Category Archives: Cars

Bote Millan and More Exploration

Posted by Cassie

It had been something of a rough week emotionally, so Britton and I thought some Vitamin Sea might be just what the doctor ordered. Which beach should we explore? There are so many beaches in Rincón, but we often go to the same ones all the time which normally are the north beaches near our house. So instead, we chose to go down south near Corcega and Almendros Beach.

BK Float

Britton walking out of water
Britton enjoying the warm Caribbean waters

I have seen the Millan Boat from afar before, but I have never gone and explored it. From what I understand it was built in the mid 20th century by Mr. Emiliano “Millan” Altiery as an homage to the fishermen profession.

Bote Millan
Bote Millan from a distance

Cassie walking
Wow! Up close it looks a lot like a boat!

Cassie bote flag
Another cool place to take photos

Britton mystery Cassie under bote
And look snazzy whilst drinking our morning coffee

Cassie Bote Millan
Up on top it really did feel like a boat!

Cassie bote
Ahoy, mateys!

Right nearby I noticed a cool swing! Being the adventurer that I am, I had to take a ride! Swinging on a coconut palm while the waves crashed next to a small river outlet reminds me how much my life seems like a dream and this is the carnival scene.

Cassie swing 2
Swinging to the sea!

Cassie swing river
Over the river

After swimming a bit more we began to get hungry. We packed up our beach chairs and headed down the road in the Millennium Falcon, our nickname for the warp-speeding Mustang. We picked up a pollo asa’o sandwich, chatted with a friend and then blasted off to find a little deserted beach in Añasco.

Car context
The Mill Falcon on a new planet

Cassie walk in jungle
Exploring paths unknown

Cassie jungleDeep in the jungle

All in all, I’d say it helped us perk up a bit to remember what a beautiful place and time we get to live.

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Buying (Another) Car in Puerto Rico!

Posted by Cassie

Britton has a sports car again!

We have been considering buying another car for some time now. Having just the truck works fine especially because we don’t really need to drive very often and when we do it is pretty much just local to Rincón. However, we have had a couple of occasions when the truck has broken down and we have no other recourse except to walk everywhere or bum rides. Also, Britton has been missing his Corvette and the V8 under the hood ever since we sold it in the move from Colorado.

On one of our first dates in Colorado with the Corvette

He found a cool old Mustang on one of the Pulguero groups on Facebook and we made arrangements to meet with the owner.

Checking under the hood and we found everything was (surprisingly) stock!

After inspecting it, taking it for a test drive and agreeing on a price we then made arrangements to meet the next day in Mayaguez at Obras Públicas to buy it and put the title in our name. In Colorado all you had to do was sign the title over to the new buyer and then take the title in to get registered. Here, it is much more friendly and you must go with the owner in person to change it over. In this case, the brother was the official owner so the four of us made the early morning trek.

Unlike when we bought our truck, this time we have established residency with our driver’s licenses and so we didn’t need a utility bill in order to buy it (though we brought it just in case). However, the marbete (registration sticker) was expired so we did need to go take care of that right away. Because though the police will often ignore drunk driving, if that little sticker is expired you are nearly guaranteed to get a ticket!

Britton with the ex-owners

Now that we know our way around the system a little better it was actually pretty easy to buy this car. Here are the steps we took to buy this used car from a private seller.

1) Meet with the owner to inspect, test drive, negotiate price, etc.
2) Make arrangements to meet at Obras Públicas (CESCO/DTOP) together with the owner
3) Buy $10 worth of government stamps (sellos) to make the transaction
4) Wait in line to sign over the title. Both parties need identification and address information.
5) Pay for the car (usually cash)
6) Get emissions inspection (that is not really an inspection- they don’t even look at the car in most cases) for $11.
7) Sometimes you can get marbete at the time of the emissions inspection. In our case for some reason we had to go to another Colecturia office. We went to Añasco. Basic Marbete (registration/liability insurance) is $169.

The laughable emissions test even gives out readings though it never took any! But hey, can’t complain too much if you pass!

The car is a bit of a fixer-upper and needs a little bit of work. For instance the seat belts don’t clasp, the doors don’t really lock and it badly needed an oil change. But overall, it seems to be a good solid car with a heck of a motor. It’s fun to take it out and about on the island. And with more seats, it will be a good vehicle for excursions with friends.

Mustang Cassie

Fun with the Mustang

Do you ever feel like you’re part of a movie?

Driving off into the sunset

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Flash Flood Stall Out and Rescue

Posted by Cassie

We went to Aguadilla for an appointment and ended up in Aguada (watery-land)! Literally.

