Sunday, August 17, 2014

Saturday




~up in the mountains of Rincon~
~sunset near our house in Mayaguez~

Saturday is the day that Daddy stays home, but we don't go to church. That is how Pieter explains the day. And it was a nice Saturday, starting with our first batch of our favorite waffles here in Mayaguez. We topped them with mangos and whipped cream.* Our mango tree is done dropping fruit, but there is one up the street that we go to and pick up bags full at a time. I am so happy that we brought our chest freezer with us - it is filling up with free food whenever we find some. This dishpan full is from one five minute walk! 

We found this casa of ours three days into our time here and are very happy to rent it for a year while we look for something more permanent. It is just a mile and a half from the university and the street is much quieter than our street was in South Dakota. The bedrooms are in the basement, build into the hillside, so they stay cool throughout the day. There is a nice yard for the kids to play in and more than an acre of fruit trees in the back, on a steep slope. We've been enjoying mangos, starfruit, guavas, oranges, and avocados. I'm still experimenting with freezing the avocados since we are getting about a bucket a day. Ben has been making starfruit juice which is quite amazing.

By late afternoon we were hot and sticky, so we jumped in the car and drove north to a beach in Rincon for a swim. When we have time, we explore new roads. On the way home, we drove through the mountainous coastline and I tried to take some pictures of the ocean as we whipped around a curvy, steep road. By the time we got home in Mayaguez, the sunset was brilliant. We stopped just around the corner from our house and took the last photo. 

*Grandpa, we had to use whipped cream on the waffles because we don't have any maple syrup. Do you think this could be remedied? 

Friday, August 15, 2014

Iguana in the Neighborhood




This morning I was washing dishes and looked out the window, down to the field next to our house. All of a sudden I could see a huge iguana walking along, shaking his head at the neighborhood. We have lots of little lizards that scurry around the yard, on the window screens and occasionally in the house, but this is the first iguana we've seen here. We figured they must be south of here in Cabo Rojo, which similar to tropical desert climate that is in the Yucatan where Ben's parents live, where we see lots of these reptiles. 

I called Pieter over to the window and we watched the iguana climb up the tree and when Papa got home we put our shoes on and when out to the field. The first thing we saw was that orange, scaly arm in the tree. We'll be keeping an eye out for you, big, bad boy.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Puerto Rican Healthcare


~Juliana right before surgery~

~Juliana five hours later~






~the famous heel~

~one of four IV attempts~

~the bandages are off: one day post-surgery~

The truck came at the end of July and about one week later things were starting to feel settled around here with the necessities unpacked. Juliana got a tiny splinter in her heel and I tried to remove it with a pin, like have with Pieter many times, but she wouldn't hold still and I hoped I got most of it. Within a couple of days her heel started to swell up with an infection. There was just a tiny pinprick of an opening, so there wasn't much to do to keep it clean. We didn't have our healthcare information yet (which just started on August 1) and Ben wasn't keen on bringing her to the doctor for antibiotics, so we waited and kept trying to clean it out and released the pus. About one week later I said it was definitely long past time for some medical care, so Ben found a doctor and we went on Thursday to a pediatrician. The immediate prognosis was hospital care, starting that night, for a week, on IV antibiotics, with a surgery to clean it up. We got bounced to another pediatrician and then a surgeon all in the same day. 

It was an eye-opening experience to see what healthcare would be like in Puerto Rico. The waiting seemed like it was forever (a couple hours at the surgeon), but the co-pay of $8 was minuscule in comparison to our health insurance in South Dakota. We had time in the middle of the day to go home and pack some bags for the hospital and by that evening Juliana was checked in. Even though the hospital was a bit run down, it was run very well by the employees. Our only expense for the hospital was a total of $59 - if we had been in SD it would have been in the thousands by this point. With cheaper healthcare, some things aren't provided, which we didn't expect, so I had to make another trip home to get sheets, towels and blankets. While I was gone, the nurses attempted to put in her IV port and failed in both hands. The poor little kid was so upset. I then helped hold her and they got one in the arm. We then settled down for the night, thinking about the surgery in the morning.

The nurses came in around 6:30AM to get us going and I got Juliana in her hospital gown, which she really hated, as the first picture shows (I guess whether you are old or young, those are just horrible). It was so big that we had to cut it down with scissors. Ben and Pieter came in soon and then I went with Juliana up to the OR around 7:30. Her IV port was giving her trouble, so they took that out and said they'd put in another when she was out. The surgeon always takes care of little ones first, so they don't have to wait in the morning without food or water. Jules was then sedated and about a half hour later was in recovery. They brought her down to the room shortly after that and the little girl was as loopy as can be. I laid down in the bed with her and she kept giving me little drunken smootches that were so cute. She finally relaxed and then fell asleep for a 2.5 hour nap. After that it was a day and another night in the hospital on antibiotics. The next morning Juliana had a shower with her bandages off for the first time. The surgeon came, said it looked great, and that we could go home on oral antibiotics.

Overall, it was a positive experience. Who would have know that a little splinter would be our first experience for a hospital stay? I found it interesting that most of the nurses knew very little English, but the doctors and the janitors were very competent. The one nurse that was fluent in English had been in the marines for eight years and came back home to get away from the wars. Ben and I theorized that the nurses stay in PR for schooling, but the doctors often go elsewhere and the working class/janitors probably have spent time in the US working. 

Anyhow, our little girl is on the mend, with lots of down time to leave the foot free of bandages to heal faster. And now I can get back to unpacking... 

Monday, July 28, 2014

The Truck Came!





The truck was supposed to arrive Thursday, July 17. It didn't arrive into San Juan until the following Monday. ABF took care of paperwork for us with the Customs House and it would have come over here on Thursday, but that happened to be a holiday, along with Friday. Finally, on Monday, the truck arrived. In the end, the delay was welcome, giving us a chance to find a place to rent and to spend the last week cleaning and painting it. 

There has been lots of conversations about the truck in the last three months with the kids. Wondering were something is or missing a certain toy, the response was, "It is in the truck." It left us back in May and came very reliably. Thank you U-Pack! Now the real works starts up again, with lots of unloading and unpacking.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Cabo Rojo National Wildlife Refuge











Where it all started with Ben ~ Croton discolor
When Ben came to Puerto Rico in 2005 to collect plants during graduate school, he visited Cabo Rojo National Wildlife Refuge and took pictures of the salt flats and those cool wooden trucks. We showed Pieter the pictures this spring and when we got here he was very eager to see them. We finished up cleaning our house this week and are still waiting on the truck, so we decided to go exploring yesterday.

Within a half hour of driving south of Mayaguez the landscape started drying up. We started seeing cacti everywhere and the tall trees disappeared into fields with grazing cattle. It was almost like we had driven back into South Dakota. We found the refuge, just on the southern coast, and climbed the tower, but the real fun was climbing the piles of sea salt. We grabbed a bag full of sea salt for home and then drove along the refuge area to the water. It was very different than the west side of the island, full of mangroves. I was dismayed to see how much trash was caught in the vegetation. I think we might have to leave trash bags in the car and fill up a bag every time we are out. I'll definitely have to come back with binoculars and a bird book to enjoy this special place.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

El Faro de Punta Higuero

~Desecheo Island~




~Domes Beach, a popular surfing spot in the winter~


Last night we explored the Rincon area a little bit and really enjoyed walking around the Rincon Lighthouse, El Faro de Punta Higuero. It was a beautiful evening and a perfect place for the kids to run around for a while. I am liking the shorter days so we can all enjoy a sunset on a warm evening.
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