Thursday, May 24, 2007

Puerto Rico, Part I of III

I have never been to Latin America and this May was my first time – we went to Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico is a US island in the Caribbean basin though only on paper. In spirit it is nothing but. It is truly Latin American in all respects and this is what I liked most about it.

If I had to describe Puerto Rico in two words I would say it is all about Celebration of Life. From the lush green and bright fragrant flowers everywhere to multi-colored houses of old San Juan (the capital) where indeed there are no 2 houses alike: pale pink next to bright orange, sky blue to vibrant green - it seems like these houses represent all colors of the rainbow, all shades and all variations except for boring black and gray which dominate the usual urban landscape.

The abundance of tropical fish swimming even in shallow waters right at the beach compete in variety of colors with the old San Juan’s buildings.

In addition you hear birds singing everywhere: various birds, many distinct voices. You might not see them since they are hidden somewhere among beautiful tropical plants but their songs follow you wherever you go.

In the evenings there are other songs heard on every corner: street festivals, bars, and clubs welcome you. It is not by chance that it was Puerto Ricans who invented one of the hottest Latin American dances – salsa.

Puerto Rico reminded me of Mauritius (I already wrote about this island on my blog): it is tiny but it has so many things to explore. An amazing tropical rain forest with magnificent waterfalls, a cave park with stunning stalactites and stalagmites, old fortresses and cathedrals, the famous Arecibo Observatory and so much more. If you are into nature or arts or history or astronomy you will realize that your trip to Puerto Rico was worth making.
So when next time you see a Bacardi rum commercial on TV which invites you to the “Latin Quarter” you can be sure that the “spirit” it is talking about is very much real and it is very much Puerto Rican (again, it is not by chance, I think, that the largest Bacardi plant is located on this amazing island).

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