Today I’m leaving for a week’s “vacation” in Puerto Rico, my homeland. Though certainly bound to include some moments typical of a vacation, my driving reason for this visit is mainly to see family, especially after the events of the past two months, in which there were two deaths in the family.
This year also marks the 10th anniversary since I said farewell to the island and moved to Miami to forge a new life. In that sense this trip marks a time of reflection, both for me and the island. I want to see how have I changed in ten years in relation to who I was before I moved, and also see how has the island changed since I last called it my permanent home.
Unfortunately, from what I have seen and heard over the past few years, especially over the last two, Puerto Rico is on a downward spiral towards ruination, following the path taken by so many other Latin American countries, where government corruption and pseudo-dictatorships become a fact of life. On this trip I want to examine it all for myself, as much as is possible in a week, and form my own opinion as to where the island is headed. On that depends the future of the family I have left in the island, mainly my mother, sister and nephew, who are my primary concern (my grandparents are also of main concern, but they are old now and I know they could never leave the island; much like our beloved coqui, they would die sooner than is planned by G-d if removed from Puerto Rico).
So, it’s a time of fun, but also of reflection. I long to see my family and friends, visit my father’s grave and tell him all the latest news, see the mountains and the sea, visit Old San Juan and lose myself in the ghosts of ages past, all the while wondering what the future holds for this, my little piece of volcanic rock in the middle of the Caribbean, smaller of the Greater Antilles, largest of the Smaller Antilles, caught between a Spanish past and an American future, all served with some white rice, red beans, and a side of Puertorican spice that is all its own.
I’m also sad because on this trip I go alone, leaving my wife back home in Miami for a week. Unfortunately, it just wasn’t possible for her to take a week off to come with me, and so she remains holding the fort. It’s only been an hour since she dropped me at the airport and I already miss her. I’ve heard and read people say that married couples should learn to be autonomous and independent of each other, learn to do things without the other person around. It’s not that I can’t do things without my wife, it’s just that I don’t want/like to. She’s my best friend, the person that understand me best, and everything I experience, I want to share with her. So while we certainly go on trips without the other (she’ll be going on one just a week after I return next Sunday, the 28th), we do it because we just couldn’t swing it for both of us to go, not because of any other reason. So while I am visiting Puerto Rico, I’ll always be thinking of my wife back home in Miami, and as much as I like visiting family and friends, and as much as it always hurts when I leave the island, I’m already looking forward to returning to Miami, to the woman I love.
And so it begins, a week in Puerto Rico.