Chapter 2

September 7, 2009

Hello again to all! Before starting, I would like to congratulate the recently married couple and wish them the best of luck and happiness from now on! Hope that you had a good time on that day and even though you don't need me to say it, you know I would've loved to be there with you. I would also like to thank everyone who responded, commented, criticized or just read the first of the chapters. 

Precisely a month from today I set foot in Puerto Rico, and times flies by fast, very fast. Making a brief review, I think the work and effort invested to come here have been worth it. I really feel extraordinarily well received, for everything and mainly by everyone. 

It is evident to me that those who have contributed exceedingly to this journey are the Puerto Ricans I have been meeting, encountering, and greeting... I don't know if this will become a mono-topic across the diaries, but the open, affable and attentive character of the people here is positively surprising. Even coming from the South of Spain, where we assume ourselves more kin than the rest of Europe... the difference is the less shocking.

Impressions that I believe can be explained with the simple detail that crossing gaze with a lad or gal on a sidewalk, on the train or the market (without knowing him/her a bit), will be answered with a sincere smile on their face. Conversations in line to buy food, in the library, in the classes... a natural approach and spontaneous, sincere and grateful that is not looking for more than the crossing of impressions, or exposing their opinion about any issue, from the most trivial to the Island's politics... politics... 

Doing a bit of a recollection I want to tell you I'm taking two courses in the University. One of them Architectural History of Puerto Rico and the other one Introduction to Social Sciences. This second one has a curious story. Let me tell. At the beginning I was not enrolled in it, but instead I was enrolled in a course about the evolution of urbanism in the Island. The first day I went to class the classroom where the class should have taken place was wrongfully assigned. So that I was there, in a class, for an hour and a half, thinking it was my class, with a quite lively group of people who had traveled, knew a lot, a bit older than me as well as younger. 

They talked, and we talked, about society in Puerto Rico, the Caribbean, about their nature, their current problems in the Island... interesting topics enlivened by a super dynamic and restless professor with incredible experiences in the field of social work. As homework for the next day we were assigned the reading of some articles from Pablo Freire about awareness and education that a good friend introduced me too before, and... once I became "aware" that this was not my class, I decided to change and stay on it. The people of variable origin and age also has an explanation, it's a program in the University for older students and for that reason the classes are late in the day. A great group in which I have a lot of fun with, I participate and learn.

To begin the end, two weeks ago I went to a Rubén Blades concert in the Coliseum of Puerto Rico. For those of you who don't know him, I recommend it; he is a Panamanian singer/songwriter who sings the themes for every day, for every house, with a salsa rhythm that forces you to dance. Rubén is over 50 years old but he stayed for a three hour concert! Without stopping! Incredible. On the other hand, he has been Tourism Minister of his country and has multiple social and political recognized commitments.

I particularly recommend a song from Rubén Blades, titled "Patria" (Homeland)... and on the thread of this topic today's farewell appears... from a country that has always been a colony, a word like that one, homeland, you can imagine how ample and variable that concept can get to... Borges says:  

Oda Escrita en 1966 (Ode written in 1996)

Nadie es la patria. Ni siquiera el jinete (Nobody is the homeland. Not even the horseman)

Que, alto en el alba de una plaza desierta, (That, tall in the dawn of a deserted plaza,)

Rige un corcel de bronce por el tiempo, (Governs a bronze steed by time) 

Ni los otros que miran desde el mármol, (Nor the others that look from the marble)

Ni los que prodigaron su bélica ceniza (Nor the ones who lavished their warlike ash)

Por los campos de América (Through the fields of America)

O dejaron un verso o una hazaña (Or they left a verse or a feat)

O la memoria de una vida cabal (Or the memory of a full life)

En el justo ejercicio de los días. (In the just exercise of the days.)

Nadie es la patria. Ni siquiera los símbolos. (Nobody is the homeland. Not even the symbols.)

Nadie es la patria. Ni siquiera el tiempo (Nobody is the homeland. Not even time.)

Cargado de batallas, de espadas y de éxodos (Loaded with battles, spades and exodus)

Y de la lenta población de regiones (And of the slow populations of regions) 

Que lindan con la aurora y el ocaso, (That border with the dawn and the sunset) 

Y de rostros que van envejeciendo (And of faces that age)

En los espejos que se empañan (On the mirrors that fog)

Y de sufridas agonías anónimas (And of anonymously suffered ) 

Que duran hasta el alba (That last until the dawn) 

Y de la telaraña de la lluvia (And of the spiderweb of the rain)

Sobre negros jardines. (About black gardens)

La patria, amigos, es un acto perpetuo (The homeland, friends, is a perpetual act)

Como el perpetuo mundo. (Si el Eterno (Like the perpetual world. If the Eternal)

Espectador dejara (Spectator would stop)

de soñarnos (dreaming about us)

Un solo instante, nos fulminaría, (Only an instant, would fulminate us)

Blanco y brusco relámpago, Su olvido.) (White and abrupt lightning, Its forgetfulness)

Nadie es la patria, pero todos debemos (Nobody is the homeland, but we all shall)

Ser dignos del antiguo juramento (Be worthy of the ancient oath)

Que prestaron aquellos caballeros (That those gentlemen gave)

De ser lo que ignoraban, argentinos, (Of being what was ignored, Argentineans,)

De ser lo que serían por el hecho (Of being what by the fact)

De haber jurado en esa vieja casa. (Of having sworn in this old house.)

Somos el porvenir de esos varones, (We are the future of these men,)

La justificación de aquellos muertos; (The justification of those dead;)

Nuestro deber es la gloriosa carga (Our duty is the glorious load)

Que a nuestra sombra legan esas sombras (That our shadow bequeath those shadows)

Que debemos salvar. (That we shall save.)

Nadie es la patria, pero todos lo somos. (Nobody is the homeland, but we all are.)

Arda en mi pecho y en el vuestro, incesante, (Burn in my chest and in yours, incessant,) 

Ese límpido fuego misterioso. (That limpid mysterious fire.)

A big embrace,