So 2 days ago, my wife and I were talking about how much we appreciate Puerto Rico and how so many people have a misconception of what Puerto Rico has to offer, thinking that life is so much better elsewhere. I see a lot of people focusing on the negatives of living here rather than the good things that this island has to offer. So we were talking and named a few of the “bad” things about Puerto Rico, then we realized that those things were actually not that bad but that of course could be better.
So it reminded me of a book called “You’d be so pretty if…” by Dara Chadwick. Basically that book argues that you have to teach your daughters to love themselves and their bodies even if we don’t love our own.
So how does that translate to Puerto Rico?
Well, the truth is that there are several things that even I would prefer to be different. But there are also things about my friends and family that I wish were different. There will always be things about anything that you wish were different, but you love them anyway. Whether it’s your car, house, child, brother, sister, mom, dad, wife or husband, there are always some “imperfections”, some traits, that you may not particularly care for about that person or thing. But they are perfect in their own way, and there is nothing about them that you’d change because then they stop being who they are, as imperfect as our children are, giving us thousands of gray hair, stress, sleepless nights, moments of joy and sadness, there is absolutely nothing about our children that we would change, we are proud of who they are and we love them more than anything else. The place that you live in is no different, there are always good and bad things about every place in this world, however, you choose which things to focus on, and that will change your perspective about any one thing.
So what are those “imperfections” that Puerto Rico has?
People often complain about the crime as we have a very high violent crime rate, another thing is the trash everywhere (I really dislike the trash thing). Also, the traffic in the metropolitan area, I mean we have over 2.5 million people (according to Wikipedia) living in the San Juan metropolitan area, which is very small area-wise, and we still expect to have little to no traffic and perfect drivers everywhere. Also, the medical offices, not that either the doctors nor the facilities are bad, in fact my wife and I both feel that we have the best doctors that we have ever had, it seems that our doctors actually care for us as if we were family. But the thing is, that more often that not you have to wait, sometimes for hours for an appointment you had scheduled at a particular time, meaning that if you had an appointment at 9 AM you might be seen at 11 AM as they see people in a first come first serve basis, however when they see you, they will take the time to take care of you too, regardless of how long it takes.
So, when you focus on how crowded everything is, how bad traffic gets, how “disrespectful” it is to wait at the doctor’s office, how dirty everything is, and simply how things are not how you like them to be, then you will not like Puerto Rico. But when you focus on how real people are here compared to other places where they are nice but at a distance, when you get to be outside in shorts on a beautiful “winter” night talking to friends, when you focus on being able to go for a run in comfortable clothing every single day of the year without freezing, being able to jump in the pool outside or go to the beach whether it is January or July, or my wife’s favorite, wear flowy dresses and cute shoes year round, then you see why Puerto Rico is just perfect as it is.
Add to that the amazingly unhealthy but delicious food! Ever tried the Chuletas Khan Khan (Khan Khan Prok Chops)? The food is so deliciously seasoned that you will likely be hooked immediately. Like coffee? We seriously have some of the best coffee in the world! (not exaggerating one bit, it is that good) Walk around Old San Juan and see all the history, everything that the town has gone through, go visit the birthplace of the Piña Colada! Depending on where you are, at night, fall asleep to the beautiful coquí whistle with just a fan on and the windows open. It is a beautiful thing.
Not too long ago, I met an older couple from Sweden, they were amazingly nice, and incredibly happy with Puerto Rico. What some people consider loud and inappropriate, they considered beautiful. They did love the weather, loved absolutely everything, from the “coquí coquí” at night and the birds singing in the morning, to the people with really loud music at the local beaches while grilling food for their respective families and how happy everyone seemed just to be with each other. Needless to say that they were very sad to head back to Sweden.
That is Puerto Rico and the local culture. Puerto Rico is far from perfect, but it is beautiful, their people are amazing, and unlike other places, genuine. Which means that if they don’t want to be nice they won’t be, but more often that not, they are nice, because they want to, and that is very refreshing. Knowing that people genuinely want to help you, want you to try their food, dessert and home made Sangría. I’ve had business owners give me free food when I didn’t have enough money to buy a meal for my family, never met me before, but the important thing was that my family and I had some lunch. In more than one occasion, I have been caught in the rain with no umbrella and here came someone with one to walk me to my car, this is what defines us, these things are what I think of when I think of Puerto Rico, and that’s why we love it.
So ultimately it is your choice, whether you want to say “Puerto Rico: you’d be so beautiful if…”, or if you focus on all the beautiful things that Puerto Rico already has, appreciate those things much like you would appreciate anything else, and enjoy your time here. Get out there and do something, go to the zip line, beach, go to Old San Juan and fly kites with your children, just enjoy it! Yes it is not perfect, but at the same time it is perfect just the way it is. Eat the food, drink the coffee, Sangría, Pitorro, and smile. =)