NewToPuertoRico.com

The ins and outs of living in Puerto Rico

July 1, 2017
by Jay-Webmaster
4 Comments

Traffic violation penalties in Puerto Rico

Starting on July 1, 2017 there will be new traffic violation penalties in Puerto Rico. Basically the Department of Transportation (DOT or DTOP in Spanish) at least duplicated the cost of the penalties (tickets), some penalties are even more than twice the cost they were before. This is not the only increase the Department of Transportation notified, they will also increase the cost of renewing the driver’s license, “marbete”, and just about anything that had to do with transportation.

Here is a rough list of the traffic violation penalties in Puerto Rico as of July 1, 2017:

(This list is a guideline only and not official, it will be updated as new information becomes available)

– Handicapped Parking without permit $1,000

– Driving while still having a suspended or revoked license $300

– Do not give the right of way to emergency vehicles $100

– Excess Speed up to 99 MPH $ 100 + $ 10 per additional mile

– Excess Speed 100 miles or more $ 1,000

– Excess Speed in a School Zone $ 200 + $ 10 per additional mile

– Excess Speed in Construction Zone $ 150 + $ 10 per additional mile

– Slow Vehicle 20 MPH below the limit $100

– Slow Vehicle in 2 or more lanes $200

– Person inciting Clandestine Car Races $ 3,000

– Participating in Clandestine Races $5,000 + 6 months Susp.Lic. + Vehicle Confiscation

– Negligent Driving $ 500 to $ 1,000

– Driving on the shulder (6 pts) $ 500

– Parking on sidewalks or green areas $ 150

– Parking in loading/unloading Area $ 150

– Obstruct a handicap ramp $500

-Stopping traffic due to parking $ 100 (when you do not park in a parking spot and stay in the car while someone else goes out to buy something)

– Stoplight: Pass Red Light Without Stopping $500

– Stoplight: Pass Red Light, Stop and follow it $300

– Stoplight: Passing Yellow Light $300

– Tinted windows $100

– Passing a bus $300

– Motorcycle: Passenger under 12 years of age $100

– Motorcycle: Not wearing a DOT Helmet and/or Buckled $100

– Drive on the sidewalk $500

– Driving and using the mobile phone $100

– Not wearing seat belt $100 per person

– Child not in carseat $500

– Without firefighter’s certification (Car Seat) $100

– Passenger under 12 years of age seated in front seat $500

– Driving without a copy of the Vehicle’s License (registration) $100

– Non-redeable licence plates $100

– Overdue Tags (Marbete) $500

– License plate does not belong to vehicle $1,000

– Alter the license plate $100

– Not transfering the car ownership name after 30 days $200

– Not transfering the car ownership name after 10 days $100

– Driving a vehicle and not having a driver’s license or having a license other than the type of vehicle (the license category does not match the vehicle) $200

– Authorizing an unlicensed person to drive $200

– Backward Movement (in a highway or major road) $100

– Not giving a blind person identified by his staff or dog the right of way $200

– Not having enough distance between vehicles $100

– Staying stopped at an intersection (when you stay in the middle of the traffic light) $100

– Keep car parked on side of road (even residential) with overdue tags (Marbete) $150

– Not reducing the intensity of the lights (“Brights”) when you get close to a vehicle $50

– Have a light out (headlight, tail light, etc.) $50

– Not moving over when a police officer or other vehicle is on side of the road $150

 

Yikes! Better follow the traffic laws! I will post the other DOT costs as I receive the correct figures.

October 9, 2016
by Jay-Webmaster
65 Comments

Why People Hate Puerto Rico and Why You Will Too

Hello, I’ve decided to write a post on why people hate Puerto Rico and why you will too! Why? Well, I’ve been receiving so many mean comments that are full of hatred without any substance and reasoning, some of them attacking me personally, so I’ve decided to just write it all here so you know many of the reasons why people hate Puerto Rico and why you will too if you decide to move here. So, basically if you are considering to move here, read this post carefully and take this into consideration.

This is a very long post and a very honest one, not meant to insult or offend; I’m just telling it how it is. So, behold some of the reasons why people hate Puerto Rico and why you will too!

