Unexpected tastes at Heladería Lares (photo above)
Because: I wrote these two articles for the Puerto Rico-themed week on BBC Travel. I have family in Puerto Rico, and my wonderful Tía Nora hosted me for about two weeks during the summer before senior year of college and together we went to these places. It was a trip I needed, and I planned it about a month after returning from study abroad in Barcelona to Evanston, Illinois. Others will attest Chicagoland can resemble a frozen wasteland in the winter months, especially to someone (me) who has just had a romanticized four months in Barcelona, a lifestyle totally unrealistic long-term and therefore perfect in its moment. I came home for Christmas, contracted a stomach bug the day after Christmas that endured several days — “I’m allergic to Americaaaa!” I thought while nearing hallucinations — and was bluesy, not myself, for some time afterward. The prospect of this trip, among other factors like loving friends and learning to just get over things, pulled me back to normal.
On the trip I pretty much hung out with my aunt and cousin for two weeks, and given the distance we had not spent considerable time together before. Sure, there are visits here and there, but there’s always something perfunctory in that, because you just take for granted knowing your extended family. But when you’re watching Drop Dead Diva nightly with your Tía and have reached a place where you are comfortable and know each other well enough to start making fun back and forth, then you know. So, gracias a todos and I’ll refrain from ending with a Clay Aiken song.