Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Locos por Sonia!

"Del barrio al Tribunal Supremo." (Translation: "From the 'hood to the Supreme Court") "¡Bravo, Sonia!" These were today's headlines from two of the major local papers here on the island. In case you haven't heard, President Obama has nominated Sonia Sotomayor, an appeals court judge in New York, to the U.S Supreme Court. Puerto Ricans are ecstatic! El Nuevo Día, the island's main paper, over five articles about Judge Sotomayor can be found in today's paper alone. Relatives on the island have been interviewed, Sotomayor's bank account balances have been published, and of course, her Horatio Alger life story.

I find it refreshing to finally have a Puertoriqueña with intellect to gain so much media attention here. Normally, beauty queens and swimsuit models are the subject of interest on the island, to my chagrin. Puerto Ricans are definitely proud of Sotomayor, whom many consider to be just a liberal replacing a liberal (Judge David Souter). However, she has ruled against an abortion-rights organization in the past, and so I wouldn't be too quick to put her in the liberal category.

“A wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn’t lived that life," Judge Sotomayor once said. Obviously, one's life experiences, ideologies, and beliefs do naturally affect the decisions one makes, and I do hope Judge Sotomayor will provide the court with another point of view to reflect the growing diversity of the U.S.

(FYI: "Loca por Sonia!" translates to "Crazy About Sonia!")
(Images above were obtained from and

Monday, May 18, 2009

Stolen Identities

About a week ago, I received a letter from El Departamento de Hacienda (the local Puerto Rican tax department) informing me of the amount of my tax refund. On the letter, they included my entire social security number, bank account, and routing numbers. Needless to say, I was in utter disbelief. Puerto Rico has had many cases of stolen identities, but yet the local government doesn't seem to take this issue very seriously. I can just imagine the hundreds of thousands of letters which were sent out by Hacienda with everyone's personal information on it. If just one of these letters fell into the wrong hands, which obviously happens, someone can easily commit identity fraud.

One of the most common ways in which someone can steal your identity is by stealing your mail. Just a few weeks ago, several people on the island were arrested for committing identity fraud. This group went around the Guaynabo and Bayamon areas and stole people's correspondence from their mailboxes. Approximately 150 people became victims of identity fraud. It is suggested for people to get a free annual credit report, just as a precaution method to make sure all your loans and credit card accounts are in good order. For more information on identity fraud, please visit the Federal Trade Commission's Website.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Schnitzel and Bratwurst in Morovis

In the most unlikely places in Puerto Rico, you'll find some of the most delicious German and comida criolla! Morovis, a town practically right in the middle of the island, is home to Casa Bavaria. I had read about this restaurant in the paper a long time ago, and was always curious to try their food. For passionate foodies, or those who simply want to try authentic, foreign cuisines, Puerto Rico can be quite disappointing. However, Casa Bavaria has proven to be the exception.

Besides the traditional German delicacies, like schnitzel and bratwurst, you'll also find mofongo, tostones, and other typical comida criolla. Affordable prices and top-notch food is hard to find in San Juan, where most of the best restaurants charge exorbitant prices. Although it's nothing fancy, it's a dining-hall type of establishment, Casa Bavaria is truly a culinary paradise on the island. Just about an hour Southwest of San Juan, Morovis is easy to get to, although the road can get quite narrow and curvy once you approach Casa Bavaria. Gorgeous mountain views can be enjoyed from most of the tables in the restaurant, and I'm so glad I brought my camera!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mother's Day! Feliz Día de Las Madres!

As I've gotten older, I've learned to appreciate my Mother even more. Although I'm not a mother yet, many of my friends have become mothers over the past few years. I hear about their stories of juggling both having a career and being a Mom, and I have nothing but admiration and respect for them. Throughout my life, I've been blessed with having some of the most fantastic role models, many of whom are females.

I am not an ultra-feminist, but I find strong, intelligent and ambitious women truly remarkable. Make no mistake, I do also admire stay-at-home Moms. Staying home to look after a child is no easing task, and I don't need to have kids to know that. Women are indeed a stronger species!

Here's a wonderful poem by Maya Angelou:

"Phenomenal Women"
It's the fire in my eyes,
And the flash of my teeth,
The swing in my waist,
And the joy in my feet,
I'm a woman,

Happy Mother's Day!

Monday, May 4, 2009

La Ruta del Corazón Criollo

Yesterday, we stumbled upon the very quaint Centro Musical Criollo in Caguas, a city which lies just 20 miles south of San Juan. Caguas is very suburban, it has the typical shopping mall, Wal-Mart and it's filled with all the major fast food chains, such as Popeyes and Krispy Kreme. We stayed away from the strip malls and hung out at the charming plaza, where we enjoyed the sounds of a salsa band and saw a bunch of antique cars. Caguas is not a large city, and it is certainly not considered a tourist destination. However, with the creation of La Ruta del Corazón Criollo, the city of Caguas is trying to change that.

La Ruta del Corazón Criollo literally means the route to the heart of Puerto Rico. In this case, criollo is defined as the evolution of the Puerto Rican culture. This route begins at the visitors center, or the Oficina del Turismo, and is clearly marked by arrows. There are 10 points of interest along the way. Unfortunately, we only had enough time to visit the freshly painted Centro Musical Criollo, built in 1908, which has a small exhibit on some of Puerto Rico's most famous composers, such as José Ignacio Quintón. There were also displays of various musical instruments commonly used in Puerto Rican music, such as plena, like the guitar, tres, cuatro and bordonua. To get to the heart and soul of Puerto Rico, I highly recommend visiting and exploring the smaller cities and towns, and taking a stroll along La Ruta del Corazón Criollo.