  1. Puerto Rico is not the USA (or wherever you may be from). Well, of course you knew that! You thought that we were part of the USA but not the USA, except that in recent events we have now learned that we are nothing more than a colony or we are basically owned by the USA and our constitution is not even valid! So, this is not the USA or even part of the USA. We just belong to the USA. So why would you care? Because this is also a different culture and that bothers many people. Things are done differently here and in most cases they will not make sense to you. This is not to say they make sense to me! I personally wish that so many things (such as government services) were more like the USA, but alas, it is not, and it frustrates many people who come from abroad. So don’t expect things to work the same way they do in the USA and don’t expect the same culture, because it is not, at all. And you will become homesick, expect it.
  2. Puerto Ricans are happy. So, even when so many bad things are happening, especially financial, many people from abroad get confused as to how is it that we still seem “ok” with the way things are going! Our protests are full of happy music and dancing, the music at the stores is loud, we hug and kiss each other, give others genuine smiles, we have a very small personal space. This “excessive happiness” bothers a lot of people, especially when something bad happens such as the recent island wide power outage and most of us went “meh” let’s get the lanterns and candles and buy ice to keep the food cold. I receive soooo many mean comments of people who get angry at the simple fact that Puerto Ricans don’t seem to care much about how bad things are, and I am here to tell you that this is very true, most of the time Puerto Ricans focus on the good things, not the bad. We dance, laugh, play loud music and have a close personal space that could seem invasive for many. Bad things happen, we just roll with the punches.
  3. The infrastructure sucks! Yep! It does! Although I don’t think it’s THAT BAD, it truly leaves a lot to be desired. We have numerous potholes, the electricity seems to go out randomly for no reason, the water does too, the customer service is terrible. Add to that the fact that the power plants are old and need to be upgraded, so does the water treatment facilities, yes the local infrastructure is in bad shape, and unfortunately we do not have the money to make big improvements. Don’t like potholes? Don’t come here. It rains A LOT, and we have lots of traffic, all of which are terrible for roads, plus the fact that we don’t have an infinite budget to be resurfacing the roads every few months. So, yes, avoid the potholes or deal with them, or be mad at the fact that we have them, but you’ll be mad every day if they bother you that much.
  4. Other people tell you how scary it is. I see this VERY often, especially for those families who live on military bases. There is this rumor that life is extremely dangerous outside of the military bases as if it were a war zone or something! And then they believe it and they have this notion on their head that makes them focus on all of the bad things that go on! I have met families who have spent YEARS here, all of them stuck inside the military bases because they are too afraid to drive outside and explore what’s outside! So they can’t wait to leave PR because it is “SO BAD” out there! The truth is that there are some bad areas, and driving here is certainly not as easy as it is the US, but there is so much out here! There are many nice places to enjoy if you are open to it.
  5. They do not immerse themselves in the local culture. Research has found that there are many stages to living in a different place other than your hometown. There’s the “cultural adjustment curve”, which only gets from one end to the other if you immerse yourself in the local culture. Unfortunately I see many groups here of people who come here for one reason or another and they just stay in those groups with no interest of getting to know the local culture. You see the sub-groups going to dinner or forming book-clubs and such, which is great! But you would be doing yourself a disservice by not getting to know the Puerto Rican people and everything they may have to offer. When I ask people what was the most surprising thing you found about Puerto Ricans, I often hear how incredibly accepting they are of other people from other cultures. In fact I remember as a kid seeing that a new kid from the states came in to my school and all of a sudden he was the most popular kid in the school! Everybody wanted to get to know him and play with him etc. Puerto Ricans are very nice people, if you are nice to them. Which brings me to my next point.

