Sunday, August 31, 2014

The Week in Pictures

We saw this iguana at Las Palmas near Humacao. We went there to go to the beach, but no swimming was allowed because of the rip tides. 
On Wednesday, we went to Lares to look at a a new apartment for the elders. Lares is built right on a mountain so all of the streets are very steep.
We took the elders to a pincho stand after looking at the apartment. 
The elders in the back are holding pinchos which are shish kabobs with just meat and a piece of bread on the end. 
The mountain roads are lined with bamboo. 
Looking out over a valley as we head down from Lares.
Lunch is almost always 59 cent tacos at Taco Bell or Costco hot dogs. Elders Helm, Bennett, Nadauld, and Castaneda are enjoying our fine fare. 
One day I went out to the parking lot and found one of the sister missionaries training three other sister missionaries on car maintenance. 

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Cueva Ventana

We were busy moving last weekend so we didn't have time for a pday. This week has been very rainy and we had rain all day Saturday. Despite the rain, we thought we could visit a cave without getting too wet. We definitely got wet!
On the way to the cave we drove through a big puddle. I took this picture through the window. 
This is why the cave is called Cueva Ventana or Window Cave.
An interesting tree with exposed roots we saw on the short hike to the cave. 

One of the smaller entrances to the cave.
Descending into the main cave entrance. 
If you look closely, you can see this is a large cluster of cockroaches in the cave.
Exiting the cave.
Waiting for our group to enter the cave.
The rain really started coming down after we exited the cave. John is waiting for it to let up before heading to the car.

Lots of Moves

One evening this week we went to Home Depot and bought some pruning shears so that we could trim the plants in the back patio area to the owner's satisfaction. Elder Bennett owned a landscaping business before his mission so he was happy to get back to what he loved and help out. We used the old grill on the patio and rewarded him and Elder Helm with a steak dinner. 
Elder Bennett at work.

This week I helped the Toa Baja sisters move to a new apartment. Elder Eakle, Elder Bennett and Elder Helm had meetings so I was on my own with two Toa Baja Elders that helped out. The sisters' old apartment was in a bad area, had a terrible rotting floor, smelled like cat, and had the strangest bathroom. They had to walk up a few stairs to the bathroom. 

The shower is only 18 inches wide so they had to stand sideways and they had no hot water. 
I drove the truck to Toa Baja. The screws were stripped in the beds so we had to put them in the truck without taking them apart. Thankfully, two ward members showed up with another truck to help with the dresser, washing machine, and suitcases. The sisters put all the kitchen things in their car. Our last load was the last bed and all of their garbage tied to the straps so I could take it back to the office to throw away. 

The Toa Baja sisters were victorious having cleaned their apartment without leaving any garbage. 
 The new apartment definitely isn't perfect. It backs to a busy highway and doesn't have much of a breeze, but they have a nice air conditioner that is included with the rent. The neighborhood is nice and right down from the church. 
I'm sure it will take them awhile to unpack. 
 This week we moved into a new apartment because we thought the new couple coming would prefer the first floor apartment we were in. We needed furniture so Sister Boucher and I picked out a few things at Ikea. Luckily, the mission already had the couch and a bed. Elders Bennett and Helm worked on assembling the furniture for us. 
Elder Helm trying to figure things out. 
Elder Bennett hard at work assembling a chair.
The chairs, table, and bookcase weren't bad to assemble. In hindsight, I wouldn't have chosen an assemble yourself dresser. We still don't have that done.

The senior couples usually get together once a week for dinner. This week we went out to celebrate Sister Allred's birthday. The Porters arrived this week so they and President and Sister Boucher joined us right after they were picked up from the airport. 
 I'm not sure why President is burying his head in his hands. 

The birthday girl with her special dessert.
 On Thursday, we took a road trip to spray for bedbugs, deliver a hotplate to an apartment with a broken stove, and deliver a washing machine and dresser to a different apartment. We passed the town of Yauco which is a colorful village up on the hill. A typical road trip day is usually 12 hours long. 
I wish the picture better showed the steep streets and colorful buildings of Yauco. 

Friday, August 15, 2014

Random Pictures of My Life in Puerto Rico

There is no theme to these pictures. I am trying to take one picture a day of something I do. 

The elders heading home on July 30th waiting to go to the airport. They were very excited!

After the Ponce sisters had to spend their pday helping us spray their house and belongings for bedbugs, they joined the Adjuntas sisters for a softball game.

We have spent the last week looking for two more senior apartments. This is the kitchen in one of the ones we looked at. I'm not sure where the refrigerator is supposed to go. Maybe in front of the window to the right. This one probably won't work because we really don't want to have to buy appliances for the apartment.

