Come fly with us!

Is that time of the week again: From the Inside, post #2. This week, hopefully, will be fun also. Last time I wrote, I did not introduce myself. My name is Franco Lugo and I am Puerto Rican (this is where you clap and congratulate me). I am proud of who I am and also to be a member of this unique culture, that’s how I know all that I write about us.

As a culture we are unique and special; there is no other culture as ours and everyone who has been in contact with us knows it: Puerto Ricans are awesome, no matter what definition of the word you use.

Last time I promised to talk about food and tourist attractions of my Island. That has changed. I figured that if you plan on traveling to Borinquen (read first blog for definition since I will not stop here to explain) there is stuff you need to know before you travel. If you are here already, you may know about the stuff I will explain and everything will have a meaning for you.

Traveling by plane with a Boricua is fun. Yes, I said it, FUN; the good kind, or maybe the weird kind, even the “did this really happen?” kind. I can assure that most of us will try to make a friend on the plane, request the flight attendant to speak Spanish to us (they all should), or complain about the food or peanuts on the plane. The level of fun is directly proportional with the number of Boricuas on the plane when you travel to the Island. If there are two on the plane, you will hear something said in Spanish, an occasional “Coño!” – for us that is like a “Dang” for people in the USA – followed by a huge laugh from both of them. If you travel with a family, and remember the fun part, you will learn the name of the kid or kids they travel with. You may even get to learn Puerto Rican Spanish. For example: “Luisito, quedate ahi! (Stay there Luisito!)” or “Que no vas para el baño, ya fuiste dos veces! (You are not going to the bathroom, you went twice already!)”. You may even learn to talk to God in Spanish: “Dios mio, dame paciencia pa no darle una pela a este nene!!!!! (God give me patience not to hurt this kid!)”. You see, the level of fun is equal to the number of Boricuas you travel with.

There are special occasions when you may be the only non-Puerto Rican on the plane. When you travel from NYC or New Jersey to Puerto Rico, you are in for an adventure not even Indiana Jones can handle. I will go step by step here, because it’s a LOT of fun. First, when carry a lot of stuff, half of which we don’t need, but we may in case something happens. If you, my non-Boricua friend, have a carry-on keep it in your lap because we need all the space available. Second, what you consider screaming, we consider conversating (we conversate at a higher volume than most). We will speak with the one next to us, in front of us, two rows to the right of us and six rows to the back. We may even talk to the captain while he is in his seat. A don’t even get me started in the singing and joking part! We will sing any song, all of us. And there is always a joke, most likely sexual and when we laugh, even the captain – in his little space in the front side, door closed, head set on – will hear clearly. Third: as soon as the seatbelt light turns off, we will stand up and walk around the plane, JUST BECAUSE WE CAN! And last, and definitely not least, landing. When the plane lands we will clap as a couple in a Celine Dion concert, with the occasional scream and whistle. It’s like a “Thank you, Cap’n. Great job”. And once then plane stops, we will stand up, all at the same and get our stuff wherever we placed it when we got there. We all want to leave the plane at the same time, and we find that to be the correct way (I mean, IT IS the correct way).

My intention with this post is not to discourage you from traveling to the Island. On the contrary, I want you to see that, just as any other culture out there, we are unique and we know it. I just want you to be prepared for this amazing experience. I know I love it.

Next week, most likely food will be the topic. And be ready for some Spanish, Boricua Spanish, because there is some food that I can only explain but can’t translate. Don’t forget to write or comment what you would like to read about. You can even tell me stories of your culture, or stories you had while hanging out with a Boricua. So, until then, cójanlo suave (be safe)!

From the inside

   I’ve been living here, the amazing Island of Puerto Rico, for 32 years. My life, who I am, and how I got to where I’m at was shaped in this tiny Island. Tiny, because compared with the rest of the world is only a dot in the Caribbean. But we are full of surprises. Everything you may need you can find here, but better and with flavor. But like every other Nation in this planet, there is stuff only known by those who live there. And there’s where I come in. I’m about to share with you some secrets, that are known to everyone living here, but that we find normal and you will find funny or weird. But this is who we are, with all we have and what we have yet to get, Puerto Rico is the place to be. If you are visiting or moving here for the rest of your life, you will find this useful. If you just need something to read, I hope I can at least get a smile out of you. And if you are from the Island, you will definitely will laugh out loud.You will understand we are much alike, but different.

   Puerto Rico is an amazing island; from the mountains to the beaches and the music, is a great place to visit and even a better one to live in. And if we add to the mix the weather, all year ‘round is a party, day and night. I mean, I’m Puerto Rican so I should know something about it.

   But there are some singularities to this tropical paradise. Singularities that, if you are a tourist or plan to stay here forever, you will find weird, crazy and, in some instances, annoying. For example, we don’t measure distances in miles, we measure by traffic lights. If you want to know how to get to the nearest Walmart and you are in San Juan, we will simplify it for you: “drive down this road, you will pass three, no four lights. When you get to that light, take a right and you will see another traffic light. Not in that one, but in the next one on the left you will see the Walmart logo. There it is”. Simple, right? We can complicate it a little bit more if you are traveling through  the mountains where there are no traffic lights. In that case, we use colors and trees. What do I mean? You want to go to a tourist place and need directions? “Keep going down the hill. When you start going uphill you will count three yellow houses. In the blue house next to the yellow one, there is a mango tree, a big one. After the tree there is a small road. Go down that road (and that does not mean its down hill) and the second street to the right, that’s where you want to go”. As long as you are not colorblind or the house owner did not change the color, you are good to go.

   Your life will be a little more complicated, or funnier, if you can’t speak Puerto Rican. One thing is Spanish and a totally different one is Puerto Rican – this one is not even close to what you learned at your Spanish class at school or college. (Since this is something directed more to English speakers, this specific topic applies to anyone who thinks that by speaking Spanish, they can deal with our Spanish). I have a friend from Idaho who moved to the Island. Nobody had the decency to explain to her any of this stuff that I’m telling you, so she did not know how much fun she would have. My friend was hungry and went to Wendy’s to get a hamburger and fries and stuff. She drove to the window and asked for “hamburguesa” the Spanish word, according to the dictionary. The Puerto Rican speaking employee had no idea what she wanted. How come someone who speaks Spanish does not understand what that is? We don’t eat hamburguesa, we eat hamburgers (they simply just taste better). The same thing goes for hotdogs; perro caliente is just nasty, and salchica is a different thing – we’re not going there today.

   I’ve heard some people say that if you can drive in NYC or LA you can drive anywhere. The people who say that, have never been to Borinquen (name given to the Island by our natives back before Columbus and Co. messed it up). In some places with traffic lights, green means GO and red means STOP. Easy, simple. Even if you don’t know colors, if the one on top is on, stop. If the one in the middle is on, slow down. Even kids know that. Not here my friends; in Puerto Rico yellow means hurry your ass up that the red light is almost here. If you want to learn a couple of curse words in Spanish, slow down when you see a yellow light. You will be amazed on how much you can learn by doing something so simple!

   So many crazy things in my Island, so many weird stuff I can tell you about, and I will – just not today.  But one thing is true: the people of the Island are awesome. Whatever you may need, whenever you may need it, Puerto Ricans are always there to help and to have a good time while helping. Next time, I will tell you about food. Great, tasty and greasy food no one can resist. If you’re from here, from there or anywhere, you’ll just love it. And we will get to speak about tourist attractions, Puerto Rico style.

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