Taste of the World: Puerto Rico

By Bret Pallotto
March 9, 2017

Puerto Rico is a territory of the United States, but the island is heavily influenced by both Caribbean and Spanish culture.

Puerto Rico, which translates to “rich port” in English, was once a colony of Spain and many landmarks from that time period can still be seen today.

Their flag, which can be seen in the bottom left, features a five-pointed star in the middle of a blue triangle along with three red horizontal bands and two white horizontal bands.

The star represents the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. Each point on the blue, equilateral triangle stands for one of the three branches of government (executive, legislative and judicial). The red bands symbolize the blood that protects each branch of government. One white band represents individual freedoms and liberties while the other white band represents rights of the government, which provides a reminder of the way a democratic government should be run.

Puerto Rico is home to roughly 3.6 million people and 380,000 call San Juan home. Heritage and culture is something that holds a high-level of importance to Puerto Ricans. “Criollo,” which a variant of “Creole,” is a word that is used when talking about things native to the island and its culture, such as music, art and architecture.

On my several visits to Puerto Rico, a majority of my time was spent in the capital city of San Juan. Old San Juan is only a short distance away and is an excellent example of their colonial past. It is considered to be the oldest settlement in the territories of the United States.

Part of the charm of Old San Juan is the location of the historical building. Castillo San Felipe del Morro, better known as El Morro Fortress, is located directly on the coast and was designed to guard and defend San Juan Bay against enemies that attacked from the sea.

It was remarkable to see in person because it looked like an old-school castle that you envision and see in various movies. It was worn down, but not decrepit. The history of the fortress could still be seen and felt without it feeling like it was past its time and in need of being completely renovated.

The characteristics of San Juan itself that stand out most in my memory are the cobblestone streets and the pastel-covered buildings. The pictures at the top and the right provide a glimpse of what I am talking about. If an entire block of homes were pastel orange that would be a memorable sight, but each building on a street has a different color which really creates some vivid images.

The weather in Puerto Rico is something that I envy to this day. The average temperature is 82 degrees and varies only six degrees from the summer to the winter, according to The Weather Channel.

The importance of culture can be seen in the opening moments of visiting a new region or country. Puerto Rico is one such country that is prideful about their heritage and culture. This is one experience that I hope many people can have during their lifetime.

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