My name is Misty and I am originally from Atlanta, GA. I have also lived in New York and most recently Pensacola, Florida. Currently I live in Isabela, Puerto Rico, a small beach community on the north shore of the island.
1. Why did you move abroad?
Nothing too glamorous or spontaneous…my husband’s job brought us to Puerto Rico. Although his job is pretty cool and I am very excited for the opportunity to live on a tropical island!
2. How do you make a living (working? Tell us about your experience)?
Fortunately I do not have to work for our family to make it here, but I would have enjoyed working. The language barrier, along with lack of decent job opportunities, makes it very difficult for many expats to have jobs here. Maybe closer to San Juan would be a different story, however that is nearly a 2-hour drive from my little pocket of this island, so I will have to be content with blogging, laying on the beach, and working to perfect my rum punch recipe.
3. How often do you communicate with home and how?
I keep up with family and friends through Facebook and the occasional phone calls. I also visit the States at least once a year. We also get our fair share of guests using us for a cheap vacation! Just kidding…I love having visitors and showing them the island.
4. What's your favorite thing about being an expat in Puerto Rico?
Beaches, beaches, beaches…I am a huge beach bum and love the hot weather, so my favorite thing about island life is that you can get to a ton of different (and all beautiful) beaches in minutes. ANY beach on the island is only a day trip away. I am not a fan of winter, so I love that the only shoes I have to own are flip-flops!
5. What’s the worst thing about being an expat in Puerto Rico?
The hardest thing to get use to here was the lack of good fresh produce and groceries in general. I have to travel the island to gather all the things I need to make my pantry complete. The grocery stores here are horrible.
The pluses are that Farmers’ Markets are getting more popular, and you can find mangos growing on the side of the road. Oh yeah, and rum is cheap!
6. What do you miss most?
I miss being able to run to the store or mall and get anything I need. I know, I know…spoiled American, I hear ya! It can be a challenge to find stuff here and shipping to the island is either not available or very expensive. I have driven countless miles in search of good dark chocolate, and I asked for pine nuts last Christmas!
7. What custom/ habits do you find most strange about your adopted culture?
My favorite custom that is unique to Puerto Rico is the saying of Buen Provecho! It is the same as saying Bon Appétit, but people here use it all the time with perfect strangers. If you are eating anywhere and someone passes by your table, they will tell you “Buen Provecho!”. I have even been eating on my balcony and strangers stop their car to tell me this. Very cool!
The other strange, but lovable custom is Parrandas. A Parranda is basically a much cooler version of Christmas carolling. A group of friends gather and will go door-to-door to other friends and neighbors homes singing loudly and playing Puerto Rican style instruments. Parrandas don’t usually start until later in the night and you often are trying to wake up your unsuspecting friends. Once you ring the doorbell, tradition is you are to be invited inside for snacks and adult beverages. You party there for a while and then bring those people with you to the next house. It is like a big travelling street party.
8. What is a myth about your adopted country?
Many people assume that because Puerto Rico is a U.S. territory it will be like the U.S. That is definitely a myth; especially depending on which region you travel to. Puerto Rico has it own customs and traditions, made of African, Indian, and European influences. Although many people can speak English, and both English and Spanish are the official languages, I would have to say that Spanish is preferred by the majority.
The driving is different, as stop signs are thought of as optional. Also horses are still used as transportation in the more rural areas.
9. What advice would you give other expats?
Before you decide to move, carefully research the job market. I can’t tell you how many people I meet here that just up and moved and then are unable to find any work! Also, make it a point to try all the local food and participate in their customs. That is the point of travelling; don’t try to make your new home like your old home. Embrace the differences.
10. When and why did you start your blog?
I started it in the later part of 2010, mainly because I wanted to share all the fun things to do, places to see, etc. with others. I was meeting a lot of people that moved here and hated it, but I wanted to show how many amazing things existed here. I hope they are listening!
It makes me go out and explore more, which I love to do!
Misty's blog, Sun Kissed Bliss