Friday, October 15, 2021

How to Make the Most of Your Time in Puerto Rico

 

Whether it’s your first time in Puerto Rico or you’re a frequent visitor, you’ll always find wonders and excitement to discover. The unique blend of cultures making up Puerto Rico is expressed in the food, music, and lifestyle of both cities and countryside. Add to that 300 miles of coastline and beautiful nature preserves, and each visit offers a time to remember.

Immerse Yourself in the Local Culture

The best way to know Puerto Rico is to immerse yourself in the local culture. The capital of San Juan has historical sites such as the famous Castillo San Felipe del Morro, but it also abounds in restaurants where you can sample dishes inspired by Taino, Spanish, and African cultures. Nightclubs offer music ranging from big-name performers to folk and Caribbean music.

Travel away from the large cities to the smaller towns and experience a completely different world. Follow La Ruta del Lechón (Pork Highway) near Guatave and try pork cooked in every way imaginable. Or, see the cobblestone roads and historic sites of San German, the second-oldest town in Puerto Rico.

Create a Travel Plan

With so much to see and do, you’ll want to make the most of your time by creating a travel plan. Using a trip planner can allow you to coordinate your sightseeing, create itineraries, and plan routes.

To select which sights to see, look for online travel review websites such as Trustpilot. Review sites help you find information on local restaurants and attractions on your trip. Reviews are written by people who have actually visited the place or sampled the food. You can also explore hotels, cultural tour companies, and travel agencies.

Take Time to Enjoy Nature

Puerto Rico has a wide range of natural features for fun, sport, and relaxation. Numerous beaches offer swimming, water sports, and relaxation in the sun. The northwest coast is world famous for surfing.

Further inland are several freshwater swimming holes, many with waterfalls. You can also hike nature trails in El Yunque rainforest or Bosque del Pueblo. Cave tours, snorkeling, kayaking, and fishing are other options for nature-lovers. 

Whatever you choose to do, Puerto Rico is a destination you can visit many times and still not experience it all. With planning, you can make the most of your time and budget while enjoying the best the island has to offer.

Read this next: Exploration and Nature in Puerto Rico

Thursday, October 14, 2021

Puerto Ricans Fume as Outages Threaten Health Work and School

 [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="800"] A wooden Puerto Rican flag is displayed on the dock of the Condado lagoon, where multiple selective blackouts have been recorded in the past days, in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Thursday, Sept. 30, 2021. Power outages across the island have surged in recent weeks, with some lasting up to several days. (AP Photo/Carlos Giusti)[/caption]

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — Not a single hurricane has hit Puerto Rico this year, but hundreds of thousands of people in the U.S. territory feel like they’re living in the aftermath of a major storm: Students do homework by the light of dying cellphones, people who depend on insulin or respiratory therapies struggle to find power sources and the elderly are fleeing sweltering homes amid record high temperatures.

Power outages across the island have surged in recent weeks, with some lasting several days. Officials have blamed everything from seaweed to mechanical failures as the government calls the situation a “crass failure” that urgently needs to be fixed.

The daily outages are snarling traffic, frying costly appliances, forcing doctors to cancel appointments, causing restaurants, shopping malls and schools to temporarily close and even prompting one university to suspend classes and another to declare a moratorium on exams.

“This is hell,” said Iris Santiago, a 48-year-old with chronic health conditions who often joins her elderly neighbors outside when their apartment building goes dark and the humid heat soars into the 90s Fahrenheit.

“Like any Puerto Rican, I live in a constant state of anxiety because the power goes out every day,” she said. “Not everyone has family they can run to and go into a home with a generator.”

Santiago recently endured three days without power and had to throw out the eggs, chicken and milk that spoiled in her refrigerator. She said power surges also caused hundreds of dollars of damage to her air conditioner and refrigerator.

Puerto Rico’s Electric Power Authority, which is responsible for the generation of electricity, and Luma, a private company that handles transmission and distribution of power, have blamed mechanical failures at various plants involving components such as boilers and condensers. In one recent incident, seaweed clogged filters and a narrow pipe.

Luma also has implemented selective blackouts in recent weeks that have affected a majority of its 1.5 million clients, saying demand is exceeding supply.

Luma took over transmission and distribution in June. Puerto Rico’s governor said the company had pledged to reduce power interruptions by 30% and the length of outages by 40%.

The island’s Electric Power Authority has long struggled with mismanagement, corruption and, more recently, bankruptcy.

