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The Gringarican Handbook - stories about moving to Vieques, PR, life in the slow lane and becoming a Gringarican

Smooth, Carlos Santana, 1999

It was 3:30 a.m. when I heard my first rooster.  It was almost drowned out by the sound of coquis and air conditioning, but I heard it. 
We had had an effortless trip to this island of Vieques.  All airline connections made, all luggage arrived, rental car ready and even found our way to the small casita we had rented, although we may have ventured the wrong way down some one way streets.  We enjoyed our first Medalllas and Don Q (say koo) at Al's Mar Azul - the quintessential gringo dive bar located on the North Shore.
 
I had done my homework on flights, rental cars, accommodations and realtors.  I had ate,  slept and breathed Vieques for months.  Fred and I were finally here.
We spent our first full day finding our way around the island, letting the roads take us where they would,  East to West, North to South.  We allowed ourselves to be intimidated by the roads at the wildlife preserve (this was before the road was paved) and flustered by horses coming out of nowhere.  We learned to be prepared to swerve at any moment should the car in front of us stop dead in the road to chat with a friend; hug the nonexistent shoulder when the car driving in the other direction took more than his share of the road.  We found that Morales could provide everything you would need, though possibly not everything you would want, or maybe even recognize.
 
Who knew that there were kitchens and bathroom sinks  without hot water and a scary looking apparatus stuck to the shower head, known as the "Puerto Rican Electric Chair" that was plugged into a non-grounded outlet?
 
Probably my biggest island faux pas was Realtors.  From everything I had read, I thought that there was no multiple listing system on Vieques and that each realtor would only show their own listings  Wrong.  Well, maybe not so wrong, because I think that was about the time when the realtors started working more in harmony with each other and a little less of the "what's mine is mine".   I had contacted 4 different real estate companies and was trying to juggle appointments with each one.  What a nightmare.  I'm lucky any of them are still talking to me.
 
We had much more to learn.

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