II – No Hay Peor

Nicole Olivieri Pagan

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WHY PHOTOGRAPHY ABOUT NATURE???: (Click on first photo to enlarge for a slideshow) As far back into my childhood as I can remember I shared trips to the zoo with my parents. My father tells stories of chasing me around the different exhibits and of me holding his index finger with one tiny hand while pointing excitedly with the other. In my later childhood years I recall beach days with my mother, swimming around fish and following crabs, being taught to love what she grew up admiring as a child. We watched the “normal channels”, such as Cartoon Network and Nickelodeon, but I always watched Animal Planet and Discovery Chanel before school. I would endlessly enjoy documentaries about wildlife and different places in the world where these fascinating creatures...

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Maruja Toledo

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CROSS-OVER GENES – For years I have questioned the assumption of what is considered a Puerto Rican woman. The principal reason is that I lack some of the characteristics of the quintessential puertoriqueñidad. Some of these characteristics are the following: Swaying As a young woman, I was aghast as my Puerto Rican friends had a particular sway as they walked. They told me time and again that proper Puerto Rican girls had to sway. Naturally, I practiced and took lessons from the best; to no avail. Instead, I have what my husband of many years describes, for lack of a better word, as a “trot.” He even tried to teach me how to walk correctly since he grew up with six sisters and considered himself a connoisseur in this area. One day, I rebelled. I affirmed my...

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Leslie D. Rodríguez Méndez

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THE RHYTHM OF CHRISTMAS – I remember being a little girl, really skinny, with long, black, straight hair. Sundays were the days when my dad would pile us all into his brown Buick and take us shopping in Mayagüez. By “us all,” I mean my father, my mother, my older brother, and me. On our way back to Cabo Rojo, we always stopped at my grandparents’ house. As we approached, I often found myself wishing my grandpa was home when we stopped. Often he wasn’t. It was because he was an artisan and spent many hours a day making musical instruments with his own hands and selling them in town. I think it was more like a hobby than work for him because he was very passionate about it and took a great deal of time to craft each instrument. He had many clients, especially...

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Camille Pedraja

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MY TWO FRONT TEETH – You know there’s something funny about Your teeth when your boyfriend jokes around Saying he can fit a quarter through them. That was five years ago. And I would like to Think that gap has receded. Now only a penny Can fit through which is a progress of 24 cents. After my two front baby teeth fell, the ones That grew made Bugs Bunny – or in modern Times, Spongebob Squarepants- proud. As a kid this things don’t matter, on the contrary, You look cute and you love the attention. My mom said that she would get me braces When I reached ten, but nearly ten years Past deadline, I still have my teeth standing Wide, proud, and greeting the world. I am naturally a goofy person, so I don’t mind My friends or family joking about me being...

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Isaac E. Ramos Oliveras

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THE “PILAR” OF MY FAMILY – The smell of a whole, roasted pig drifts through every corner of the house.  The house sits atop a cliff near Ciales River, so the air is chilly and comfortable. It’s New Years, 2008, and without fail my grandparents’ house is crowded with aunts, uncles, cousins, sisters and brothers and their kitchen is full of typical food like arroz con gandules, lechón asao’, pasteles de masa, morcillas (blood sausages,) and potato and macaroni salads, among others. This has been our typical gathering since I can remember, a house full of my many relatives and kids running around like crazy little animals. Then there’s my uncles and aunts playing at the many domino tables, each with a can of beer by their side. There is unnecessary...

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Nicole Alvarez

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ADA GARCIA MONTES: BRINGING BACK THE TRADITION THROUGH BEATING DRUMS – Ada García Montes dons a candy-apple red skirt in her living room-turned studio dance floor and swirls the cloth around her waist to the beat of bongos, guiros and cuatros, chanting “eh!” Her students follow suit, girls in long flowing cotton skirts over their gym clothes and sneakers and boys in shorts and breezy shirts. They twirl, percussive rhythms driving precise footwork, their images doubled by a wall of mirrors. The youths stare at their teacher’s reflection intensely, keeping their eyes on her fast moving feet. The dancers enjoy an audience, pride reflected in animated, wide-open smiles. It’s clearly an honor to be dancing the Puerto Rican bomba, plena, danza, seis and mazurka....

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