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

Somewhere, Leonard Bernstein/Stephen Sondheim, 1957 From the Musical West Side Story

As I had mentioned before, probably my biggest island faux pas was Realtors and the fact that I had contacted 4 different ones to show me "their" properties.
 
These wonderful people showed us every (it seemed) home in our price range.  I just wanted to be in Vieques, so I saw the good in every scary property we visited. Fred was more based in reality.   Not that they were really scary - just not what we spoiled gringos have come to expect.  We were moving into a culture that embraced (literally) cramming hoards of family members into multiple closed in spaces.  We wanted open spaces, breezes and beautiful views for our meager dollars. 
 
New to us was the concept of separate upstairs and downstairs units.  The Internet pictures of the homes we toured were nothing like the reality we were living.  The last time either of us had purchased a home was before Al Gore invented the world wide web.  We learned to interpret realtorese -
"sweet" means tiny, crowded rooms
"furnished" means the former owners were too lazy to move their junk
"view" meant if you climbed a ladder to the roof and squinted you could see the ocean
öpen space concept"means no  closets or cabinets
"neighborhood" means the guy across the street fixes cars for a living and is using his driveway as a  "garage"
"unique floor plan" meant you had to go through someone else's bedroom, or outside, to use the bathroom
 
Our emotions ruled our heads.  We over talked and over evaluated each place.  What we really wanted was something open and airy, with a view, within walking distance to a beach.  Doesn't everyone!  Also, we had a budget.  What seemed like the ideal place yesterday was crossed off the list today.  Too small, bad neighborhood, no view, too much to renovate, too far from a beach.  The possibilities were dying left and right.  We were learning to respect this new culture and we had learned much from our house hunting.
 
Mostly, that this simple island was a great place of refuge to all, whether residents or visitors.  More Spanish/European than Caribbean.  A fine lady whose once beautiful clothing was beginning to show wear.  Who wouldn't love a place where a beach dog wants to sit in your lap, wild horses roll in the sand and a cold beer costs $1.50?

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