In September 2016, a fire at a power plant sparked an island-wide blackout. A year later, Hurricane Maria hit as a Category 4 storm, shredding the aging power grid and leaving some customers up to a year without power.

Emergency repairs were done, but reconstruction work to strengthen the grid has yet to start.

“We’re on the verge of a collapse,” said Juan Alicea, a former executive director of the authority.

He said three main factors are to blame: Officials halted maintenance of generation units under the erroneous belief they would soon be replaced. Scores of experienced employees have retired. And investment to replace aging infrastructure has dwindled.

Puerto Rico’s power generation units are on average 45 years old, twice those of the U.S. mainland,.

Luma has said it expects to spend $3.85 billion to revamp the transmission and distribution system and company CEO Wayne Stensby said Luma has made significant progress in stabilizing it. He noted that crews have restarted four substations, some of which had been out of operation since Hurricane Maria.

Puerto Rico Gov. Pedro Pierluisi blamed the outages on management failures at the Electric Power Authority and called the repeated failures “untenable.”

Pierluisi himself has faced calls to resign — hundreds gathered to protest near the governor’s mansion on Friday — and many are demanding that the government cancel Luma’s contract.

The president of the power authority’s governing board resigned last week and a new executive director, Josué Colón, was appointed, promising to visit all generation units to pinpoint the problem.

"I

 recognize the critical condition that they’re in,” he said. “We’re not going to stop until the problem is corrected.”

Some people have taken to banging pots at night in frustration in addition to organizing protests.

Among those planning to join is Carmen Cabrer, a 53-year-old asthmatic and diabetic. She has been unable to use her nebulizer and recently had to throw out insulin for lack of refrigeration. The heat forces her to open her windows and breathe in pollution that aggravates her asthma. She cooks and washes clothes at irregular hours, fearing the power will go out again.

“This has turned into abuse,” she said of the outages. “I’m constantly tense.”

The outages are especially aggravating because power bills have been rising and the pandemic has forced many people to work or study from home.

Barbra Maysonet, a 30-year-old call center operator who works from home, said she sometimes loses an entire shift and doesn’t get paid for lack of power. She’s hesitant to work at the office because she doesn’t want to expose her mother and grandmother to COVID-19.

“It really puts a dent in my paycheck,” she said. “I have to rethink things. ... I’m going to have to risk my health just to be able to pay the rest of the bills.”

Like other Puerto Ricans, Maysonet has modified her diet, turning to canned goods, snacks and crackers that won’t spoil in a power outage.

“Just when I’m about to cook something, the power goes out. Then it’s, ‘I guess I’m having another bowl of cereal,’” she said.

Those who can afford it buy generators or invest in solar panels, but budgets are tight for many on an island mired in a deep economic crisis and a government that is effectively bankrupt.

Even attempts to rely on alternate sources of energy often are frustrated.

Manuel Casellas, an attorney who recently served as president of his 84-unit condominium complex, said the owners agreed to buy a generator more than a year ago at a cost of $100,000. However, they first need a power company official to connect the generator to the grid. He has made four appointments, and said officials canceled them all at the last minute without explanation.

“This has created great annoyance,” he said. “This is a building with many elderly people.”

Casellas himself has at times been unable to work at home or the office because of power outages at both. If he can’t meet with clients, he doesn’t get paid. Like others, he is considering leaving Puerto Rico.

“Every time the power goes out here it pushes your post-traumatic stress button,” he said, referring to the harrowing experiences many went through after Hurricane Maria, with an estimated 2,975 people dying in the aftermath. “You can’t live without electricity.”

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

People of Puerto Rico

 people of puerto rico 6

Even though Puerto Ricans don’t have a defined race, they are proud of their identity.

Boricuas are the result of a multicultural tradition that began more than 500 years ago when the Spaniards arrived on the Island, inhabited at the time by the Taínos — an indigenous group with a significant presence throughout the Caribbean.

African influences were added to the melting pot years later when Spaniards brought slaves to the Island to work sugar and coffee plantations.

The fusion of those three races leads to the modern-day Puerto Ricans — good people who welcome visitors as part of their extended family. Puerto Ricans tend to be friendly and cheerful people who move their hands a lot when they talk and express their emotions with intensity and passion.

When you pass by locals walking through the cobblestone streets of Old San Juan, they will greet you with a buenos días (good morning), even if they do not know you. And if they sit near you in a restaurant while you taste a mallorca (popular local pastry) and a coffee, they will say buen provecho (enjoy your meal), just for the sake of courtesy.

