In early March, 2018, photographer Omar Z. Robles returned to his childhood home of Puerto Rico to witness first hand what the island looked like only five months after Hurricane Maria struck with such brutal force. While much of the island is functioning once again, there are still a number of areas without power and/or water. Channeling his emotion, Robles captured absolutely gorgeous photos of ballet dancers posing gracefully amidst the colorful streets slick with rain, the abandoned structures creatively adorned by local street artists, the beautiful sands of the beach, the dust of a crumbling building and even atop the rubble of a fallen structure. The resulting images are bittersweet, particularly to Robles who returned to his current home in New York City several days later.
Coming back, I’ve spent days attempting to find some normalcy while settling back in NYC. As I sat down to write this post I found myself struggling to find the words to share my feelings and experiences. Sometimes it is harder to talk about the things that are more personal in nature, but partly also because it has been hard to imagine a light at the end of this dark tunnel. The truth is that the future of my country looks grim and it is hard to face that fact. However whenever I write, I often seek inspiration in music. That’s when I stumbled upon the quote I referenced at the top of this text. It is from a song called Preciosa written in 1937 by Puerto Rican composer Rafael Hernandez. It is a freedom anthem and love song to the island:
“Preciosa te llaman lo bardos que cantan tu historia, no importa el tirano te trate con negra maldad…” (“The poets that sing your history call you Precious, even when the tyrant may bring you down …”)
via My Modern Met