Spring Equinox Vacation in Puerto Rico

Last week, Kevin and I traveled to Puerto Rico. We had four full days to explore around, and so, we picked the sites that would hit the spot for someone’s first trip to the Island. I was happy to play tour guide!
Day 1: OLD SAN JUAN
We took the guagua (bus) #53 from Ashford Avenue to Old San Juan. The first stop was the Casa Cortés Choco Bar for breakfast, but we meandered a bit around Plaza de Armas, since we got there a bit before 8am.

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Once done with the chocoliciousness, we went to Paseo de la Princesa, Cárcel de la Princesa, San Juan Gate, Hotel El Covento for a short break with refreshments, La Rogativa, the gatos colony and on to El Morro. We also went to the Parque de las Palomas/Capilla del Cristo before going to La Fortaleza for a tour of the executive mansion. Afterwards, we had pizza with my parents.

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DAY 2: RUM AND RAINFOREST
Since we had a rental car for two days, we went to the Bacardí Distillery (the largest rum distillery in the world) for a morning tour. Then, we headed east toward El Yunque, where we heard the coquí, saw waterfalls, and enjoyed the scenery.

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DAY 3: THE SKY AND THE GROUND
On Thursday, March 20th, 2014, not only it was the equinox, but it was our much anticipated trip to the Arecibo Observatory, the site of the largest and most sensitive radio-telescope in the world! From the Observatory, we then ventured to the Río Camuy Cave System Park, where the third longest underground river in the world is found.

DAY 4: NATURAL SURROUNDINGS & MUSEUM
By 8am, we returned the car in Condado, and walked on Ashford Avenue to Ventana del Mar for another glimpse of the Atlantic Ocean. We then kept walking toward Santurce. As we were approaching Ponce de León Avenue, I showed Kevin where my dad, and where my mom used to work, and a block away, the school I attended when I was in first and second grade. We then stopped in front of Bellas Artes, just before De Diego Avenue, noticing how on the right, upon exiting the Minillas Tunnel, that hospital right there, Pavía, was where I was born. Walking toward the Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico, I pointed to the street that led to my grandma’s house, realizing how that area in Santurce was sort of “my daily bread” while growing up.
We went to the museum and thoroughly enjoyed it. For a quick lunch/snack, we walked to Libros AC (bookstore and bistro), where copies of my edition of Los hipócritas are on sale and prominently displayed.To return to Isla Verde, we took another guagua (the T5) to head back to the ESJ Towers.

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The next morning, we flew back home to Milwaukee, already envisioning future travel. 🙂

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Notes About the Boricua Artist Exhibit at the United Community Center

Latino Arts, at the United Community Center in Milwaukee, is currently hosting Cream City-raised and Chicago-based artist Martín Soto’s exhibit “Boricua Fame and Bomba Negra,” which runs through June 6th, 2014. The opening reception was held this past Friday, March 7th, and the artist was there to mingle with attendees and answer questions about his work. Indeed, Soto was greeting visitors into a vibrant journey of color and movement that left attendees in learning mode.

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Erupting volcanoes, dancing muses (e)merging from the ocean attuned to the lunar phases, “bombaleras” and many more icons combine in the exhibit to portray the varied and various sides of the experience of enslaved Africans in colonial Puerto Rico and the new world. Uprooted from their homeland and regarded as property by the slaveholders, these individuals found a way to collectively resist and create a unique sense of belonging through ritual and dance (i.e. “bomba”).

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While resistance, survival and belonging emerge from the collection, Soto is keen to use rich yellows and reds to denote courage, passion, and–in the midst of oppression–an irrepressible sense of joy. The imagery of music, from playing drums to dancing patterns, links the colors and the movements, making the viewer feel the rhythm as he or she learns crucial nuances about the history and culture not just of Puerto Rico, but of Latin America’s colonial legacy.

Bomba  Negra(Photo 3 – Painting that gives title to the exhibit: “Bomba negra”)

In many ways, “Boricua Fame and Bomba Negra” is a journey through movement. From the physical (music and dance) to the personal (reflective and psychic), Soto’s art lifts the social trope of the African slave from problematic exotizations or folkorizations. It draws from history to celebrate the cultural impact of those who were enslaved but never gave up their true soul or being. The movement is personal, social, collective, relevant, and imminent as it brings it into an artistic present moving forward.

