Leapin’ Lizards! Fun Facts about Puerto Rico

We got back over a week ago now, so I wanted to just jot down a number of curious oddities I learned there.

Unlike the pedestrian alligator lizards we see around here in San Diego, Puerto Rican lizards can jump surprising distances, over a foot from plant to plant, or from ground to wall.  We also saw a number of very large iguanas (maybe 4 ft nose to tail), but apparently those are non-indigenous abandoned pets — like pythons in the everglades and mythical New York City sewer gators.  Also, the snails are larger, with flatter, cinnamon roll-like shells, rock-hard compared to the paper-thin-shelled garden snails we get around here.

Although there are other species of “coqui” frogs, only Puerto Rican coquis actually sing “coqui” every evening.

There is no longer any U.S. Navy presence in P.R.!  Despite everything I had heard about P.R. from all the navy brats I know that lived there at one time or another, now all that is left is the Army’s Ft. Buchanan.

Puerto Ricans don’t drink Bacardi.  They prefer DonQ.  (Pronounced “DonKoo”, not “DonKew”)  Apparently Bacardi has more Cuban than Puerto Rican roots.  And DonQ is preferred for having less flavor (I guess like vodka).

Who knew? They still make cars without central locking (I don’t mean Puerto Rico, but due to the driving habits of Puerto Ricans, it seems the rental agencies stock the truly cheapest cars possible).  I don’t mind rolling down windows (they stayed up to keep in the max A/C all the time anyways), I don’t mind not having remote locking.  But can you remember the stone-age ritual of getting in the car and leaning over to unlock the passenger door, and twisting around to unlock the back door?  Or having to make the walk of security to double-check all the doors got locked when everyone gets out?  What a pain!  (However, the Toyota Yaris did have not only a CD player, but an MP3 player — which did not at all make up for the fact that it was lacking an engine)

Speaking of cars, Puerto Rican roadways are oddly half-metricized.  Speeds are posted in MPH, and distances to exits and cities are in miles, but instead of mile-markers, they have KM markers.  And gas is sold not by the gallon but by the liter.  And at every gas station I saw, from Fajardo to Areceibo, the prices were augmented with a tiny little “7/10” of a cent.  I can only imagine that the industry that manufactures those numbers for gas station marquees sells “Continental” packages with extra 9’s, and “Puerto Rican” packages with extra 7’s.  And can you imagine the uproar when Puerto Rican gas must have topped $1/liter a few years back?  How many gas stations didn’t have enough digits for their signs?


4 Responses

  1. sorry but im puerto rican… i dont live in puerto rico bit every tme we go there my dad rents car. The cars at the rental centers are all modern, 2009 cars WITH REMOTES. Yes they are all nott 2009 but they are certainly not from the 1990’s!!!!! the car dealer yu prbably went to was one of the cheaper ones… my dad gets them right from the airport car rentals so they are clean, in great coniton and they even check if the car to see if there is any damages when we return it… We get the 2009 Nissan Altima and it works wonderfully… maybe you should try it.. its not that expenisve at all! but thats one thing i wanted to point out :)

  2. Yes, the Toyota Yaris we got from Dollar was brand new (only a few thousand miles on it), which is why I was so surprised it had no remote, and beyond that, not even electronic locks, no button the driver could press to lock/unlock the whole car. I’m sure most rentals in PR are better, we were just scraping the bottom of the barrel.

  3. I’ve had similar experiences recently renting cars, but in the U.S. In Miami, I rented a cheap car from some previously unknown to me agency (E-Z rental or something like that), and the car I got was fully manually, including lock/unlock. I don’t remember the car (this was only August, but lots of water under the bridge since then), but it was a new car. So they still exist, these fully manual types…

  4. […] Leapin’ Lizards! Fun Facts about Puerto Rico September 2009 3 comments 5 […]

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