    Culture Adjustment Curve

    Source: http://callutheran.edu

  6. Puerto Ricans are genuine! Which means that whether they like you or not, you will know. When I lived in the USA and worked as a massage therapist there was a strict policy that we had to smile! We smiled to all of our customers and people like if everything was honky-dory fine! Interestingly it really bothered my sister when she came to visit, it bothered me, and it bothered an Italian client we had! The smiles were fake! And it is beyond annoying to see someone smile at you when the smile is not genuine. I want someone to smile if they want to or not to if they don’t want to! Be genuine, be real! So, if you are nice to a Puerto Rican, chances are they will be nice to you, if you are not nice to them, they will not be nice to you! Also, if you are a customer and you are unhappy about something, yelling and screaming and demanding will get you NOWHERE! If fact, it will make most people here work slower and make your life more difficult! People here will be nice to you if you are nice to them. Simple.
  7. They have a “Type-A” personality. This is a big one! Puerto Rico is the very definition of island living! We do not over complicate things and we just let things slide. We don’t start on time, we don’t stick to a strict schedule, our doctors spend a lot of time with the patients so we wait for hours after our scheduled time before we are seen. We also tend to close stores earlier than scheduled if there is no one inside, so don’t be surprised if you get to a store at 3:50 PM  and it is closed even though it was supposed to close at 4:00 PM. So if you are an uptight person or have a “Type-A” personality, you WILL hate it here, every day, every single day you will hate it, and the local people will see that and they will simply shrug their shoulders, and it will bother you even more. So do yourself a favor, if you have that personality, avoid living here if you can, it will stress you out to no end.
  8. Puerto Ricans are politically incorrect. If you are easily offended, this place is not for you either! We WILL make fun of you and everyone else! In fact we make fun of everyone, even ourselves! Our comedy shows make fun of all different ethnicities, sexual orientations, religions, language accents etc. And we mean absolutely no harm by it! It is just who we are! We will make fun of you in front of you and then laugh and give you a hug and a kiss! Why? Because more often than not we find your language accent (to use as an example) endearing and cute! YES it’s true! We’re making fun but we also think it’s cute! And we love it! Heck I married a woman with an accent and I love how she speaks and I laugh at it too! One of our most famous comedians made fun at the most common religion here, Catholicism, and he got away with it beautifully and it became one of the island’s most watched comedy shows! Everyone loved it, even the church leaders. We are very good at making fun of others and ourselves, and that’s just how we are, we do not take life seriously, at all. If you are offended by simple things like that, you will have a hard time here and you will likely have a hard time making lasting friendships (at least local friends), you will seem too uptight to most people.

So, what is my take on all this? Puerto Rico is certainly not for everyone, and if you only focus on the bad things it will not be for you either. There are many reasons why I have decided to stay here, I actually live better here. My family is not bullied by racism or other fundamental differences, I have never felt more accepted as a person than I do here, the beach is just a few minutes away any day of the year, it is warm enough to wear shorts every day, the Christmas atmosphere and music is very festive and happy, we like the happiness of the people all around us even in such bad financial times, everyone is ALWAYS willing to help their neighbor, we like how we can laugh at everyone including ourselves without offending anyone. Life is overall more relaxed for us here, which was never the case for us in the US, I really disliked how strict everything was there. Here, so what if we’re late? Pff there are worse things in life. I’ll be sipping my piña colada in my hammock at the beach on January 2nd and not think about all the troubles in life.

¡Buenos Días!

Back to the Blog Home Page, from Why Do People Hate Puerto Rico and Why You Will Too

October 2, 2016
by Jay-Webmaster
7 Comments

How SiriusXM works in Puerto Rico

Image Source: http://www.vcsatellite.com/sirius.html

Image Source: http://www.vcsatellite.com/sirius.html

If you live in Puerto Rico you probably already know that there are only a few radio stations that are only in English and they also have tons of commercials. So you may ask yourself, Is there SiriusXM in Puerto Rico? Well, the answer is YES, with one caveat. I’ll show you how SiriusXM works in Puerto Rico.

So I’ll cut right to the chase, SiriusXM works in Puerto Rico but ONLY under the Sirius platform, NOT the XM or the SiriusXM platforms. So, if your satellite radio is an XM or SiriusXM radio, it WILL NOT work here in Puerto Rico, trust me, I have the experience to prove it and I will tell you it further down if you are interested. But, currently, if your car does not already have a radio compatible with the Sirius platform then you must get an after market radio. Currently there are 2 devices that would work here, the Stratus 7 and the Starmate 8; I have the Sportster 5 but they don’t sell that one anymore, you’d have to get it used (likely) on Ebay or Amazon.

Now, you can still get the “All Access” package and stream online if you wish, but your car device will only get the Sirius channels, not the new SiriusXM channels with the latest features. It seems that they are upgrading and updating their programming and features but mainly for the XM and SiriusXM platforms and not for the Sirius platforms. Having said that, I personally think that Sirius Satellite Radio is much better than the local programming in terms of music. If you know Spanish though, some of the morning, afternoon, and evening radio shows from the local stations are usually hilarious! I find myself listening to those quite often, but in terms of music, the local culture is turning more towards Urban, Reggaeton, and Bachata music, which are my least favorite type of music, so needless to say that even though SiriusXM in Puerto Rico only has the Sirius channels and it doesn’t have all of the channels the Continental U.S. has, I am very appreciative that SiriusXM works in Puerto Rico even if it is limited to the Sirius channels. Do I wish we had all of the channels and features of SiriusXM? Absolutely! But that’s not the case, and I still appreciate what I do have, even though it is annoying to pay the same for less channels. The reason why Puerto Rico only gets the Sirius channels is because the Sirius satellites travel in a “Figure 8” pattern over the Americas while the XM satellites are fixed in place over North America only.

