The trip to Puerto Rico, though a quick in and out, was very productive and enjoyable. Not only did I get to present on my papi's novela, one (the only woman, too!) among a distinguished panel of estudiosos of my dad's work, but we also did some mandatory sight-seeing in Old San Juan and Playa Cerro Gordo, in Dorado. I also brought back the picture above (taken in 1992 or 1993?) of my impromptu interview with Henry Kissinger at The Caribe Hilton.
I was at the hotel, in cocktail dress attire, for some event my newspaper (where I was a lowly reporter) was holding when the editor came to me to tell me Kissinger was in the hotel and I needed to find him to ask him about Puerto Rico's status. "But I don't even have a pen or paper!" I despaired to him. "Here's my pen and take this napkin," he said. "On your way, and he'll be with his wife, Nancy, who'll hate you for this, but just press on." And so I did. I'm so glad that the photographer had the presence of mind to snap this photo. Otherwise, this, like my subsequent and years-later interviews with Lech Walesa and Michail Gorbachev, would disappear into the realm of vague memory.
During our walk to Old San Juan, we were delighted to find that the Capilla del Cristo, which has a storied past (it is said to have been erected by a grateful horse rider in the 17th century whose runaway stallion was about to plunge from the top of the battlements with him astride when he prayed to the Virgin and was miraculously saved). We'd never seen it open but it was available to the public this time so we spent a few minutes admiring the Campeche paintings inside, marveling at how intact it has been conserved.
When you walk through Viejo San Juan you have to look down so as not to take a misstep on the loose cobblestones or ancient sidewalks, but you also always should look up because, if not, you miss the bluest of the blues, the Caribbean blue of the Puerto Rican sky, the actual color (not navy blue) on our national flag.
The colorful balcones and Spanish-style homes are also a sight to behold, as is the old cemetery, by the sea wall, where my dad's ashes are interred.
From there we proceeded to the Cathedral, where I always like to light a candle in my father's name (the farthest one to the right is his), and where the Virgen del Socorro, my mother's patron Virgin, is found.
Our last day there, my husband and I went to the public beach in Cerro Gordo, Dorado, his favorite one on the island and one that we used to visit a lot when we lived there.
We had a lovely visit and it was hard to leave and return to the coldest of winters on record here in Ohio. We are seriously thinking that we'll have to plan for our retirement in the island since there's no way we want to try to psychically survive living stateside with these God-forsaken winters. After all, I'm a Caribbean girl and my husband is most definitely not a cold-weather person either.