A Visit to BAnQ (Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec)

Today I bring a very special version (for librarians, anyway) of my vocabulary practice: library vocabulary.

Just before I left for Puerto Rico, I meandered over to the Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec/National Library and Archives of Québec again.

This time, instead of simply wandering, I had documentation in tow, so that I could sign up for my library card. The website, available in both English and French, has very clear lists on what documentation is and is not accepted. Passports are accepted as proof of identification, just an FYI.  The sign up process was streamlined and efficient. The signage directs you to a specific line to sign up, and you are given a brief, personal orientation to the library. Information is provided on what materials are offered, what is expected of library users, etc.  I believe all of the same information is on the website, but in person explanations are appreciated.

The library offers books, e-books (Bonjour Overdrive!), magazines, comics, bazillions of Manga books, language-learning materials, DVDs, CDs, etc. And of course, a place to use wi-fi and study without having to pay for more caffeine that I should not ingest.

While visiting, a spoke a mix of English and French, because I didn’t have much library-focused vocabulary at the time. I’m preparing for my subsequent returns by creating and reviewing this vocabulary list:

  1. the library card/subscriber’s card=la carte d’abonné
  2. to check out/to borrow=emprunter
  3. a loan=un prêt
  4. to renew=renouveler
  5. to reserve=réserver
  6. available=disponible
  7. to return/to bring back=rapporter
  8. an overdue fine=une amende de retard
  9. a self-checkout station=un poste de prêt en libre-service
  10. a circulation desk=un comptoir de prêt
  11. an e-book=un livre numérique
  12. an audiobook=un livre sonore
  13. a software item=un logiciel
  14. a password=un mot de passe
  15. a new release/new item=un nouveauté
  16. Interlibrary Loan (ILL)= prêt entre bibliothèques

If anyone sees any errors in the vocab list, feel free to comment or let me know however you prefer. Not only for the benefit of the blog, but for my usage at the library!

Unfortunately for me, the library user guidelines specifically prohibit photography within the building (to respect privacy of visitors), but I took some photos of the outside to show you the architectural structure. (The inside is open, airy, light, and full of good places to set up shop).

Happy reading/learning!




Old San Juan in Photos (Part II)

In case you missed Part I, go take a look.  As promised, I’m sharing the rest of my photos today. You’ll notice throughout the photos that many of them are from the Cathedral of San Juan Bautista and Iglesia San Francisco de Asis.


And finished! We had a great time, obviously. It was such a great experience to be in a unique cultural environment, friendly faces, and warm weather! We’re definitely missing the beach and the weather now that we’re back in Montreal. Thanks to all the people we met for making our stay great.

Tomorrow, the blog returns to Montreal, I swear.



Please pass the plantains: Eating in Puerto Rico

Hey friends! I’m still excited to share the rest of my architecture photos with you, but I thought I’d break them up with a post about our food experiences in Puerto Rico. I’m sandwiching the food post, if you will.  (And you will, because you love my puns, right?)

Of course, this list is not an exhaustive list of Puerto Rico’s culinary delights or even an exhaustive list of what we ate while there.  Still, I think it will give you a good idea of the fun we had while finding new foods and introduce you briefly to Puerto Rican food if it’s new to you.

1. Old San Juan

There are oodles and oodles of restaurants here. They can be overpriced, as they cater to tourists. But as they cater to tourists, they’ll respond to crazy tourist requests such as “vegetarian mofongo.” And the romantic setting of Old San Juan is worth it.

We ate at a restaurant called Inaru. The prices were a little high for what we were looking for, but the service was great, and they didn’t bat an eye when I wanted no meat in my meal. My mofongo (a very traditional Puerto Rican food molded from plantains) was served with an extra garlic flavor to compensate for a lack of pork. Jordan had a goat stew which he loved, and Nora had ceviche with tostones. I need to find a place in Montreal that serves tostones (also made with plantains).

