Author: kingpin (---.ded.pacbell.net)
Date: 08-18-04 20:45
First off, are you SURE you want to live & work on Culebra? Not sure how long you were down there, but living there....well....it can be a VERY small island. Everyone will know everything about you (and you about them) in short order. Also, while it's true that you can get by without being bilingual, keep in mind that there are two very distinct tourist seasons; winter brings people from mainland US and summer brings people from the big island of Puerto Rico, so you'll need both languages if you plan on staying a while and working in any tourism-related service (i.e., cleaning, cooking, bartending, etc.). While it's a very friendly place, cliquey divisions do exist between some of the real locals and some of the gringo crowd, so best advise is to be friendly/respectful and speak a lot of spanish - you'll make better friends that way. Also, Culebra does have it's share of social problems, and while crime isn't high on the list, you'll see a lot of alcoholism, drugs, teen pregnancy, and apathetic ex-pats. Getting beyond - or at least coming to terms - with all this is probably the biggest hurdle, and if you can do so, then it's really a beautiful place.
Work-wise, you've hit the mark on what's typically available. Lots of vacation houses there these days, and they always need care and cleaning. I'd start by getting in touch with vacationplanners inc., re: cleaning gigs. They probably won't set you up with anything until you're actually on island, but at least it's informative. Same goes for cooking/bartending - it'll be a lot easier for you to find something once you're there, you've met the right people & established some trust.
If you're interested in non-profit work (which may involve room & board on occasion), you can contact Teressa Tallevast with the Culebra US fish & wildlife division. You'll spend most of your time watching for turtles on the beaches at night, but it's rewarding.
Of course, if you really want to live life to the fullest down there, why not try doing something by and for yourself? It helps to have a roof over your head, but I've known people who have started out camping & then moved into houses on the cheap. One woman used to make and sell brightly colored fish out of driftwood and coral that she would find on the beach (corrugated tin, too, I think). Going waaaaaaay back, another guy used to bake all sorts of gourmet breads and sell them once or twice a week out of his truck downtown. Another guy tried selling donuts - which were popular among the locals - but so was his wife (ha ha) and he ended up moving her off island. Anyway, I'm sure you can think of other ideas. Always better to take an original path - you'll have way more fun.