Summer is coming up and it’s time for you to head to your favorite tropical vacation spot, Puerto Rico! Ready to hear the beautiful sounds of El Coquí and make this the best vacation ever?
Puerto Rico’s tourism is slowly booming again and if you’re visiting the island’s tourist spots, you’ll notice that the roads and buildings look brand new and are running smoothly. But unfortunately, anything outside the tourist zones is still neglected and rundown after Hurricane Maria.
Here’s what’s happening on the island and what you can do to make your trip both enjoyable and meaningful.
The light from your hotel may be the only thing on when night falls on the island.
Power outages have been frequent since Hurricane Maria hit the island last September. Now, six months later, the island is still dealing with the after effects of the hurricane.
Since Hurricane Maria, Puerto Rico’s power outages have earned them the title of second largest blackout in world history (Not just the US, but the world, THE FREAKING WORLD.)
Part of the problem is that President Trump has been clear about not wanting to help.
Trump has yet to comment on the most recent (out of many) blackouts in Puerto Rico, which just shows how little value he places on the U.S. citizens there. Even though …
"Puerto Rico survived the Hurricanes, now a financial crisis looms largely of their own making." says Sharyl Attkisson. A total lack of…..
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 12, 2017
You probably won’t have to worry about being left in the dark as a tourist because backup generators are likely available to you. But the people of Puerto Rico don’t have access to them. While you can’t fit a generator in your suitcase (where’s a Mary Poppins bag when you need one?), you can pack some batteries and flashlights to donate to local charities on the island. Talk to your hotel and see if they know of any charities to recommend!
Your have “free bottled water”, courtesy of your hotel. But what about the island’s residents?
Since FEMA left the island, shipments of bottled water haven’t been frequent. Puerto Rico would be able to get water on their own if they didn’t have an outdated law preventing them. The Jones Act, passed into law in 1920, prevents goods (like water bottles) from being sent to the island unless delivered by U.S. made ships operated and owned by stateside U.S. Citizens. It’s intent was to control U.S. ports, but the provisions can be waived in cases of natural disaster. When Texas and Florida were hit by hurricanes in 2017, they were allowed to bypass the restrictions to receive aid. But this has not happened for Puerto Rico.
As a tourist, you probably won’t have to worry about not having access to bottled water in hotels, but keep in mind that some people on the island don’t have that luxury.
One way to help raise awareness about this outdated law is by sharing this article. Change is possible, but only when we decide to be the movers and shakers!
Interested in a cooking lesson by a famous chef? This is an experience you won’t forget.
While you dine on flavourful arroz con gandules at your hotel’s restaurant and gorge yourself on the delicate dessert tembleque, the residents of Puerto Rico will be dining on less refined options. Because of all the power outages (including the one that happened just this month), it has been difficult for families in Puerto Rico to store and cook meals safely. Thankfully, one celebrity, Chef Jose Andres, has converted the biggest concert hall in San Juan, The Coliseo, into a meal provision headquarters for hungry residents on the island. Because of his efforts and many volunteers, they have been able to provide nearly 1.5 million meals to those affected.
Consider volunteering at The Coliseo and learn to make Puerto Rican recipes while connecting with the locals and providing hot meals.
While you vacation, a visitor may stop by to rain on your parade.
While summer time is the best time to go to Puerto Rico and enjoy the beauty of the island, it is also hurricane season. The tourist areas of San Juan don’t need to worry as much thanks to the newly refurbished buildings, but other areas are still damaged. Houses in the surrounding areas are still trying to get back to functional living spaces, but have to settle for alternatives like makeshift showers that won’t last against another storm. Lastly, the repeated blackouts currently happening in Puerto Rico have made it harder to rebuild parts of the island.
While you get ready for your trip, think about seeing if your community is gathering money and supplies to help the residents of Puerto Rico prepare for hurricane season. You can also check if you have anything to offer: it’s a great way to clean your house and get it ready for your return from your trip!
“Puerto Rico Se Levanta” Will Happen Once The Lights Come Back On For Good.
The people of Puerto Rico are strong and resilient, but that doesn’t mean they don’t deserve help. So have fun on your trip to Puerto Rico this summer and help make the phrase “Puerto Rico Se Levanta” come true.