A Few Images of Puerto Rico

The weath­er was almost inde­cent­ly beau­ti­ful, so dif­fer­ent from the dri­ve-you-inside-to-work, puri­tan­i­cal driz­zles of win­ter in Seat­tle. Instead the air and sun were soft and warm, and only light­ly salt­ed with Caribbean sea-scent. I was there to teach a class on coach­ing skills, but in the evenings and for a cou­ple of extra days I explored, spent time with friends, saw the sights. This was the first time I’ve been to Puer­to Rico, most­ly spend­ing my time in and around San Juan, and it seemed so clear that the dol­lar, Amer­i­can mer­can­til­ism based on cruise ships, the pres­ence of Star­bucks and Burg­er King and a mul­ti­tude of sou­venir stands, form a very thin veneer on a much rich­er, deep­er cul­ture that some­how is con­stant­ly escap­ing into the back­ground, per­haps as a form of self-pro­tec­tion. Such is the mys­tery of an island his­tor­i­cal­ly sub­ject to too many attempt­ed con­quests. There are par­al­lels to oth­er sit­u­a­tions at a more per­son­al lev­el: how thin a veneer can be and yet how persuasive.

Of course, all the peo­ple I met were won­der­ful and warm. It’s been awhile since I’ve expe­ri­enced a work­shop that was as open, engaged, and where there was so much laughter.

If you’d like to see a few images from San Juan and a near­by rain­for­est, you can click here.



  • Dan,

    Beau­ti­ful pic­tures, thank you so much for mak­ing them avail­able. Amaz­ing sen­si­tiv­i­ty to the place. Old San Juan is a mag­i­cal place!

    I also enjoyed your obser­va­tions about the thin veen­er that is actu­al­ly ingrained in the col­o­nized men­tal­i­ty of the peo­ple. BUT, drop by drop the mes­sage of a cul­ture is wit­nessed, val­ued and nurtured. 

    It would be great to hear about the “coach­ing” work­shop and if you were able to inta­grate some of the Puer­to Rican cul­tur­al forms into your model.


  • Karen

    I’m not sure what to say about “Puer­to Rican cul­tur­al forms.” I cer­tain­ly do not under­stand the cul­ture well enough to com­ment, let alone dis­cuss how these were inte­grat­ed into my teach­ing approach. I taught in Puer­to Rico what I teach every­where, which is that real dia­logue between peo­ple, no mat­ter what the pow­er dif­fer­en­tial, is vital, that coach­ing is about see­ing pos­si­bil­i­ties and poten­tials in oth­ers that they may not yet see in them­selves, that when peo­ple need assis­tance it is often about help­ing them see their real impacts on oth­ers and them­selves than a tra­di­tion­al approach to under­stand­ing the caus­es of the behavior. 

    The truth is that after a week in Puer­to Rico I feel I know almost noth­ing about Puer­to Rican cul­ture. In the orga­ni­za­tion I worked with I found only a few sub­tle sig­nals of the real sen­si­tiv­i­ties about being Puer­to Rican; in par­tic­u­lar, judg­ments about sell­ing out to oth­er cultures. 

    There are many con­ver­sa­tion I want to have. The sto­ries I read in the local paper — about the inde­pendis­tas and how the FBI is per­ceived as a repres­sive force — tell me there is so much more to learn before I could be said to appre­ci­ate the culture. 

    That might take many trips to this beau­ti­ful place…

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