“There’s no police here, so keep your eyes peeled and don’t go out at night,” is what several people tell me on my first day out and about. They explain that police officer pensions experienced a considerable cut before the hurricane and now getting paid for overtime is very difficult. Many officers have left the force. Today, my cousin explains, she had a hard time getting to my aunt’s house because of traffic. “There is a protest at La Milla de Oro against the Fiscal Control Board that has enacted these austerity measures.” She said that even the
highway was congested. The highway I must take to get to the art store. I mentally postpone the trip for tomorrow morning.
I take the warnings into consideration as I drive through Santurce, El Condado, Ocean Park and other neighborhoods. I see one patrol car after I leave the supermarket. I do notice some construction on Calle Loiza, the vibrant commercial center of Santurce. Some places look like they are being repaired, but most look like they are being converted into apartment buildings or higher end businesses. I pass the post office and note the lack of parking spaces around that building. Public parking is very difficult in any touristy zone, but it is much more complicated here because of the many one-way streets, lack of good illumination at night and high population density. 10 mph is the fastest one can go.
This morning I talked with my family about my painting project. My aunt tells me they know someone who can pose. Someone who is not going to panic at the prospect of sitting for four hours. We have to tell them there are breaks every 20 minutes. Then she adds, “it has to be someone who is not working in a 9-5 job because you will be painting on weekdays, right?”
During the afternoon her Villa Palmeras neighborhood had a power shortage. “I can’t talk too long or I will use up my phone’s battery,” she apologized. I hung up, looked at the rainy afternoon sky and resolved to take it one day at a time.