Well, the flight was fine and uneventful, and upon landing, it only took an hour to get the rental car. They gave me a Hyundai Brio (this model is sold in the US as the 4-door Accent, though here it’s a 2-door) the size of a matchbox; if you’ve seen The Incredibles, I look like Mr. Incredible did inside his tiny car. But hey, at least I can move around on my own.

When I got to my Mom’s house, my aunt (Mom’s sis) and cousin were here, so at least I got to see them. They had brought an album full of old photos, and it was weird to see pics of my Mom when she was 12 and looked like a nerd (the 60’s were just bad all over the place). They also had in there pictures of myself when I was a little kid, maybe 3 or 4, that I had never seen, including one with my late grandmother, so that was cool. They’re making me some copies.

Around 9:30 pm, my Mom and nephew got ready to sleep, so I went out to meet my friend Josue at his house. From there, we went to see my other friend’s Braulio gaming store, Gaming Emporium, though we caught him just as he was closing up shop. I’ll pass by tomorrow and geek out in the evening. Josue and I went back to his house and watched anime and played Street Fighter until 1:00 am, and now here I am.

Early thoughts: Puerto Rico is the same, but not really. Roads I knew by heart are gone, entirely, replaced by a multitude of branching streets that seem to go nowhere near where the road used to before. There is a lot of construction going on, especially where roads are concerned, and while that isn’t strange per se (construction people need to eat), it seems (at least at night) like the roadway situation may–just may–be on its way to improving. That is, if they actually finish the various new highways and traffic-relief overpasses (below) they have been constructing for at least 2 years now.

It is still hot as hell here, and not hot like Miami, where it’s humid but that’s it, but humid that sticks to you like a leech. There is so much greenery in the island that the humidity doesn’t actually dissipate, it just hangs there like a curtain that you have to pass through with every step.

The coquis are just as loud as ever, and I’m afraid that it has finally happened: I have lived long enough out of the island that I can’t actually just tune the coquis out as I used to. They are everywhere, the little crooners, with their incessant “ko-kee, ko-kee, ko-kee!” Seriously, don’t they ever shut up? As I’m typing this, I can barely hear them in the background, so I think it’s starting to take effect, that inherent ability of any Puertorican to be able to subsume the coquis into background noise. I can fully understand my wife now, though; every time she comes, she has the hardest time with the coquis, because she just can’t not hear them.

It’s great to see my Mom and nephew (I even saw my sister for about ten minutes before she darted off to work), my aunt and cousin, and tomorrow my grandparents, aunt and uncle. I miss them all. Same thing with my friends. I am looking forward to spending the week just visiting and catching up. It’s become painfully obvious during the summer that you never know when you’ll see someone last, and while I am certainly not harboring any morbid thoughts or wishes (G-d forbid), it IS a reality of life we cannot escape, and we should use it as an incentive to truly appreciate what’s important in life: G-d, family and friends.

Tomorrow (or rather, in a couple of hours) is a new day, and I am quite excited to go out and see Puerto Rico, my Puerto Rico.

I still miss my wife.