Puerto Rico has a population of around 3.6 million people, and more than five million additional boricuas are residing in the mainland United States. The official languages on the Island are Spanish and English, and most of the population identifies as Christian. Puerto Rican society is educated with a literacy level that exceeds 93%. It is also inclusive, with same-sex marriage laws and other statutes that protect common-law marriages' rights.

people of puerto rico 5

Famous Puerto Ricans

It is said that there are Puerto Ricans all over the world, and in part, it is because many have excelled in various disciplines such as film, music, and sports, elevating the reputation of the Island of Enchantment globally. For example, movie stars such as Rita Moreno, Raúl Juliá, Benicio del Toro, and Luis Guzmán are from Puerto Rico. Likewise, music icons such as Ricky Martin, Marc Anthony, Jennifer Lopez, and Daddy Yankee have Puerto Rican heritage.

In sports, Puerto Rico has giants such as baseball players Roberto Clemente, Iván Rodríguez, Roberto Alomar, Alex Cora, and Yadier Molina; boxers Félix "Tito" Trinidad, Héctor "Macho" Camacho, and Miguel Cotto; tennis player and Olympic gold medalist Mónica Puig; hurdler Javier Culson; and many others. In science, NASA geologist and astronaut Joseph M. Acaba, who has traveled to the International Space Station, was born to Puerto Rican parents.

The Island also has representation in other fields. Of Puerto Rican descent, Sonia Sotomayor was the first Latina to become a Supreme Court Justice. Dr. Antonia Coello became the first Puerto Rican and Hispanic person to be appointed as Surgeon General of the United States.

CHECK THIS FACTS ABOUT PUERTO RICO

This Post is Courtesy of Discover Puerto Rico

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

A Comprehensive Guide to Golf in Puerto Rico

 island and ocean under a cloudy ski on a golf course

Photo by Caleb Oquendo from Pexels

The Caribbean is more than just Instagram eye candy and delicious, authentic meals. It’s also home to an abundance of golf-centric experiences graced with upscale resorts, nearby white sands, and other activities that belong to your itinerary.

If you’re already eyeing Puerto Rico as a year-round holiday destination, here are a few things you need to know about planning a golf vacation.

Why Go Golfing in Puerto Rico?

On and below the surface, Puerto Rico is an ideal destination for avid golfers—it’s scenic, rife with course options, and beautiful weather. If you’re on the fence about booking a stay in Puerto Rico, here are a few reasons why you should. 

Breathtaking Views

Many Puerto Rican courses are situated on oceans, hills, and mountains. As a result, the country’s varied terrain features and awe-inspiring backdrops have become a magnet for tourists and champions alike. Nowhere else will you witness spectacular rainforest settings and seaside cliffs while teeing off than in Puerto Rico.

Delicious Meals

There is nothing quite like retiring from your four-hour game than with an exceptional meal. In Puerto Rico, after-par meals include deep-fried mofongo and spit-roasted pork. However, if you prefer something a little more familiar, you can explore the seemingly endless depths of Afro-Caribbean food—you’re bound to find something that suits your fancy. 

Abundant in Culture

What makes a sterling golf employee is an equally agreeable attitude—you’re not going to find warmer welcomes anywhere than Puerto Rico. The country is peppered with genuinely gracious and hospitable locals, ready to share their customs and unique attractions. 

Top Tourist Courses

Convinced that Puerto Rico is a must-see on your international golf tour? Then, don’t forget to include these top courses on your list. 

Wyndham Grand Rio Mar & Golf Beach Resort

Home to two excellent courses considered Puerto Rico’s best, the Wyndham provides guests with the pleasure of playing on the beach. If you prefer something jungle-laden and with rolling hills, opt for the River Course instead of the Ocean Course.  

Dorado Beach

The two challenging courses at Dorado Beach will give seasoned golfers a run for their money. Its dramatic setting is laden with ponds, lakes, and deep bunkers. They are also part of a hyper-luxurious resort whose amenities will make your stay worth every penny. 

Royal Isabela

This secluded and dramatic clifftop course plays links-style but will satisfy any golfer who enjoys a scenic backdrop. However, remember that this over 7,600-yard, par 73 course is not for the faint of heart, especially when it comes to deep gorges, jungle-like brush, and windy conditions. You’ll be spending long hours on this course, so don’t forget to pack the essentials

The St. Regis Golf Club

Set across the El Yunque National Forest, you won’t experience being as close to wildlife when you golf as you will here. The course itself snakes through lakes and ponds, culminating in a sunkissed two-mile beach. 

