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Old 02-25-2009, 12:53 PM
Location: Icklanta, GA
38 posts, read 110,736 times
Reputation: 20


I am close to accepting a job in Puerto Rico with the Federal Gov/Bureau of Prisons. Its location: HWY 28 INTSECT OF ROAD 165 - GUAYNABO, PR 00965

My concerns are numerous but none seem to be big enough to keep me from coming. I've read various posts here, read news reports and stats on the violence and tried to become more adept at visualizing the islands day to day life.

My first concern, what part of town would be good to live initially? Maybe where there is a lot of English spoken, many other federal gov employees? I've looked on craigslist at a lot of apartments in towers near the beach which seem to be decently priced and in safe areas. Yay or nay?

Does one need to have a car to survive and have a decent quality of life? Are bicycles not useful given the aggressive drivers? A motor scooter? I would be working/living close together hopefully.

Would I be totally laughed at and taken advantage of if I carried a little phrasebook with me?

Is it safe to explore outdoor recreational opportunities during the day alone?

Is the 800 murders in 2008 accurate? I've visited New Orleans many of times and they had under 200 last year. Granted - less people, less land area than PR.

I'm a fairly savvy, courteous, thoughtful person thus I feel things are always workable but I've never been somewhere my language was not spoken much so that throws a wrench in my previous experience to this point.
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Old 02-25-2009, 06:36 PM
Location: Puerto Rico
32 posts, read 96,967 times
Reputation: 30
That's the Federal Prison.
I think that the places near the beach are more safe compared to other area of the city, except the area of the Llorens Torres Residential, that is near the beach too. For that area, I recomend you to use a car, because there are not safe routes for bycicles in these areas. There is a bus service in the San Juan metro area, called the AMA, or Metrobus, but it is not very efficient. Also the train, but in your route you don't need it.
The 800 murders in 2008 are in the entire island. The homicides per capita (100,000 inhabitants) are near 20, and in San Juan is near 40, but I think that is very similar to the New Orleans stats.

About the phrasebook, if you need it for everything at a moment, there is no problem, but although not all the people know english very well, you will be understanded with your english, just talk it more slow and most people will understand you.

I hope more persons recomend you.
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Old 02-25-2009, 06:43 PM
Location: Puerto Rico
177 posts, read 883,138 times
Reputation: 105
GUAYNABO is a good town, at least from the English speaking aspect. The goal of Guaynabo is to have all the basic communication in English. I have been there a number of times and it seems to be a nice place. I even entertained to live there but commute to work would be hell. Anywhere you go in the metro area you need a car and there are many cars in your way. You can use a scooter but only if you know the safe ways.

I am new to the island and learning as I go along. There are drastic contrasts here, meaning you will find places where every car is a BMW or a Mercedes, and next to it you will see rundown housing. The poor seem to mix with the afluent.

The desision is a tough one for sure, so take your time to hear everyone out.
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Old 02-27-2009, 07:43 AM
Location: Scranton
1,384 posts, read 2,800,399 times
Reputation: 1650
800 murders is pretty accurate. But over 90% of those are drug related, domestic, or result of an altercation. If you don't mess with any of that, your chances of meeting a flying bullet are small. Having said that, crime is high, specially in the more urban areas. Robberies and carjackings are common. By law, between midnight and 5:00 AM you can treat any red light as a stop sign. This law was passed to reduce the number of carjackings that occurred in intersections while people were stopped at a red light.

Areas surrounding public housing developments are dangerous (no surprise). They are easy to identify, consisting mostly of a bunch of 3-4 story buildings clustered together.

If you are a Law Enforcement Officer, the Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act of 2004 applies in Puerto Rico, meaning that you can carry anywhere you go. Just use common sense, be alert, and trust your gut.

Puerto Rico is a beautiful island. It's summer all year long. If you can, go and explore the small towns and the rest of the island. The small towns are very safe to visit, and the people there tend to be more hospitable. Seems that everyone in the city is stressed, while people in the small towns are more relaxed. Everywhere you go, there is usually someone that speaks English.

Good luck!
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Old 03-03-2009, 02:01 PM
Location: Icklanta, GA
38 posts, read 110,736 times
Reputation: 20
Thanks for the info folks! Very helpful!
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Old 07-17-2009, 10:41 PM
1 posts, read 10,931 times
Reputation: 11
Default Replyyy

Wow, this is quite funny. My boyfriend had just moved to Guaynabo,Puerto Rico right about on the same month you posted this. He also has a quite frustrating language barrier when it comes to the 'spanglish".

English is spoken in many places, but the people are very self conscience about messing something up while they speak, and so sometimes they decide not to speak it at all. BUT, there are always some that will know the language. Practicing general spanish is strongly advised in these situations.

My boyfriend too came for a better future from the states and is currently struggling to obtain it as we speak because of the legal age limit which is '21" here in Puerto Rico.

