Follow the reluctant adventures in the life of a Welsh astrophysicist sent around the world for some reason, wherein I photograph potatoes and destroy galaxies in the name of science. And don't forget about my website,

Friday 28 October 2011

Puerto Rico : A Hispanic Oddity

Puerto Rico can be justly praised for a great many things. Having a solid educational system, efficient public institutions and a carefully thought-out public transport network are but a few of the many, many virtues it doesn't have.

My particular favourite of the island's various enchanting nuances is its corrupt milk industry. Milk is produced locally, presumably to avoid the expense of having to ship it in. Except that tropical grass is extremely poor in nutrients, so grain must be shipped in to feed the cows instead. Which, naturally, requires government subsidies to make it profitable... although it seems what the subsidies actually pay for are the palatial houses of the dairy farmers. I should also add that milk is about 5 times more expensive than root beer.

There's just something wonderfully endearing about a country with a  corrupt milk industry.

Then, as I've mentioned previously, there's the water authority. 4 miles from here, you'd be lucky to get water 3 days a week. Apparently this is not so bad provided you have a large cistern that can fill up whenever the water is working. The ironic thing is that my neighbourhood currently has more water pressure than you'd ever want to see outside of an episode of Mythbusters.

Water pressure is not to be trifled with

This is not normally the case - in fact I often don't get much more than a trickle myself. So it came as a great surprise one morning to turn on the tap and have water spray across the kitchen and see the tap physically jerk upwards. Something inside it even went BANG. Whatever it was hasn't gone BANG since, so is presumably broken, but never mind.

The other bizarre feature of the water industry is that if you dig your own well, legally you don't own the water that comes out of it. So, if you play by the rules, the water industry will charge you for the water you took out of the ground at your own expense. However, you can at least collect rainwater for free - unlike in Colorado.

The electrical authority has quirks of its own. Fortunately, they're not known for the crazy amount of service interruptions that plague their dihydrogen monoxide counterparts. Sure, there are more power cuts here than in most developed countries, but not enough to really worry about. No, the issue here is that the electrical bills are slightly higher than they need to be, so that churches actually get it for free. Thievin' bastards. Why I've half a mind to write a letter to Richard Dawkins.

Thou Shalt Covet Thy Neighbour's Electricity. Covet it good  I say !

One other thing I learned recently deserves to be reported, though it isn't the kind of thing I would normally write about because it's genuinely sick. A few years ago, the authorities embarked on a campaign to reduce the number of stray dogs. I'm not a fan of culling animals, but in this case it might be justifiable. Their numbers are high and most of them are clearly disease-ridden and starving. To try to domesticate them would be an exercise in futility, and take money and resources the island simply doesn't have.

Unfortunately, many pet dogs that happened to be on the street at the time were rounded up during this program. They were not humanely euthanised. No. They were thrown off a bridge.

1 comment:

  1. Just stumbled across this blog. It's cracked me up no-end. Loving it.


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