2. Coffee

Puerto Rico is known for good coffee. Good, strong, and local. I recommend Cafe Cuatro Sombras in Old San Juan. (Great vegetarian sandwich options too). I also spent a peaceful and productive morning at Tertulia Cafe and bookstore near the University of Puerto Rico sipping a great and very cheap cafe con leche.

3. Guavate’s Pork Highway

This highway was a stretch of food, festival, forest, and music. The drive and the experiences are fun, but the real reason people come is for the pork. A trip to satisfy Jordan’s craving, I suppose. While you can find plenty about  Guavate online, the tourists were very limited in this area. We stopped at a loud joint, listened to the karaoke-like show, and ate some good food. Jordan assures me the pork was amazing. It probably was, the smell was a bit tempting. The sweet potato (a white one, though), the baked plantain and rice was good too. But just being there was an experience.

(Favorite photo of myself during the trip!)

4. Beach Food

How is it that lying on the beach works up an appetite? But it does.  Go eat some beach food. A nice light beer (which in Puerto Rico equals Medalla) with something fried.

Remember these folks?

Like all other fried cheese I’ve had, the cheese was delicious.  I didn’t enjoy the guava sauce I had.  But I’m told that in Brazil a sandwich with guava and cheese is called a Romeo and Juliette, because the combination is meant for one another.  I called it a tragedy.

Also, when near a beach, have a coconut. Don’t pay three dollars like we did! You can get them for one in non-touristy areas.

 5. Piñones y Loiza

This is where the ultimate beach food comes from. Again, a very popular place, but didn’t find many tourists. There are many different food vendors to try, all selling something fried and I can only assume delicious. The long stretch of beach is just across the road, where you could eat your culinary delights if it’s not too hot.

I parted ways with vegetariansism in the name of cultural experience this day. I am forever flexitarian, I suppose. (Dany, if you read, sorry!)


There are a few random things I really enjoyed trying while in Puerto Rico as well. First, it’s a rite of passage to have a rum drink or two in the Caribbean. Enter the mojito. Also, caipirinhas are a nice non-rum option.

And you’ve already seen the photo, but limbers are frozen juices that you can buy for about a dollar each when you need a frozen treat. I had passion fruit, Jordan had an orange creme (side note: oranges are called “chinas” in Puerto Rico). Finally, there are plenty of pastries to be eaten.  A classic comes with cream cheese, providing the salty/sweet combination. On one of our last nights in San Juan, Nora came home with a pastry and a Malta India for each of us. A Malta India is an actual barley pop. It’s non-alcoholic, and apparently a very common treat for young children. I think I enjoyed it much more than Jordan.  I think maybe it’s an acquired taste 🙂


Of course, another real treat is eating fresh tropical fruit.  Be sure to have some bananas, papaya, pineapple , or anything else that doesn’t grow where you live.

As always, eating was our favorite vacationing activity. I hope to try and recreate some of our favorites at home, if possible.

I’ll be back tomorrow to finish up the Puerto Rico recaps. Hope you have been enjoying them.



Old San Juan in Photos

Let me start by saying that Old San Juan is an amateur photographer’s dream. The architecture is alluring, the colors enticing, and the people forgiving.  Unlike places such as NYC or even Montreal, locals do not seem to be bothered by tourists snapping a few photos from the sidewalk. Also, the weather makes it easy to stroll along, looking for your favorite angle.

I spent an afternoon and a morning in Old San Juan. Thankfully, Jordan is used to my slow, picture-snapping meandering, and Nora takes photos herself so understands my need to snap away. I’m presenting the photos with limited commentary, but if you have any questions about what’s in the pics, I’ll be glad to answer.

Okay, so I thought about putting all the photos into one post, but this computer is too slow, the photos are too plentiful, and my patience too thin.  So I’m splitting into two posts. For our sanity.  See you soon with the remainder. A good week to you all.


El Yunque National Forest

Ahhh…beautiful, isn’t it?