Enlightenment(Photo 4)

Through his art, Martín Soto vividly depicts his subject/s via a liberating form of expression as well as an expressive form of liberation. Art and history enthusiasts as well as life-long students of Puerto Rican, Caribbean and Latin American cultures are sure to find a treat in visiting “Boricua Fame and Bomba Negra” this Spring.

Notes:

Photo 1, courtesy of Nancy Bird

Photos 2-4, courtesy of Kevin A. Barnes

For more information on Latino Arts, visit: http://www.latinoartsinc.org/Exhibits.htm

Los tiempos que son: Vistazo a Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead

Ser o no ser un personaje: ése es el meollo circunstancial de la obra Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead (1966), de Tom Stoppard, la cual cuenta con una excelente adaptación fílmica bajo el protagonismo de Gary Oldman y Tim Roth. Los protagonistas, cuyas identidades aparentan ser intercambiables, son dos personajes menores en Hamlet, quienes reciben una invitación a visitar al atribulado danés a Elsinore.

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Mientras mucho se ha hablado de la supuesta crisis edipal de Hamlet con respecto a su madre (la reina), los aparentes peleles amigos del joven logran dar en el clavo de qué es lo que tiene al danés en profunda melancolía, si no locura. En vez de despachar la gravedad del asunto con melodrama freudiano, Rosencrantz y Guildenstern detectan lo podrido del “estado” general de las circunstancias. Veamos por qué estaría Hamlet sobrecogido según el susodicho dúo: ha perdido a su padre (el rey), lo que le causa gran pena pues ha quedado huérfano de padre; su tío (ahora rey) se casa con la viuda, usurpando así el trono que no le corresponde; su tío no ha perdido tiempo en asumir el poder; su madre no parece lamentar la pérdida su recién fenecido esposo, dada la rapidez de los aconteceres. Más aún: todo apunta a que su propio tío es responsable de la muerte de su padre.
No hay duda. Something’s rotten in the state of Denmark. Es tan obvio que hasta Rosencrantz y Guildernstern pueden descifrar el asunto.
Estar o no estar en el centro de la acción: ése es el meollo conceptual. El que sea el par de personajes menores–los que a penas tienen memoria de quiénes son, los que vemos tirando monedas para discurrir sobre la ley de probabilidad–quienes pinten tan lúcidamente a seriedad del cuadro general es un rasgo sobresaliente de la obra. Entre comicidad y lógica, la voz de la razón emana no del “ático” pero de algo parecido: de aquellos que son arrastrados a la circunstancias–casi como marionetas–pero que permanecen aislados de la acción y decisiones principales. En cualquier caso, los entes marginales sufren también los efectos de esas acciones y decisiones protagónicas. Se conjuga así en la obra de Stoppard el límite entre factores como la probabilidad, el destino, la suerte y el grado de conciencia de cada actor/participante en un entramado de múltiples niveles.
Ser público y estar en el teatro: ése es el meollo agencial. La obra–la cual se ha puesto en escena en la temporada 2013 del American Players Theater en Spring Green, Wisconsin [1]–permite al público ver lo que acontece al margen de la obra shakespeariana ampliando así los cuadros escénicos y las ramificaciones de diálogos que de otra manera serían apartes o que nunca hubieran sido enunciados o presenciados. Así como en Hamlet hay reflexión ontológica/introspectiva y metateatral, en Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead encontramos una sagaz propuesta de lo que significa ser personaje, actor, público y parte de una representación escénica. The play is the thing!, exclama Hamlet en la obra de Shakespeare y Stoppard aprovecha el concepto para continuar las reflexiones hamletianas mediante un sostenido balance entre lo jocoso y lo filosófico.
Si en Hamlet la tropa viajera de actores aparecen como “players”, en la obra de Stoppard éstos son los “tragedians”. Entre ellos se destaca el líder/director, el que presenta toda una gama de maneras teatrales de morir, sin desperdiciar la ocasión para elaborar sobre lo creíble, lo verosímil y las expectativas del público. Lo metateatral recorre con brío lo que de por sí arranca como una brillante propuesta intertextual y homenaje a una de las grandes tragedias de la literatura moderna. En ese recorrido reluce el teatro como forma y foro de expresión artística. Y–con los tiempos siendo los que son–esa expresión nos hace reflexionar, ponderar y–con mejor suerte que Rosencrantz y Guildenstern–recordar quienes somos y posiblemente escapar de entramados nebulosos. ¿O será que somos intercambiables en algunos contextos?
The times being what they are…

[1] http://americanplayers.org/plays-and-tickets/rosencrantz-and-guildenstern-are-dead