GI Junk Food and Other Tales in the Struggle


Posted by Cassie

Cassie food
With government food in the plaza

I have to admit that this has been a struggle and it still is. At first it’s exciting. You’re in the middle of it. There is a massive storm, you must react in the now. Then the next day there is the aftermath to deal with. Then there is the learning. Where are the resources? How am I going to survive? Is everyone alive?

Beef with juices
Beef with Juices -yuck!

Now, though, we are just in it. No one is worried about us being alive anymore. Hurricane Maria is not in the news anymore. And so we are just here living without electricity and water for over 4 weeks now! And I am having a hard time. What is your breaking point? Is there any one point? Or is it a slow burn that drives you to the point of lunacy?

No aceptamos huracanes
We don’t take hurricanes -and we reserve the right of admission

It’s not any one thing, but like dust accumulating on a surface, it starts to add up. I am not eating well because food is just not appetizing. Beef with juices and canned foods is great to survive, but terrible to thrive. GI Junk Food is about the worst of the worst!

Church Aguada hotspot

I have a layer of grime on me that I just can’t wash off. Even my fingernails are dirty and all I want to do is wash my hair. And when I do, I am holding the hose handle outside under a royal palm tree trying to wash off the suds that I can. And don’t even ask about the bed sheets…Oh how I miss the washing machine! But worst of all I feel lost and purposeless because there is no way we can start any new projects without resources. How can you pour a concrete pad without water?!


Pool break
A welcome break at the pool of a neighbor!

We work outside clearing trees and have some hope of beautiful days to come when we can plant tropical exotics, but it is hard to want to work in the hot sun when we are trying to use less than 5 gallons of water a day! I am constantly hot and find myself drawn to any body of water. I miss running the fans throughout the day. We are not even accustomed to air conditioning, but fans! Oh, fans! How I love and miss thee!

Britton upside down world
Upside down world

Military vehiclesMilitary vehicles everywhere

We have some mobility now that gas is fairly available, but we don’t have many places to go. The grocery stores are nearly empty and even restaurants that are open have a menu limitado. All I want to eat is fresh food. A cold salad! The worst is probably the boredom. Without a TV or internet or anything to do, I begin to feel very depressed. Why am I just laying or sitting here sweating, I think. Even my laptop died so I can’t even edit videos!
Aguada at PO

Aguada sharing the Rincon Post Office

I try to console myself with the fact that we have it a lot better than many people. Most of our neighbors don’t even have a generator or cistern. I don’t know how they do it! Though we have more than many, our neighbors still share with us what they have. They bring us the military food and want to spend time with us. We feel loved and cared for down our little street.

First MRE

Our first MRE meal

It is disheartening to see our enchanted island so ravaged. It feels like we are in a post-war scenario with all the military vehicles, soldiers and aircraft flying overhead. This has been a true test of wills. Of endurance. Can you handle this? I have had many a break-down; I am certainly not impermeable to the difficulties of this time.

Govt desalinationGovernment Desalination of water
Military rations
GI Junk Food includes Pringles, Pop-Tarts, Puddin’ cups and Chef Boyardee!

Some people my think that we are not living too far from where we were before. And it’s true. We live in the jungle, we don’t use a phone, we try to live off the land, etc, etc. But in reality this has shaken our world. Partly because there is the collective consciousness that is desperate for some semblance of normalcy. People try to have an “actitud positiva” – it’s something! “Algo es algo” as they say! But when you feel the weight of the situation, it becomes a little harder to bear.

Empty shelves
Empty shelves

But we’re doing ok. I am just wearing down. My emotions are closer to the surface. I cry a lot more easily. I try to be strong through this but sometimes I feel very weak and powerless. We still look for the small joys in life. Mini missions of pool parties, ice runs (a milagro if you can find it!), water refills at a local spring or the FEMA water station, and of course the constant quest or internet provide us with a welcome distraction from the destruction and the “waiting place” that we are in right now.

Friends at YukayekeHaving good friends help!

Some people have ask how they can help. The Red Cross is present and a few businesses like the Rincon Beer Company have become non-profits. If you want to send us a care package or would like us to forward something to a group, you can reach us at: PO Box 609, Rincon, Puerto Rico 00677. Even words of encouragement would help to lift our spirits.

