“Nostalgia – it’s delicate, but potent. Teddy told me that in Greek nostalgia literally means ‘the pain from an old wound.’ It’s a twinge in your heart far more powerful than memory alone. This device isn’t a spaceship, it’s a time machine. It goes backwards, and forwards… it takes us to a place where we ache to go again. It’s not called the wheel, it’s called the carousel. It lets us travel the way a child travels – around and around, and back home again, to a place where we know are loved.” Don Draper, Mad Men, Season 1, Episode 13

Yesterday, David Begnaud, posted stories of Puerto Ricans that had left the island for the main land in search of better opportunities and though they had found them, they still yearned for the island. I fall under this category. I’m so excited to visit this coming December to reconnect with everyone I once knew. The yearning for “home” has often been explored as a theme in the arts over centuries. To desire home extends beyond a want for a particular geographic location. To crave home is to yearn for a space of true love and belonging. There’s no amount of worldly success that can fulfill a void for worthiness and belonging. Here’s the video:

In honor of this, I’ll be sharing photos from my childhood as well as my favorite song:

PR 10
I honor their trauma and hold space for their pain. The lives that they endured just to get to this point would bring anyone to tears. I’m grateful that I’m the product of grit, determination, and a stubborn spirit that doesn’t stop until it reaches the finish line. I have mama’s face, dad’s jawline, a mixture of their nose, mama’s brows, hair texture is a combination of both, and mama’s skin tone. I was born to liberate my family from hundreds of years of imperialist and colonialist thinking. I am a product of both the oppressor and the oppressed and in this lifetime that schism will be reconciled and healed. When the going gets tough, I remember that there’s a larger purpose I’ve chosen to live for – not one in the material world, but in the ethereal realm – “As Above So Below; As Within So Without”. Liberation isn’t a task for the faint of heart.
PR 3
Aceitunas, Puerto Rico: At 2 months of age. Must have been in February 1991. Around 29 years ago to date.
PR 2
Aceitunas, Puerto Rico: First steps. What most captivates me about this photo is the scenery in the background. We lived on a very small hill. As soon as we walked outside the screen door, it was pure paradise. Across the street, we had opened endless land, there were cows, free roaming chickens, and a community full of more love that I can describe. If I went out the screen door towards the back of the house, where the kitchen was located, I would walk into a land with a mango tree, an avocado tree, achiote, green bananas, a palm tree that produced green coconuts,  dozens of plantain trees next door, and interesting creatures that would keep little me entertained for hours. It was bliss. I was talking to my mother last night about the amount of wealth (non-monetary) that I grew up with that’s nearly impossible to find in today’s modern world where everything is about development and “how can we make money”. Mama also reminded me of a fruit I used to like called caimito – my dad’s uncle lived next door and had a caimito tree on his property. These times were about community, supporting each other, and true character.
PR 4
Aceitunas, Puerto Rico: Nine and a half months. I remember loving both this bed and this outfit.
PR 5
December and Christmas 1991: First Birthday.
PR 1
Family vacation at the aquarium in Boston. No matter how many shoes my mom bought me, barefoot was my favorite….still is 😉
PR 7
Aceitunas, Puerto Rico: Staring at my dad’s food plate. Mama says I’ve always loved bright and flashy fashion.  I’ll use this photo to talk about the repeated tile pattern in a good portion of these photos. These floors are made of granite. The house itself is made of cement. When this house was being built,  the materials that composed it was the utmost priority. The house had to be able to endure hurricanes. We were a 20 minute drive from both the Isabela and Aguadilla coasts.
PR 6
Aceitunas, Puerto Rico: More fashion. I always used to play dress up with my mom’s belongings.
PR 9
Bosque Mágico: Mama says I’ve also always been fascinated by communication and vehicles of communication. Bosque Mágico is a celebration/showcase that takes place in San Juan (if I remember correctly).
PR 8
Aceitunas, Puerto Rico: Christmas photo at my Nanny’s house. I’ve mentioned on here before that my earliest ages were spent with a nanny as well as my grandmother. This is my nanny’s house. My nanny still sends me birthday cards to this day. I can’t wait to see her.

