I know you have heard me say that one of the main reasons I like Puerto Rico is the people. I truly believe that they are amazing! But you may be wondering what the hack does that mean..? Well, let me tell you.
7 Reasons I Love The People Of Puerto Rico:
1. Friendliness and warmth
The people here are friendly. When you walk the aisles of the grocery store, you will often get a good morning or good afternoon from someone. When you walk down the street you will get a greeting too. When you stroll down the beach, you will get a head nod. And these are always accompanied by a smile.
Don’t get me wrong, occasionally you will run into grumpy individuals, but the vast majority of the time, people simile, nod, and greet each other. I love this about Puerto Rico!
This is in stark contrast to what we have seen in some other countries. In Costa Rica, for example, locals rarely made eye contact with the “gringos” or foreigners – it is rare to see that here in Puerto Rico. In Mexico, locals were only nice to you if they wanted to sell you something. The minute they realized you were not buying, they would turn rude. In Panama, people were reserved – polite if you approached them but never initiate contact.
People in Puerto Rico chat in grocery lines or bank lines, smile readily, greet you and respond when you have a question. Oh, and they love it when you try Spanish – even if it is broken like ours! I can’t tell you how many laughs we have gotten from the locals by simply asking how to say something in Spanish – sometimes the responses are pretty entertaining both for us and them. Puerto Rican people love to laugh, joke and tease – they are our kind of people.
2. National identity and pride
Puerto Rico has a history of being under occupation and even though, its current status is that of a territory, Puerto Ricans a fiercely proud bunch. Their national pride runs deep and the people here are proud of their island and their heritage.
I think this is amazing and awesome and it reminds me a lot of the Polish national pride. Although, Puerto Ricans are Americans, they usually don’t refer to themselves as such, instead they call themselves “Puertorriqueños” or “Boricuas” (from the Taíno word Boriken). This is a good example of Puerto Ricans honoring both their Spanish and native Indian roots.
3. Welcoming and helpful
Rarely, do I feel out of place in Puerto Rico. The locals have been super welcoming to us and, truly, we are starting to feel a part of this island. People of Puerto Rico, as a whole, are extremely helpful and open to everyone. We come across countless examples of human kindness here every day. From helpful people in line at Subway to locals volunteering to spend 3 days with us translating while we get our car registered. If a car breaks down, others stop to help, if you have a problem, someone is always willing to provide assistance. We have experienced being showered with local foods prepared by neighbors and fresh fruits and vegetables brought over by other neighbors and even Puerto Rican friends providing a hand in household repairs.
As a culture, Puerto Ricans are generous with their time, helpful, and welcoming to all. Don’t get me wrong, as anywhere else, you will come across a jerk, once in a while, but it is rare.
4. Genuine, authentic, and real
People of Puerto Rico are genuine and real. They are who they are and they are proud of it. Opinions are expressed freely, loudly, and eagerly. People love to party, talk, and have fun and accept others as they are. Characters are welcome in Puerto Rico. If you are real and open in return, you can make friends here and will be accepted. From a fruit stand owner that talks over everyone and haggles for the prices, to the ice cream beach guy who quietly explains the flavors, to the gregarious Puerto Rican women who always dress nicely and wear makeup – everyone is true to who they are.
We sat in an open-air bar for lunch one day and a man came in, started singing loudly behind us. He was with his lady and they were clearly enjoying the beach. I heard their conversation in Spanish but he was singing in English. So, I turned around and said, “I wish I could switch languages back and forth as well as you”. He was totally shocked that I talked to him, started laughing, and then we had a nice conversation. Turns out that the only English he knew was the songs but he was a clown and we loved it. Characters are welcome. No matter, who you are, what nationality, race, or religion, you will be accepted in Puerto Rico.
5. Entrepreneurial and resourceful
We are in the midst of helping our neighbor start a local farmers market here in Luquillo. As part of the process, we get to talk to others who have started small businesses here. It is amazing how resourceful Puerto Ricans are. We talked to a local fruit stand guy, a couple of days ago, and he said “look, if you wait for the hotel or resort to call you back with a job, you’ll be waiting forever, so here we just get a truck and start selling our stuff out of it”.
Luquillo recently had a food truck festival at the beach organized by some local guys and that is exactly what they all did, got a truck and started selling delicious food out of it. People find ways to make money and it is often very creative and entrepreneurial.
I even met a woman that started a WWOOF (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms) farm in Luquillo and I’m excited to see if I can get involved. But, my point is that people here think different, they think of ways to survive and make money, like nowhere else I have seen – it inspires me.
Most Puerto Ricans are religious. This does not necessarily mean that they go to church but simply that most Puerto Ricans believe in God (of their own understanding).
So, why is this a good thing? Well, aside from the fact that I identify, I feel like that there is a certain moral code upheld here. I would describe it as “most people try to treat others, as they would want to be treated.”
Coming from the States, it is refreshing to see that blessing are readily bestowed on others in normal conversation. It is even somewhat shocking at times. For example, the Mayor and municipality not only sanction but sponsor monthly prayer gatherings at the Plaza – something that would be unthinkable in the States. Religions and denominations of all types are expressed in Puerto Rico – I love that.
The main religion on the island is still Roman Catholic but Puerto Rico does not follow the Catholic dogma as diligently as do churches in some other countries. When Puerto Ricans took over the Catholic churches from Spain, they followed some of the guidelines but ignored or modified others. This resulted in an interesting hybrid of the church. The services are much less formal and everything is more relaxed.
7. Friendly Gringos
There is a good size gringo community in Puerto Rico and I have to tell you, it is by far the friendliest and most welcoming bunch I have seen anywhere.
In Costa Rica, I felt that gringos were cliquey. In Mexico, I felt they were snobby but here in Puerto Rico, they are inclusive, friendly, and fun. About the only other place I’ve seen gringos as nice as in Puerto Rico was in Panama.
In Luquillo, there is a fairly large community of seasonal gringos (i.e. snow birds) and a smaller one of year-round gringos. We are just starting to hook into the year-round community and it is nice to see everyone be so welcoming. We all help each other in making Puerto Rico our home and we are all becoming people of Puerto Rico.
So, there you have it. Now you know what I mean about the amazing people of Puerto Rico. They truly make this island a great place to live!