I mention struggle because he has no family here (I'm basically the only person he knows). It is also very difficult for him to be seen as an independent adult when he is to make his own decisions because of his age.

As far as transportation goes, I advise you shouldn't get anything older than the year 2004, and yes, a car is a necessity to survive, unfortunately. The public transportation system is OK, but are not always reliable due to random circumstances. I say this from personal experience. Scooters, bikes, and motorcycles can always help you get out of a tight spot.

Living in Guaynabo just like anywhere else can be a little risky when it comes to safety only if you meddle in places you shouldn't.

anyways, if you ever need a roommate or someone who will understand what you may go through. We're on the lookout for people who can help each other mutually.

hope you make the right choice!
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Old 07-21-2009, 11:08 AM
Location: La Isla Encanta, Puerto Rico
1,152 posts, read 3,103,963 times
Reputation: 1358
I'd love to be in you place with a job offer to work and live long-term in PR. I had a seismic boat job as a young man that went into port in Old San Juan twice for about a week each time. I had very little Spanish but got along fine in Spanglish and even good Nueva York English (many many PRs loop back and forth to New York or even grew up there and speak perfect English). I'm sure in a month or two living there you'll pick up enough Spanish to get along.

I don't know about out where your job is but I got all over greater San Juan on the public buses without any problem. Nobody hastled me, even when I got lost and ended up at a bus station at the end of the line at 11"30 at night with no buses running. Some guys out on the street helped me find a taxi stand. Unlike some other places in the Caribbean people are completely used to and comfortable with Americans - indeed many or most have been to America where they aren't required VISAs.

The only thing I found difficult was the very hot sweaty nights (I've lived in Houston a long time since then so it wouldn't be so bad now!) with no major break in the winter (which doesn't exist) and the pretty crazy drivers. It did seem that people drove more like in America once you got out of San Juan.

I'd go for it!
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Old 07-31-2009, 09:54 AM
Location: Puerto Rico
1 posts, read 10,790 times
Reputation: 11
Native here. While it's true a majority refuse to/can't speak English, you will always find someone who knows the language, so don't be discouraged! (And practice your Spanish, too! We can understand the gist of what you're saying, at the very least.)

As for the crime rate? I would say, 'be wary of people', but personal experience shows that a lot more people are willing to help you get to safety than to leave you lost and stranded, especially when you have no money. There are individuals that, yes, you should be wary of, but as long as you don't hang around where they do, you'll be fine.

A word of caution: Don't be walking around unnaturally deserted areas (as in, places where you normally won't find people walking) at night. Seriously.

Public transportation, I've found, is only efficient when you're in the San Juan area. In other municipalities, the buses sometimes don't even drive through where they're supposed to or take far too long to get there. The problem with public transportation is that a lot of people own cars, so it's not a necessity for them, whereas there are people who can't seem to catch a bus because the drivers can be terribly mean. (But, uh, some are willing to give you free rides if you look helpless.) The train is pretty cool, though. I commute from my house to the UPR by train.

If you're as nice and curt as you say, you'll have no problem with the people. I hope this helps a little! o/
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Old 08-02-2009, 12:08 AM
Location: Fuquay Varina
5,141 posts, read 7,127,155 times
Reputation: 13737
I lived 2 years in Luquillo and never once had any issues. I didn't go down alleys after dark, and kept my nose clean. PR is a nice place for the most part.

My biggest complaint was the dirt and trash. I visited Quam, and they took such better care of the island, hardly saw any trash. Driving down any back road in PR and you can see how they don't care as much, or if they do care, they just simply forgot how bad the trash looks lol
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Old 12-08-2010, 10:20 AM
Location: Macao
15,996 posts, read 37,272,019 times
Reputation: 9618
Default blue-blond gringo guys - received alright or received poorly? (in Puerto Rico)

Y'know with all this division in the mainland United States. Black aren't popular in one spot, whites aren't so popular in another spot, and on and on.

Occassionally that feeds into other areas, where other groups decide they don't like black or white, for similar reasons, and on and on.

How about in Puerto Rico? If you have an obvious looking gringo guy...even if speaking Spanish and down-to-earth...are they received as the perpetual gringo? Are they thought of in a way as 'that guy looks gringo, so therefore he must be (insert negative stereotype) here...

Or, are things pretty casual...whoever is whoever, etc.

(Basically, I lived in South America for a year, years ago, mostly Brazil, and absolutely loved it! Occassionally I entertain the idea of someday in my later years, finding a great walkable city, proximity to everywhere, no car, just stroll and live out the rest of my life - got another 25 years of working though before me. But nontheless, what are the feasibility of this in somewhere like San Juan or a similar amenity-rich, non-auto-centric city in Puerto Rico...and would reception be decent, negative, etc.?)
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