The place where I grew up

As I have mentioned before, I am from Puerto Rico. I have more to tell you about my Island, but I want to tell you about the place where I come from, where I grew up. This place is a community in a rural area called “Los Verdes”. The name translates as “The Greens” because that’s what you mostly see around. This community is very close to the central region of Puerto Rico. Since there is no snow in our tropical Island, the beautiful scenery keeps its green color all year round.

Our house entrance
Photo courtesy of José Alvarado

When I moved to San Juan to go to college, and then when I moved to Florida, I used to tell people “I grew up on a mountain”. Many didn’t believe me, until I showed them pictures. Well, my parent’s house is on a small hill, by the mountains. Many of those mountains surround our house. In fact, the main road connects the north with the south regions of the Island through the central mountain region. The landscape around that route is full of beautiful mountains.

The view from our house
Photo from personal album

The view is spectacular, as you can imagine it. Growing up, as kids, we used to think “this is boring”. Our mom would send us outside to play. What games we came up with? One of our favorite games was to go explore. We were allowed to go play in the nearby hill, without going on the road, or without going to far away. Of course, the boys were allowed to go bike riding or go to the nearby park to play. They also escaped to go to the nearby river to play around.

Fog seen from our patio Courtesy of Lilliam Alvarado

We used to climb all trees around the house. Did I used to climb trees? I think about it and can’t believe it myself. My children don’t believe this. I think I’ve lived in the city for too long. Although I don’t think I want to try to climb a tree. Last time I did it? I was in high school, we went into the field and there was a calf by itself. If you ever see a baby cow alone, I suggest don’t try to touch it. The calf cried, the cow came running, chasing us, so I had to climb up a tree. I stayed up there for a while.

Another blessing we got to enjoy was the amazing night sky view. When you’re in the city, the night lights are distracting. You don’t see that many stars, or simply don’t look up at the sky. But living in such beautiful location, we enjoyed those starry nights. At least I did. The full moon nights are also wonderful views to enjoy. If you’ve ever gone camping, or ever enjoy star gazing, you’d admire those views. I still do.

Night sky view with full moon
Courtesy of Auranyd Alvarado

We also got to eat fruits picked from the trees. We were allowed to eat them right as we pick them. Yes, we ate fresh mangoes and oranges without washing them first. We also picked guavas, and wild berries. My uncle, my Mom’s brother, had a farm where he grew vegetables and fruits. So we were allowed to walk to his house and go pick fruits. He’d bring some of his harvest to my Grandma’s house. She’d give away to family or to neighbors.

Wild berries
Courtesy of Amnerys Alvarado

He had cows too. Some days, he’d bring fresh milk from the cows to our house or our Grandma’s. I didn’t like it, but my Grandma used to say that it made her coffee taste better when she put fresh milk in. Both my grandmothers used to grow their own coffee beans, so they’d send us kids to pick it up.

There were only a few neighbors close by, but everyone in the community knew who we were. Of course, having your Dad being a cop in town, everyone knew who he was. And our Grandma Vicenta, my Mom’s mother, was well known in the area as a leader in church, and a big helper in the community.

I enjoyed going to school in the area, because we got to make friends with so many kids we didn’t live that close by. Going to church on Sundays meant seeing my friends from school there. Many of our families knew each other, since many of them also grew up together in the same area. So we went to school with almost the same group from the first grade in elementary to the twelfth grade in high school. Although high school was a different experience, since it was located in town, so we got to know more friends and enjoy being in town.

View from our house
Photo from family album

Some of those kids are the adults today that still live in the area. Some became the teachers, the mechanics, the bank attendants, the police officers. Many others, like me, have moved away. I’m sure all of them reminisce of the good old days when we grew up almost care free. When you are a kid, generally, you don’t have many worries. The only worry was getting back home before sunset.

Roadside close to our house
Courtesy of Lilliam Alvarado

It’s 2019, my Dad still lives in the house we grew up in. He still enjoys when we come to visit. There are so many memories of us going back to that house, and going back to the area. Many things have changed, many people have moved. Many people are no longer with us. But we keep them in our memories. And those memories of good times keep us wanting to come back.

I hope to always be able to come back to the beautiful place where I grew up. I think I need to visit soon, as writing and reminiscing about it makes me homesick. I think it’s time for my tacita de café. Salud!

Para versión en Español https://fullofcoffee.blog/2019/03/31/el-lugar-donde-creci/

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