Sunday, July 25, 2010

Columbus Landing Beach

After a long stretch of ferocious weather (Hurricane Bonnie), the sun was out at last and we made the most of it by going to a beautiful, quiet beach not far from us called Christopher Columbus's Landing. This beach, although not your typical white sandy beach is popular for fishermen, snorkelers and even the gold-hunters (yes, there was someone there with a metal detector!).
The beach is perfect for Alpie - few people and calm, clear water - and so warm! We spent a good couple of hours there until we started to turn into prunes...

Thursday, July 22, 2010

I got it!

I got my long-awaited phonecall today - I got the job at Carambola! So excited, that the fact that I still had to unpack, clean, sort all day long really didnt matter.
Monday will be the first day, with training first off - they are joining forces with the Marriot and have a whole lot of new computer programs to learn. It will be so good to get back into the workforce and learn new things and meet new people- its been far too long!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Job hunting, Container and Networking

To think we've already been here over a week now! I wish I had more pictures to post at this stage, but we just missed a hurricane and have had nothing but rain, rain, rain, (and a tonne of thunder/lightning), and as a result havent done any sightseeing.

We had our rental car until Friday morning, and spent 3 days over the weekend at home, twiddling our thumbs and powering through the 2 books we had. On Sunday we spent almost all afternoon at next door, playing pool and getting to know some of the locals. The bar owner was so excited to meet a Canadian/Australian couple that enjoyed playing pool at his bar, that he immediately insisted we try his famous BBQ chicken, johnnycakes (a first for me!) and some famous Cruzan rum.

After 3 days of well, pretty much boredom, we rented another car yesterday as I had my second interview at Carambola, and we needed to take care of the container paperwork as it is arriving today! My interview went well I think, and I'll get the result on Friday, at the latest Monday. Fingers crossed!
We're so happy to be getting our container today, but not happy that our roof is leaking... yes, we discovered over the weekend with the heavy rains that we have about 8 leaks in our roof, and although we're not getting flooded (like 2 of our neighbours), its still not fun (or safe) having puddles on our floor. Not just that - half of our house is without power, and thats not due to weather causes.. to cut a long story short, the washer and dryer is our house was never connected, and when the handyman tried to connect it (mind you, the w&d are outside on our porch, completely exposed to the elements), he got zapped and all of a sudden power was out - in our bedroom, lounge room and the other bedrooms. Thank goodness our fridge and bathroom lights are still connected, and that our stove is on gas. Not only that, the poor chap that lives directly behind us suddenly lost power in his whole house - and hasnt had it back since. We've drawn our conclusions and now its just a matter of getting the issue rectified..which is taking MUCH longer than expected. In the meantime, we're going to have a 40ft container stand in our front yard and continue to be without furniture until our landlord decides he wants to fix our leaks.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Chapter 2: St Croix

I'm still trying to figure out how to change the name of my actual blog.. now that we've moved it seems a bit funny that its still labeled Puerto Rico - so if anyone can help out in that department, it would be greatly appreciated!

So - our first few days here have been BUSY! We managed to load up Alpie's crate with an air mattress, towels, bed sheets and about 10 cans of tuna, as well as her food, a Costco packet of batteries and some other bits and bobs. Yes, all of a sudden our little puppy ended up being almost 90lb!!!! We got away with it though ("Yeah, she's just big boned") and Alpie didnt seem to mind the plane ride over at all - she was as happy as a clam once we arrived in St. Croix.

We got ourselves a little Suzuki rental and made our way to our new home - only to find that it looked like something out of a candy store - it was painted bright yellow with a bright red roof...right next to the pink and purple house next door to us .. oh well, as long as it's got a kitchen, bathroom and someplace to sleep, thats all we were worried about.
We set up our room (with whatever we had - air mattress and a backpack full of clothes) and set out to door some chores and a whole lot of job hunting.

