Puerto Ricans Arrive in Zurich

Air shipment

When my air shipment arrived, I got two years of my life back.  Two years that I’d spent researching the Puerto Rican migration to Hawaii circa 1900 which is the subject of my new novel.  As soon as I got the boxes, I opened the first one and a huge bug crawled out.  First, I screamed, then, I tried to kill it with my soft ballet type slipper which was the only thing I had handy.  You know how insects are, if you don’t kill them right away, you dream that you metamorphosed into a huge, ugly bug.  And that book has already been written.

The content in the boxes is not necessary to enjoying the beautiful city of Zurich, but it is essential to the writing of my novel. Copies of documents and personal histories in both English and Spanish that have educated this novelist filled two large boxes.  Included in the priceless stash is the unpublished thesis from the 1980s by anthropologist Norma Carr on Puerto Ricans in Hawaii.  Mrs. Carr was one of the first to research the subject and interview descendents of the first Puerto Rican migrants.

Jibaros and other necessary things.

The shipment also included copies of articles published in 1900 by newspapers like the New York Times and the San Francisco Chronicle which reported on the anemic and sorry looking Puerto Rican “natives” recruited to work in the sugar cane plantations.

One volume that would have been practically impossible to replace is a coveted copy of the history of the San Ciriaco Hurricane from the University of Puerto Rico which is in my possession only through the grace and effort of a kind anthropologist friend and her enterprising student.

Now I’ve got everything I need: my research, pen and paper, a balcony overlooking the busy Hoschgasse, and unlimited cups of espresso. It’s a gorgeous sunny day in Zurich but I feel like writing a hurricane.