Mayagüez, Puerto Rico
Isla del Encanto, y encantada regrese. Saying I love Puerto Rico is somewhat of an understatement, I love a lot of places, but Puerto Rico has moved to the top of my list. This was my third time visiting the island and the main reason I came was really to spend quality time with my friends. One of my dearest friends lives there and she was kind enough to host me for a week in Mayagüez. The first week was an appreciation of the simplicity of life, the quietness of an island, the feeling of the warm humidity wrapping around your skin, the fresh ocean breeze, and the sound of the coqui in the evenings. My favorite moments in Mayagüez were sitting outside in the balcony chatting about life, looking out into the ocean and appreciating the stillness of the Caribbean island.
I also had the pleasure of babysitting my four year old niece and learning so much from her free spirit personality. From watching her sing, dance ballet, and do karate in the living room. To her having a full conversation with the neighbor yelling out the second story window wanting to introduce me, her new guest from California. I was in awe of this little girls ability to be so sure of herself and freely express herself and have better conversations skills with her neighbors compared to me, a 28 year old adult, who barely knew her neighbors at all. I can honestly say, I learned more spanish from her in the days I spent playing Barbies with her than I have all year, and I consider myself to be fluent. We truly learn so much from children.
The west side of the island is beautiful, and this is where you get a sense of life outside of the city of San Juan. I am so lucky to have an amazing friend that took me around the west side of the island to see all the amazing places beaches from Rincon, Isabela, to La Parguera. She pointed out some of the remaining damage from hurricane Maria nearly one year later. To those who weren’t actively looking they might have missed it but you can still see a sunken house or two, damaged piers, a forrest with bald trees that never recovered. I am one of those few people that heard directly from my friend what it was like to live through those days of no phone reception and no electricity. Having a child and not being able to feed her fresh food or warm up her milk and dreadfully sleep with no fan during a heat wave. Despite all of this, there was a sense of community with her neighbors and the silver lining for them was getting to know each other after the storm and a appreciating the simplicity of life after all modern technologies were taken away. Reconnecting with neighbors and gathering outside everyday just to chat. This is the one things I learned about Puerto Rico and it’s people, the “alegria” of living life in the island, even after such a big disaster.