As Puerto Ricans, there is stuff that belongs to us. Not stuff like the statue of Christopher Columbus, or El Morro fort or the word Puñeta. There are things that we do as Boricuas, just because that’s how we are. I have a couple of examples that will help me explain that. Most of us have been to concerts. We listen to the music and we scream the lyrics and we even wave at the singer (like she can see us, right!). We sing and scream for two hours and the band goes: “Thanks for your energy… See you next time” and they extend the last song and that’s it; they are gone and you are happy because it was a great concert (and you have no voice). Maybe that happens in some places, but not here, not in Borinquen. In Puerto Rico, after we hear the “Thanks for your energy…” and the final drum rolls, we start screaming “Otra, otra, otra…” and after five minutes of screaming, and the lights of the stadium burning in our faces, the band has no choice but to come back and sing a little more. And that little more better not be one song; we want at least 20 more minutes of music. After that time, we are happy and the band has earned their money. I was in a salsa concert and after the last song, the singer went backstage and almost one third of the people left. Of course, we wanted more music and he returned to the stage. I think the people who left were not from around because he came back and played for two more hours. If you are Boricua, you know the singer will be back, even if we need to scream for one full hour (Yes, we are that serious!). That’s as Boricuas as giving a round of applause to the airplane pilot when we arrive at the airport.
Next topic: Packing for a Trip. As Boricuas we don’t understand the meaning of “traveling light”. We think it has to do with what we eat before the plane leaves (some cookies and water maybe). When some of my friends from United States travel for three or four days, they pack maybe five sets of clothing; underwear, shirts, pants, socks and maybe one or two pairs of shoes. Why packing that light? Because they are not Boricuas. If we are traveling for five days, we refuse to pack for five days, or maybe we will change our clothing more than once in a day. We will pack more socks (in case it’s cold), more pants (in case we get dirty), more shirts (same reason as before) and maybe two or three “looking good” dresses and suits (just in case we go dancing to a hotel). Then we pack food for the plane (even when airlines provided food), a pillow (in case we need to sleep on the plane), a blanket (because the extra socks are in the luggage) and two changes of cloth in the carry-on in case they loose our huge luggage (better really safe than sorry). When it’s time to fly back home it’s even worse because we need to fit in the same luggage all the new stuff we bought for our mother, father, brother, sister, dog, neighbor, mistress, ex mistress, even for the store clerk. And don’t get me wrong; I’m not saying this is wrong. I see it as normal and unique.
Also going to the beach is fun, and that word includes a lot of things. First, what do you include in your bag when you travel to the beach? Sunscreen lotion, towels, dry clothes and some chips maybe. If you are Boricua, most likely you will include bread (not a sandwich, and actual loaf of bread) a pack of cheese slices, ham straight from the bakery and butter, of course. We don’t have peanut butter and jelly sandwich in a Ziploc bag, we will build the sandwich (like Subway). And that is only when three Boricuas are together. Remember I used the word FUN before. It gets a new meaning when a trip to the beach, turns into a family trip. We will not only pack bread and cheese and ham; we will also have a big caldero of rice and beans and some meat (not hotdogs, real meat). It will get warm on the beach and we will make some chicken in the grill. Doing it any other way would be a sin, the kind you don’t enjoy.
As you see, we have our way of doing stuff. It could be a weird way for you, but it’s definitely the good way for us, the right way to do it. We are not recognized only by the way we speak, the way we look or the way we dance; we are recognized by the things we do and where we do them. We are proud. So much that we don’t believe things should be done a certain way, we KNOW that’s the way to do it. Even this blog: my way, because I am Boricua, is the way to do it (not really). Until next time, cójanlo suave and bring me some bread!