View overlooking Aguadilla out to Rincón

In Aguadilla we ran our errands, stopped and had lunch and then headed back home. On the way home it began to rain a little, and then a little more. We drove through Aguada and realized we forgot something and turned around splashing through a growing overflow of water on the road. We went to the nearest Farmacia. They didn’t have what we were looking for so we returned the way we came. This time there was a police car blocking the road with cars turning around. We could see that the road was flooded out, but we had just passed through there 20 minutes earlier! It couldn’t have risen that much more that we couldn’t pass, could it?!

The police spoke through the speaker and said in Spanish we could pass at our own risk to ourselves and vehicle. Britton took that as a green light! We went through one part just fine and then it started to get deeper and deeper. There was a slight hesitation on the part of Britton and then it was over. The truck stalled out in the middle of the road that was now a river…

poor-guaguaHow stuck we were! Look at that water flowing!

Like we were in a fricken boat!

That was sinking!


We sat in the truck as it filled with water for about 20-30 minutes. People around us took pictures and video and yelled to us from the safety of the parking lot to make sure we were ok. Eventually the Emergency Rescue Management team showed up. The people in the military-looking Hummer first said they were going to look for a chain to tow us out and then decided to just get us out and we then would wait for a grúa (a tow truck) to get the guagua out.

It was pretty exciting to get extricated from the truck by climbing through the window barefoot. I’ve never had to be rescued before and I am so thankful these people are here! Everyone was super nice and didn’t give us a ticket or even a scolding except to tell Britton that he should be more careful since he had precious cargo on board (me)! Awww. I think they knew we had received our own punishment. They even said they were happy to make new friends with us even if it wasn’t in the best of circumstances. People here in Puerto Rico are so wonderful.

With a few of the crew that rescued us! Thank you all!

The grúa came and towed out the truck and took us home. Now we are working on the truck to see if we can get it to run again…

Checking the engine

What an adventure!

Here’s a little video I managed to take in the midst of the chaos.



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Getting My Driver’s License in Puerto Rico

Posted by Britton

Whew….Where to start??  So I had my birthday the other day….

Britton and Cassie sunset
It was great! We went out to dinner and watched a beach sunset

A few days later Cassie looked at my Colorado driver’s license and noticed it had expired on my birthday.  Bummer.  I tried to renew it online with the Colorado DMV but since it had been 10 years (or longer) I couldn’t renew it with CO.  So I started checking out other people’s blogs to see what the process was for obtaining my PR license. I found out that we probably should have done this soon after we moved here, but that it is rarely enforced, as long as you have a valid license somewhere. I read some comments and saw someone from Colorado simply had to take the medical exam and pay for stamps, show their SS card and turn in their CO license and was able to get their PR license. No tests, no old driving record or anything too difficult. Hmmm, hopefully this would be the case for me, I thought.

Cassie and I set out early (10am) for CESCO in Aguadilla.  We always fill up our water jug, grab some portable food, take care of all the animals and double check we have all the documents we need, camera, wallet.  We also stopped by the school supply store for copies of all my important documents and I picked up an English version of the Driver’s Permit Study Guide…just in case. Ok, we are all ready to go!

Driver's Permit Guide

When we got to CESCO we stopped at their information desk, and this was probably the wisest thing we could have done.  The lady at the front desk immediately noticed that my CO license was expired and told me that I would have to go through the ENTIRE process of getting a license. I thought MAYBE there would be a grace period, but nope. This meant I had to do the whole thing as if I were a brand new driver: starting with the learner’s permit and all the steps from there. Had I been there a week earlier when my license was not expired I would have only needed stamps, my social security card, proof of residency (water or electric bill with our address) and a medical exam.  The medical exam and sellos are sold next door to CESCO and cost $28. The “medical exam” was basically to just look at an eye chart and point your fingers up and down based on which direction the E pointed.

Medical Certificate
“Medical exams” for sale here

So this is where the adventure begins!!

We often compare living in PR to video games.  It can be a challenge sometimes or a cakewalk.  There are interesting characters we meet along the way, some have valuable information and some do not.  Some of the adventures we embark on have side quests as well.  They vary and you just never know what route your path will take.  The PR drivers’ license episode had a bit of everything that makes for a great adventure.

It was a good thing I grabbed that learners’ permit study guide. Yep just in case. I have learned that phrase in Spanish: por si acaso. Just like the copies of anything important (SS card, passport, birth certificate, utility bill, etc). Although not all of these were needed. We had them…just in case. It comes in handy because yes, I had to get a learner’s permit before I could get my actual license.  So it was back to being 15 years old.

