Afro-Latin Experience in Puerto Rico (J.T. Talley blog post)

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J.T. Talley

10/09/11

After lunch by “la playa,” we went to Samuel Lind Art Studio. The house was very cool; almost like a piece of art in itself. When we walked inside, I was amazed by the works of art. Everything was so beautiful. What really attracted my attention were the different bronze sculptures. My favorite was the “African Roots” piece. It actually started off as a painting of a mangrove and a man being formed from the roots of the trees coming from the water. Before we left the studio; however, I saw an unfinished sculpture in a back room that was based off of this painting.

After the art studio tour, we walked down the road to the Ayala Family Artisan Center. It was a very…interesting experience. During the performance, we witnessed a crab battle a man as well as a cock fight! Overall it was very fun to watch. Joining the dancers and activity really reinforced our understanding of the bomba tradition.

10/10/11

Another early day on the research tour. We’re on our way to the rainforest this time. I’m really excited about this. Part of me is imagining us going through dense vegetation, climbing up the mountain side. I think that would be really fun and interesting to do, but I know it has to be different. The rainforest is too much of a popular attraction that they had to have made an easier way to move about the forest.

On the bus going to the rainforest, our tour guide was explaining some of the ways Puerto Rican people are mistreated. He told us how Puerto Rican people have to pay government taxes. At first, this seems like a good thing, but it’s really not at all. Without government taxes, they have no congressional representation. No representation means no change in condition at the United States government level.

Another thing the tour guide mentioned that really interested me was that even though Puerto Rico was a U.S. commonwealth, it is still considered a third world country. One thing that really hit me was a follow up comment by another tour member who said, “I’ve never seen or heard of a third world country with a Wal-Mart and a Gamestop.”

10/10/11

When we got to the rainforest, it was as I expected. There were designated paths for us to walk on. It was still very majestic nonetheless. Seeing all the waterfalls and looking at the expansiveness of the forest at the top of an observation deck was an incredible experience. Here are a couple interesting facts I learned: 1. The land in that forest is compatible with just about every type of vegetation. 2. Out of five bioluminescent bays in the world, three are in Puerto Rico and one is within the El Yunque Rainforest. 3. Bamboo plants were introduced accidentally and it was found that they help protect against erosion.

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