Puerto Ricans came together to help residents of neighbor islands in the Caribbean who got hit by Hurricane Irma; as we were still lending a hand, Puerto Rico had a few days to prepare for the most devastating hurricane in a century.
It’s been a month now since Maria hit, most likely you will not see all the improvements and progress made on the media, most likely you won’t see Puerto Ricans dancing on the squares or enjoying the gifts of living on an island that many visitors travel here to experience, negativity simply gets more attention on news headlines.
Many have much to gain by steering tourists away from Puerto Rico making it seem like the island is in chaos and not vacation worthy; But life here in Puerto Rico continues… to the rhythms of plena and salsa, islanders are working together to make the island shine again brighter than ever.
Most of the news showing devastation are focused on the communities of the central mountains, and municipalities on the Hurricane’s trajectory but they fail to show how the rest the island has progressed. Many residents on the mountains are still suffering and dealing with devastation, historically the residents on the mountains feel the full wrath of hurricanes due to the terrain, topography and outdated infrastructure of their communities. Although Hurricane Maria did not intentionally discriminate among residents, those with less resources to build more hurricane proof homes endured the most hardship and loss.
Various tourist districts will look and feel quite normal to visitors. Many residential communities with good infastructure suffered little damages to their homes and roads, while many still have a long road ahead to rebuilding their communities. If you were to visit the metro area where most of the hotels, shopping areas and restaurants are located, it may give the impression that the damage of the hurricane was not that severe. Many residents, including ourselves are spending more time in the tourist and shopping districts seeking for entertainment until electricity is fully restored.
Contrary to the “comment” of our President, residents and businesses have been working overtime to restore their lives, their businesses and their communities, they are certainly not waiting for “everything to be done for them”. We are confident we will have a stronger and better Puerto Rico. We hope you come visit to experience and support the revival of Puerto Rico, the island that will continue to be The Star of the Caribbean.
Living in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria
We wish the situation in residential areas were as easy and quick to fix as in the tourist districts. The Metro Region and cities will receive restoration of power and services much sooner than smaller less populated municipalities, so when you read of dire conditions, those conditions refer to residents in more “remote” areas in the mountains, neighborhoods in flooding zones and small coastal towns heavily affected by the hurricane.
As of 5 weeks after Hurricane Maria, most residents around the island are dealing with the loss of electricity and lack of running water. Islanders are eagerly trying to return to work while some are working overtime. About 60% of residents work for small businesses, the lack of electricity has made it difficult or impossible for owners to run their businesses, putting employees in the very difficult position of having to leave their home, their community and their beloved island in search of more immediate work opportunities in the mainland USA, a very difficult decision to make on top of enduring a catastrophic event. Those suffering from life threatening illnesses and in need of life sustaining medical services had to leave Puerto Rico in order to get adequate medical care until all the hospitals and medical offices return back to normal operations.
Many residents may not have electric or other conveniences, but life continues for those with a positive mindset. Generators are powering hundreds of thousands of homes until power is restored. For residents that have running water, boiling is still recommended as a precaution. This generation’s youth are learning to enjoy the simple things that our abuelos (grandparents / elders) used to enjoy in a non-technical focused era, it is amazing to see all the things we can do and the wonderful conversations we can have when technology is down. Friends and family gather at “chinchorros” and restaurants, you may find them dancing to plena and salsa at the squares, shopping at the malls that have opened and enjoying the simple daily activities that make island living great.
Life in Puerto Rico is indeed challenging as we wait for necessary modern conveniences to be restored, but for those that are staying, it is indeed an experience that has taught us many things. We are getting through it, by Christmas we hope to be celebrating the festivities more grateful and united than ever before.
We can all be Moana and make a contribution for the magic of Puerto Rico to return. Your decision to vacation in Puerto Rico will be also be a contribution to the progress of the island.