As of 2020, Puerto Rico consists of 78 municipalities. For those who live on the island, each municipality represents a unique identity that fosters a sense of orgullo. For everyone else, Puerto Rico can be divided into two segments: San Juan and "everywhere else." While San Juan is interesting, and a must for every new visitor, "everywhere else" presents an interesting value proposition comprised of authentic Caribbean cuisine, waterfalls, mountains, pristine beaches, and when desired, solitude.
"Everywhere else," in my humble opinion, is where the enchantment occurs.
This is where the green of the mountains meets the blue of the sky.
This is where the turquoise of the ocean encroaches on the white sand of the beach.
This is where you begin to realize there is something extra special about Puerto Rico.
The extra special can be found in the trees and their fruit. The caterpillars and their stripes. The burro and the burnt orange hair lining their mane. The fish and the way they become the sand and shadows underwater.
It's even in the bark of an old German Shepard waiting in the middle of a mountainous road and the yellow paint of a sports car longing for a cruise.
It's a man on a bike, furiously peddling away from the coming storm.
It's a boy yelling "cheese" on a colorful staircase---patiently waiting for his father to snap a picture.
As we distance ourselves from heavily trafficked, overly frequented tourist locales, we draw nearer to a more authentic experience. While we can never claim ourselves Boricua, through our choices we certainly gain a deeper understanding of what it means---and the reality is, the meaning is simple.
It can be heard in the voice of the pescaderos as they converse on the end of a weathered dock. It can be seen in their actions as their cast their nets.
The meaning is in the rustling of a pelican's feathers in the afternoon wind.
It's in the scratching of the iguana's feet as it lazily walks towards a more intensely lit patch of paradise.
It's in the sun drenched slabs of concrete that break the incoming tide and the shadows of a long forgotten staircase in the forest.
It's in every beat of your heart---every breath that fills your lungs.
Camera: Canon AE-1 (28mm f/2.8) & Olympus Stylus 120
Film: Kodak Ultramax 400 & Kodak Portra 160
When: February & March 2020
Where: Manati, San Sebastian, Aguadilla, & Rincon, PR