Image Source: http://www3.sympatico.ca/n.rieck/docs/sirius.html

Image Source: http://www3.sympatico.ca/n.rieck/docs/sirius.html

So, how did I find this out? My Sportster 5 Radio is giving me lots of problems so I wanted to get a new one that won’t give me as much trouble. I contacted SiriusXM and they assured me time and time again that the new SiriusXM radios will work just fine, I asked specifically for the Onyx Plus radio since it has the sports ticker, they said YES. Even though I didn’t believe them, I ordered the radio and installed it. Then, SURPRISE! It doesn’t  work! I contacted them and spent an hour with them on the phone trying new things to see if it works, nothing worked, then after an hour, they told me what I already knew and told them about the positioning of the satellites. I knew this already but apparently they didn’t so I took the radio installation down again then put it back in the box and mailed it back. So just so you know, SiriusXM works in Puerto Rico, just not quite like in the U.S.  but the online channels do work the same, if you don’t like the local radio stations, SiriusXM (with a Sirius platform radio) is a viable option. But it does cost money so if your phone data is unlimited or if you have a large amount of mobile data available then there are many options for you to listen to the music of your choice by plugging in your phone to the AUX input of your car.

Hope this helps.

P.S. Other than occasional problems up in the heavily wooded mountains of Puerto Rico or under tunnels in my commute to work, I have not had any problems with SiriusXM’s signal in Puerto Rico.

September 22, 2016
by Angela
2 Comments

Power and Water Out in Puerto Rico

nopower-nowater

Power and Water out in Puerto Rico!

(Okay, some areas still have water.)

For anyone already living in Puerto Rico as of yesterday September 21, 2016, you may have noticed that the island of Puerto Rico lost power at about 2:30 pm.  The reason being that the AEE Power Plant in Salinas, PR caught fire. Then, because some of the water treatment facilities are run by electricity, some of them needed to be shut down as well.

Here is a rough translation (thanks google translate!) from the AEE website regarding the issue:

“AEE REPORTS ON FAILURE AFFECTING CUSTOMERS ISLAND WIDE Wednesday, September 21, 2016 SAN JUAN

 The Electric Power Authority today confirmed a fire in the yard of switches Central Aguirre, Salinas that affected more than 1,475 million customers of the public corporation.   At the time, the fire was controlled and no injuries were reported because of it.   “We are working hard to achieve recovery system and restore service to our customers. We ask the public to remain calm in this situation and our coworkers remind you that the most important thing is the safety of everyone, “said Javier Quintana A. Mendez.   The official explained that at this time ships are inspecting the lines and activated a plan to restore service to customers. It consists of energizing units sequentially for power generation available and begin to restore service, setting as a priority the critical loads such as airports, hospitals, police stations, Plants Authority of Aqueducts and Sewers, between others.””

So yeah, not the best translation but you get the idea; Island wide blackout, trying to get it back on, don’t know when that will be, stay calm and safe Puerto Rico!  lol!

And here is what the AAA had to say about it:

“Wednesday, September 21, 2016 – 3:52 PM AAA systems affected by lack of energy September 21, 2016-San Juan The Aqueducts and Sewers Authority (AAA) reports that due to power failure affecting peoples and industries in various parts of the island, some distribution systems are out of service, so that customers will experience low pressure or interruptions in water supply. Vice President of Operations, Francisco Martinez Castello said sewage plants have generators so they operate normally. However, several plants and pump stations that do not have potable water generators are out of service until the electrical system is restored. “If the electrical service was affected in your community, it is likely that water service is affected or at least low pressures are experienced. However, some systems have storage tanks that will be supplying by gravity to the sectors that do not require pumping. We hope to get more information from the Electric Power Authority for mitigation actions which take place later, “said Martinez Castello Engineer. Of interrupted water service, AAA recommends boiling water for a period of five minutes if the same will be used for drinking or washing food.”

SO yeah, that’s probably an even worse translation (… thanks google translate…) but you get the gist; No electricity, no water!  If you have low water, boil it because it’s probably not super clean! lol!  Sorry, I can’t help but laugh when things like this happen.  It’s Puerto Rico, you have to pay for all that sand, sun, and gorgeous weather somehow, am I right?!  LOL!  My advice: get some bottled water. I know, I hate using all the plastics too but I’d rather not risk the health of my family trying to ingest iffy water from the tap.  😉


So in the meantime, what do you do when the power and water is out in Puerto Rico?  Here are a few tips to help get you through!