On Tuesday Geoff went to apply for his V.I. licence - the process was really easy. Since his Washington licence was still current, all he needed was a print out of his driving record and it was a straight swap-over. Mine involves a little more work - I need a medical exam done by a doctor, take the written test and thats it. No driving test like I was originally told!
On Wednesday Geoff and I went to Carambola Resort, as there was a huge job fair on. There were about 500 applicants! We spent a good two hours there, chatting with people and conducting our interviews and I left feeling pretty confident (Update: I got a phone call yesterday with a second interview on Tuesday).
Yesterday (Thursday) we went to the Department of Labour - now this is something that Puerto Rico can really learn from. Its a small office in Sunny Isle (mid-island) and offers unemployment benefits, resume-writing and career building workshops, and helps you to find work. Centerlink, I'm sorry but even a tiny island provides a more efficient and effective service that you do. We walked in, and were seen within 10 minutes of arrival. A short application form, and then we could look through a book with all the job postings from the last week. We could pick as many as we wanted, and then had to write why we thought our skills/abilities/training matched the job description. We were then introduced to our own careers advisor and she talked through with us about what we were looking for, and if she thought that the jobs we applied for were right for us, then she would go ahead and fax our resume through to the employer. Geoff applied for a couple, and so did I.
He's had some luck already - he had an interview that same afternoon as a plant operator for a corrugated roofing factory!

Alpie is settling in a lot better after her first day being a complete and utter pork chop. She was really confused and upset when we had to leave her on the first day for our errands, but she's getting used to it now -and as long as we do something active with her every day (beach, jog etc), then she's a happy chappy.

Overall we're feeling really happy and positive about this move. The response, support and opportunities regarding jobs has been overwhelming, and although people are still on "island time", things still GET DONE here.. unlike Puerto Rico.

Signing off for today - its back to job hunting for one last day before the weekend!
Note: The one pic is of our new home - and the view from our front porch (yes - no skyscrapers!!!) The other two I put in just for fun.. when Geoff and Alpie were wrestling.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Leaving San Juan

Finally some good news regarding our moving plans.. as most of you know we were having trouble co-ordinating a moving company to pack/load/ship our things on the day we wanted (and were originally booked for!). Yes, Monday was a public holiday in Puerto Rico even though they do not celebrate 4th of July here. None the less, our moving company failed to tell us that the port wont be operating on Monday after having that date set for THREE WEEKS!! (note: Do not use Capitol Transport)

We've finally found a smaller, local trucking company (GTS) that is organizing our move - and is even doing more for us - for less money than the original one. They will be coming this Thursday (8th) to pack up our things and we will be flying out of San Juan on Monday morning. We will be without possessions and car for about a week, since the container needs to be inspected by USDA and the truck needs to be checked by the police (no fines, not a stolen vehicle etc).

We're excited that its all coming together now!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Cattlemen's Caribbean BBQ Competition

July 4th weekend - what is more typical than a good ol' BBQ?!
The Cattlemen's Caribbean BBQ Competition & Outdoor Festival..just steps from home (we can even smell the goods cooking when we open our porch doors!).
Geoff and I made our way down there on Saturday - and found a free wrist band lying in the grass on the way down - score! As we were lining up to buy another one, along came a huge gust of wind and swept the wristbands off the table where they were selling them...well we got away lightly! There were many booths there, from Certified Angus Beef Brand to local restaurants showing off what they've got. Today they specialized in lechon - a slow roasting pig, typical of Puerto Rico. Lysol was there, giving out hand wipes, and we won some cleaning products on a "wheel of fortune". I left full, happy and BBQ'd out... until today.

Today was "Ribs" day, and although it was busier, there were a lot more stalls and the ribs they produced were unbelievable! The only down side to tasting all the delicious meats was that they were required to use one of 4 Cattlemen brand sauces.. which meant that after a while, one chicken drumstick tasted like the next. Oh well, good atmosphere, good music and once again - left happy and stuffed with meat and BBQ sauce.

After googling Cattlemens, it seems there are a lot more BBQ competitions and festivals, year round. Cant wait to begin our road trip and visit some more!