Making do – life on an island

From time to time I’ll be posting pictures and experiences of my life here on the island. The goal is to give you a sense of what it is like to live here, nearly 100 miles of the coast of Africa.

Don Pedro and one of his daughters, Carmelina

Don Pedro

Don Pedro passed away this year. He was 101 years old, on the brink of turning 102. He is survived by about 11 children. His wife passed away 30+ years ago. He was my neighbor for the first two years here and told me stories of swimming in rivers and riding bareback in Cuba in 1921. He was a veterinarian but, like most people living on the island, raised animals to help get by. With 11 children, that shouldn’t come as a surprise. He will be missed.

Pragmatism abounds

sweeping the street

One thing I’ve learned living here is to be far more conservative than I’ve ever been living in the U.S. Living on an island you’re much more aware of acute shortages, or potential shortages, than living on the mainland. This causes people to be very pragmatic. In this picture the woman is using a palm leaf to sweep the ground. In my personal life I’ve learned to turn the water off in the shower while I soap up, turn off the lights if I am not using them at that very moment, buy just enough food for the foreseeable future (so it doesn’t go to waste), and more (but I can’t remember at this time).

Yes, I’m right next to Africa

unusual bug

Having lunch at my in-laws one day we found this funny bug making a home on some flowers. I’ve seen bugs like this in magazines but never in person. He looks like a friendly fellow, but is clearly unlike anything I’ve ever seen in the U.S., which just reminds me the African continent is a mere 80 miles east.

Making do: funny translations

funny translation from spanish to englishchicken food to take away

A huge part of the economy is English-speaking tourism. I choose to believe that these signs are tongue-in-cheek, but they may also be another sign of people with limited resources doing the best they can to get by. After all, I think any native speaker gets the intent of the message…

Breakfast for Lunch at Dinner

breakfast for lunch at dinner

Mmmmmm…. The main meal in Spain is eaten between 2 and 3 PM. This meal, which seems more like breakfast to me, was served around lunch time, but since it is the main meal, it seems more like dinner. Thus, breakfast for lunch at dinner 😉

Bad Drivers 1: No Turn on Red

right on red is prohibited

In Spain it is illegal to turn right on red. It is also illegal to stop inside an intersection. Need I say more?

Bad Driver 2: Just leave it anywhere

parked in the intersection

This driver is parked in the intersection (illegal), but at least he’s not in the crosswalk!

Because there is no accord between Spain and Illinois, it turns out that I have to get a driver’s license from scratch. For most Americans this won’t seem like a big deal, but here it is. It costs at least 0 dollars, requires passing an exam with 40 questions (you can only miss 4) and taking a driver’s test. It also requires getting a certificate of health from a doctor, and the test questions are really, really hard; nothing like what we have in the U.S.

This would lead one to believe that drivers here are extremely well qualified. Nevertheless, as these pictures show, this is not the case. Do I seem bitter? 😉

1 comment

  1. Hoooolaaaaaaaa, por fin! Pues nada, para decirte que me parecía interesante ver la ciudad y/o la vida aquí desde el punto de vista de un norteamericano, acostumbrado entre otras cosas a tanto espacio. Leeré los post en inglés pero no creo que te los comente 🙂 Besos y suerte.

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