Recent Hurricane Maria tragically tore its way through the heart of Puerto Rico and the hearts of many who call the island home or who have a deep connection to the beautiful nation. With devastating conditions, the need for help is urgent. With ties to the island, Danielle shares with us her personal love for the place and why it is time to stand up for Puerto Rico:
Last month’s Hurricane Maria tore through the Caribbean and left one place in particular, and my heart, in pieces. The beautiful island of Puerto Rico was majorly affected by the first hurricane to make landfall in PR in years. With the main concern being no access to running water and 90% of the island without power, the people of Puerto Rico are left worrying about basic needs for survival and cannot even begin to think about rebuilding their lives and homes until these two necessities are restored. Flooding and high winds left many homes severely damaged or even uninhabitable. Any home affected by contaminated flood waters will need to be stripped down and thoroughly cleaned before it is safe to live in again. With geographical barriers and less than perfect infrastructure it is going to be a very long road to recovery for the island. Just see the damage below for yourself:
With a volunteer trip coming up in just 5 days I am working hard to do whatever I can to try and help the people of Puerto Rico. I have established a Go Fund Me page (which you can read more about including where the money is going and how by clicking on the link) and have planned other fundraising efforts, to collect donations to be used to buy supplies needed by families who will have to start their lives from scratch, and who have severe damage to their homes. We hope to help them begin the process of cleaning up and getting their homes ready for repair. I thought in the wake of this all I would take time to reflect why this cause, and island are so important to me.
I’m not a world traveler (yet), but I have had the privilege of visiting several countries and islands and no place has stolen my heart the way the island of Puerto Rico has. This cannot be accredited to just its striking beauty found throughout, from the palm lined beaches in places like Luquillo to the magnificent sights of the rain forest, or the amazing and prideful cuisine (which I’d be happy eating the rest of my life). It’s not just because of its unique history taught by the brilliant remains of Old San Juan, or the unmatched night life in La Placita, and the casino lined strip. No, my love for such a beautiful place did not come from what I could see, but what I could feel. Something I could only experience thanks to one aspect of the island, it’s people.
My first time in Puerto Rico I experienced this overwhelming feeling of being welcome. From my first encounter at the airport, to the taxi drivers, store clerks and the bar tender at my hotel who was happy to give me a short history lesson on the island, I generally felt wanted and that my company was appreciated by all of those I encountered. The people’s willingness to teach and host you was a refreshing and loving feeling and no matter the reason, duration or location of your trip, the phenomena of Puerto Rican pride is one you will not be able to, or want to miss.
Being that my boyfriend is Puerto Rican I have had the privilege of seeing the island from a perspective that is unmatched by a typical vacation stay. Driving up the winding mountain roads, seeing all the little concrete houses that have remained unchanged for years and the authentic taste of Abulita’s arroz con gandules has been an experience that has created priceless memories.
Some of the humbling lessons I have learned from my travels were taught by the simple caring acts of this island’s people like:
Watching the little old man hiking up the mountain, running a stick across the gates of his neighbors to let them know he has arrived to peddle his avocados and to watch those who have avocado trees of their own, still buy from him just to help him out, has taught me to give whenever you can, and that there is always someone with less than what you have.
Going to the grocery store countless times only to be met by the same man in the parking lot offering to help people put their groceries in their cars in exchange for some spare change, then hearing the customers call him by name and learning they went to school with the begger who they know is sick, has taught me to always treat everyone with the same respect, no matter their status.
Being at a family party where they stop to make plates of food for the kids across the street because they know their mothers are working late has taught me your value as a human being is not measured by what you have done for yourself but what you can offer others.
If I had not witnessed these things for myself, I would not be able to comprehend the magnitude of these people’s love and compassion for one another, one we could all learn from. I feel the impact it has had on my life and on my perspective and never before could I sit in a hammock at night on a dimly lit road listening to the wonders of the rainforest and be so content and grateful for all that I have.
So, during this time of dire need I hope you can find a way to contribute to the cause because I have gained so much from the people of Puerto Rico and although it won’t ever be enough to save the whole island or to ever repay my debt of all the valuable lessons the island taught me, every cent counts to help this beautiful place when it’s down and hurt.
Even if you can’t help by donating there are many other ways to help! As time goes on, people tend to forget and go on with their lives (which is completely normal of course), but this issue is not going away anytime soon. We cannot forget about the beautiful people of Puerto Rico as they fight for their basic needs to survive with limited supplies. Please share this post or the following photo on social media so we keep up the fight for Puerto Rico!
A NOMADIC DREAMER