Puerto Rico: Honoring Its Love of Life In the Midst of Ongoing Tragedy

Laura Vasilion
May 14 · 3 min read

Talking to the World Project

A beach in Puerto Rico

This post was written long before Hurricane Maria ravaged the United States territory of Puerto Rico. But tragedy had already touched the island.

I wrote this on Friday June 17, 2016: a day of mourning in Puerto Rico. On June 11, 23 young people from Puerto Rico were killed in the Orlando, Florida Pulse nightclub mass shooting. Young people who came to Florida to better their lives. Find the employment opportunities that were not available to them in Puerto Rico. Gay Puerto Ricans, who came to the LGBT nightclub on that terrifying night to dance, sing, and celebrate their culture and community.

Sadly, that celebration was cut short.

Before the shooting, I had contacted Jim, a man from Puerto Rico for this blog. The friend of a friend, Jim is a native Puerto Rican who lives in the lush, green city of Guaynabo. Self-employed, an actor, he agreed to talk to me about his life in Puerto Rico, reminding me that Puerto Ricans are by nature outgoing, friendly, and love to celebrate life.

My Interview With Jim

Please look out a window and tell me what you see.

I live on the 24th floor of my condo so I have a bird’s eye view of the city of San Juan, the bay, the old city, and the ocean.

Which languages do you speak?

I am an English and Spanish native speaker. I also have varying levels of proficiency in French, German, Russian, and Portuguese.

What is your ethnic background?

Irish-American Midwest upbringing at home combined with the cultural seasoning of Puerto Rico.

What do you want the rest of the world to know about Puerto Rico?

Puerto Rico should be a paradise. If only Puerto Ricans realized what they have.

What myth or stereotype about Puerto Rico is inaccurate? Which one is dead on?

That we are savages. That we all carry switchblades (although I haven’t heard that one in years.)

That we love to party is dead on!

With which aspect of your culture do you identify with the most?


Please describe your favorite time of year in Puerto Rico.

Hands down, there is no better place to celebrate Christmas than in Puerto Rico. I have spent a few on the mainland (U.S.) and they are dull and boring in comparison. Again, Puerto Ricans love to party. Christmas lasts from December (sometimes black Friday) and does not end until mid to late January.

What brings you joy?

Being among friends and family, cooking, drinking, and having a good time.

If I came to dinner at your house what would you serve me?

Oh, that’s a tough one. I love to cook, so I’d have to ask what you prefer. I can do Irish, I can do Puerto Rican, meats, and pasta. It’s an open-ended question.

What does Puerto Rico do well? What do you wish it did better?

Well? Tourism. Better? Everything else.

Who or what inspires you? In terms of nature and natural beauty, what are the most remarkable things about Puerto Rico?

El Yunque, the rainforest. So much natural beauty!

What is your opinion of the United States/Chicago?

Chicago has the government that it deserves.

I love to visit Chi-town because it has all the good things New York City and none of the bad ones.

Where do you stand on the issue of Puerto Rico becoming a state rather than remaining a territory?

Becoming a U.S. state is the only solution. The main reason many investors don’t come to Puerto Rico is because of its instability. The colonial status is a temporary solution that has outlived its purpose. With statehood comes stability, security, and values. Puerto Rico has a lot to offer and vice-a-versa the United States.

Originally published at http://www.chicagonow.com.

Talking to the World

A One-on-One Global Conversation. Focusing On Our Commonalities, Honoring Our Differences

Laura Vasilion

Written by

Editor of Present Tense and Talking to the World. Author, blogger, novelist. Would rather be living in Iceland.

Talking to the World

A One-on-One Global Conversation. Focusing On Our Commonalities, Honoring Our Differences

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch
Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore
Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade