There was a load of coal headed up and down the gravity railroad. Then it was to be loaded on to barges for the canal heading to Kingston, New York. One of the fellows on the railroad told me the coal was destined for a coal tender headed to Puerto Rico.
Of course I wondered “Why Puerto Rico? It isn’t cold there and they must have plenty of wood and sugar cane remnants for any industrial fires they need to burn.”
So I asked Bogdan Yelcovich if he knew what the coal was for.
“Haven’t you heard?” he said. “We are going to have a war with Spain. We are sending ships to Cuba and Puerto Rico to carry the troops, their horses and canons. They will need plenty of coal to keep the engines turning on all those troop ships.”
I told him I had no idea what was going on in the Caribbean.
“Or the South Sea” he responded.
“You mean the Southern Pacific Ocean?” I asked.
“No, no, no. I mean the Caribbean. It was once referred too as the South Sea” said Bogdan.
Well, if Bogdan said something then you knew it was true. He never lied and always seemed to know things. Of course – – – out came one of his favorite monthly newsprint magazines.
And so the war was engaged; and we won Puerto Rico without a fight – – – not like in Cuba.
The Puerto Rican people had been promised their freedom from Spain in 1896. Maybe Spain saw the handwriting on the wall.
And because I can see the past and the future, I was able to see Puerto Rico after the war and fifty years later.
No much had changed in those fifty years. The people remained poor and proud.
The Jibaros (country folk) still loved their music; a mixture of Spanish and Arabic with a touch of Gypsy laments.
The easy going mixture of Spanish, Yoruban, and Native Taino cultures still exists in the community called Louisa Aldea.
So why wouldn’t my heart be captured by such a place?