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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