Puerto Rico and Me

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© Dennett

Ronald, I don't if I ever shared with you that I visited Puerto Rico once — back in 2009. My daughter was married to a man from there. After having two children, and when one was only 2 months old, they moved from Florida to Puerto Rico. As you can imagine, I was devastated.

I visited 2 months after they moved, traveling with a friend who is a more experienced traveler than I. We stayed in a rental condo in Rincon and brought my daughter and grandchildren there to stay for 3 days.

Honestly, I was horrified by Puerto Rico. I didn't expect it to be like Florida, but I also didn't expect it to be similar to a third-world country. I was dismayed that my daughter and grandchildren were living there — 2 miles up a mountain, in a rooftop apartment with no shower or bath, no air conditioning, no internet, no TV or cell reception.

Where I stayed in Rincon was lovely but less than 3 blocks away were hovels. Stray dogs and cats roamed the streets looking for food. Trash cans in public spaces were always overflowing. Restaurants were plagued with flies.

To reach where my daughter lived, we had to drive through what I can only describe as squalor. Obvious drug dealers stood on the corners. Every house had bars. Trash was everywhere.

The only place I saw that I liked was Ponce.

But, despite my horror, I know that Puerto Rico is a very poor place with unbelievable challenges and the U.S. government does little to help. Heck, look at the response to Hurricane Maria and you know D.C. doesn't give a damn about Puerto Ricans. For this, I am so sorry.

With all of that said, I know people who have visited other areas of PR and rave about it. Of course, they were in touristy sections where they stayed in resorts and only ventured to places in their visitor guides.

I want to thank you sincerely for showing me what I missed in Puerto Rico. There is a great deal of beauty in your photos, as there is in some pictures that I took during my stay. But, my memories are sad and distressful. I haven't been able to shake that. You released me from those bad memories.

Puerto Rico deserves better than we give it.

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© Dennett — Puerto Rico — 2009

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I was always a writer but lived in a bookkeeper’s body before I found Medium and broke free — well, almost. Working to work less and write more.

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