Charlie Billups Puerto Rico Trip July 2015 On my last trip to Puerto Rico the last full day that I was there I had two experiences that took me back to my childhood and allowed me to feel grateful for my heritage and the beginning of my life. The first was visiting my old church in Santurce (Parroquia San Jorge) and secondly visiting my friends Erik and Melba Perez in the El Verde neighborhood of Rio Grande, Puerto Rico. Erik and Melba’s house is a custom built home in which Erik did a lot if not most of the work to construct it. It is still a testament to his incredible sense of design as he is still one of Puerto Rico’s most successful graphic designers. The house built in the early 70’s maintains its unique character and for being so close to El Yunque and the rainforest is meticulously kept and maintained. To reach this home you must travel on Route #956 south from Highway number #3, immediately there is a breathtaking climb and as you make turns, El Yunque is in the background. Before you arrive at Erik and Melba’s you cross the Espiritu Santo river and even though Puerto Rico is in estate of severe drought you would not know here since there is a small flow of water in the river and many people are cooling off from the hot summer in the pools that are formed by the river. I have known Erik and Elba for most of my entire life and as I write this article I realize that I has been probably 45 years. I don’t have any close living relatives living besides my brother and my sister and some very distant nephews of my grandmother but I have not contact with them. So Erik and Melba and another couple which I will write about later are my only real connection as far as close people since they were the closest people to my parents. Erik even his retirement has been very prolific in his design work headlining a project called San Juan in Black and White, which through illustration and research has recreated the Old City of San Juan including areas that were demolished in the 19th century as the old city expanded into what is now San Juan. Please click here and visit The Office of Historical Conservation and learn more about the project. So this trip was like visiting home. I am so grateful for them.