Well, it might make sense to start sharing more of my Puerto Rico photos in chronological order, but after talking about the sounds of the rainforest, I thought it might be nice to see some more photos of it.  Also, there are a few group photos which will be fun to share.

El Yunque National Forest is the only tropical rainforest in the U.S. National Forest System. And it’s a short (about an hour or so) drive from San Juan.  We were lucky enough to hitch a ride with some of the people studying/working in the lab that Jordan was visiting.  We had excellent tour guides. Always nice to hike with those studying biology, forestry, and the environment.

When entering the park, we stopped for a photo op by some intense bamboo.  The rain came down as the sun was shining, resulting in some beautiful streams of light which someone referred to as one of “nature’s miracles.”

Not far from this, we stopped near Cascada La Coca (La Coca Falls).

Yes, Jordan’s a lucky guy. Left to right: Me, Nora (from Puerto Rico–our gracious host  for the trip), Jordan, Patricia (from Colombia), and Luisa (from Brazil).

We did an out and back hike from Mt Britton Trailhead parking area to the end of Las Picachos Trail. Until Mt. Britton tower, the trail was paved, and relatively easy, but a bit steep from time to time. We fought the rain (expected in a rain forest), but stopped under some of the shelters located along the trail. The trail was rockier after Mt. Britton, but not too difficult overall.

orange flower

White Tower El Yunque

Check out the buttress roots on these trees! (middle photo below)

The fog/smoke monsters/rain rolled over us.  Our view was completely obscured at one point.

By the time we headed to the next tower, we had a bit more of a view.

The trees, flora, and animals are of course completely different to the trails in GSMNP, but being out on the trail made me feel awfully nostalgic for the weekend hikes we went on in Knoxville.  Don’t get me wrong, the city of Montreal is lovely, but country air, whether it be in the rainforest or hardwood forest, is to be cherished.



Meet Mr. Coquí

Co-key! Do you hear it now?

(Photo Source)

Meet the coquí frog. Well, actually, there are many kinds.

I feel validated by your responses! When I was asked what I heard, I said something similar to Jordan’s answer: oooo-eee. Then I was accused of hearing the frog in French. Those who knew the name of the frog thought it was an obvious and clear “co-key.”I guess we hear what we are most accustomed to, huh?

From there, our discussion strayed into a comparison of animal sounds across cultures. Of course, a rooster sounds the same in England, the US, Brazil, Puerto Rico, and India.  But still, when asked what sound a rooster makes, there are different answers. In the US, our roosters say cock-a-doodle-doo; in Brazil they say ki-kiri-ki.  Good thing the animals are not as confused as us humans.

Check out the list of animal sounds in Spanish.

Or check out the shorter list of animal sound in French.

Thanks for the comments/guesses on the last post 🙂


Name that Frog Challenge

The Puerto Rican nights are filled with sounds.  Jordan joked that he wouldn’t be able to sleep when he comes back with out the sounds of PR in the background.  I can almost hear the sounds of the rainforest when I look at the photos.

In particular, you’ll hear hundreds of frogs.  These frogs are named after the noise they make. Or rather, they are named after the supposed sound they make.  When asked what sound I was hearing, I didn’t come anywhere close to the “right” one. So now I need some help, proving to our friends in Puerto Rico that I’m not the only one who does not hear the correct sound.

Have a listen. To listen, you just have to click on the link below. It’s short and painless (and should open in a new tab; come back to me after listening).

Click here –>Name that Frog Sound

So, let’s hear it.  Err, I mean, let’s see it.  If you were naming the frog based on the sound you hear it making, what would it be? Leave your frog name/frog sound in the comments below.  Just do it.  All you’ve got to do today is eat leftovers and avoid the Black Friday crowds, right?

I’m so looking forward to seeing what everyone else thinks the sound is.  No cheating! Save your research for tomorrow…I’ll be posting the name of the frog then. If you already know the name of the frog, pretend you don’t.  What does it really sound like to you?