Puerto Rico

Published on 3 July 2023 at 23:38




I was born in New York. I lived in New York for the first time for 7.5 years. I have photographic memory so I remember a lot. I had been to Puerto Rico many times before we moved. I have never really fit in either. 



Let me establish some facts about growing up in the 90's... Puerto Rico is a tropical island in the Caribbean. In half of the island it constantly rains while in the other it doesn't. It is not a state of the United States but a commonwealth. Since it is a small island jobs can be difficult to find. A lot of people are related and you always have family on other parts of the island. It gets to the point that you know people from everywhere. 



Public transportation was very hard outside of the metropolitan area. It is always hot and humid. In "winter" the temperature drops to a humid 70 degrees Fahrenheit. In the area I grew up in it would rain almost every day. There are no air conditioner in most homes. There are tropical storms every year and hurricanes of every category. I have experienced up to number 5. 



Over there people would talk about any subject in front of children. I'm grateful for that. You start drinking at a very young age in Christmas and new years. Your own family will give you your first beer and liquor. People mostly eat at home and going out to eat is a weekend and special occasion thing. Electricity is very expensive, more than in the USA. Rent is less because the minimum wage is under ten dollars.



People don't call before coming over, they just show up and scream your name in front of your home. We know our neighbors very well. There is a car in almost every household and you learn to drive when you are a pre teen. Horses, bikes, motorcycles are also transportation methods commonly used. Houses are one in front of another and with ones besides but in most places they are not very close. Most houses have a terrain big enough that you could construct another duelling. 



The 90's and early 2000's were very violent. A lot of people died in drug related disputes. You could hear gun shots almost every day and it didn't matter where you lived. It wasn't until almost every household had been touched by this directly that it stopped. People from my generation learned different rules. You didn't see or hear anything unless it was an abuse of any kind. But at times even if it was a person's life at stake you had to be like the monkey and see, say and hear nothing. The police were very corrupt and the government still is. 


I was blessed that as many secrets as I hold most of them were after the fact and things that don't matter now but could have gotten me killed then. I truly love hearing how trustworthy I am but in, those times it was like a double sided sword I was holding with a thin handle. I did so many crazy shit. I think I wanted to keep tempting fate. 


In my home as was in many we did not have cable. I watched whatever local TV was on. The music stations were all in Spanish until the end of the 90's when we finally got one with English music. A lot of families had animals. Some were killed for food. My grandparents taught me how to kill a cow, pig, chicken and rabbit. In a human way not with weapons. I learned how to fish with my uncle. My father and grandfather taught me how to work the land. My mom taught me business and office management skills to mention the relevant. 


People my age would go to school, back home to do homework and then out again to hang out with friends, ride a bike, as baseball games or whatever. School has a very heavy curriculum and we had to carry heavy books everywhere because most schools in PR do not have lockers. The influence from the US is minimal to daily living. 


I traveled to the US every 3-4 years. I would stay for months and catch up with music, tv and slangs. I went to school in NY for two years before moving. It was a huge difference and at the time and my mom and I were the only bilingual in the beginning. 


Fast forward over twenty years and I moved back. People here can see you dying in the streets and will ignore you. That would never happen in PR. People here love double and triple lives. People I'm NY don't really ask relevant things that often. Half of the time I have no idea what people are talking about. Thankfully my friends try to avoid references of things I don't know or they explain things to me. 


I mean I can see the allure to the darker sides of my city. I'm glad I didn't grow up here because I would probably be in jail. I get to enjoy the place I was born and would often visit with the eyes of a tourist.