Category Archives: Puerto Rican holidays

Making independence possible


Written by Dr. Julie L. Parenteau, President of Global Perceptions


July 4, 2006 marked a new chapter in my life. It was the first day that I woke up in Puerto Rico. I awoke with incredibly uncertainty. Had I made the right decision in coming? Would I figure out how to get around? How long would it take me to learn enough Spanish to communicate effectively?


The next two weeks were filled with challenges and doubts. It was so hot!! The power went out several times, which made me even more miserable. I tried going out once or twice, but got lost so badly and was so nervous about crashing the loaner car in the crazy traffic that Itemperature stayed put the rest of the time. That meant I did not speak with anyone either. I remember watching movies and working on scrapbook pages to fill the time.


In other words, I was bored out of my mind. I had moved to paradise, but felt paralyzed. This was not what I was expecting. Such an outgoing, ambitious woman should not have these feelings despite being in another country. Or so I thought…


Then I remembered what I had learned over the years about cultural adaptation. Even the most seasoned expatriates experienced culture shock symptoms to some degree. Now that it was no longer just theory, but rather actual lived experience, I realized that I was simply going through culture shock and needed to give myself some time. I would have my ups and disorienteddowns. I just needed to stay the course. I also realized that I could see the situation as a challenge or as an opportunity. I could continue to dwell on the things that were making me miserable or I could change my outlook. I chose the second option.


The past eight years have not been easy. I will be the first to admit that. However, taking on an “If you can’t beat them, join them” attitude made it possible for me to get through that first year and those that followed. My Spanish is now good enough that I teach Spanish to other expatriates. I know where I’m going and can maneuver through the traffic without fear. I avoid going back to Wisconsin in the winter because it’s so cold. I’m still not thrilled about power outages, but I know how to deal with them.


So if you ask me today if I made the right decision, I will tell you “Yes, I made the right P1030117decision.”  I am happy in Puerto Rico. I have become a successful entrepreneur. I have grown as an individual and have gained an incredible family of friends, students, and supporters. Because of them, I have the courage to continue living here and have the faith to believe that things will get better. Because of them, I am who I am–a free independent AmeRican. On this Fourth of July, I celebrate my independence and my extended family of boricuas who have made my independence possible! Cheers to you all!


For more information on relocating to or from Puerto Rico, contact Global Perceptions. We are your relocation specialists in Puerto Rico! From individuals to couples to entire families, we will help you all through the process with cultural orientation, coaching, language, and concierge services. Call us TODAY at 7874557764 or visit


Remembering Martin Luther King, Jr.

By Kerri Applegate


Martin Luther King Jr. was born on January 15, 1929, in Atlanta, Georgia. King came from a long line of pastors, and faith would play a seismic role in his pursuit of equality. His father, Martin Luther King, Sr., demonstrated strong principles for his children by rejecting racism and segregation, and considered it an act against God’s will. King’s father adamantly taught his children that class superiority was wrong and had no place in the United States. His father’s teaching undoubtedly created a spark and influenced a future leader of the Civil Rights Movement.

The King Family

Martin Luther King was a precocious young man that skipped several grades in high school and entered Morehouse College at the age of 15, earning a B.A. in Sociology and eventually a doctorate in Systematic Theology from Boston University in 1955. It was in Boston that King met his wife Coretta, an aspiring singer, with whom he would later marry and have four children. By 1954, King had been appointed Head Pastor of Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama. During his administration, segregation of public facilities such as schools, public transportation, restaurants, and even separate water fountains was strictly enforced, preventing blacks from having access to the same spaces as white people.

Rosa Parks, a Civil Rights leaders for blacks and women.


While riding a Montgomery City Bus on December 1, 1955, Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat to a white man and defied the Jim Crow Laws (1876-1965) that enforced segregation amongst black and white citizens in the Southern States. By December 5th, King was elected President of the Montgomery Improvement Association that led the Montgomery Bus Boycott. During the boycotts, African Americans did everything but ride the bus to get to work, school, or church. King’s involvement didn’t go unnoticed. He and his family lives through a house bombing, violent attacks and King being apprehended for conspiracy. On December 21, 1965, the Supreme Court ruled that segregation on public transportation was illegal, in part due to the efforts of Dr. King.

King’s leadership in the boycotts was only the beginning of his work to defend equality and civil rights for all people. King later went on to lead nonviolent protests, become arrested numerous times, stage “sit-ins”, gain support from President Kennedy, become the youngest person to achieve the Nobel Peace Prize (1964), and go on to give one of the most famous speeches the United States had heard to date.

I Have a Dream!

Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his famous “I Have a Dream” speech in front of 250,000 protesters gathered at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. on August 28, 1963. This historic moment was considered a major turning point for the cause of desegregation and social justice for African-Americans.

King lived long enough to create a major impact and set a more just path for future generations. It was said that King believed in visible, peaceful protest and that no change would come from not visibly seeing or hearing others stand up for change and justice. Martin Luther King was assassinated while standing on the balcony of his hotel in Memphis, Tennessee on April 4, 1968. The day before he died he gave a speech where he said, “God’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you.”

