Thursday, August 5, 2010

Mi Orgullo

I am often times found bragging about my heritage. I shout to the world and let them know that I am Puerto Rican and damn proud. When they ask me about Puerto Rico itself, I usually tell them about her gorgeous features and throw in "I love it" somewhere. Well, this summer, towards the end of my visit on the island, I saw my flag waving in the wind backed by a light hearted blue sky that (finally) showed no threat of rain. When this image entered my brain, it began to be processed. Wheels began to turn and the results were printed. Here's what was yielded: "What does 'I love it' mean?" What had I done?! I had completely neglected to put my passion behind my statement. The "love" nestled between the "I" and the "it" was hollow; its foundation was weak. I began to think, and through my shame I managed to realize that I can soundly say I love Puerto Rico. I am IN LOVE with this island. Creeped out, yet? Deal with it because it's true. Looking deeply into the blue triangle decorated with its white star and ribboned with red and white stripes, my heart pounded within my chest overwhelming me with a powerful, undeniable feeling: love. It is only fitting that this epiphany struck me nearly a month after my grandfather's death because I know that I am supposed to carry on the very same feeling that he felt for our land and it's people. Love Puerto Rico: It's what he taught me to do.
(Warning: to those of you who have made it t
his far, please be cautious for you are soon to be bogged down by monstrous amounts of the word "love".

I love the food. There are many ingredients that are used over and over, yet can create an extremely wide variety of dishes. Not to mention the fact that every single one of those dishes is absolutely delicious. Appetizers, main courses, desserts. You name it and it's beyond anything you can ever imagine. Even things like Church's, Starbuck's, and pizza ( specifically Faccio's Pizza, of course) taste better there.
I love the mountains, and the beauty that they hold within them. They are home to the beautiful El Yunque rainforest and other hidden treasures such as lakes, rivers, and beautiful homes. The cool mountain air, coupled with the vibrant colors and soothing sounds of native animals, is calming and the view is breathtaking.
I love San Juan and all of the history that it holds. It is here that many stories have been created and told. It is home to our Spanish roots, or history, and our legends. It is also home to Juan Ponce de Leon's tomb, a man that my grandfather and I took quite a liking to over the course of our time together. It is now his resting place as well. Oh, and I can't forget the piraguas...NEVER forget the piraguas...
I love the beaches. The hot white sand and the shimmering blue seas leading out to an endless ocean. They are adorned, of course, by palm trees swaying in the fresh, salty breeze. No matter what beach, no matter what part of the island, they are all a slice of paradise.
Finally, I love the people. I love the national pride. I love my family. We will always stand beside our flag, beside our fellow brother, beside our national teams, and most importantly beside our country. Viva Puerto Rico: truly, I love you.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Climbing Nature's Ladder

Allow me to start by saying this: Puerto Rico is awesome. Though the island is minuscule and a mere dot on the map, it has plenty of unique experiences to offer. There are urban areas accompanied by their suburbs, gorgeous beaches leading out to endless blue oceans, mountains decorated with trees, and there is even a lush rainforest full of life. It is easy for me to talk about how beautiful Puerto Rico is when friends ask, but I cannot fully appreciate the tropical beauty until I am standing face-to-face with it.
A few days ago, I had the pleasure of traveling into the mountains to my mom's uncle's house. It is tucked away in a land of higher altitudes and trees as far as the eye can see. Some delicious food was served, as usual, and we shared some very nice family time together. Once the mass amounts of food had settled in our stomachs, it was time to head over to a neighbor's house to check out the river. When we arrived, a short car ride later, I was taken aback by the living quarters of our hosts. They had a beautiful two story house surrounded by geese, ducks, chickens, roosters, cats, a dog, chicks, and two turkeys. They had fruit trees all around as well, but what was most stunning the lovely river, pictured above, that flowed right through their backyard. The fast flowing water fall surrounded by greenery kept a constant supply of cool water pouring into the pool that we could swim in. Drawn by it's beauty, I could not help but climb the rocky border that guided the water downward. Though it looked slippery, I was impressed with the support that I was given by the rocky "ladder". Each step was smooth and easy to climb, and there was always one to follow just like rungs on a real ladder. The climb was entertaining, surprisingly safe, and ended in triumph. On the way down I eagerly went quickly, and proceeded with no caution, knowing that I was supported and would not fall. Climbing nature's ladder just gave me one more thing to appreciate about the landscape of Puerto Rico.
After returning back to the land of mortals, I found that my cousins and siblings had engaged in a very intriguing game, the object of which was to knock down a coconut that was resting on the edge of the waterfall. Feeling triumphant from my mountain climb, I decided to join. After quickly analyzing the situation, I developed the game-winning strategy, but unfortunately, it was everyone's strategy. It went like this: Take the endless supply of rocks, large or small, and use them to hit the coconut and knock it into the waterfall so that it would flow down. We went at it and didn't let up one bit. My competitive spirit kept me going, no matter how long it would take to move the coconut. I was determined to get the coconut down before we left. I dispelled the fear of causing a ricochet that would kill someone, in turn getting me killed, and let the rocks fly full force. My cousin and I, both trained in the baseball arts, went rock for rock. We both would hit it but to no avail. I was forced into a state of urgency by the dreaded five minute warnings that I still happen to receive from my parents despite being a high school graduate. As the clocked ticked away, every stone became more precious. I knew the clock would move quickly since time flies when you're having fun, as they say. So, I changed my approach and started grabbing larger rocks because they would be more likely to move the coconut, which was heavily waterlogged. Throw after throw, miss after miss, minute after minute. Then, I grabbed a large rock in hand and clasped it with the most comfortable grip i could find. I washed any excess dirt away in the river and fixed my eyes upon the target. With perfect form, I let the rock fly and in that moment time slowed down. I watched as the rock assumed the desired flight path, and I knew another victory was mine. As the rock began it's decent I began to raise my arms in triumph like those basketball stars that know their buzzer beater is touching nothing but the net. THUMP! The coconut was hit and tumbled over into the waterfall. The water carried it the rest of the way down and in celebration I ran into the pool of water for my victory swim. That did not last very long because the water was chilly. When I returned back to a more comfortable water level my sister approached me with the coconut. She looked at me and said, "To the winner, his trophy."After all of that work, the the heavy, brown, and inedible coconut was a trophy indeed.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Rest at Last....For Now at Least...

