The Cultural Melting Pot of Puerto Rico
How can such a melting pot have a culture of its own? Puerto Rico may be the meeting point for so many different races, but it is able to retain a flavor all of its own. It started with the Spanish and the Taino Indians, and continues between various people from Latin America and the U.S. mainland until today. European, Africans, Chinese, and Cubans have all landed on the territory’s shores, only to be swamped by the distinctive force of Puerto Rico culture. The land neither imposes its own style on any settler, nor allows any colonial influence to overpower it.
Cuisine is always a pleasant and most demonstrative way to sample culture. The food of Puerto Rico needs little introduction, for it is one of the most delightful ways of having a fine meal with friends. What many do not know however, is that most of the typical meal ingredients are widely dispersed by origin. The cooking style may be a fusion of many influences from far away, but the fruits and spices are entirely indigenous, and date back to native times in many cases.
We see the same effects in Art. Painters such as José Campeche are said to have drawn inspiration from Europe, yet the lines and colors in their top works have a signature all of their own. The religious work of this premier artist of Puerto Rico is certainly in a class of its own, but even mundane portraits he made of the gentry of his time, bear the unique stamp of the territory. It is the same with artifacts and handicrafts-ancient Taino influences blend seamlessly with influences from so many continents!
Friendliness, strong family bonds, and over-riding importance for education are hallmarks of the people of Puerto Rico. These values prevail in universal manner throughout the territory, no matter where the roots of a particular community may lie. Puerto Rico seems to be able to embrace cultures from distant parts of the globe without losing its own identity. This is a great strength on which the land now records some of the fastest growth in the Region. It also makes Puerto Rico a show-piece of and for the world!