I am from a small town in Puerto Rico called “Ceiba” (Say-bah) which is on the east coast about forty five minutes from San Juan. Locals are called “Los Come Sopa” or The Soup Eaters and while there isn’t a specific reason why they are called this, lore does say that since there was no local meat market they had to travel to find meat and supposedly ate soup a lot. (I love that my hometown has a food name, makes me wonder if this food stuff is in my genes 🙂 )
I love Ceiba, I have many memories there from when I did live there and over the years things of course have changed but I still felt the same way every time I went. Then Hurricane Maria happened this year and devastated the Island. I remember all the emotions in my head drowning out all the practicality because my grandparents and uncle were on the Island; I was worried. I didn’t speak to them for weeks and I remember finally being able to talk to them, what a relief that was! My mom and I started planning our trip to go, but we had to wait until the Island stabilized and the airport opened. This is where my story begins of my trip, my family, the people I met and saw, small businesses and how the beauty of Puerto Rico will live on. I hope you all enjoy this journey I take you on and leave your thoughts and comments below.
I flew into San Juan a couple weeks before Thanksgiving, as we started to land on the Island and I saw all the tarps on peoples houses, and that the trees/forests had been stripped of leaves; I remember I was just crying on the airplane trying to take it all in. The airport was bustling but about an hour before I had arrived the power had gone out again. My memory of driving to my grandparents house was filled with tears but also smiles because despite all the destruction people kept trucking on. With their Puerto Rican flags and their signs of “Puerto Rico Se Levanta” or “Puerto Rico lifts itself up” the hope was very much alive.
Tarps on the houses- you can also see how the winds stripped trees
Just having landed, airport was a bit dark but it was sunny and beautiful
Hope is at the heart of Puerto Rico picking itself up, the people are strong and help one another. Everywhere I went, whether for food, to visit or anything else. I was met with smiles, hugs, kisses on the cheek and just LOVE. I know that Puerto Rico will be okay because the people will make it okay, their strength has been tested and while we don’t know the outcome they will fight for their Island and for their families. I am proud to be Puerto Rican in every way and I am proud of my people.
I tried to visit as many local eateries as I could to support as many individuals as I could. This is something I believe strongly in as all of you know during my journey as the Maven. Supporting small yields such a big impact because you are helping people at the source and while in Puerto Rico I wanted to make sure I did this as much as possible 🙂
With the pictures that I took on this trip- some are happy, some are sad but all are reflective of the current state that Puerto Rico is in, and I wanted to share this with you all but had to take time to take it in and understand how I should write about my experience. The pictures tell a story, one of hope, love, pain, and suffering but also of strength; the strength of Puerto Ricans.
Our first stop: Lolita’s! Mexican restaurant w/ Puerto Rican influences 🙂
This plate was delicious of taquitos, rice and beans
Center of Ceiba
We stopped to get some homemade food from a small shop in Ceiba
Mofongo de Yucca w/ Mayo-Ketchup Sauce
This was one of my favorite meals in PR
Mini Arepas – Coconut & Regular which were served with fish broth – OMG
Shrimp w/ Garlic & Tostones
Arepa w/ Mixed Seafood – Octopus, Shrimp, Lobster & Carrucho
Such a gorgeous plate
Our wonderful waiter
Naguabo, Puerto Rico – Neighboring town
Here you see El Yunque our rainforest in the distance covered by clouds as the sun sets
Early morning run at El Timon in Fajardo 🙂
The famous “Dona” which is a delicious Sugar Donut
A traditional dish of Bacalao al Criollo con Verduras (Cod in Sauce w/ Root Vegetables)
“Cremaldi, The Home of Fried Ice Cream”
It was so good!!!
Myself & the owner of Cremaldi
Night out at Chey’s Pizza a local Ceiba spot that’s been around over 30 years
Fajardo- “The Cave of the Sea”
Yucafongo w/Shrimp & Salad
Pana (Breadfruit) Tostones w/ Mayo-Ketchup
“Budin” – Bread Pudding – Butter, raisins & nuts w/ Aged Barrilito Rum Sauce
Mom & I in our Sunday best 🙂
Dear, dear Family friends – Hno. Joaquin & Hna. Maribel who brought us to this beautiful restaurant in Fajardo with the gorgeous scenery.
Everyone in this photo has known me since I was born – 🙂 🙂
Local kiosk selling “Papas Rellenas” or Potato Balls – I convinced Momma to stop 🙂
These were magic! So good and fresh
The filling was stellar!
What was left of the end of the pier in Naguabo, PR
Contemplating how beautiful everything still was
Seven Seas Beach- Fajardo, PR
I wrote this in the sand – my little art 🙂
Enjoying my Piña Colada at a local beach spot – it was delicious
I had a beautiful time with my family – my mom and I were so thankful for the opportunity to help not only them but those around us. We are also thankful for our dear friend Tacoma who flew in from Atlanta to bring supplies again ( she shared that amazing pizza from Chey’s with us 🙂 )
I left a part of my heart in Puerto Rico and I hope the next time I go up more people are connected, are stronger and will have endured all the battles sent their way. The beauty lives on!
Puerto Rico Se Levanta!
Life as a Maven