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Thursday, March 22, 2012

Pigeons, Puerto Rico, and Peace of Mind

By Rukiya McNair

Old San Juan
Old San Juan, Puerto Rico.  Currently, this is where my family and I reside and would not have it any other way. I could amuse you all day with delightfully nightmarish tales about my time in Jakarta -from a fist fight with a taxi-driver to the night my roommate’s drink got spiked- however, I will save those stories for later (trust me there are plenty). Right now, I want to talk about a beautiful island that compares to no other.

Let me say that, yes, I know that Puerto Rico is still technically the United States…so, for some this may not “count” as living abroad. But, as someone who has lived near and far I can say Puerto Rico can definitely fall somewhere in the abroad category.

Now, if you have never been to Puerto Rico, I suggest that you start planning your trip...like, now! I feel more at home here than I have anywhere else, from Pittsburgh to DC to Indonesia, it is here I where I truly feel like I am at home. "Why," you ask? Although I'm still struggling to pinpoint one exact reason, I'd say that it could be the pleasant disposition of most people we meet; it could also be the way people positively acknowledge and seem to enjoy seeing my children (whether they are laughing or even screaming), or the way people smile and say hello if they make eye contact, the way strangers ask where we are am from and waste no time welcoming us to Puerto Rico, it could also be how I don’t get stared (or gawked) at and how me and my family seamlessly blend in here…there is nothing quite like the peace of mind I've found here.
Old San Juan

Old San Juan in particular is quite a magical place itself. It is the oldest city in United States territory, with over 450 years under its belt and 7 square blocks of wonderfully restored buildings who wouldn’t love it? Walking down the distinctly narrow, blue cobblestone streets it’s easy to forget that you are still on U.S. territory, as it feels more like walking the streets somewhere in Spain.   

Parque de las Palomas (Pigeon Park)
I must admit, though, the love affair that Puerto Rico has with pigeons is interesting and at first, a bit uncomfortable. I would walk through Old San Juan and see people of all shapes, sizes, colors and ages feeding the pigeons. Like...on purpose. Now, I didn't grow up in a city, but I have spent the majority of my adult years living in them and typically on a stroll the last thing I'd want is a (or several) pigeons landing in my hands or on my shoulders looking for food. However, my mind was changed about a week ago while we were visiting  Parque de las Palomas, aka Pigeon Park.  A woman offered a bag of bird food to us, as she was getting ready to leave and thought we would enjoy feeding the pigeons.  We gave some seeds to our 2-year-old daughter and let her "get crazy" so-to-speak. She loved watching the pigeons crowd around her and if it makes her happy, I suppose I can live with it. We may even do it again soon.

All of this is just a brief snapshot of the time I have spent here thus far.  As, there are many more things to do and experience in Puerto Rico (and I'm sure you'll hear more about these things later). What I definitely do know is that my family and I are very happy here.


  1. I like how you captured the Puerto Rican culture so succinctly. They do have an appreciation for other cultures and it really sets them apart from many other countries.

  2. Hi Rukiya I enjoyed reading your article
    about Puerto Rico

  3. I loved this article about Puerto Rico. I have been wanting to visit there since "Menudo". Thanks for the information.

  4. Domingo HernandezJuly 10, 2014 at 9:17 AM

    Our attitude regarding pigeons comes from the Spanish and French influneces. We do not see them as pest but more as pets and even food on some ocasions. They are also a symbol of peace and are said to bring good luck.