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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