It's all over. Finally. No more arguments, no more moving from place to place, and no more questions. Nothing. Yesterday, we took Abuelo's ashes to the Cementerio Santa Maria Magdalena de Pazziz in San Juan, and there they were buried. My parents, Abuela, siblings, aunt, cousins, and I along with Abuelo's brother and his wife were able to say our last words to his remains before they were sealed. I was happy to give Abuelo the much needed and deserved rest that he's getting now. I think it's a huge weight off of my family's shoulders, too. I am also happy to know that he was back here on the land that he loved and devoted his entire life to. Moreover, he now lies in the capital city, which is rich with Puerto Rican history and stories that we shared together. The cemetary is also full of patriots of the island just like him, so I know that he is in good company. I am very comforted to know that he is finally at rest in a place that he loved where I can visit him whenever I feel the need.
After that important piece of buisness was taken care of, we made our way to the eastern tip of Puerto Rico to enjoy a lovely beach in Luquillo because our plans in Fajardo were spoiled by the rules of El Conquistador Resort. We managed to have a fantastic time despite the momentary disappointment. After some delicious coconut ice cream and quenepas, we worked up our appetite with some beach fun before the rain shut us down. Though we were upset to be forced out of the water by more water, it was time for dinner anyway.
We made our way to Aurorita, the best Mexican place known to man, where I enjoyed some crunchy chicken flautas and soft tacos to accompany them. Then, it was time to say goodbye as we headed our separate ways. Sad because our cousins were flying home today, we were comforted by the fact that we will be seeing each other again before we know it.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Postmortem: My Reflection of the Day My Grandfather Passed Away

I have come to the realization that it could not have happened any other day. July 2, 2010, was the perfect day for my grandfather to pass. Since then, I have struggled to find the right words for a post to commemorate him, but finally, I am willing to give it a shot.

Foreshadowing is one of the most common yet important elements of literature. Authors cleverly, and at times more obviously, weave hints throughout the text that foretell of what is to come. Some say God has a plan for all of us; he is the author of our everyday lives and I assure you, He is a clever one.

Days earlier, my aunt dropped off my cousins at our Memphis home so that we could keep them safe and in good company while she took care of Abuelo in Ohio. She was supposed to come back and fly home with them, but as Abuelo's condition worsened, she decided to stay until his passing instead. That was hint number one: my cousins flew home July 2nd. Hint number two came at the airport after my cousins had walked to their gate to fly home. On the way out of the airport, Dad asked what the "grieving rates" were for Delta's boarding passes because we would be needing to fly soon because his dad "didn't have much time."

After dropping them off, my family returned home to witness the Dutch stun the World Cup favorite, Brazil. Later, I went off with my friend to just hang out and enjoy the beautiful summer weather. Debating on what to do, we ended up just moseying around in a fireworks shop and admiring the descriptions that adorned the flamboyant wrapping papers. We awed at the prospect of blasting twenty minute spectacles of bright lights into the sky. Naturally, as any good boyfriend would do, I was texting my girlfriend throughout all of this. The conversation proceeded normally, and suddenly (and very sweetly I must add) she asked for an update on my grandfather. There was my third hint. I referenced a text from my aunt that had been sent to me a few days before, but little did I know of the heart-wrenching update to come hours later.

The rest of the day was as any other. I left the house to rent Fifa '10 in order to fuel my World Cup fever, and I arrived at home in an inexplicably good mood. I waltzed into the house and filled the room with a bright smile as I played with the dog. I then looked up at the couch and my brain registered my parents' faces. They were not adorned with the same expression, and before I could fully process them my father said "Guys, come here." I knew. No one had to say any more, I had seen the movies. The news was written in my father's eyes. I smiled when he told us because it was too unreal. Reality was soon to hit me square in the jaw. As we came together to hold hands, and tears started to flow around me, it became a tangible reality. My Abuelo was gone. I held myself together through the prayer, but I walked as quickly as I could to my room and locked the door. It was then that I was unglued. I knelt at my bed, and looked out into the blue sky before me. I tried and tried to fathom what had happened at 7:30 that evening. Because it was the last place he wanted to go, my family ate at Red Lobster and saved Abuelo a seat.