Today we remember King’s legacy and pause to reflect on the contributions that he made to equality and civil rights. Across Puerto Rico, the government offices, schools, and banks are closed in remembrance. We invite you to leave your comments on what King’s legacy means to you.


For further cultural insights useful throughout your transition to Puerto Rico, visit Global Perceptions, your relocation specialist in Puerto Rico, works closely with you, your family, and your company to assure that your relocation goes as smoothly as possible.

Eugenio Maria de Hostos: A Puerto Rican Legend

The Life and Legacy of Eugenio María de Hostos


Written by Kerri Applegate


Eugenio M. de Hostos

Eugenio María de Hostos was born on January 11, 1839 in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico, but for someone from modest beginnings, he lived an extraordinary life. He went on to gain a multitude of titles, traveled to other countries to fight for social injustice, became known for his writing and philosophy, and championed the independence of Puerto Rico and Cuba. He was known for his charismatic and staunch devotion toward humanitarian causes. To tell a small portion of Hostos’s story is to go many places; let’s begin!

Hostos received his childhood education in San Juan, Puerto Rico, but by the age of 13 he was sent to Spain to finish high school, which he followed up with a bachelor’s degree at the University of Bilbao and a law degree at Madrid Central University. During this time period he wrote arguments against autonomic reform and the abolition of slavery, and was a member of a group called Spanish Republicans. Hostos wanted to see Puerto Rico and Cuba gain independence from Spain. When Spain refused to grant independence, Hostos left for the United States, joined the Cuban Revolution Committee, and became editor of a journal called “La Revolución” in New York City.  After two years, he left New York for South America where he advocated across the board for education and humanitarian causes. A few of Hostos’s accomplishments included:

  • fighting against the exploits of Chinese workers in Peru.
  • being the first individual in Chile to fight for women to be admitted into educational institutions. Hostos was known for his support of women’s rights throughout his life.
  • helping to establish the Trans-Andean Railroad in Argentina.
  • working on educational reform in Chile and Dominican Republic.
  • championing the independence of Puerto Rico, Cuba, and Dominican Republic and wanting to create an Antillean Confederation.

    Hostos with the Puerto Rican flag

Hostos returned to New York to support the Puerto Rico and Cuban independence movements. After the Spanish-American War there was hope for independence, but Hostos was met with disappointment when the movement didn’t gain enough support in Puerto Rico and the island became a United States Territory. Nevertheless, Hostos continued to support humanitarian causes and went to the Dominican Republic where he worked to further improve education and railway systems. In 1903 Hostos died in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic and his remains, per his request, will remain there until Puerto Rico becomes independent.

Being a true writer, he even wrote his own epitaph:

“I wish that they will say: In that island (Puerto Rico) a man was born who loved truth, desired justice, and worked for the good of men.”



For further cultural insights useful throughout your transition to Puerto Rico, visit Global Perceptions, your relocation specialist in Puerto Rico, works closely with you, your family, and your company to assure that your relocation goes as smoothly as possible.

Three Kings Day Across Latin America

By Kerri Applegate & Julie Parenteau


It’s a new year and the holidays are behind us, right? Not so fast! On January 6th Catholics around the world celebrate the last of the 12 days of Christmas, called Three Kings Day (or Epiphany). Religious tradition talks of how the three wise men traveled from afar (Africa, Europe, Arabia to be exact) bringing gifts for the new born king, Jesus. Such a long trip was certainly worthy of a celebration upon arrival! Never wanting to miss a party, Latin Americans recognize this holiday, but how they do so differs from one country to another.

The Three Kings


In Mexico, for example, Epiphany is celebrated with parades, parties and a delicious cake called Rosca De Reyes. A small doll of baby Jesus is hidden inside this cake to represent how he needed to be protected and hidden. The person that finds the hidden savior has the honor of preparing tamales for another holiday called Fiesta de la Candelaria on February 2nd. She or he becomes the “godmother/godfather” for the year.



Peruvians in Lima, a city that was founded on January 6th, offer gifts to a live infant who is spread on a blanket in the Andean market. Men dress in traditional clothing and bring small tokens to the baby. A couple representing Mary and Joseph also stand nearby. Like in Mexico, people in Peru cook Kings Cake and hide a plastic doll inside. Whoever finds the baby is said to have luck all year. That person is also responsible for bringing the cake the following year!


For Puerto Ricans, the three kings arrive on camel during the night. Children leave small boxes with fresh grass in them (to feed the camels!) under their beds with the hope that the kings will leave gifts behind. On the morning of January 6th, children awake to open gifts. Families attend church and local parades where children can see the kings walking by. People celebrate by eating and drinking holiday favorites like lechon (roasted pork), arroz con gandules (rice with pigeon peas), and coquito (a rum-laced egg nog). Traditionally this day was more popular than Christmas, but close ties to the U.S. have made Christmas almost as popular.


Of course these are not the only ways to celebrate this day, but perhaps seeing these makes you interested in what other holidays are celebrated in Puerto Rico and beyond. Stay tuned as we will post more cultural insights throughout the year!


For more information on the culture and life of Puerto Rico, or for assistance relocating to Puerto Rico, visit We are your relocation authority in Puerto Rico.