Puerto Rico: My surprisingly poignant trip

Mid-spring I had decided I wanted to take my son to Puerto Rico. We hadn’t been there in more than four years. Hadn’t been back since hurricane Maria. I was sure much had changed and yet not much at as well. My son doesn’t recall his last trip to Puerto Rico. That had been about eight years ago and during sad times. When I had plan this return trip who could have known that they would have gone through two weeks of protests with the eventual ouster of the governor? It is the first time in their history a governor doesn’t finish their term. It was an interesting time to visit the island. It is one thing to see protests, discussions and celebrations on television. But it is something completely different to experience first-hand.During my travels, I often end up in places that are experiencing something interesting. Perhaps even extraordinary. When I was traveling to Durban, South Africa I had a long layover in Turkey the day of the recent attempted coup. This is what I mean by interesting. And, these interesting things happen when I am around. I am lucky and unlucky. Thus, I should have expected something interesting for Puerto Rico. And, interesting it was.We arrived just as Governor Rosello resigned. We hung out at the pool that first day listening to the perspectives of outsiders. People talked about changed business meeting times and locations. People talked about traffic. People talked about how historical it had been. But I didn’t hear much of what people really felt and thought. That is, until I talked to staff. Then, there was much.There was pride. There was a sense of accomplishment. A feeling that the future was to bring great promise. But that there needed to be vigilance. There was also much talk about how this was the beginning.Then after a day at ghe pool, we went to Old San Juan (Viejo San Juan) where mass celebrations including salsa dancing for a cause was ongoing. My son asked me about what was going on. I explained what had happened. He thought it interesting that somehow we ended up again in the middle of societal upheaval. Those are my words. He used more specific 10 year old boy language. I had taken him to the 25th anniversary of the Rodney King riots. It had been just as hot. Back then he helped carry a banner for a few miles. It’s not necessarily that I plan to be in thesecplaces at those points of time. Just like Forest Gump, I just happen to be in at the right place and time to catch something historic and/or significant.My son did wonder if others around the world would use the tactics in Puerto Rico to enact change. I couldn’t say with any certainty. But I know my son will grow up with those ideas as possibilities.

9 replies »

  1. I was in Puerto Rico a couple weeks earlier when the protests were just starting. I was doing a night bike tour of San Juan and our guide took us straight to Fortaleza Street where the protests were going on under all the colorful umbrellas. Was a bit low key at that time and it wasn’t clear how they would escalate. But I also appreciated seeing how this was developing.


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