Yesterday O and I were shown a so-called film (more like a photo story with a voice-over) on Puerto Rico made by National Geographic in 2003. It was a very controversial film and many Puertoricans felt that it would scare the [American] tourists away from the island. I actually first heard of the film last week from a tourist guide who took E and I to El Yunque, the rainforest in Puerto Rico. He claimed that many Americans chose to go to Hawaii, instead of Puerto Rico after the publication of these photographs… you see, a lot of Americans don’t have passports and Hawaii & Puerto Rico are two islands that they can obviously visit without getting one.
I can understand why some tourists would be scared away from Puerto Rico because of the photos of junkies shooting up in a slum, however I think that the photos (there are a lot more photos than just of the drug addicts) show that Puerto Rico is not just a Caribbean imitation of the USA complete with KFC, Burger King, Wal-Marts (however difficult to find!) and big shopping malls, and high-rise hotels and condos along the coast (just around the San Juan area)… There is a distinct Puertorican culture and society which you would find if you make an effort to see beyond the Americanised facade.
I really like Puerto Rico, it’s a beautiful island and I hope that you will enjoy watching the photo story and hear the photographer Amy Toensing talk about her travels around the island – I think that it is obvious that she really loves Puerto Rico! Check it out here!
And remember, most tourists never see this aspect of the island, you can chose which part of the island you want to experience (and anyway, the slum La Perla is a no-go at any time of the day – just like there are areas like that in most big American cities)…
PS On the right-hand side of my blog (under the blogroll) there is a collection of links for travelling in Puerto Rico – I will keep updating it with new useful links when I find some more.