unspoiled.

For those planning to visit Costa Rica, and interested in visiting this gorgeous park, I would recommend you to spend at least two nights in Manuel Antonio. Although the park is not huge, there are a few trails with some spectacular views and the beach is really pretty. If taking public transportation from San Jose, it'll take about 4 hours, and there will be quite a few stops along the way. There are also express buses available. The bus station is located in Quepos, a nearby town, where visitors can find a wide array of affordable dining options and accommodations. Just so you know, the park is closed on Mondays and please do not feed the animals!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Bill is Cometh

It boggles my mind why Puerto Rico is part of the battle field in the Democratic presidential nomination process, since residents in the "Island of Enchantment" are not allowed to vote for the President of the U.S. In fact, Puerto Rico has 67 delegates up for grabs, and we'll find out whether the majority of them belong to Obama or to Hillary on June 1st. Isn't it bizarre how Puerto Ricans can help select the Democratic presidential candidate but can't vote in the general U.S presidential elections?

Well, as we all know, the race between the two Democratic candidate hopefuls has been neck in neck and every delegate counts. Both Obama and Hillary are sending their spouses here. So, Bill will be visiting this weekend to help gather up support, momentum, and (of course) money! He's scheduled to appear in several events, one of which is hosted by the Puerto Rico's Manufacturer's Assocation. Michelle Obama is said to be coming sometime in May. Stay tuned, the battle continues.

(Photo Credit: Charlie Riedel/AP)