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Bar Exam & Vacation

Now that I have returned from the internet-less abyss, I figured I should post an update on my life over the past couple weeks. I took the bar exam in late July, which is broken down into two days. Day 1 is essays (12 – 30 minutes each). Day 2 is multiple choice (200 – 1.8 minutes each). The essays were harder, but I think I did well enough on both to pass. We’ll see in October (when results come out).

I just got back yesterday from Puerto Rico. One of the benefits of having a younger brother (15 years old) is that mom and dad still want to take us on our annual family vacations. Puerto Rico is technically a U.S. territory, but once you’re there it feels like a completely different country. Below I’ll break down talking points by subject:

Natural Surroundings

Puerto Rico is a very green island. There are trees everywhere you look, and if you go to the right place, the views can be beautiful. Most of the beaches are public, and the popular ones are well taken care of. The water is warm and fairly clean, though more of both in the Caribbean than the Atlantic.

Human Surroundings

Being a U.S. territory, I expected Puerto Rico to look more like the United States than a third world country. But from what I could see, most of the locals are poor. The houses are small, single-story with bars on the windows (don’t know whether that’s pragmatic or for decorative purposes). The country has a problem with stray cats and dogs, and most of the animals you pass appear malnourished, including the cattle. It was sort of depressing. It does make you realize how lucky you are to live where you do and not in a situation like that.

Roads & Driving

Because of the poverty, I can understand why the road system is not as good as in the U.S. The truly major highways are actually nice to drive on, but others have dozens of stoplights that will slow you down. Also, maps can be deceiving; what looks like a major road (with a route number) is actually a skinny 2-lane road that winds up into the mountains. You’ll be lucky to average 30 miles per hour. So make sure you know what kind of road you’re taking before you take it. And make sure you have a good navigator, because the roads are not well labeled at all and can be very confusing. We got lost more than a few times.

What I cannot understand, however, are the drivers. Puerto Ricans are by far the worst drivers I have ever encountered, including New Yorkers. Speed limits are ignored, tailgating is the norm, and common courtesy? Ha! Forget about it. If you drive in Puerto Rico, be prepared to be tailgated constantly, cut off, honked at, and flown by on 2-lane roads where you’re already doing 10 mph over the speed limit. Not a fun time.

El Yunque Rainforest

Our day to the rainforest was one of the highlights of the trip. The road takes you 13 kilometers up into the mountainous forest, with stops along the way. You can hike down to El Minna falls and swim in the cool spring, though I’d recommend stopping at one of the more secluded pools above the main pool where everyone else goes. It was very refreshing after hiking. After that we drove up nearer to the top and hiked to Britton Tower. Unfortunately, it was foggy that day, but on a clear day the view would have been spectacular. The hikes were somewhat difficult. I’m not in the best shape, and I definitely felt that. But I think it was worth it.


For me, any vacation has to include some gambling. Casinos in Puerto Rico are all in the hotels. They are all relatively small (the largest was 20,000 square feet) and contain mostly slots with only a few table games. Most have roulette and black jack but you will have trouble finding a craps table (the Casino del Sol in the Marriot at San Juan had one). The casinos are nice, however, and everyone speaks English.

In fact, the language barrier was one thing we didn’t have much of a problem with the entire trip. Most Puerto Ricans we encountered had at least a passable knowledge of English, much better than any of our Spanish. Americans are real slouches at being multilingual compared to the rest of the world.

Overall, it was a nice vacation. The weather was clear, and not too hot; much better than Las Vegas or Florida in August. I left up $172.50 in the gambling department, which was great. I’d normally be happy to break even because I enjoy playing; I don’t go there to make a million bucks. I probably spend 5-6 hours over the course of the week.

I would recommend Puerto Rico to someone who is looking for something a little different. There is enough to do, but sometimes it is difficult to find. Feel free to post any questions you may have. Finally, I’ll close with a few funny moments, which prove just what a bunch of dumb American tourists we are.

1. Dad ordering two medium French fries from McDonalds: "Two papas regulares, please." Gotta love the Spanglish. I’m sure the employees had quite a laugh at our expense.

2. Mom pronouncing Conquistador Ave. as Con-kwi-stador Ave. while reading from a tourist brochure. The best part was that just kept reading as if nothing was wrong. I’m the most Spanish fluent in the family (which isn’t saying much) so I kept reminding them that ‘ll’ = y and ‘qui’ = ki not kwi, etc.

3. I should set this one up by staying that we went to a dog track last year. My sister, at the horse track, upon seeing the horses come out: "Oh, the horses have riders?" My response: "No, they all chase a carrot on a stick." *headdesk*

I won’t say that my brother and I never did or said anything stupid, but these are all that come to mind right now. 


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(Deleted comment)
I would be satisfied with a job. I actually don't ever see myself being the very high-priced private lawyer. I'll probably do some work in the public sector, and pro bono too. Down the line I'm considering becoming a judge. But that's way down the line. Right now I just want to get my foot in the door.

Yeah, I can understand why my description of Puerto Rico didn't excite you. It was probably one of the more high-stress vacations we've been on, between the crazy drivers and navigational issues.

Glad to be back, though I haven't written for an LJ prompt in at least a month. Maybe now that I'm done studying I'll get back into writing.

Good luck with your bar results!

I've been to Puerto Rico. It was San Juan & I spent a day & half there, but it was still cool! We did a lot of walking & the taxis are good too. I great time & it sounds like you did too! :D

Thanks. I'm not stressing too bad about the results, but I'll be worrying about them in the back of my mind until October. I liked San Juan too; it's a very compact little city with plenty to do. I forgot to mention that we went to Old San Juan and saw the Spanish forts there. The history major in me thought that was very cool.

You're welcome! And that's good!

*nods* Yeah. We went there too! It was an awesome place! There were families just hanging & having a great time there, which was truly nice! :D Sweet!

Good luck on your exam, I'm sure you did great! I was curious about Puerto Rico. I still think I want to see it but I'm holding out for the U.S. Virgin Islands first.

Thanks. That's what everyone says to me; I wish I could be that confident. Holding out for the Virgin Islands sounds like a good plan. I'm sure they would make a great vacation.

Good luck on your bar exam. I had no idea how I did on the Multi-State multiple choice at the time I took it since so many of them contained partially correct answers. We got our results in September, but then I was taking South Dakota's exam as an out-of-stater. (instate grads had diploma privilege at the time.
The essays dealt with South Dakota law. (I graduated from Nebraska so I had to bone up on unfamiliar precedent) We had to come back a month later to take the Multi State Ethics Exam.

Glad you enjoyed Puerto Rico. A vacation was just what you needed after the bar exam.

I didn't know you were an attorney. I guess I should look at the profiles of the people on my f-list. Nowadays you can satisfy the ethics requirement by taking a class in law school. The essays in Connecticut didn't really cover much state law; it was mostly federal.

I agree; a vacation was needed and much appreciated.

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