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What Hurricane Maria taught me about Puerto Ricans


SAN JUAN -- After Hurricane Maria took their roof, water and electricity — but spared their chickens — Ana De Jesús and Santiago Quiñones packed a few basics and moved across the street into their windowless beachside kiosk.

The ocean breeze fluttered in through the pink walls. They powered a generator only in the late afternoon and overnight to keep cold the kiosk’s surviving treasure: a three-day supply of beer.

They had nothing else for sale. Piñones, a picturesque strip of sand east of San Juan known for its fried street food, appeared deserted, Route 187 covered by felled palm trees and so much sand it looked like a dirt road, even though it is paved.

The couple offered visitors Medalla, Corona, Heineken, Busch Light, Coors — “Everything!” Quiñones said proudly. And when the visitors stayed awhile, De Jesús unexpectedly brought out a plate of munchies: cubed cheese and guava paste, ringed with Saltine crackers.

It was the most comforting of staple Caribbean snacks, the kind my Cuban grandfather used to assemble for me as a child after school, and the sight of it almost made me cry.

After Hurricane Maria, the people of Puerto Rico were generous.

More here.

Photo credit: Carl Juste, Miami Herald staff