Every time the Christmas season rolls around, I get excited about preparing Coquito to bring to parties and gatherings. Coquito is a popular drink from Puerto Rico, a lovely blend of rum and coconut with other items to give extra flavor.
From the first time I had Coquito years ago, I enjoyed the flavor and extra kick of alcohol. Its taste is similar to eggnog, yet with an adult flavor. I usually make Coquito with the following ingredients:
1 can of evaporated milk
1 can of condensed milk
16 oz of white rum (I love using Bacardi)
2 cups Cream of Coconut (you can purchase 1 15oz can of your favorite type. I personally enjoy Goya or Coco Lopez)
1 tsp of Vanilla extract
Some nutmeg to taste
Blend all of these ingredients together, then chill in the refrigerator for an hour. Your coquito will then be ready to drink!
It’s best to enjoy Coquito in the company of friends, and always remember to drink responsibly!
Last night I spoke to my best friend from Puerto Rico. We shared about how the life paths my cousin and her niece have taken, who were born two months apart, are very different. It’s been 13 years since I last saw her niece, and she’s made a successful life for herself. Had my cousin Brittany held more confidence in her abilities to succeed in school, her life path would have taken a similar, positive turn to Christine’s.
I’m going to call my friend again on Saturday. It will be her birthday on that day. Her goal is to head out to the casino, so hopefully she can achieve her goal this weekend.
Today brought heartbreaking news locally and around the world.
In Brazil, a devastating fire destroyed the National Museum. Countless artifacts documenting Brazil’s history, as well as other countries’ precious gifts, are now in ruins. I didn’t want to believe it when I first came across the story this morning online, but when I turned on the television and saw the museum in flames, I felt waves of sadness. So much work, so much history, gone. I mourn the loss of another piece of history and cultural value, and pray that this wasn’t the work of hurtful individuals.
I also mourn the loss of those killed in local soil. There were three reported shootings in Paterson over the weekend. I say ‘reported’ because this type of violence happens regularly in this area, yet rarely receive any media attention. Since I grew up in Paterson, and still have family living there to this day, I’m aware of the rough conditions firsthand. My family is at a crossroads when it comes to living in Paterson: some want to leave, return to Puerto Rico, where my line originated. Others want to stay, live life in the moment, since ‘violence happens everywhere’. While this fact is indeed true, there’s a child to be concerned about, who will soon start school life, and navigate the neighborhood with new friends. I pray that Ana will stay protected, and keep away from negative influences during daily life.
More trouble is coming for Puerto Rican residents displaced from their homes due to Hurricane Maria. On September 14, residents in FEMA sponsored housing within the US will need to relocate, according to a district judges’ ruling. These displaced residents have been living in this type of housing for nearly 10 months. There may be many who are encountering difficulties obtaining a new home. Perhaps they have very little money, and living in FEMA housing is the only thing that’s keeping them afloat emotionally. Perhaps they were relying on relatives or other connections to provide them with other housing, and opportunities keep falling through the cracks.
I believe that if our current presidential administration was more sympathetic towards Puerto Rico’s plight, these residents would’ve been treated more fairly. The continued mocking our president is giving Puerto Rico is unforgivable, especially since the official death toll is much higher than originally reported. When the reports on the loss of life originally came out, I always held suspicion. The fact that only 64 people lost their lives due to a powerful storm was a bit hard to believe. Now that the number is officially updated, it’s heartbreaking. And the President laying blame on Puerto Rico for its high loss of life is unbelievable. We need to realize, once again, that human lives must be valued, regardless of what country they are from. The fact that we still need to be reminded of this fact in 2018 is so shameful.
My heart continues to break for Puerto Rico. A report came out this week that the death toll from Hurricane Maria is much higher than originally reported. It didn’t come as a surprise to me, since a storm of that magnitude would make a huge impact. What saddens me is the lack of attention Puerto Rico is currently receiving. There are thousands of residents still suffering from lack of power, and our government pays minimal attention.
While this saddening report come to the surface, I continue to speak with my close friend from Puerto Rico about her attending my wedding next year. She is very excited about the event, and is doing whatever possible to attend next summer. We go back and forth from taking about my upcoming wedding to reflecting on our high school days. We could go on forever.
I hope to hear from my close friend from Puerto Rico very soon. The last time I spoke to her was on Saturday, and she was struggling with a family hardship. In the past I could address any concerns she was enduring quickly. Since we now have a long distance friendship, it’s tough to decipher if it’s truly an issue or if her concern is just an outlet for her constant anxieties. She’s always dealt with anxiety throughout her life, yet that usually hasn’t stopped her from living her life. However, things have changed a bit in her family circle over the years, and some days we discuss about her difficulty, then we don’t speak for about 2 weeks. My attempts to call her is met with an automated message of a disconnected phone. So now I normally wait for her to call back. No matter the distance, I’m always here for her.
The cemetery near my friend’s town in Puerto Rico closed over the weekend. There was immense damage from Hurricane Maria, so the only option officials have is to close the area. People who have loved ones still buried there can move them to another location, as soon as one is chosen. So the process of searching for loved ones among the destruction begins.
One hardship after another is endured. My close friend has withstood so much in the past few months. There are also medical and familial struggles she is handling. For now, she needs to communucate with her brother as to how to move their mother out of the closed location. The priority now is to make sure they can see their mother again.
Last night I received a call from my best friend from Puerto Rico. We only spoke for a few minutes, but she shared with me another heartbreaking piece of information, due to Hurricane Maria’s impact on the island. A local cemetery was heavily damaged, with graves flipped open and dislocated. The area may need to be closed permanently. My friend needs to wait until Monday to see if her mother’s grave site is one of the hundreds that is damaged.
Understandably, she is devastated. I listen to this news with heavy sadness …sad for her, since it appears that she may never get visit her mother’s resting place again. Sadness for my family still living in Puerto Rico, and praying for their safety. Sadness at the thought of my relatives in the island who have passed, and praying that their resting places escaped with minimal damage. And I also feel frustration at the incredibly slow response from government officials, how millions are still living in hardship.
This afternoon I took some much needed time for myself. I took care of my hair, making the trip to maintain the color. I reconnected with the hair stylist I previously visited a couple years back, and I’m so relieved that I did so. It’s refreshing to see someone who truly pays attention to your requests!
Making the trip to the salon brought back memories: visiting friends near the area, and passing by spots favorable to hang out (and not so favorable locations!). I still speak to one of these close friends on a regular basis. She moved to Puerto Rico a few years ago, but we maintain contact on a weekly basis. Thankfully her power was restored back in mid November, and she and her son are in good spirits. She wants to visit NJ in the coming year, and we’re hopeful that could take place soon.
As life moves on, close friends are hard to come by, so it’s important to cherish the true connections you have in day-to-day life. They are so valuable.