Country of the Month: Puerto Rico!
Latin America has riches and wonders that are yet to be discovered by tourists. That is the case in every country, including Puerto Rico! Boricuas, as the locals refer to themselves, get to live in a world where the bright sun and blue skies warm their skin and souls. Where wholesome delicacies replenish their energy and make them ask for seconds. And they get to live in a place where the beat of the drum harmonizes with vibrant songbirds. Doesn’t this sound like a place worth discovering and truly immersing yourself in?
That is why we are learning about Puerto Rico, meaning rich port, with our little ones this month! Learn more by reading our blog post.
The Arawak Indians, or Taino people, were the dominant tribe in the Caribbean before the arrival of Christopher Columbus in 1493. However, their predominantly peaceful and agricultural-based lifestyle faced some challenges. They occasionally clashed against nearby tribes who sought to take over their lands. But with new diseases brought by the Spaniards, the indigenous population rapidly declined and surrendered to the Spanish. The depleted and weak population left a gap in the workforce required to maintain the plantations. Thus, enslaved people were brought in from nearby islands and Africa.
Over the years, these independent groups learned from each other and merged their different traditions, which created the base for the Puerto Rican culture we know today. Puerto Rico has been a U.S. territory since 1917 following the Spanish surrender from the Spanish-American War. Whether Puerto Rico should be independent of the U.S. or be considered a state is still widely debated.
Ask any Boricua what their favorite dish is, and they will surely go into great detail about how flavourful it is. They might also invite you to try it! We recommend you take them up on the invitation because Puerto Rican food is packed with complex flavors thanks to the different cultures that merged together. In their dishes, you will find Taino, African, and European influences. Try a new recipe this weekend!
This is the most popular comfort food in Puerto Rico! Mofongo is made by mashing up deep-fried plantains, garlic, and pork! It can be served as a side or main dish when stuffed with some meat.
These are the traditional plantain chips! Tostones are made by deep-frying plantains, mashing them up, and then deep-frying again to create a crunchy chip. Enjoy these as an afternoon snack.
Lechón, or Pork, is a delicacy and much-loved meat in Puerto Rico. To prepare this complex dish, the entire pork is marinated and roasted over coal for several hours! We recommend trying this dish at a restaurant, but if you can make it at home, please let us know how it went!
Pastelillos de Guayaba
These are a must-try and popular dessert made by our Maple Grove Center Director, Sorimar! These small treats are buttery and soft and showcase the sweet guava paste. The effort of making these will pay off as soon as you bite into one of the squares.
To discover these and many other traditional recipes, click here!
If you are looking for something extraordinary, this is definitely one of the most unique experiences you will have! Puerto Rico is home to three popular bioluminescent bays: Cabezas de San Juan, La Parguera, and Mosquito Bay. This natural phenomenon occurs when tiny organisms bloom, form big colonies, and are then excited by movement. Watch this video to see the wonder in action!
El Morro is a destination that is enjoyed by both locals and tourists! The historic landmark served as an important military outpost for Spain and then the United States during both world wars. In 1961, El Morro was deserted by the military to become a museum and UNESCO world heritage site!
Lastly, we would love to highlight and thank our Puerto Rican staff! These wonderful individuals have shaped Casa in many ways and always give their heart to this work. Thank you so much for being part of our community and letting us learn more about your culture!
Sorimar: Center Director
Yajaira: Lead Teacher
Yaira: Assistant Teacher
Luna: Lead Teacher
Marangely: Assistant Teacher
Alejandra: Substitute Staff
Mireilys: Lead Teacher
Maria: Lead Teacher
Celimar: Assistant Teacher
Natalie: Lead Teacher
Nelly: Cook Staff
Viviana: Cook Staff
Iris: Center Director
Keyshla: Director of Operations
Yashira: Admin Assistant
Wendy: Substitute Staff
Yaritza: Substitute Staff