“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.”
– Robert Frost
Hola! Thanks for checking out my blog — The Accidental Boricua. My name is Paula Corapi. I was born and raised in chilly upstate New York, but I live in warm and sunny Puerto Rico . I came here when I married my husband, Carlos. I live here with my two children and my three dogs. My professional life spanned 20 years working in marketing for multinational corporations here in PR – Colgate-Palmolive, Microsoft, Kodak, and AT&T – all of which I left behind in 2003.
For the uninitiated, boricua is a local term, which refers to someone born in Puerto Rico. This term comes from Borikén, the name given to the island by its indigenous people, the Taíno Indians. Living on a tropical island was never part of my grand plan when I was younger. When I had envisioned myself living abroad, it was always someplace in urban Europe – Paris or Rome or London. I’m not sure I even knew which of the jumble of islands on a map of the Caribbean was Puerto Rico. And once I came to live here in September of 1984, the plan was that it would only be for two years. That was 30 years ago. Hence, The Accidental Boricua.
After having my two children, I found that the hardest thing to deal with was not the lack of sleep, or balancing my work/personal life, but rather the loss of personal time – the time to pursue my own interests – writing, reading, studying, cooking, exercise, genealogy research, and traveling. So I stopped working to spend more time with them and with myself. In this process, I also started to gain a new appreciation for not just “how” I was living, but also “where” I was living.
In the past 11 years, something else happened I hadn’t planned on — I started to think of myself as a local. Don’t get me wrong — I still identify my self as an Upstate New Yorker and I still miss kicking leaves in the fall. My Spanish still needs some help (just ask my children), and I still am baffled by the way some things work here. And although I feel very comfortable here, many people still think of me as a “gringa”. But my connection with PR is undeniable — and it is home.
So I started this blog to start a conversation around what it is like to be transplanted, willingly or unwillingly, into a new place with a different culture. This blog is for anyone who is new to PR or has been here forever, like me — whether you came here to follow a true love, for work, for adventure, for family or for friends, I want to talk with you. To talk about what it is like to be surprised, to be frustrated, to be happy and to be disappointed when living outside of your comfort zone. To discuss how to raise and educate children in a way that respects local customs, yet is true to your own cultural values and beliefs. And I want to share what it is like to have one foot on the US mainland and one foot on PR, and how I manage to reconcile these pieces of myself and not get torn asunder.