This summer I am brought back to that time in 2012 when I was considering my move to Puerto Rico. All of the unknowns of business, personal, and social life were weighing heavy on my mind, and I hadn't even begun to consider the impact to my then, teenage children. Fast forward 6 ½ years and here I am working away, and by my side is my now, adult daughter who is here during her summer break from university. I thought it would be a good idea to allow her my column space this month to give some outside reflection to what Puerto Rico means to her. Allow me to introduce my awesome daughter, Megan Curry.
When my dad decided to move to Puerto Rico in 2012, I was just entering into my teenage years. I didn't know much about Puerto Rico except that it had beaches and sounded like a fun vacation. Little did I know, I would end up learning and appreciating so much more about the island in the next 6 ½ years. Growing up as a Kansas native, I could never have guessed that I would end up falling in love with a place like Puerto Rico. They are so different from each other; however, there is something about Puerto Rico that feels so familiar and inviting. The island is truly one of a kind, which is why I am excited to share with you and tell you all about what makes Puerto Rico so special to me.
What I love about Puerto Rico is that it is a place where all are welcome. The culture here is rich and strong throughout, and its customs and traditions are very important to all the people here, yet they will not hesitate to bring you in and allow you to participate in the culture alongside them. One great experience I've had was going to the beach on Noche de San Juan with my dad and his friends a couple of years ago. I was amazed at how many people were on the beach, celebrating, and I remember feeling welcomed by everyone. I could feel the excitement and joy in the air, and it made me feel honored to be a part of it all.
In my experiences here, Puerto Ricans are some of the most open-minded, compassionate, and accepting people I have ever met. Here, diversity is celebrated, not just through words, but more importantly, through actions. The people are always willing to lend a helping hand despite your age, race, religion, or sexual orientation. This is apparent to me anytime I have trouble speaking Spanish because they are always helpful and never judgmental when I use the wrong words or ask them to repeat themselves.
Another thing that I love about Puerto Rico is that when you're here, you are family, and Puerto Ricans value their families more than anything. This aspect of their culture is something I appreciate because it is very different from the States. Families here are so tightly knit and have such love and affection for one another. I remember the first time I saw a family out, late at night, with their young children. I was confused because I wouldn't expect children to be out late with their parents, but instead at home with a babysitter. It was then when someone explained to me that it is common in Puerto Rico for families to go everywhere together, at any time of day. Parents are always taking their children along with them and allowing them to be a part of every aspect of their lives. I love seeing all the different generations of a family go and enjoy the same things and spend time together.
This unique characteristic is presumably the foundation of what makes Puerto Rico unlike any other place I have been--it is the perfect mix of old and new. From the people, the places, the cuisine, to even the traditions, you can see how Puerto Rico celebrates its history, but is also always changing and evolving in some way. There are many historical sites all over the island, quaint restaurants who serve the traditional cuisine of Puerto Rico, and ancient customs that are still celebrated today. There are also new, exciting places to see or activities to try, as well as elevated and contemporary restaurants, and a funky and fun nightlife.
There is a little something of everything here in Puerto Rico, and you never run out of things to do, see, or learn. I will always have a special place in my heart for this island and the people on it. Puerto Rico is truly one of the best-kept secrets in the world, so for those reading this from outside of Puerto Rico, come and experience it for yourself; you just might fall in love with the island like I did.
*Mark E. Curry is a leading entrepreneur, philanthropist and impact investor. Curry founded SOL Partners in Puerto Rico in 2012, and in January 2017 completed acquisition of NotiCel. As Chair of the Mark E. Curry Family Foundation, he invests in critical community charitable organizations.