Hotels & Resorts

You’ll be pleased to know that most of Puerto Rico’s five-star courses are part of the country’s most sought-after resorts. If you’re looking for places to stay while you tee off daily, consider booking these renowed accommodations. 

Caribe Hilton

When you hear the word “Hilton,” you’re likely to associate it with luxury—in this case, you wouldn’t be wrong. This classic, San Juan located resort is open, well-equipped, and ideal for golfers who want ot try their hand—and club—at multiple courses over a quick week trip. 

Rooms begin at $141 a night.

El Conquistador Resort

This Waldorf Astoria resort has been claiming its spot atop top 100 lists for years—and for a good reason. It is upscale, family-friendly, and right next to the Coqui Water Park, among many other golf courses. 

Rooms begin at $156 a night.

The St. Regis Bahia Beach Resort

If you’re already been eyeing the Regis as a must-see golf destination, you’ll be happy to know it is also part of the country’s first Five-Diamond resort. This relaxed tropical setting has everything you could possibly need on a spectacular holiday—a challenging, picture-perfect course, round-the-clock service, and a spa. 

Rooms begin at $639 a night.

The Bottom Line

If you’ve been wondering whether packing your gear for an international golf trip to Puerto Rico is worth it, we hope this guide has provided you with an enlightening answer. To make the most of your trip, be sure to peep these must-know tips before traveling to this beautiful, cultured destination. 

About the Author

Jordan is a seasoned traveler and golf enthusiast. Through Golf Influence, he provides budding golfers with tips on how to improve their game, where to explore the best courses, and what gear is worth their business.

Monday, October 11, 2021

What To Look For In A Tax Resolution Firm?

 Tax Resolution Firm

No one like to receive letters from the IRS. The enforcement efforts ramp up at the IRS, the number of letters and communications landing in mailboxes is continuing to increase and one of them could land in your mailbox if the IRS says that you have a tax liability.

If you do receive a letter from them, it is important to move fast, especially if you cannot afford to pay what they says you owe. You may be tempted to ignore the situation or do nothing, but every day you wait will just make an already bad situation that much worse.

The good news is that you may not have to pay what the IRS says you owe them! There are a number of programs designed to give taxpayers relief, in many cases allowing them to settle their tax debts for a lot less of what they owe. But before you can enjoy that financial relief, you need to find the right partner, and here are some key things to look for.

The Right Tax Relief and IRS Negotiation Experience.

When you hire a tax relief firm, you will be hiring a team of experts, and it is important that the person who works on your case will be up to the task. It is important to look for specific areas of expertise, including former IRS agents, CPA’s, attorneys and others who can help you negotiate with the IRS on your behalf.

The best tax relief agencies are not necessarily big firms; some of the best are small operators with extensive experience dealing with this type of problem. But no matter what the size of the firm, the tax resolution expertise of the person working on your case is what matters the most.

Compassion and Understanding

Dealing with the IRS is not just a financial problem; it is an emotional one as well. Getting a notice from the IRS is bound to be an upsetting and unsettling experience, and working with a compassionate and caring tax resolution firm can help a lot to your situation.

You should not, of course, sacrifice expertise and capability for compassion, but there is no reason you cannot have the best of both worlds. Look for someone who cares about you and your situation as you interview tax relief firms and choose the one you feel best about working with.

Recent IRS Negotiation Success Stories

The IRS is a huge agency, and the tax code is endlessly complex. That enormous complexity and ever-growing structure means that past experience may no longer be relevant, so look for recent experience with the IRS in the form of testimonials and case studies.

Chances are if they have good “wins” under their belt, they know what they’re doing and they can get you a favorable outcome. Working with these experts can give you peace of mind and make it easier for you to resolve your tax situation.

Getting a letter from the IRS can be a scary experience, but it does not have to be the end of the world. You do not have to go bankrupt or suffer financial devastation in order to settle the debt you owe. Now that you know how to find a great tax relief partner, you no longer have to live in fear of your next trip to the mailbox.

Reach out to our tax resolution firm and we’ll schedule a free, no-obligation confidential consultation to explain your options in full to permanently resolve your tax problem. www.wesolveyourirsdebt.com.

Ramon Ortega CPA

Office in Weston, FL
1555 Bonaventure Blvd., Suite 1028
Weston, FL 33326
Weston 954-465-9315
Orlando 407-478-9262
rortega@ramonortegacpa.com

Ramon Ortega CPA

Friday, October 8, 2021

Gran Encuentro Ancestral Coming this Fall!

