I was greeted by the smell of homemade chicken broth at the door. Rubis’ friend, E. was hard at work at the wall-less kitchen. It was wonderful to see her so joyfully stirring the broth, with music blasting through the speakers. The next thing that caught was the brightly decorated house, with indigenous prints from South America hanging on the walls and several serigraphy drawings by local artists.
The house is located in the mountains of Bayamón, my hometown, in a barrio called Guaraguao Arriba. While I have lived in this town most of my life, I had remained the typical city girl, denouncing rural life as boring. I now believe it’s because I had never seen the view from up there. Founded by Spaniards in 1509, Bayamón is quite extense. The north side of town is close to the sea, while its most southern part can be found near Puerto Rico’s mountainous center.
From Rubis’ mountaintop country house, I could see a good part of the island’s northern coast. I marveled at the site of it. She comes over and says, “Wait until it gets dark.” Meanwhile, she and her friend E. had prepared a bohemian afternoon and evening, filled with folk music and good food. All those who were present were served the homemade chicken broth with bread griddlecake. We all had more than one serving. Later on, we all sat down at the table to share the potluck dinner we had all assembled.
The mood was further enhanced by E.’s melodious voice and her skilled guitar. She sang many trova songs, as well as some original compositions – these were my favorites. As the night came around, the blankets had to be brought out. Puerto Rico is a tropical island but when you are constantly hot, a ten-degree drop in temperature can startle the body. Then Rafael took the stage and delighted us with some more trova.
By then, it was time to have some coffee to warm up our souls. With the blanked in tow, I stepped onto the terrace and saw how the city had brightened the sky in kaleidoscopic colors. Rubis was right. I will be infinitely changed by that view.