What do we need? Well, we will survive in any case, but some things that might be helpful through this time include anything that you can think of for extended camping conditions:

-light sources like flashlights and lanterns and their batteries
-anything crank powered
-fans -crank/wind-up and/or battery powered
-non-powered games and toys
-TV shows/movies/music/books/coloring books/etc
-food -healthy food that can last!!!!!!
-floaties/fun stuff for the sea/pool
-bug repellent/nets
-camp showers
-bottle spritzers
-solar powered anything

Thanks for thinking of us. We’ll get through this. It’s just been a rough go.

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8 thoughts on “GI Junk Food and Other Tales in the Struggle

  1. Bob Duerr

    You’ll be fine in time – but consider it a memory of value. The act of living off the land / without the conveniences of modern life actually make you stronger. The need for power is undeniable and after a month, hard to believe. Post Sandy we were into 2 weeks before power returned – families living with us – grilling everyday and day after day ripping sheetrock out of houses. Erie
    The truth is Rincon will rise again faster than the rest of the island with the “season” coming up – surfers could care less about those conveniences as long as there is rum / waves and sun.

    Reply
  2. Petra

    Cassie and Britton, you guys are on our minds so very often. Thinking of how you are doing. I hope that electricity can be restored sooner rather than later and that fresh water will flow again soon as well. I couldn’t even imagine what you are going through. Our prayers are with you at all times !!! I will get some sort of care package out to you guys today. We will be back as soon as the situation allows. Love you guys, hang in there, keep the positive thoughts !!! <3

    Reply
  3. Barbara Schutt

    ((HUG)) to you both! I can’t even imagine what you all are going through but all of PR is in my thoughts and well wishes every day.

    Reply
  4. Diane

    Hang tough my friends. Wish I could fly down to visit, but I want to be part of the solution – not a problem that needs to be dragged off to the USNS Comfort. ;) A fellow vlogger, VeganVlogs, left PR for a week to console his family in Texas, & just returned to the island. He’s up in the hills, so comms were down for more than 2 weeks. (They were imagining the worst.) So, don’t be afraid to take a break if you need it. Just a bummer that the Aguadilla airport is not really in service. My son lives in Isabela, & had to fly out via SJU. That’s a long funky drive, & flights were delayed, but it’s doable.

    Reply
  5. Karen

    It’s incredibly frustrating, that’s what it is for me, I tight rope between anger (over lack of water and food) and depressed because we’re in limbo. In our corner of the world our neighbors have been great but our families have added to our anxiety ten fold. We can’t get the ones here to leave (for adequate medical treatment) and the ones stateside we find we have to constantly console. Even if we wanted to fly out the tickets are too expensive unless you book about a month out. I don’t know how much longer until I’ve reached looney toons status but I’m hanging in there for now. Good luck to you guys and everyone else, Its definitely a test of wills. I do know one thing, the day that power is 100% restored to the island, there WILL be the biggest party (and probably a new holiday) to end all parties in the entire history of PR… see you there!

    Reply
    1. Barbara Schutt

      Karen, what part of the island are you on? I wish you good luck as well and am hoping for the best for all of you! And what a party that would be when this is all over.

      Reply
  6. Torrie N. Kauffman

    Interesting what they give you. When the kids were little I went to the food bank to get some formula. Along with it they gave you peanut butter, cheese, powdered eggs, veggies and the canned meat. The canned meat was absolutely disgusting.
    I’m sure the junk food box is a welcome food source, although that wouldn’t last very long and the calories are empty. A box of rice and beans would have been a better choice.

    Reply
  7. Fran and Steve

    (From Fran): I hear you Cassie. I’m often on the verge too. In Luquillo/Fajardo, we can get fresh meat, dairy, eggs, and other familiar stuff, but not every day, and there are always long lines. Our days consist of going out “foraging”. Grocery, bank, gasoline for the genny, bottled water (always scarce), cell or internet signal. We have a 200 gallon rain catchment system, but it hasn’t rained here for 4 days, so daily trips to the “oasis”. Steve goes out every morning to find a good internet signal, since he works online. Sometimes he has to travel 40 minutes, and many times it’s on the side of a random road! That’s where I am right now. Hsve you heard this saying? “No hay mal que dure 100 años, ni cuerpo que lo aguante.” On the bright side, we have gotten to know our neighbors, and Steve’s positive attitude is unflinching. Hang in there guys, this won’t last forever!

    Reply

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