 

Puerto Rican Cultural Center

** MASKS ARE REQUIRED TO ATTEND **
** NO EXCEPTIONS **
 
Puerto Rican Cultural Center presents...
Gran Encuentro Ancestral - Garifuna & Loiza Cultural Exchange
October 10, 2021, 2-5pm CST (LIVE)
See Ticket info below.
 
A lively Afro-Arawak exchange of ancestral music, dance, and tambores featuring:
* Los Hermanos Ayala
* Garifuna Grupo Walagante
* Puerto Rican Folkloric Dance
 
We are excited to share this experience as we build kinship! Loiza's culture is influenced by West African and Indigenous Arawak traditions, and those connections are being explored through a musical exchange with the Garifuna who are themselves an Afro-Arawak people!
 
TICKET INFO:
- Due to COVID, tickets will be sold at the event.
- Masks covering mouth and nose are required to attend.
 
Ticket Prices:
Adults (18+) = $20
Youth (6 & over) = $5
Children (under 6) = FREE
 
Invite your friends!
Facebook Invite: https://fb.me/e/12KuKFg5O
 
Our Encuentro Ancestral & season of outreach is made possible through grant funding and Cares Act/ARP support by the National Endowment for the Arts, Humanities Texas, the state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Texas Commission on the Arts, the National Association of Latino Arts and Culture, and the Cultural Arts Division of the City of Austin Economic Development Department.
 
 
Appreciate our mission?

Friday, September 24, 2021

Hatillo Puerto Rico

Hatillo Puerto Rico

Located on the northern coastal plains of Puerto Rico, the seaside town of Hatillo is a tranquil community of undulating hills and rambling ranches. The village was founded in 1823 by Canarian immigrant Agustín Ruiz Miranda with the stipulation that part of the land be used for public buildings and wide streets with the rest sold or used for homes. These conditions were met and the resulting town is unlike any other in the world.

Today, the town is a hub of Puerto Rico’s dairy industry, making the region the world’s largest producer of milk per square mile. Nearly one-third of the milk consumed in Puerto Rico is produced here. Visitors can experience part of this industry for themselves at Vaca Negra, a local cheese-making company managed by a microbiologist associated with the region’s dairy industry. Visitors can try different cheese varieties in the facility’s charming café or take a class to learn how to create their own cheese creation.

The town is also well-known for the extravagant festivals held in the downtown area and central square. Its patron saint festival, the Fiestas Patronales de Nuestra Sra. del Carmen, is held each July and features parades, live entertainment, amusement rides, games, and regional food and crafts. The town also holds a Sugarcane Festival each May to celebrate the historical significance of sugarcane cultivation in the region.

The most popular festival each year is the Mask Festival, celebrated annually on December 28. The festival is meant to commemorate the Holy Innocents of the biblical story of King Herod, in which young children were slain as part of a failed attempt to kill the baby Jesus. The day is meant to be a day of fun and celebration, with large crowds participating in the festivities.

Festivals of the Masks

During the Mask Festival, men and women of all ages wear colorful masks and elaborate costumes that cover them from head to toe to parade through the town. As mid-day draws near, the participants converge on the town square for a procession and award ceremony. This celebration continues for the entire day with participants enjoying good food, dancing, and other forms of entertainment for the whole family.

Hatillo is a great place to visit during other times of the year as well. The seaside community has 10 beaches, with one of the most popular being Sardinera Beach in the Carrizales neighborhood. Just off of Highway #2, this beach features crystal clear waters and a natural rock wall along the north shoreline that prevents strong waves from getting close to the beach. The peaceful pool is great for snorkeling and the pleasantly sandy beach hides lots of beautiful rocks and sea glass.

Another popular outdoor recreation area is the Great North Park, located between Hatillo and Camuy on Highway 119. Here, children and adults can enjoy the beauty of the coastal landscape in a variety of recreational spaces, including a beach area, a boardwalk, a camping area, and a boating area. The grounds also hold volleyball courts, a soccer park, children’s play areas, and an observation tower.

The town is also home to the Plaza del Norte Mall, the biggest shopping mall in northwestern Puerto Rico. With more than 130 retailers and restaurants and a new movie theater, it has become a popular destination for both locals and tourists. Other places of interest include the Hacienda Santa Rosa Ruins, the Old Bayaney Sugar Mill, and the Francisco Deida Méndez Coliseum.