Puerto Rico – I always go back to you

Tonight as I put my Pachi to sleep and I fight with thoughts of struggles and balances, I close my eyes and drift to thee, I listen to waves and birds in a beach that can never be far from me, I feel the warm breeze in my face, my bare feet feel the sand of dusk and my soul feels the cuddling of your warm waves.

In the cold of winter in a far place from thee, I imagine my children building castles in the sand, I tear as I feel that life has taking me so far from thee and many storms have past.
Your waves calm me and provide a rest to my soul.

I imagine you at night in the dark and listen to the waves, loud, powerful but steady and frequent, each wave is like a hug from my lover reassuring me that I will be alright.

The smell of your ocean is like the aroma of coffee in the morning unique and reassuring of a new day, I miss you and long to be with thee.

Please see this images and maybe you can put the sound of waves in the background and enjoy these images.

Click here for photo gallery.

The sinking of the SS Ocean Eagle in San Juan, Puerto Rico –

I remember as a kid in 1968 that a ship had sunk at the entrance of San Juan Bay. I have tried for many days to make memories of this event. I was 7 years old so I have a vague recollection of what it look liked. I did some research and I felt a torrent of memories coming to me.

I don’t know were I saw it from, I think it was from the Puerta de San Juan gate looking towards the entrance of the bay. I remember that I was looking from afar and I could see the bow straight up.

For the time from what I have read over 3,000,000 gallons of crude oil from Venezuela spilled into the bay, this was not as much as the Exxon Valdez but it was a major oil spill nevertheless.

My grandmother took me to see this, she was always interested in the latest news and I am sure that this was such.

Here is a report on the investigation which I find as fascinating reading.

Coast Guard report on sinking of SS Ocean Eagle

El Verde – Puerto Rico’s secret paradise and my friends Erik and Melba

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. el_verde_2-0196Before 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. el_verde_13-0249I 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.

The moment when you return home – AfriCaribe Dance Recital

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Sarah Maria dancing Bomba at AfriCaribe’s recital

Last night was a night that I felt was a “Homecoming” night for me and I kept thinking of the song by Ruben Blades “Todos Vuelven”. Last night when I first heard the sounds of Bomba music as I walked to La casita de Don Pedro on Division Street, I felt the coming home feeling.

I remember as a child in elementary school how I would practice dancing to bomba music and how many of the kids I grew up with wanted to be Conga players. I was very happy to see AfriCaribe and other groups fostering this beautiful and expressive art form. Last night more then ever I felt very proud to be from Puerto Rico.

Charlie Billups Classic Images – Old San Juan Cemetery

Jose De Diego, Daniel Santos, Don Luis A. Ferre, Pedro Albizu Campos, Tite Curet Alonzo, Rafael Hernandez, Sylvia Rexach,  Muna Lee, Gilberto Concepcion de Gracia, Ismael Rivera, Sylvia Rexach and many more including my great grandfather Andres Fernandez even the inventor of Kola Champagne is buried there. I think it is an idillic setting maybe I can be buried there!

Nostalgia, Carajo! – Imagenes de Pinones un Domingo por la tarde! – Piñones Beach on a Sunday afternoon, I which I was there today!

Cuanto extraño coger la guagua de Piñones un Domingo por la tarde desde la parada de Radio Andrea y pasar por toda la Calle Loiza y luego Llorens y el Parque Barbosa y luego por Punta Las Marias y luego Isla Verde y los hoteles donde a veces mi abuela me llevaba y luego finalmente por el balneario de Isla Verde donde tantas veces me bañe y finalmente Boca de Cangrejos a donde nos bajamos del la guagua y nos desmayamos del olor a alcapurria! Carajo y después a la posta! Se acuerdan? Quiero volver!