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Beauty of Destruction

My Three Day Adventure of Puerto Rico

Homes of Puerto Rican Citizens Right Next to the Coast 

If someone had told me a year ago that I would see the beauty in destruction, I wouldn't know how to respond.  Most things that endure destruction never look beautiful.  However, it all is.  As a child, I watched my parents get distraught over broken things; broken objects, broken bones, broken windows.  It taught me that there is nothing good about broken objects, but that can't be more than wrong.  

On March 17th, I boarded a plane with my grandparents to go to Puerto Rico.  It was my second time flying in an airplane; the first time being the day before, going to their home one state over.  The hours of flying over the great, blue Atlantic Ocean were carefully counted.  Every five minutes I was the annoying passenger who kept raising the blinds on my window.  It was amazing.  The view of the ocean from above, although I had never seen the ocean before, was exactly what I thought it would be—devastatingly blue and terrifyingly big.  Lucky enough for me, I was in a plane and not on a cruise.

When you first arrive to the airport in Puerto Rico, it looks modern.  I was expecting low class lifestyle all across the island; worn down buildings on every corner, chipped away brick on every building, and tuned over house along each coast.  My first impression of Puerto Rico did not fit my expectations at all.  Every building I say was absolutely perfect, each piece of brick was carefully aligned, and the coast housed many standing structures.  The island looked like any other city you'd find in America, or so I saw within the five minute ride from the airport to the hotel.  It wasn't until the next day, I noticed how wonderfully different it was.

View from the Hotel I Stayed At

In the heart of Puerto Rico, San Juan, the culture flips.  Most buildings are painted vibrant colors.  Each balcony lined with iron rods.  There are murals on every cement wall, if it was originally white.  There was not a single building left plain.

Unlike the main cities in America, Puerto Rico embraced its color.  There was more beauty in the low sitting, colorful homes than in the high rising, windowed hotels.  I would have never thought vibrant colors would match the city lifestyle. 

At this point, my entire thought process was shook.  There was no sign of destruction from Hurricane Maria, the massive hurricane that swiped all of the internet and covered all of the roads for eight months.  From my first views, the island recovered well from the natural disaster.  Unfortunately, I was in the main tourist area.  I wasn't aware of how destroyed a lot of the island was until I left the tourist side.

A “Strip Mall” Going Towards the Rainforest

Going towards the national rain forest - El Yunque- there were all new sights.  Unlike the thriving tourist area, the area south of San Juan is in a much different state.  A lot of buildings are either for sale or completely abandoned.  Many of the gas stations are so torn up they were left to rot.  This was the moment I saw how little the actual island had recovered.  Plants and vines grew out of broken windows of previously flooded homes.  Broken down cars were left stranded along every road side; some cars had been so badly waterlogged they had moss grown on the ledge of the door frame.

Just looking at the broken parts of Puerto Rico, I felt empty.  There was no word that properly described how sad I was.  Along cement walls, there was graffiti stating the casualties of the island and the amount of money put into helping restore it. Less than half the amount of money given to the island, was used to restore the less touristy parts.  In fact, most citizens near the lower end places were required to apply for federal help in order to receive even the littlest amount of aid.  Reports had shown two people with identical living casualties could've received widely different amount of financial aid, anywhere from a few hundreds of dollars to fifteen thousand.

My initial thought of America doing right by the island was stripped away.  America did right by the touristy areas, because more people would live there than in the southern parts.  And, considering the current state of the southern parts, I understand.  However, the southern parts could be as thriving as the northern coast if it had received even a third of the funding put into renewing hotel buildings.

A Slightly Renewed Home 

However, despite the broken buildings, there was still beauty.  The amount of greenery along the roads and surrounding homes was astounding.  Despite the wreckage, people still delved into their hobbies.  People were playing instruments.  Kids were playing outside with one another.  I saw more living in a broken place than I do in a restored one.  They took into consideration everything they'd gone through.  Multiple people I talked with had nothing but good things to say.  

One of the hotel employees, that actually mentioned living in the more bad part of the island, talked of how well life went on.  One of many homes near the rain forest was torn down due to the extreme damages done to it, which opened up an area that some kids were found playing in. 

The citizens endured many hardships, but that didn't affect their attitude.  "In spite of it all, I still have my family," said one teenage boy.  

Yes, southern citizens were distraught over the broken things, but they used every piece of material for restoration.  Despite something being broken, they turned it around into something useful. 

So, sure, get upset over a broken item, broken bone, or broken window.  But also remember the good side of it all.  A broken item can be turned around into something useful.  A broken bone leads you to a new experience and possibly new people.  A broken window allows the world to interact with you from inside.

In spite of it all, there is still beauty.

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Beauty of Destruction
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