Now, for my favorite song: Hector Lavoe’s & Willie Colon’s Aguanile. This song pays homage to Afro-Latinidad and the practice of Santería. Santería, which literally translates into worship of the saints, is as a practice that fuses Roman Catholicism with Yoruba influences. Once Spain decided to fully conquest the Caribbean, in addition to using the labor force from the taínos (natives) in the region, they also used slave labor from West Africa. Puerto Rican culture is a complex reflection and synthesis of its history: a mixture of Taínos, West Africans, and Europeans (started with the Spaniards). The particular region where I originate from, was settled by the French and Italians (Castillo Labadie/Palacele Los Moreau) using Taíno and West African labor. Both my grandfathers (may they rest in peace) as well as their fathers worked the fields of el Castillo (Labadie). In 1898, Puerto Rico became United States territory. Puerto Ricans became US citizens in 1917, which allowed Puerto Ricans to join the military to serve in World War I.

If you pay attention to the beginning of the song, you’ll hear chanting towards the goddess Yemaya.  The body of the song (as well as the title) uses the word Aguanile. Here is the origin of the word:

Por lo general la palabra Aguanile (originalmente escrita Agguanile) se utiliza en los cantos Yoruba en honor al Orisha Oggun. pero “AGUAN” significa Limpieza e “ILÉ” significa “Casa, templo o lugar consagrado para la realización del culto a los Orisha”. La palabra “aguanile” viene de la cultura yoruba en Cuba y significa “limpieza espiritual para tu casa.“{Source}

[Translation: Generally speaking the word Aguanile (originally written as Agguanile) is used in Yoruba chants to honor Orisha Oggun (Yoruba deity), but “AGUAN” means cleansing, and “ILE” means, “Home, temple, or sacred place dedicated to the realization of worship of Orisha. The word “aguanile” comes from the Yoruba culture in Cuba and it means “Spiritual cleansing for your home.”]

#colonialism #imperialism #liberation #freedom #journey

Note: This is my favorite YouTube video of this song. However, I’d like to emphasize that the photo on this video attributes the incorrect album. The photo in the video is for Lavoe’s 1976 De Ti Depende (it’s up to you) album, which was released four years after Willie Colón’s + Hector Lavoe’s album La Justicia (1972), which contains the Aguanile song.

Makes me miss playing trumpet and french horn. My dad introduced me to this type music and I hold it dearly in my heart. However, he refuses to listen to this song because of the Santería references and as Christian fundamentalist that’s not allowed.  Since I don’t subscribe to any religion, I live for these discoveries. Some song lyrics below.

Oye, todo el mundo reza que reza
Pa’ que se acabe la guerra
Y eso no se va acabar eso será una rareza
Aguanile, aguanile, mai mai
Aguanile, aguanile, mai mai
Ay, tambores umaculli, tambores umaculla
Que se echen todo pa’lao
Que la tierra va a temblar
Aguanile, aguanile, mai mai
Aguanile, aguanile, mai mai
Ay que abonbon chele abonbonchacha
Yo tragio aguanile pa’ rociar a las muchachas
Ay, que los tres clavos de la cruz
Vayan delante de mí
Que le hablen y le responda
Ay, Dios tu ve al que me critique a mí
Yo tengo aguanile mai mai
Aguanile, aguanile, mai mai
Aguanile, aguanile, mai mai
Un judio’ que a caballo gritaba sin compasión
Como Jesús crucificaron muerto por una traición
Aguanile, aguanile, mai mai
Aguanile, aguanile, mai mai
Eh abongonchele abongochacha
Aguanile bendiceme a las muchachas
Aguanile, aguanile, mai mai
Aguanile, aguanile, mai mai
Ay, aguanile, aguanile, aguanile dame agua
Estoy seco y quiero beber

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