Fact: I have never been to Puerto Rico for New Year’s Eve — which is to say, somewhere warm. Because I am a traveler of budget means, I did one of two things: For a number of New Year’s, I went to Scotland, with an ex-boyfriend, which was amazing, even if it did get dark at three o’clock in the afternoon. (We mostly stayed at his parents’ house and watched TV. I’m making it sound boring, but it was awesome.) Otherwise, I often went somewhere with my friend Katie — and bargain prices for flying on New Year’s Eve always meant that we’d come back on the 31st. This is usually cheaper, but also sadder, and I am not sure I recommend it. (I do not.)
This year, we were able to get cheapish tickets to Puerto Rico — no doubt because many visitors are scared about the condition of the island, post-Hurricane Maria. For sure, what has happened (and is happening) here is a national disgrace. (Fact: Puerto Ricans are Puerto Rican and American, something you might not think would be a challenging concept for grumbling people who are, say, both from a state and a country.) It could/would/should make us weep. But after weeping, we should visit San Juan, which — while for sure showing signs of the Category 5 that only months ago barreled through here — is beautiful, friendly, and most certainly open for business. Look how pretty all the colors of Old San Juan are! Why are there $113 one-way tickets on JetBlue available for the month of January? There should not be any left!
If you are the kind of person who likes to take pictures of doors … this is the place for you.
Out in the countryside, people need help. In San Juan, from our very small sample size, it seems that people are happy to have visitors — who buy local, shop local, eat local, and patronize local establishments. (Save the Olive Garden for later. I say this as someone who loves the Olive Garden.) This was something we (and … Wesley Snipes?) were very worried about. Everyone we’ve talked to said they are happy to welcome visitors. We’ll see. There are for sure signs of damage — down power lamps, random wires, vegetation and debris. And a lot of sounds of construction, which must be a good thing, since it means people are rebuilding.
We’re happy to be in Puerto Rico. I hope everybody comes. The people who live here deserve our support. Obviously the support of our government. But short of that, the support of their fellow Americans .