A Geekcorps Vacation

Don’t lie, you know your compute instead of chill

time to type
Yes Boss? I’m on it!
I work in international development, specifically in creating economic prosperity, using information and communication technologies. I spend my work days spreading the Internet, and to a lesser extent, cellular phones, far and wide.

The noble goal comes back to bite me on the ass every so often, usually when I am on vacation. As it’s my job to be online, to create accessibility, to expand the connectivity of the world’s people, I have no excuse to be offline. To get off-grid and be absolutely inaccessible for a day or a week.

Which means that vacations, the very concept of a separate work and personal life is fluid. If there is a WiFi connection, and work needs to be done, why not do it? Also, if there is no work to be done, why be at the office? What is the concept of an “office” if I can email and phone call from a Puerto Rican beach? Or the road to Tombouctou?

And so work follows me (or is it that I am addicted?) to all corners of the Earth, all the time. In Plaza de Armas, Old San Juan, I am talking to an interested corporate partner. On a Vieques beach, I email about program funding. In Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport, a conference call. And this is while I am ostensibly on vacation and is Christmas time.

And I am not alone. What is your working-on-vacation horror story? Your late night, last minute proposal due during the treasured family reunion? Don’t be shy, we all have a Geekcorps vacation now.


Old San Juan Taxi Mafia

It’s worse than DC, and that’s saying something

fun times
An arm and a leg per ride
How much do you think it is for a taxi in Old San Juan. How much might it be to go the two miles from Plaza de Armas to Puerta de la Tierra? According to the door of a Puerto Rican taxi it is $1.75 for the first mile, $2 per mile there after. But then you didn’t ask the driver.

According to the San Juan Taxi Mafia, any ride in Old San Juan, no matter the distance, is $10 at flagfall, increasing if you bring along luggage, no matter if the driver touches it or not.

To leave Old San Juan for any other destination in San Juan City, its $15 with the price jumping in $5 increments as you pass invisible zone boundaries. That means a trip to a center-city museum or a cool guayabera store is around $20 each way just for transportation.

While your wallet is smarting from the ridiculously overpriced short rides around San Juan, and you’re feeling trapped in your hotel room as a result, here’s small counterbalance: longer rides are somewhat more cost-effective.

A taxi ride across the island, say from San Juan’s Luis Munoz Marin International Airport to Fajardo, the eastern seaboard port of departure for Vieques, is only $80, which you can share with as many people you can fit into the passenger van.


Puerto Rican Gold

At the end of a tropical rainbow

the good life
Mom caught her gold
What might you say to a sunny day in December? A sunny day you spend relaxing on a beautiful beach? A beach, warm, sunny, tropical, which is also still America? You might say “Florida” or “Hawaii” but would you say “Puerto Rico”?

I know I am saying “Puerto Rico” right about now. It’s the start of my Christmas vacation and I’m on Puerta de Tierra, a beautiful beach in Old San Juan the same afternoon I left cold, wet Washington DC.

Better yet, Mom is headed this way too. She’s joining me for two weeks of fun, sand, and sun on this interesting “Free Associated State”. Yes, Puerto Rico is part of the United Sates, everyone is a citizen and you do not need a passport. But like Washington DC, they do not have voting representation in Congress.

They cannot vote for Presidents either, but at least they do not have to pay US income taxes. Mom and I are voting with our feet and our wallets. Out go the crisp greenbacks, in come rum, wine and a good time.

Now there is still work involved. I’m concentrating on regaining my deep summer tan, a quest that requires much beach lounging and body-trimming morning runs. Mom is focused on learning her history, seeing the sights, and catching up on her chick-lit.

Together, it’s going to be two weeks of Puerto Rican gold. May your vacations be as rich too.