Orange juice is not called jugo de naranja, like you’d think, but rather jugo de China. Gouda cheese is queso de bola (ball cheese). Cheddar cheese is queso de papa (potato cheese). Potatoes are patatas


Water is never ever cold enough. In the shower, from the tap, in the ocean — it’s all tepid.

How I long for bone-chilling cold water, frigid enough to suck the heat from my body, the puffiness from my feet!


I miss quart jars. We’re slowly accumulating leftover jars from salsa, pickles, and jelly, but they’re mostly small, and for many of them I can’t get rid of the overpowering smell of garlic-and-vinegar. And nothing ruins a delicious iced coffee faster than storing it in a pickle jar. (Well, except for soured half-and-half which is turning into a regular occurance, sigh.)


My morning runs are agonizingly boring. I run loops around and through the neighborhood, but the concrete flatnesssince is soul-killingly dull. Without hills, I have to do sprints to actually get my heart pumping. And the heat, of course, is such an energy suck.

I actually gave up running for a little there, but then I felt terrible because I wasn’t getting any cardio, so back to My Mornings of Misery I went, tail tucked between my legs.

Silver lining: I’ve since learned that if I leave the house by 5:40 a.m. then I can at least finish before the sun comes up.


Since we’ve arrived here, I’ve had a borderline sore throat. Am I reacting to something I’m eating? Am I over-tired? And then my husband suggested that maybe my throat irritation is due to the dust in the air?

Also, for quite a while I struggled with a queasy stomach. I thought it was maybe due to the lettuce I was eating — all that romaine lettuce had just been recalled — but then the nausea disappeared. Either I’m no longer eating contaminated greens or I had a stomach bug.



It’s super breezy during the day — our hallway feels like a wind tunnel — but it gets murderously still at night. Thank goodness for fans.


Problem: maggots. As in, our outdoor trash was roiling with them. We’ve since learned to wash all raw meat packaging and to store meat scraps in the (already too-small) freezer. Also, keeping the trashcan in the sun, not the shade, helps.


I located the recycling center! I found the post office! I am succeeding at life!


We store our bread in the microwave. Best breadbox ever.


My glasses get ridiculously greasy. It’s like they’re magnets for face oils, or maybe it’s just the heat — perhaps the humidity is half human sweat? Whatever the reason, I have to wash my glasses multiple times each day.


Night driving is freaky. It’s hard enough in the day, what with all the missing signs, switched around roads (and the misinformed Mrs. Google insisting I drive on roads that don’t exist), non-working stoplights, and crateresque potholes, but at night it’s dark. And I don’t just mean absence-of-sun dark — I mean dark dark: streetlights are few and far between, and many lanes are unmarked.

Like I said, freaky.


Public libraries do not loan out books, sob.


Apparently, no one in Puerto Rico eats tacos because I can’t find taco seasoning anywhere. Chili, too, or only a little bit of it because I’ve only found tiny containers of chili powder. Also, THERE ARE NO TWIZZLERS. (But then Chiro found some for us when he was out traveling, and even though he thinks they’re appallingly gross, he kindly bought a bag of them for us.)


Sad news: ice cream runs about double what it costs in Virginia so we’re not eating ice cream.

Except we are because I’m doing some ‘sperimenting, yay!

This same time, years previous: simple lasagna, butter chicken, an evening together, in her element, a bunch of stuff, showtime!, down to the river to chill, barbequed pork ribs, fresh strawberry cream pie.


  • Lindsay

    As a Californian who grew up with taco seasoning tacos from my (white) family, but who has since learned better – "taco seasoning" is not used by people for whom tacos are a native food. I mean, they season meat in a variety of ways, but the store-bought "taco seasoning" is not one of those ways.

    • Jennifer Jo

      Yeah, this is kinda of what I thought. They use a lot of sofrito and other seasoning mixes. I guess it's time to start experimenting!

  • Melodie Davis

    It's been so wet and muggy here I can hardly imagine the heat and dampness you're talking about…. but adventures are like that, yeah they are. 🙂 Best to you all.

    • Jennifer Jo

      Yep, exactly!

      The good news: the librarian was super friendly and encouraged me to just drop off my kids for as long as I wanted, but still, it's a bit of an inconvience, so it probably won't happen much…

  • Lana

    UGH! Maggots!

    Our daughter who went to Germany as missionaries in the fall finally gave up on figuring out the cheeses. She lets our 3 year old granddaughter pick out whatever cheese package she likes at the store and they eat whatever it is.

  • Margo

    oh bless you. I read this post with fascination – these details that I wouldn't have guessed (except that YES microwave as bread box is THE BEST – we do that when the mice come in our house in the fall). Don't forget granitas either, as you experiment with ice cream! Just freeze something like coffee or fruit juice or fruit puree in a shallow pan, rake it with a fork into crystals a few times over a few hours, and then serve with whipped cream. Coffee granita + whipped cream + brownie is DIVINE. Also, I think cold pudding in the summer is also awesome and serves the cold, creamy desire.

  • katie

    When I am stuck running on flat/boring loops, I play with the pacing/timing to make it interesting. Things like, run one loop then try to run each one after that X seconds faster. Or time a few loops, then try to guess what your time will be on the next one. Good exercises for learning pacing and how to judge your effort level as well and they take your mind off thinking about how soon you might be done.

  • Suburban Correspondent

    Considering that you go without air conditioning during Virginia summers, I'm a little freaked out that you are complaining about the humidity. Is it even worse down there? How could it be?

    • Jennifer Jo

      It's different, and way worse. I feel like I'm breathing water. Skin is sticky-damp at all times. Some days I take as many as three cold showers.

      Good news: it's still not as bad as Managua.

  • Cr

    Hi Jennifer – I'm a long-time lurker to your blog. Your call for volunteers touched us and my husband is actually scheduled to head down there this Saturday for a week. His name is Chris and we sure hope he ends up with you guys!

    • Jennifer Jo

      This is so awesome! And touching! And encouraging — THANK YOU. We have put in a request for him to come work with us, but we don't have final decision-making powers, so…fingers crossed!

  • Becky

    My homemade taco seasoning is:
    1 tbsn cumin
    1 tbsn garlic powder (or just lots of garlic)
    1 tbsn paprika
    2 tsn onion powder (or extra onions)
    salt, pepper

    Will that help?

    • Jennifer Jo

      I've been winging it: oregano, cumin, paprika, salt, red pepper, the dregs of whatever jar of salsa is hanging out in the fridge. It works fine. I just found it mystifying, the absence of taco seasoning when I can easily find weird things like specialty flake salt, coconut sugar, and farro.

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