Paradise Lost: Exiled by Maria From Puerto Rico to The Bronx

Rosa Iris Vega, seated, with her children Yadhira Gonzalez-Taylor and Hector Gonzalez, celebrating her 68th birthday with a traditional Puerto Rican Christmas serenade. She had retired to her childhood home in Puerto Rico in 2013, only to be uprooted after Hurricane Maria. Credit David Gonzalez/The New York Times
Photo and Caption Via: David Gonzalez/The New York Times

The Bronx, known as ‘El Condado de la Salsa’ (the borough of Salsa) is no stranger to the Puerto Rican community as they have been an integral part of the borough for more than half a century.

Now, as hundreds of thousands of Puerto Ricans continue to flee the island as a result of the devastation left behind by Hurrican Maria, many are settling in The Bronx as well as Florida and other parts of New York.

David Gonzalez of The New York Times writes about one particular family who’s dreams and lives have been shattered as their dreams of retiring in Puerto Rico have come to an end.

Rosa Iris Vega and her husband Nestor Lopez are currently have taken refuge in the Northeast Bronx in her daughter Yadhira Gonzalez-Taylor’s home.

Her dream was to retire in Puerto Rico and stay there until the day she died but that’s all gone now.

Gonzalez writes:

Millions of Puerto Ricans have gone north over the decades in search of better lives for themselves and their children, working as seamstresses, janitors, doormen or — if they were lucky — owning a bodega. The plan for many of them was always to save enough money here so they could retire to the verdant island of dim childhood memory. The old songs sustained them in what they hoped would be a temporary detour.

Now those tunes can be a painful reminder of Maria’s cruelty. But they can also be a gift, reminding them of the intense love that beats in the hearts of sons and daughters in exile. Ms. Vega’s daughter, Yadhira Gonzalez-Taylor, knew that, which is why a few weeks ago she reached out to Elena Marrero, a retired teacher and photographer known as Mamarazzi, for help in finding a trio of musicians to mark her mother’s birthday.

Read the full story over at The New York Times: Gone With the Wind, a Puerto Rican Dream

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