On Puerto Rico

On Puerto Rico

This week, my roommate had the honor of celebrating his 21st birthday. You might be wondering what the big deal is. Birthdays are an annual event. That is true, but your 21st birthday is a big deal in the United States. It is a unique event.  One could say it is a once in a lifetime opportunity. A nice party, some friends, and finally being able to go to happy hours in D.C.  For several days, I tried to limit the collateral damage that this type of celebration would cause in our apartment.


My roommate is Puerto Rican, so I happen to be around Puerto Ricans a lot. It all started on one of the first days in D.C., when my roommate invited me to come with him and some of his Puerto Rican friends to the Holocaust Museum. Because I was more than happy to meet new people with a different background and culture, I decided that this was a great idea. Until my roommate and I joined the group and I noticed that Puerto Ricans spoke Spanish. And I didn’t.


I should tell you that I took two years of Spanish in high school, but being incredibly enthusiastic I also took two years of Italian. At the same time. It didn't really work out very well. You should also know that my friends don't really speak Spanish. They speak some kind of Spanglish, with a lot of English words, and they speak so fast that it sounds like an assault rifle in overdrive.


Anyway, that is how I ended up spending the day with a dozen Puerto Ricans, wandering in D.C. No one really had an idea of what we were doing, and the Holocaust Museum turned out to be inaccessible. For the permanent exhibition, you needed a ticket during the busy summer period and we didn't have one. That is how we ended up going to Shake Shack. I obviously had no idea what that was. That is when they tried to explain to me that it was a fast food restaurant primarily known for hamburgers and milkshakes. I have never been so shocked in my life. I was really trying to understand American culture and everything, but this was going too far. Way too far. Because for some reason, I mistakenly understood that Shake Shack sold hamburger-milkshakes. As in: "the hamburger being in the milkshake"...


The actual burger did not look as disgusting, but my stomach was still a little upset by the horrible ideas in my head, so I decided to try Shake Shack some other time.


I've been talking about Puerto Ricans for a long time now. For those of you who don't know, Puerto Rico could be the 29th largest U.S. state. But it isn't. The Commonwealth of Puerto Rico is an unincorporated territory of the United States, which means that "where fundamental rights apply as a matter of law, but other constitutional rights are not available." Basically, this means that the government can't start randomly arresting Puerto Ricans (because the Constitution doesn't allow that), but at the same time, Puerto Ricans can't vote for President or senate and only have a non-voting "Resident Commissioner" in the House. The political status of Puerto Rico is incredibly complicated and thus not something I'll discuss here in detail. You can read this, and if you have more questions, ask your Puerto Rican friends!


Did you know that...

...Puerto Rico's governor is very handsome, according to some sources. Some argue that he defeated the incumbent governor because he was better-looking.




The previous (top) and current (bottom) governor: You Decide!

…Puerto Rico is the country with the third most Miss Universe victories!


…Puerto Rico has a lot of beaches, one of which even has a tank!


If this doesn't scare pickpockets...


…Puerto Rico makes more than 70% of the rum sold in the U.S.!


…Puerto Rico has a legal drinking age of 18, instead of 21 as the rest of the U.S.


…Puerto Rico's capital is the oldest city founded by Europeans in the U.S. (by Christopher Colombus himself!)


…Puerto Rico has the most sensitive and largest single-dish radio telescope in the world. It is called the Arecibo Observatory and stars in a James Bond movie!


Anyway, all this started with my roommate's birthday. Everything went fine. We all survived, and we all lived happily ever after. I just noticed that my blog post is pretty long by now, so there won't be a Zany Americans section this week. I will add this though, in case you haven't noticed yet:

My roommate said I couldn't do this, because signs like these are made by people who're just after money and not by real Puerto Ricans.

But hey, I'm from Belgium. I can do whatever I want!

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