My beautiful Puerto Rico, this is where I come from

Photo courtesy of Hilda Alvarado

I am from the Island of Puerto Rico. It’s located in the Caribbean, southeast of Florida, of the United States, east of Dominican Republic and west of the Virgin Islands. Its size is approximately 100 miles long by 35 miles wide. The Atlantic Ocean is on the north, and the Caribbean Sea on the south. The weather is mostly warm and humid all year, because its location in the tropics. For those of you that had to endure a harsh winter, there is absolutely no snowfall in my beautiful Island.

You’ve probably heard about Puerto Rico because, for a small place, there are many talented people who have become quite famous and had brought attention to our little enchanted land. You’ve heard of Ricky Martin, Benicio del Toro, Jennifer Lopez, and Rita Moreno. In sports, many professional athletes from Puerto Rico have become famous like Roberto Clemente, considered the greatest Puerto Rican baseball player. Other baseball players from Puerto Rico, still active, are Yadier Molina, Francisco Lindor or Carlos Correa, just to mention a few.

You’ve probably also heard about this place due to the recent devastation caused by Hurricane Maria in 2017. Not only did it cause extensive damage to structures throughout the Island, but it put the population in a humanitarian crisis that lasted several months. The entire island lost energy when many power lines fell, and communication was lost when all cell towers were destroyed or torn from their locations.

Many communities didn’t have viable ways to get out or get help. It’s the worst disaster to affect our Island in over 80 years. Puerto Rico is located in the hurricane path, so every year as the season approaches, any given storm might pass by too close or hit the Island. But Maria was a hard hit. For us, Puerto Ricans living outside the Island, it was a terrible time as we couldn’t communicate or help our families as fast as we wanted.

Puerto Rico was discovered by Christopher Columbus on November 19 of 1493. Spain claimed possession of the Island and called it San Juan Bautista. Later on, the name was changed to Puerto Rico (Rich Port) because of all the gold and minerals found. The first settlement became the town called San Juan, which today is the capital city.

In 1898, after the Spanish-American War, Spain reached an agreement with the United States of America (US), under the Treaty of Paris, in which they ceded Cuba, Puerto Rico, Philippines and Guam. Cuba obtained their independence in 1899 and Philippines did in 1946. Puerto Rico and Guam are still under territory clause, as commonwealths of the USA, and are under US laws. Puerto Ricans were given US citizenship rights in 1917. Most information for this post was retrieved from Puerto Rico, History and Heritage, Smithsonian Magazine https://www.smithsonianmag.com/travel/puerto-rico-history-and-heritage-13990189/

To this day, the status topic of push for independence or statehood is discussed plenty by politicians, and by the general population everywhere around the Island. But that’s all the politics I’m going to mention. I had the opportunity to work as an Executive Assistant in the Senate of Puerto Rico, with the Rules and Regulations Committee. I enjoyed that time very much.

Orocovis, Puerto Rico
Photo courtesy of Auranyd Alvarado

I want to tell you about our amazing scenery and landscape, the greenery of our mountains and valleys, and the beautiful color of our beaches all around the Island. We are surrounded by water, so if you are in Central Puerto Rico, the longest drive of 1 or 2 hours at most will put you on a sandy beach. That, together with our warm weather, makes it the perfect spot for swimming, sailing, surfing, or just hanging out.

Photo from personal album

I have great memories of our Dad packing up the car and taking us all to the beach on Sundays. Actually, my Mom did the packing and the cooking. We’d spend the day just having fun, between driving to get there, and having a blast playing around. Those are memories we still try to make. Every time we visit the family, we try to go to some of our favorite spots to enjoy and create new memories.

Since there’s no snow, we have the opportunity to enjoy the beach all year long. Many tourists visit Puerto Rico to go to those beautiful beaches. People just have to be careful with the water current changes. There are so many amazing beaches all around the Island, that I’ll write another post dedicated to beaches only.

Not a fan of the beach? Then, there is plenty of greenery in Central Puerto Rico. “La Cordillera Central” or Central Mountain Range extends for about 50 miles, throughout the center zone of the Island. There’s a spot called “El Mirador”, close to the town of Villalba, where you’d be able to admire both north and south coasts. It’s a spectacular view. There are many other locations to visit, that I’ll write more about.

Photo courtesy of Lilliam Alvarado

Another beautiful location is El Yunque. It’s the only Rainforest in the United States, as part of the National Park systems. It’s located on the east coast, near the town of Fajardo. This beautiful green forest covers around 28,000 acres, with mountain elevation of about 3,000 ft. El Yunque is one of the places I haven’t visited yet, but I have it on my list.

La Fortaleza, San Juan, Puerto Rico
Photos courtesy of Jacqueline Rodriguez

If you’re interested in historical places, then you should visit Old San Juan. There are plenty of historical buildings and locations to see. La Fortaleza was built by Spaniards around 1533 to 1540. It was to be a part of the military fortress, but it became the Governor’s house and it still is in present time.

Photo courtesy of Al Soto

El Castillo del Morro was built by the Spaniards as protection around the same period 1538 to 1540. It’s a National Historical Site and is part of the US National Park systems. According to the Smithsonian magazine, it’s the biggest fortification in the Caribbean. There are many more interesting places to see. San Juan is full of charm and history.

If you travel from any airport in the continental US, you don’t need a passport. It’s considered a domestic flight. If you’re traveling from another country, you will need a passport, and a traveler’s visa might be required. There are 2 international airports: the San Juan International, main one and busier one; and the Rafael Hernández, located in Aguadilla on the west coast. There are 8 more airports around the Island.

I moved to Florida, looking for a change. Since then, I’m always thinking of moving back. I haven’t seen much of other states, because every vacation time is used to go back to see family. I miss them and I miss the warmth of the weather and our people. Of course, I miss those amazing locations and views. And of course, if you know me, I miss that cup of coffee I get to share with friends and family.

There’s so many places that I want to tell you about, that I’ll write some more about my beautiful Puerto Rico. It’s time for my tacita de café. Salud!

For Spanish version https://fullofcoffee.blog/2019/03/16/mi-hermoso-puerto-rico-de-ahi-vengo-yo/

5 thoughts on “My beautiful Puerto Rico, this is where I come from

  1. I love this post! Thank you for sharing such wonderful and informative details about the island and its history. I’m so glad you mentioned El Yunque! Not many people know about there being a rain forest in Puerto Rico. My mother’s family was from there and she grew up in San Juan. I spent many summers there as a child (until I was fourteen) and several other vacation times as well. My mom’s late sister was Carmen Aboy Valldejuli, writer of some famous cookbooks on Puerto Rican foods (her husband, Luis, provided the tropical drink sections). And, my mom’s late cousin was the actor Jose Ferrer, who was also from Puerto Rico and the first Hispanic to win an Oscar! He was honored on a US postage stamp some years later (after his death) and was father to actor Miguel Ferrer and several other children with his wife Rosemary Clooney. So, more famous Puerto Ricans some might have heard of! But you’d probably have to be of the older generation to recognize these names. LOL… Thanks again for the lovely blog! What an amazing tribute to Puerto Rico! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

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