Tips For Living Without Power and Water for a Few Days:

  • Buy a camp shower
  • Keep lanterns and extra batteries on hand at all times
  • Own a camp stove or grill
  • Fill bathtubs and other buckets with water before water service is cut
  • Make sure to stock up on disposable plates, cups, utensils and wet wipes
  • Get a camping coffee maker to use on your camp stove
  • Get a really big cooler
  • Stock up on bottled drinking water
  • Collect your own rain water to use for flushing toilets if it rains
  • Consider having a cistern installed on your home
  • Consider buying a generator or equipping your home with solar panels
  • Relax and enjoy proving to yourself that you can handle roughing it! ¡Así es la vida!  😉

September 18, 2016
by Angela
4 Comments

My Chemical Free Laundry

As a wife and mother, one of the things I have to deal with constantly is laundry. This post is about my attempt to have a chemical free laundry and the products I use.

Over the years since my daughter’s diagnosis of Celiac Disease and Epilepsy I have worked hard towards eliminating not only the gluten, animal products, food dyes and other harmful food additives from our family’s diet, I have also worked towards eliminating the chemicals from our home and cosmetic products as well.   This has been a work in progress filled with trial and error but I am happy to say that I have finally found my 4 favorite chemical free laundry products that when combined help me get fluffy, fresh smelling, clean laundry without all the added junk we don’t want on our skin.

So without further ado, here is my chemical free laundry product line up that helps me keep my kids smelling fresh and clean in the Puerto Rico heat!

I purchase my giant jug of Greensheild Organic Laundry Detergent from Costco.  It had some wonky reviews on amazon but I tried it and I love it.  I have used both the lavender scent and the free and clear and I honestly prefer the free and clear but since Costco hasn’t been carrying it lately, I have the lavender right now.  It smells nice but I tend to shy away from artificial fragrances.

Which of course brings me to my Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day Fabric Softener.  It’s also lavender scent but its’ fragrance comes from essential oils which I LOVE!  If you open the bottle and take a whiff it actually smells really strong and even when the washer is going it fills the whole house with a lavender fragrance but I find that by the time the clothes are dry the scent is much less and it leaves our clothes smelling fresh and clean but not overly perfumey which is nice.

Of course since Puerto Rico is basically 365 days of summer, and we have 2 very active children, I often have to fight with the stains on their clothes.  Thankfully that job got a whole lot easier since I found TANGIE  Laundry Stain remover.  It’s this really neat bar of coconut oil, grapeseed oil, soap nut liquid, oxalic acid, sea salt, citric acid, lemon essential oil (and love) that you wet and rub onto your clothing stain and then wash as usual.  For the really set in stains you can leave it sit a bit before washing to give it a little more time to work its magic.  It works really well and it isn’t a chemical bomb like other stain removing products so I can use it as often as I need without worry.

Finally, last but certainly not least are my Woolzies Dryer Balls.  Although not vegan because they are literally balls of wool -I’m so sorry sheep, but I HATE plastic dryer balls, and I like to imagine that you enjoy your nice spiffy haircuts!-. However, these dryer balls do a great job to reduce the drying time of my clothes and eliminate my need for traditional dryer sheets.   I will admit that they do nothing for static cling but I find that with the humidity here in Puerto Rico the static cling is minimal here anyway, so that was never my reason for using dryer sheets in the first place.  I just liked having soft towels and fresh smelling laundry.  😉  So, since Woolzies are mainly used as a fabric softener and to help reduce drying time, you will have to place a few drops of essential oil on 1-2 of the balls and throw them in with your dry clothes and run them with no heat (heat kills the essential oil so it won’t smell anymore if you have put it in a heated tumble) for a few minutes if you want a little added fragrance to your clothes but that’s simple enough.  Frankly I don’t bother most days unless I want to add some more fragrance to my clean bedding or to refresh a pair of jeans that I want to wear a second day.  Thankfully though, my Mrs. Meyers fabric softener eliminates the need for additional fragrance in 95% of my loads of laundry as far as I’m concerned but everyone has their own preferences so luckily there are tons of unique essential oil options to fit your individual needs.

So there you have it, that’s my chemical free laundry line-up.  I hope that helps any of you looking for more natural laundry products but are too lazy or timid to make your own like I am.  😉 Stay fresh Puerto Rico!

 

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