When my husband told me that we got orders for our upcoming transfer and that we were going to Aguadilla, Puerto Rico, I was in shock and disbelief. I naively thought that we would never, ever, get orders to the very last place on our pick list, but we did! Once the shock wore off, I started doing some research by asking fellow Coast Guard spouses about their experience. I was told a few different things but mostly I was told to be prepared for an adventure. However, when I think about our time there, adventure doesn’t seem to cover the experiences we had.
Aguadilla is located on the northwest side of Puerto Rico and is the location of Coast Guard air station Borinquen. The beaches are gorgeous! The food and drinks are delicious! The sunsets are amazing and make the sky look like it is on fire. Something people don’t realize is how rural that area of Puerto Rico is. It's very common to see horses tied up in a vacant lot without any shelter or to see someone riding horseback down the side of the highway. It's also very common to see stray dogs, satos, as they are called in Puerto Rico, wandering up and down the streets and beaches. Something that surprised me about Puerto Rico was the lack of fresh produce. I remember one of our first trips to the grocery store, it was tiny. I was expecting to find fresh, local produce but instead I found produce from places like China and Chile. Even the local farmers market was lacking! Before Hurricane Maria, it was a regular occurrence that sections of our neighborhood would lose power without notice. Usually the power would come back on a few minutes later but mostly it would be a few hours before power would come back on. I got very good at starting our little camp generator.
After Hurricane Maria, our house and three other houses in our neighborhood were without power for 5 months! It was heartbreaking and infuriating listening to my husband talk about how his calls and emails to the electrical company went unanswered. I returned to Puerto Rico at the end of February, 5 months after Hurricane Maria, and it was shocking to see all the blue tarps roofs. Puerto Rico was an experience but will always hold a special place in my heart.
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