Tuesday, September 13, 2011

PRp (Pt. VI): Puerto Rico retrospective

Puerto Rico promise: In 2002, I was reunited with my cousin Danny after several years. Danny and I share a wealth of memories from our childhood. At that time, I promised him that I would visit him and his family at their home. (They were then living on Guam.) Eight years later, I made good on that promise when Maty and I went to visit Danny and family at their new home in Humacao, Puerto Rico.

Read Part I, Delayed in Dallas, here.
Read Part II, Borinquen, gateway to the Americas, here.
Read Part III, The caves of Camuy, here.
Leer Parte IV, Los gatos del Viejo San Juan, aquí
Read Part V, El Morro, here.

La isla bonita
The temperature in Portland today is considerably cooler than it has been recently.  The sky is gray this morning but, being a lifelong Oregonian, I can tell that the clouds will "burn off," as we like to say, and the sun will be out by mid-afternoon. Nonetheless fall's approach cannot be denied.  The light at this time of year feels stretched, somehow.

I'm still thinking about Puerto Rico.

Maty demonstrates how to get coconut milk
I'm thinking about mofongo, that starchy, tasty dish the Puerto Ricanos make by mashing up plantains and garlic and serving it up with chunks of beef or pork.  I ate mofongo on the night we kayaked through the mangrove to the bio-luminescent bay where are the light-exuding plankton that caused the bathtub-warm water to glow like neon when we dipped our paddles.  Maty is not an outdoors-woman by any stretch.  Nor can she swim.  Nonetheless she took the prow of our two-man kayak and braved the ebon depths.  My woman is a brave woman.

Fruit vendor in San Juan
I'm thinking about the Puerto Ricanos and the way they live and the way they are:  relaxed, unpretentious, frank.  Egalitarian in attitude.  Less desirous of material wealth, but deeply appreciative of things like family and beauty and a fine day on the beach.  Or in the market.  Or at the café. Even laid-back Oregonians seem uptight by comparison.

And although Puerto Ricanos are really not all that similar to Mexicans (beyond a common language), being among them yet evoked dim memories of youthful summers in the Coachella Valley in California, spent with my Mexican and Filipino cousins.

Cementerio junto al mar
Like Cousin Danny and his son, Taylor.  It had been 8 years since I had last seen Taylor.  The child I met in Hawaii is now a fine young man in Puerto Rico.  What will he be when next we meet?

Tienda en el campo
As for Danny --well, it has been 8 years since I last saw him, but time hasn't made us strangers.  We've known each other too well and too long for that to happen.

Taylor and Danny at the Camuy caves
I'll miss my cousins and I'll miss Puerto Rico.  But I won't forget.  I pray I won't ever forget.

Somewhere over the Gulf of Mexico
This concludes the Puerto Rico promise series.

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