“Angélica, levántate. ¿Ya tienes todo ready?” – my mother said. In July 11, I was going to travel for the first time. The night before I was in my senior class “summer party” and I needed to go early, because I needed to be in the airport at the 4’o clock. When I get to my house to finally finish my suitcase, I sleep like three or four hours, and then my mom wake me up. This travel was an educational tour to Washington, New York and Philadelphia.
When I get to the airport I was confused and disoriented. I saw too much people in there; I had gone many times to pick up people at the airport, but never to leave Puerto Rico. When I finally get in the airplane I was really nervous, everything happened so fast that I couldn’t say goodbye to my mother. People fell sleep, but I can’t. They provide us cookies and juice, my travel was like four hours. When I arrived I was surprised, I never seeing something like that. My first stop was Washington; I honestly couldn’t believe I was no longer in Puerto Rico. It was like a road trip from Caguas to Aguadilla. In Washington, I visited the White House, the Capitol and various monuments and memorials. I was impressed by the story behind the Capitol Reconstruction and loved Visiting Arlington National Cemetery. This cemetery is military, and was established in the Civil War on the grounds of Robert E. Lee (he lived there 30 years), whose story is very interesting and is about revenge. Washington is beautiful, has a lot of vegetation and everything seems to be quiet. While there are squirrels, but in Puerto Rico we only see “iguanas de palo”. I would like to revisit but with more time, to vacations. In Washington I saw many people with dreadlocks, so I was like in family. There were not people who ask me, “But, is that your hair?”. Trees in Washington were beautiful and rare; one of them seemed to have pink cotton candy. To have beautiful flowers in Puerto Rico we have to buy, but there I saw daisies in their land, it was awesome. My breakfast was scrambled eggs, ham, hot buttered bread, bacon and strawberries.
The fourth day we moved to Philadelphia and then New York. Philadelphia was a quick stop, but also learned a lot from there; such that Philadelphia was the first capital of the United States, and then Washington. We went to Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell, Congress Hall and the National Constitution Center. I could see sunflowers, looked so beautiful! That evening I ate one of the most popular foods in the United States, the Philly Cheesesteak. That afternoon, we arrived in New York. When we enter first thing I see it is a sign saying that the toll was $14.00 a car. A car $ 14.00! This is a fraud; a car in Puerto Rico pays $1.50. Another thing I learned, having a car in New York is a mission. We had to get up at 5:30 am for my roommates and be ready at 7:00 am for breakfast. I’m not a pancake lover, but I must admit that these were spectacular. Our first stop was the Statue of Liberty, I got pretty high. To get there we had to ride a ferry. The most painful thing is that there was no signal on my phone. We visited a monument of a gold bull, according to the myth, the persons who touched his private parts, will have much money. One of the most impressive but at the same time sad monuments, were 9/11 Memorial. The first night we were there, we ate at Dave & Buster’s, a place I will never forget, I promise. Sadly for my feet, I went to that trip with girls addicted to shopping. We arrived at 7:00 pm from tours, at 3:00 am we were still shopping at the Town Square. What I must say is that was a great experience, a spectacular thing, I have no words to describe it. We also went to the Madame Tussands Museum. “Where are you all?” – asked an employee of the museum. “From Puerto Rico.” – we answered. “Puerto Rico!? Oh, oh, oh, Puerto Rico! “- she shouted and began to move erratically.”Tra, tra, tra. “- continue and starts dancing and singing. So apparently, salsa, bomba and plena and all those Puerto Rican traditions have been omitted for “tra, tra, tra”.
I was very impressed; the museums had many celebrities made of wax, and were so alike! I took a picture with Anne Hathaway, Taylor Lautner, Jack Sparrow, Brad Pitt , Angelina Jolie, Will Smith, Daniel Craig (James Bond), Albert Einstein, Martin Luther King, Mahatma Gandhi, George Washington, The Rock and of course, Bob Marley. In the Town Square, some artist drew me, whose portrait I have it in my room. I attended a Broadway Show, was about Aladdin and the Magic Lamp, was a comedy show and I laughed a lot. The best part was the end and was rather impressive stage, lighting effects, voices and everything. There were many people dressed as cartoon characters, you take a picture with them and you gave them a tip. It was very sad to see how many people did that to get money, and see so many homeless people. Another thing I saw were two people with a sign saying: “I need money for ganjah. Why I’m going to lie?” That was funny.
I visit the museum from the movie Night at the Museum, and I could see the characters in the film. We went to the Empire State Building, which has 102 floors and we only go to the 86th floor. The elevator went well fast, and caused headaches. I don’t like it, we made a very big row only to see more buildings, and also I have a fear of heights. I could eat the famous New York’s cheesecakes (my favorite dessert), were very good. To transport us, we had to use the subway. It was weird to say that because in Puerto Rico “Subway” is a fast food restaurant, they have it too, but it was confusing. I went to the zoo in New York, where the movie Madagascar was signed. Honestly, I was not thrilled, it was very small and had few animals; but I loved seeing the penguins, were very interesting. I also saw a leopard, owls, bears, and red bears. The most traumatic was New York prices. A piece of pizza with chips and soda in Puerto Rico could go to $6.00; however, in there were $6.00 only the pizza. Approximately $13.00 in that meal. My biggest frustration was when I ordered a hot dog and asked for cheese, and there was no cheese! My type would be one hot dog with mayonnaise, potatoes, ketchup, cheese and ground beef. All that for $ 2.50 in my place, but a hot dog with only ketchup would be $5.00 in NYC.
When finally it’s time to come back to Puerto Rico, unlike the first time, I fell asleep on the plane. When we arrived, at about 2:00 am, it was a beautiful sight, and I remembered how much Puerto Rico means for me. All knew all in the airplane was Puerto Ricans because when the plane lands, everyone starts clapping. What I can say? What’s an incredible experience traveling. I know this will not be the last; I have so much more years to travel the world. Jamaica, Italia, Europa, Spain, Colombia, Brazil, how many more? I know that I’m going to achieve that; always in mind, that wherever I go, I’m a Puerto Rican, and I’m proud of it.
—Angélica D. Serrano Román
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