A Trip to: Puerto Rico
Editor’s note: Welcome to the Hispanic Heritage Month “A Trip to” series here on Latinaish. Join us as we virtually visit different Latin American countries through the photos and words of people who live there, have lived there, or have visited and have a lot of love for that particular place. Today Shannon of La Mama Loca shows us around Puerto Rico!
Puerto Rico is a small island, roughly 100 miles long and 35 miles wide. It’s surrounded by some of the most beautiful coastline you can imagine! Depending on where you are, you will find something different; Some beaches have dark/black sand, others white. Many of the beaches are not life-guarded, so you should always be cautious if you visit one. The northwest corner of the island is known for its big waves and many surfing competitions have are held there. In February/March, there is a possibility you can see whales swimming from the north corner of the island, something I’d love to see. This picture was taken near the lighthouse at Cabo Rojo on the southwest corner of the island.
I love walking the streets of Old San Juan. The majority of these narrow streets are still the old cobblestones from long ago. Driving these streets is do-able, but only with much care. Parking is an issue, as most of the street parking is done by business owners/employees. One can see many beautiful historic buildings on the streets of Old San Juan, as well as any kind of shopping you can imagine. There is Cartier, Burberry, and other high-end stores, clothing stores, and souvenir shops. Sadly most of the souvenirs are made in China, so beware that while it may look like an authentic Puerto Rican item, it likely is not. The streets are always a hustle bustle of people, both locals and tourists. The many restaurants in the area leave a pleasant aroma as you wander the streets.
This photo was taken my first time visiting Puerto Rico, the home of my husband. Old San Juan is full of beautiful historical buildings and landmarks. The buildings are painted in a variety of colors: peach, yellow, blues, greens, and more. This man was painting one of the many beautiful buildings in the square, near the Children’s Museum and San Juan Cathedral. It was during this trip that I fell in love with Puerto Rico.
Before coming to Puerto Rico, I had no idea that avocados could be green and so big! My only knowledge was the smaller Haas version that is found in the states. Avocados are a household favorite – just slice and sprinkle some sea salt! Puerto Rico has great weather for growing many fruits and vegetables, but sadly, most foods (of all types) are imported. There are very few large fresh market stands found on the island, however, there are many roadside vendors. As people are becoming more aware of health concerns with GMOs, more people are considering the benefits of fresh homegrown foods.
Bacardi has a long standing history in Puerto Rico. Although the original family started in Cuba, they made their home in Puerto Rico. Casa Bacardi is located in Cataño, a 15 minute ferry ride from Old San Juan. They offer a tour of parts of the factory with a great history lesson and free samples. Approximately 70% of all the rum sold in the US originates from Puerto Rico, made by Bacardi and various other companies.
La Familia Cepeda is well known on the island! Rafael Cepeda and his wife Caridad grew up singing and dancing to the rhythms of la bomba and la plena, dances brought to Puerto Rico from the African slaves that had been brought to the island. They had 10 children together and began to take their show on the road. With their traditional dresses and dances, they can draw a crowd instantly. This troupe of dancers is still mostly made up of members of the Cepeda family. Tíos, titis, primos, nietos, everyone, no matter their age, is involved in keeping their tradition alive today. They are beautiful to watch!
The Arecibo Observatory is one of those unique finds in Puerto Rico! Located in the town of Arecibo, on the north side of the island, about 1.5 hrs from San Juan, it is quite the trek into the mountains. There you will find the world’s largest single radio telescope. It has even made its way to Hollywood when it was featured in the movie Contact with Jodi Foster! There’s a great learning center full of information. I was amazed how large it really is as the pictures just do not do it justice! We still want to go back with the kids sometime in the near future.
The Coqui is one of the most well-known symbols of Puerto Rico. It’s a tiny frog that serenades the island! Starting around dusk and through much of the night, you can hear the Coqui’s singing. On a rainy night, they are are in heaven with their loud songs. These are the lullabies that put my kids to sleep every night.
Editor’s note: Did you enjoy this guest post? If you have some nice photos of a Latin American country you’d like to share as we did here with some short descriptions, please email me to be a part of this special Hispanic Heritage Month series!