As I write this I am working in Puerto Rico. We are staying in a lovely, eccentric little hotel called The Gallery Inn in Old San Juan. It is charming and warm with several parrots in the courtyard that greet you with a sweet “hola, hola” as you walk in. We have only been here a few days, but we feel like family. We walk into the kitchen to see what’s cooking, or we make our own coffee and sit and chat with whoever is working the front desk. Tonight the General Manager made us his family specialty of chicken with red beans and rice. And for dessert we shared pints of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream.
But there is an undercurrent running through our visit. The government of Puerto Rico is shutting down as of May 1 due to lack of funds and a denial from Washington to loan them 600 million dollars to continue operating until June 30. They have no money to pay the school teachers or other government and municipal employees. On Monday every government worker, except for the Police, will have no job. So tomorrow, the entire country is striking in protest. Blockades are planned, and rally’s and marches through the streets of Old San Juan. The locals tell me this is a good thing, that the government needs to get the message loud and clear that the way they have been running things is not working. And it got me thinking that those people that are being affected most are those that provide some of the most critical and yet underappreciated services to their communities. What will happen when the buses aren’t running or when the garbage isn’t picked up?
Tonight, even as a steady rain falls upon the city, there is an excitement building. I sense an energy that suggests that when the times get tough here, the people join together and help one another.
It is inspiring.
Be the change you want to see in the world.