It ended up that since I had to get my learner’s permit I had to take both the written and practical exam.  Since we were already in Aguadilla I figured I might as well take the written exam.  I studied for about 30 minutes (read from cover to cover) and then took the test.  There were 4 other guys in there taking the test, all of them ~16yrs old.  I was able to take the test in English which was a big help.  I scored an 80%, not bad.  They have some questions on the test that I didn’t really see the point of.  It was mentioned in the other blogs to pay attention to the fines, and this was good advice.  How much is the fine for parking in a handicapped spot?  $500.  How much for running a stop sign and potentially killing someone?  $50.

Government “Sellos” or stamps

So with my exam passed, my medical and my stamps I was able to get the learners permit!  Everything went very smoothly and the lady at the front information desk was a HUGE HELP.  She pushed papers thru faster, she ensured I had everything and put us in order and she was super friendly. Props to Ilene! You rock. The next problem was that usually you have to wait 30 days from getting your permit until you can take the driving test….You know, so that your 16-year-old self has a chance to practice driving with your parent…  We talked to the lady in charge of scheduling the exams and convinced her that since I was an experienced driver that the 30 days was kind of silly.  She got her supervisor’s approval (this was important as you will see) and got on the list to take the test the next day. As we were leaving we saw some of our friends whose car broke down and we gave them a lift in our truck. It was pretty funny for our first drive under a learner’s permit.

Francis Greg Truck License
Just like I’m 16 again

Day 2:
Same deal.  Get up, get ready, make sure we have everything, etc.  We arrived in Aguadilla and found the exam location which is right across the street from the airport.  It is just a shack with some people standing out front.  This threw us for a loop because we figured it would have at least a sign out front.  It doesn’t.

Drivers Test place
Practical Driver’s Test Building Area in Aguadilla

You can take the test in your own car, or you can hire a driving instructor to go through the test with you and let you practice with their car.  Since the truck’s speedometer is inoperable we figured that we should use their car to avoid any possibility of problems.

I drove with the instructor for 20 minutes and she was very nice but humorously strict and controlling.  She would tell me to drive up, stop.  Put the car in reverse pull back till the sticker on the window is next to the 2nd cone, stop then turn the wheel and then go back, stop, then turn the wheel again, then go then stop.  She was trying to speak with me in broken English, Cassie was trying to interpret and I was just trying to follow her commands. We had the most frustrating time trying to work with each other and then I looked at her and said “so…you mean parallel park here?” She replied “Yes.”  Ok, then it was easy.  Trying to figure out what she expected me to do was the most difficult part of my lesson…lol. Then the instructor told Cassie to get in the front seat and told Cassie to kiss me for good luck on my test while the lady took a picture as a “recuerdo.” It was pretty funny.

Good luck driving kiss
Good luck to me!

Once I was done with the lesson and had my good luck kiss, it was time to take the test.  The examiner hopped in, we drove around the block and then he had me park the car.  I thought “Oh man, that was a cinch!”.  Maybe he was letting me off easy because I am a long time driver?  Either way, that was easy.  He got out and started to converse with Cassie and the Instructor in Spanish.  My Spanish is getting better, but not very good.  All I could make out was that he kept saying “Treinta dias”.  He was getting pretty angry and everyone was having heated conversations.  I knew this wasn’t good.

As it turns out he was saying that I only had my permit for 1 day and he wasn’t going to allow me to take the test.  We explained that we had special permission to do it, hence the appointment and form we took with us.  He was refusing.  Simply refusing to budge.  I was thinking we would have to do this all again in a month.  That would suck.

The instructor lady who did my driver’s ed  kept trying and trying.  She at one point told Cassie that we should probably leave and that things were not looking good and that we didn’t want to create enemies.  I just kept saying we would do whatever was needed to show that we had approval to do this today, we could get whatever form he needed and we weren’t trying to cause problems.  Finally we got ahold of the supervisor on the instructor’s phone (I think that was what happened?) and she of course said it was fine.  So I was a little shaken up and nervous to drive with the examiner who was clearly not happy, but I took the test and passed! Phew! We paid the instructor lady the $40 and were off to finally get my real license.

We went back to CESCO and the woman at the front desk recognized us and put our papers first in line.  We got the license! I am officially a Puerto Rican Driver! To top it all off, as I was walking back to the truck I found $2 in the CESCO parking lot. We then went to Crashboat and talked about how crazy this all was. I figured that was bonus points in the game for accomplishing the task.

Crashboat Beach
Crashboat Beach in Aguadilla

Britton and Cassie at Crashboat 1
The beach: somehow both the beginning and end of this story

Read this for Cassie’s PR license experience.

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