It's so strange that we are responsible for keeping the patio plants under control. We had a 20 foot weed tree that the people upstairs were complaining about. The owner came over to tell us, and I told him we didn't have any tools. So he asked if we had a knife. I found a Ginsu knife in a box of things they didn't need at the mission home. The elderly gentleman used that knife to hack a 4 inch diameter trunk down. We need to get a trimmer for the other bushes. 

John bagged up as much as he could and took it to the trash cans. Strangely, the neighbors on both sides have beautiful plants that grow above the fence line and theirs aren't a problem. I think the bigger the better. After trimming back the plants to where the owner wanted them, bare dusty dirt was exposed, but I'm sure they'll grow back quickly. 

This little kitty loves hanging around whenever we are home. 

Last Saturday, the Starrs from Wyoming arrived. They spent about 24 hours here before we took them to the airport for 18 months on Antigua. He's been a small town branch president for years so I'm sure they will adjust fine to the isolation. In the past, the couples have rotated on and off the islands so they wouldn't get island fever, but all the new couples coming this month plan to stay on their assigned island for the duration of their mission. 

Elder Eakle is in charge of cars. We have about 65 cars in the mission, but use of them is very restricted. Many have been parked in church parking lots for months since the restriction was put in place. Now they have dead batteries and lots of other problems. One had all the electrical mechanisms chewed up by what the guy at Pep Boys said must have been a dinosaur. One day we went over to jump start a few cars, and the rain just started coming down in buckets. We got the cars started, but the one with the windshield wipers on the one with the chewed up electrical system didn't work and Elder Eakle had to drive 40 minutes with his head out the window in the rain.

This is a furnished apartment we are considering moving into. It looks kind of fancy, but the furniture is really pretty old and beat up. It is on the 15th floor of a 27 story building and I don't even dare get near the windows. The windows open all the way up and don't have screens because the owner says bugs don't fly up that high. I would be all right with that high of a building if it were a bigger building, but it is so tall and skinny. I think it only has two apartments per floor. It looks like a Jenga tower. It's about the same proportions as a box of aluminum foil standing on its end.
This apartment just has one bathroom which really is enough but I'm enjoying the two that we have in our current place because they are really small and we would both be in there at the same time. 
Elder Eakle obviously doesn't mind standing out on the balcony. You wouldn't catch me there. A few nights ago there was an earthquake tremor. I'm pretty nervous about living there. 

The kitchen is okay, but doesn't have an oven just like our current place. 

If we end up moving in here, we would like to ask the owner to put in a bigger bed. This one is just a full. I definitely won't sleep on the window side.
Elder Helm lost his support card around the first of June and has had no money since then. On August 14, he received his replacement card. This was definitely a highlight of the week. Now he'll be taking us out to lunch!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Old San Juan Never Gets Old

On Saturday, we went to Old San Juan again for a few hours. This time we decided to ride the ferry over from Catano. Catano is about 20 minutes from our house, and the ferry ride takes about 15 minutes and costs 50 cents.

This is the view from Catano waiting for the ferry. The cruise ship isn't really as close as it appears because I zoomed in.

I love how the buildings are brightly painted.

This one is pretty, too.

The blue cobblestones streets. I read that the cobblestones were used as ballast for the ships traveling to Puerto Rico.
One of the places I wanted to visit was La Casa Blanca, one of the oldest homes in San Juan. It was built by Ponce de Leon's family, but he never lived there. It was added onto over the years, but the original home was built in 1521 and was the first fortification in the area. Now it is a museum that visitors can walk through.

The main living area.

Outside on a terrace.
The kitchen.

A garden courtyard.
Going through Casa Blanca didn't take very long so we walked around and looked at some other buildings. Many of them are built with an open courtyard in the center. This one had some shops and a museum.
I really don't know what is behind all of these doors.

A particularly colorful street. La Fortelaza, the Governor's Mansion, is at the end of the street.

La Fortelaza. This building was closed on Saturday, but we will go back during the week when it is open for tours.
This beautiful church had a sign on it that said hospital. I thought that seemed strange so I peeked my head in the door. A lady said we could come on in. By the door were some nuns there dressed in long white robes. They showed us the beautiful chapel and then took us around the corner to a room that looked like an old time hospital room. I think they said the hospital is for the sisters.

Outside the beautiful church. When I saw the sign saying hospital, I thought maybe it was a really fancy nursing home.
The view from the church/hospital terrace.

Another pretty building. I think it is some sort of government office building. I like how all the doors open to the outside.