Puerto Rican weed is excellent. My experience of Puerto Rico is slim. Two visits to San Juan. One in 1985. One in 2022. Yet still I can say that my experience of Puerto Rico is that everything is hit or miss. There’s either running water, or it’s out for the whole neighborhood. Fast internet available in certain places, but neither the internet or the power is 100% reliable.
Maybe this hit-or-miss perception was formed cuz I’m from the mainland, which has me looking for comparison. My filter has giant holes in it where things blend in with the US. There is a lot of overlap between mainland USAmerica and Puerto Rico that blocks my view of Borinquen culture as a separate thing from my own, and then, in some places, there just isn’t any overlap at all.
It’s like jumping from lily pad to lily pad in a pond. There’s common ground and solid footing, and then suddenly – I’m drowning.
The weed is all hit, no miss. It’s as good as anything you’d find in any other medically legal State on the mainland. USAmerica has the best weed in the world, notwithstanding any of the territories’ complicated relationship to the terminology and homeland.
That’s not how I got it though. I had a friend of a friend hook me up with it. His neighbor works in a grow house so my only complaint about it was that it was too green.
The Coqui frog fills my impressions of Puerto Rico. During my first visit at age eight, I remember my mother imitating them and how the sound of them filled the air at night. When I arrive for my second visit, leaving the Uber to stand on the street at night – I’m struck that they are still there.
These tree frogs are signature Puerto Rico. They’re named after the sound they make, which is sexually selective. The “Co” part of the sound is to scare off baddies and the “Qui” part of the sound is to attract honeys. Or it might be the other way around, I’m not Wikipedia.
I love the sound, reminding me where I am all night long.
The first place I sleep in Puerto Rico during my first adult visit floods when it rains. And it rains. It pours. My stuff is collected in the corner of the kitchen counter. Almost everything else is wet. Puddles on the floor. The bed is wet. I get my money back, but… it’s like sleeping in a sinking ship, which is an unsettling way to go into my next experience – a Caribbean cruise.
I spend my time walking the streets of San Juan, which is small enough to see almost every part of.
Delighting in the rhythms of La Perla, the bomba, the beats. My neighborhood though is Santurce, the hip, artsy, central area with lots of good restaurants.
Speaking of which, I descend twice on Orujo Taller de Gastronomia – the creation of Chef Carlos Portela. I’m there for six hours the first time. He and his wife become friends. High end, five star gastronomy by a temperamental artist who is the owner, dishwasher, waiter, and chef. It’s one of the best restaurants I’ve ever experienced anywhere in the world.
It has that scrappy feel – high end cuisine with room for human rhythms. Little in PR is “finished” or “perfect”. It all has a “good enough” energy to it, rough around the edges.
But for Puerto Rican weed. It really is top notch.
I remember during my first visit at age eight there was some stress, as there usually was when my family would travel together. My mother freaked out as giant flying cockroaches came up out of the drain in our resort hotel bathtub (paid for by my father’s business). That was the first inkling I got of how nature is when rich countries don’t keep it at bay.
This time it is only the water. Raining down. Nothing that anyone can keep at bay no matter how much money they have.
The island still has not recovered from the 2017 hurricane season where Irma passed close to Puerto Rico, causing massive destruction, and then – two weeks later – Maria dealt a direct hit. Maria was the deadliest US-based natural disaster in over a hundred years.
The subject of the recovery and aftermath is a good way of telling whether someone is Puerto Rican or from the mainland. Mainlanders felt and feel guilty. That more should have been done to help. Four years after the damage, one should not still be able to see the impact.
Puerto Ricans say that the damage has been exaggerated for political gain. They say that the mainland seeks to exert control over PR through providing aid. I was told by multiple people that they want to rebuild in their own image, not the image provided by those on the mainland.
It was the same year that the hurricanes reshaped Puerto Rico that the medical marijuana law was finally put into play.
I don’t find any locals to ask whether these were related events. The law allows for use, but it has to be a non-smokeable preparation.
The weed I smoke is grown indoors in a medical marjuana grow facility. Cured and neatly trimmed as it is, I highly doubt that anyone working with it intended for anyone who bought it to not smoke it.
I smoke a lot of it.
I also go to Barrachina to try their Pina Colada. There are competing claims about who can take credit for serving the first Pina Colada. Locals tell me that Barrachina is the more clear winner. I am very underwhelmed by their version. Would rather make one at home.
Would definitely rather smoke Puerto Rican weed.
Just before I arrive to Puerto Rico, the King of Spain pays a visit to commemorate 500 years since the founding of the capital. The day he arrives the statue of Ponce de León in Plaza San Jose in Old San Juan is destroyed. The Boriken Libertarian Forces take responsibility for the act, and releases this statement:
“Faced with the visit of the King of Spain, Felipe VI, to Puerto Rico and the escalation of ‘gringo’ invaders taking over our lands, we want to send a clear message: neither kings nor ‘gringo’ invaders”
Ponce de León was sent to Puerto Rico to colonize the Taino natives, and he did so. It’s appalling that the statue stands even when there is no visit from the king of Spain. I, the gringo invader, arrive in Puerto Rico about ten days later. The statue has been replaced. I can’t even tell that it happened.
I smoke weed all throughout my stay in PR. And then on a seven day Caribbean cruise. Then for another few days in PR.
Hazy humid nights with the sound of frogs mixing with the distant sound of drums and horns… laughter. Depth. I fall fast and hard in love with Puerto Rico.
At the end of my trip, I leave some five or maybe even seven grams of Puerto Rican weed on the sidewalk for some lucky fucker to find. I didn’t feel like sneaking it over yet another international border. It felt right to leave it from whence it came.