This past April I was in Puerto Rico on assignment for @americares documenting their ongoing projects helping Puerto Rico recover from the devastating hurricanes that passed over the island in 2017. I have visited the island a few times after the hurricane. Things are betterl, but there is still so much to do. In many areas there still is no electricity, debris still hasn't been cleared away, many essential services still don't exist, and jobs non existent. No wonder so many Puerto Ricos are leaving their beloved island to the mainland US to find better opportunities.
Lucinda and Juan live in the mountains of Utuado in the center of the island. This area was particularly hard hit. They live near a beautiful water fall which during the hurricane turned into a raging mudslide that swept away most of their home, their belongings, and electrical lines. Fortunately, they were able to escape with their family before anyone was hurt. Although their future is uncertain, get their water from the river, they still don't have electricity, and have no idea when it will arrive. Working together with their neighbors they make the best of their situation, but many neighbors have left to the mainland. They refuse to leave..."this is our home and we are not leaving." Such beautiful people.
Me at Everest Base Camp, Nepal. Dedicating my trek to Puerto Rico
When I was visiting I saw a Puerto Rican flag on the wall and I asked where I could buy one. Lucinda, took it off the wall and handed it to me. I did not want to take their flag, but Lucinda insisted. She said "This is remember us and where you come from." An emotional moment for sure. So this is for Lucinda, Juan. I haven't forgotten!