Getting to the airplane was a journey in itself, the metal detectors, the cafeteria maze, and the constant wrong turns looking for the plane. However the real adventure was in our destination. I was fourteen, and on my first trip to Puerto Rico, the place where my mother walked miles to school, explored mountains, and watched stars on dark nights. My mother, sister, and I set off to a small, rural town called Florida, to stay with my mother’s aunt and uncle, for two weeks.
At first it made me uneasy to stay with people I’d never met, in a place thousands of miles away. It made me even more uneasy that I sounded like a five year old when I spoke Spanish. I couldn’t help but let my mind roam like a wild animal. Questions came and went. What if they don’t understand what I am saying? What if my cousins don’t like me? What if I fall off a mountain? The four hour plane ride made me think more than I would have liked. Sleeping on the long ride was not an option.
When we finally arrived at the airport I was happy to see the familiar faces of my grandmother, my aunt, and her two young daughters. Unfortunately for us it was about one hundred degrees and the seven of us had to somehow fit into a five person car for an hour. The car was small and gray and I felt like I was in an oven, but all I really paid attention to was the outside view of mountains. The scenery was filled with huge green mountains with small, pueblo like houses dotting the landscape. It was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. I have never seen so many mountains so big, so green. A big, free, wilderness, that I’d never seen near a city.
Once we were on the road for a little while longer, we stopped at a bakery, which was my favorite part of the trip. The bakery was huge with numerous tables. It smelled like rice and bread, but also very sweet. They had wonderful selections, a wide variety of food to choose from. I ended up with a cheese cake that I do not think I ever finished.
Once we got to the house I instantly felt so much love, because of all the genuine initial care, always asking how was I or if I was hungry. I automatically loved my aunt, uncle, and my cousins who lived across the street, and my great grandmother who lived next door. I was surprised by this love because it felt new to me and it was something I wanted to return, with a lot of hugs, eating and laughter.
A really big part of Puerto Rican culture is to always offer food, so I am pretty sure I gained fifteen pounds and stretched out my bladder. I mainly ate rice and beans (which is what I mainly eat at home). Rice is the most common thing in Puerto Rico because it’s so easily attainable. Being full felt very natural because I was is the place of my origin eating what Puerto Ricans eat.
At first I didn’t believe this trip was going to mean anything and I didn’t think I would become so close to people I’d never met or talked to. It did end up being a very special time. I felt so loved and I felt like I had people I could depend on. I would go back at any time.
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