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Published:November 1st, 2007 10:51 EST
A Taste of Puerto Rico

A Taste of Puerto Rico

By Jennifer L. Hernandez

Turquoise waters, white sandy beaches, tropical air, Puerto Rico. Exotic flowers, rhythmic beats, mouth-watering cuisine, Puerto Rico. This enchanting island is nestled in the middle of the Caribbean and is truly a natural beauty. Just east of the Dominican Republic and southeast of Miami, Florida the island ranks in with a land area comparable to Rhode Island tripled.

Aside from its natural splendor, Puerto Rico is best described as an island that has embraced modernity while holding close its rich history laden with city and rural affluence. In fact, Puerto Rico exhibits the best of many worlds…why settle at two?! Puerto Rico has rural communities where agriculture flourishes and takes precedence, beach communities sporting the best surf spots and relaxation corners, and bustling cities with a fast-paced lifestyle and exciting nightlife.

Puerto Rico also has a rich culture that extends into history. From the Aguada shores where Christopher Columbus docked his ships, to the cobblestone pathways that lead to El Morro, to the sacred lands of the Taino Indians history encompasses this land. The culture boasts a friendly atmosphere where the beauty of the island is reflected in its people.

Last summer, I visited my grandmother (abuelita) with my mom and sister in Puerto Rico. My abuelita was born in Aguada, Puerto Rico and currently resides in Aguadilla. I have visited Puerto Rico before but this recent trip stood out among others. I was able to see that behind the beauty and excitement of the island exists a serenity connected with nature and the past. My grandmother took us to a short road in Aguada that runs perpendicular to the coast. On that road is the house of her late sister. She told us many stories about the beach, which is only 50 steps away from that house.

According to my abuelita, Christopher Columbus landed on that very beach in 1493 with Juan Ponce de Leon. Granted I have heard stories about this before but it was difficult to wrap my mind around the concept. There I was, standing on the same beach where Christopher Columbus stood 514 years ago. There I was walking along the shore where Columbus and Ponce de Leon, the discoverers I read about in my text -books, docked their ships. There I was sharing that moment with, my abuelita, the person who connects me to my cultural ancestry. That moment was surreal and my abuelita had to contend with my incessant questions: Abuelita here? This is where they landed? Abuelita, I don’t believe you.

She then took us to a hidden and almost makeshift historical monument that chronicles Columbus’ visit to Aguada and stakes the claim as the first area he walked to after heading east away from the shore. It can never be proven if Columbus landed there but this story was passed along to my abuelita and I, for one, do believe her. This is what it means to travel.

The ability to get an insight into a culture and the meanings of its surroundings makes all the difference. Now that you were able to get a taste of Puerto Rico, I invite you to enhance your palette!

 

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