My father and I embraced and he said to me "I know you loved him very much." Truer words could not have been spoken at that moment. Abuelo Juanma had been there for my entire eighteen years of life, and a life without him was a daunting thought. I learned from him, I fought waves with him, I nearly set fire to the kitchen with him, I played chess with him, I laughed with him, I shared stories with him. To think that I no longer could create memories with him was heart breaking. I will always hold dear the ones that we did manage to create. Making up translations for opera, his hilarious twists on history, chess, our crazy drawings, the even crazier science experiments, giant puzzles, and especially poker. I learned a lot from Abuelo, as did everyone that ever knew him. I will always love the things that we did together along with the bow ties and the way he answered the phone, which he made so famous through television. He was a great man for our family and our island. I'm looking forward to honoring him on Monday with a memorial service and then spending a great few weeks here in Puerto Rico with the rest of the family.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010


The 2010 World Cup is in full swing and has burst into the Garcia home with undeniable force. South America and Europe have taken the spotlight, as expected, and provided brutal match ups set to take center stage.
After wrapping up my three weeks of work in June, I am finally able to give my undivided attention to soccer's masterpiece. I have caught the tournament at the right time, with the group stage over and the knockout round underway. I watched with intent as Germany derailed England, Ghana became America's new public enemy #1, and David Villa powered Spain past neighboring Portugal. After a day off from the action, I am more than ready for the quarterfinals beginning tomorrow morning with powerhouse Brazil battling the Dutch. All of the matches in the quarters look promising and I plan to stay on the edge of my seat, ready to leap for my teams at any given moment.
Aside from the excitement of the World Cup, I am fortunate to have my cousins visiting, as well. We have had a great deal of fun, and countless hours have been spent outside. It's always nice to have them around because there's never a dull moment. Together we have shared our love for Spongebob, torn up the dance floor with the Wii, and ripped through the backyard like a whirlwind. In the spirit of the World Cup, we have even had our own match. Today, we took all that we have learned from watching the pros in the past weeks onto a Germantown field with our brand new soccer ball. Goals were scored, saves were made, passes sent the ball soaring from end to end, and I even attempted the ever-so-tempting knee slide that is demonstrated here by David Villa; I didn't get as far, but be sure that it looked as awesome as it felt. Tomorrow promises to be another exciting day before our cousins make the journey back to Maryland. On the itinerary? World Cup, noon premiere (no midnight showings unfortunately for my eager family members) of The Last Airbender, and a night at Autozone Park for a Redbird's game. For now, however, sleep awaits.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Exploration into the Blogging World

Thinkbloginversion_1I always told myself that I would be too lazy to venture into the blog universe, though I wondered what it was like. However, I drew inspiration after paying a visit to my abuelos, aunt, and uncle in Ohio. I figured that a blog would be a simple, fun way to keep my family updated on my endeavors (with a bit more detail than a Facebook status) while practicing my writing at the same time. Besides, I already have two family members with blogs, so why not give it a try?
This past week I had the pleasure of going to Ohio to pay a visit to family, for unfortunate reasons. Though the visit did my grandparents good, I think it did me some good as well. It was very nice to see them along with my aunt and uncle, but it was also nice just to get away. Their home is in Gambier, Ohio, which is characterized by crop fields as well as forests full of life. Luckily, the weather treated me well, and I was given three beautiful days of blue skies and a warm sun to welcome me. As I sat on the porch with various family members, I was able to look out over lush trees with newly born spring leaves. All around birds sang their praises to the great weather. All in all, it was very soothing and relaxing to enjoy. I also got to renew my friendship with Lizzy, the dog. She is a bundle of energy and a joy to be around. She always makes those around her have as much fun as she does; I had a fabulous time wearing each other out with fun games. I also got to meet Hamlet, the newest cat. I imagine my aunt and uncle will lose count of the number rescued animals they have sheltered quite soon because I already have.
I was happy to finally get to pay grandpa a visit. Though very feeble, he is in good spirits and in the best place for him and grandma. It was nice getting to share stories and reminisce about past memories. I also had a great time with grandma, who has not slowed down her pace of questions asked (AT ALL). She whipped up some delicious tofu sandwiches for me, as always, and took care of me. I cannot forget my aunt and uncle. I loved getting to spend some quality time with them, since my aunt didn't have work to worry about. They cooked some delicious dinners and treated me to a tasty ice cream parlor on the Kenyon College campus. They handed me some good laughs and a warm welcome into their home. My uncle also managed to hand me a whipping in Scrabble. I had a great relaxing visit with my family, and now I am back home to spend some time with friends, as well and embrace the summer spirit.


About Me

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I am Puerto Rican and very proud of it. I have the privilege of being bilingual, as well. I am a recent graduate and eager to go off to college and start my life. I hope to have a great experience and get the most out of it.