"It was large and juicy, almost red in the center, and so fragrant that I didn’t want to eat it because I would lose the smell."

Of guavas and guarapo

"It was large and juicy, almost red in the center, and so fragrant that I didn’t want to eat it because I would lose the smell."

Sweet nectars raised from the ground; vivid memories of an infancy long gone.

There are many flavors that the palate has been denied off for many years, still they’re desired. Living in an island that offers them unconditionally, anyone would think easy to find them. It has been the opposite, maybe the blame should fall on not looking hard enough. It has happen with the guava, of which a tree stood proudly in the backyard of the household where in the past the family lived.

Since then, decades have come and gone, and the guava has eluded me like an undesirable person. There have been random encounters with its tree, either too early where its branches are nude only cover by the green leaves, or when the fruit is still on its way to maturity. Each time left with the desire to satisfy the palate, to put an end to an eternal prelude of a mortal kiss in which a fruit will become part of me.

Ah, Guarapo! A refreshment squeezed out of the sugar cane by brute force, either letting your marble teeth do the crushing and suck its content, or taking a back seat while a machine those the work and a glass awaits patiently for the nectar to fill its void. A few days ago a cooking channel used it to make a drink; I looked with desire wishing my mouth could taste the sugary juicy liquid. Vega Baja has in its soil marks of my infancy and the past scraped in its womb of the sugar refinery. It was there were I first tasted the guarapo, when the #2 road was filled once with delectable local goodies.

On Sunday we traveled the coast line on our way to Arecibo, my husband was on the lookout for some guarapo. “Maybe when we come back we should try the #2 road, we might hit jackpot. It’s the only place I could think of that might have a roadside stall selling it.” On our way back we made our usual stop at a house in Barceloneta that sells local vegetables, were I find good green peppers and my husband enjoys fresh coconut water. I got out of the car while Mr. Hernández stayed with the kids. The owner greeted me with a smile asking me what I wanted. I looked at the green peppers and asked for a pound. Then I noticed a basket that my hands were touching, curious I asked the man what the round green yellow pear shaped fruit was. He said “Guayaba”. An excitement rushed through my body exploding in a smile that expressed itself as a “Oh my God!”. The astonish look on the owners face was priceless, I wanted to tell him, “Yes, I’m surprise to see a guayaba”. Instead, I ask for the price and took away my treasure showing it to my daughter. The car smelled delicious something my daughter did not liked, but truly it was an aroma I enjoyed breath at a time.

The story does not end here, for one more treasure must be found, and found it was. At the moment we turned to exit the #2 road, there it was a big white wooden sign that said in vivid scarlet letters “Guarapo”. A swift u-turn took us back in track and there the line of cars alongside the road stood. A few people waited including my husband, and I stayed in the car explaining my daughter what the big fuzz was about. What was the juice, how it was extracted and how much she would like it. My son nodded in agreement to everything we said.

Once in my hands I could not stop smiling, neither my husband. After the photo was taken, a stir of the ice cubes to make the freshly squeezed juice colder, I tasted it. It was as if I was transported to my childhood again, the sweetness was still vivid in my palate for it had not disappear like others. I turned to my daughter who waited impatiently to have her turned, and as she sipped her expression changed to that of disgust. She hated it and so did my son, who would have thought that sugar based refreshment could not be a delight for children! With disappointment, I turned to my drink and forgot what happened with a sip.

Back home I sliced the guava fruit, this time determined that my daughter will like it, and offered a piece. My heart was pleased to know she had indeed loved it, except for the smell. Then I sat down in my sofa to finally put an end to a prelude so long waited. And as my teeth bit into the soft pinkish pulp, I was once again in the country side of Vega Baja sitting under the guava tree of my infancy.


I forgot to ask, what are the tastes, flavors, foods that your palete has been denied for a long time?


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Vivo con Iron Man

No hablo de mi esposo ni menos de Robert Downey Jr., en su brillante papel de Tony Stark. Me refiero a ese personaje con el cual los niños se apegan como parte de esas etapas de crecimiento. Mi hijo, que cumple próximamente tres años, tiene una afición con los súper héroes de Marvel. Recientemente, tras ver la más reciente película y haciendo a un lado, pero no por completo más bien para compartir su admiración, a Spiderman; tiene guille, como decimos los puertorriqueños cuando nos referimos a una persona que se cree alguien en particular, de Iron Man. Esto trae una sonrisa en el rostro de mi esposo al ser éste su súper héroe favorito.

Por las mañanas me sorprende, cuando al levantarse está en “Iron Man mode”. Camina erguido, sin expresión alguna en su rostro y parado frente a mi escritorio anuncia su llegada: “I’m Iron Man”. Sonrío y le doy los buenos días, pero mi Iron Man no contesta. Así que le ofrezco una farina para energizarlo y él responde con un robotizado “Yes”.

Nunca pensé que mis hijos crecerían bajo la sombra de los súper héroes de mi era. Bueno hay que admitirlo, estos son mejores y los efectos especiales son de primera y cautivan a cualquier pequeño de esta tecnológica era. En realidad son inmortales, aunque sean presentados con naturaleza humana como la base de sus inicios, traspasarán las delicadas líneas del tiempo y serán reinventados una y otra vez.

Yo gozaba con ellos todas las mañanas de mi niñez; mis hijos, casi todos los días gracias al cable tv y sus cientos de canales no existentes en el cable tv de mi época. Algunas cosas nunca cambian, y mis pensamientos se trasladan a esos días en que yo entraba en mi súper héroe mode. En mi rostro se pinta una sonrisa, y mi hija, quien también disfruta de ellos y desea ser Torunn, me pregunta: “¿Qué súper héroe me gustaba cuando tenía su edad?

Hmm! Esos eran buenos tiempos, cuando solo jugaba a salvar el mundo con mi colección de She-Ra. La respuesta me eludió por varios segundos y comencé a hablarle de aquellas que ella conoce como Wonder Woman, Bat Girl, Súper Girl; y las que desconcé como Cheetara y GI Joe’s Scarlett.

La niñez nunca se pierde, y es obvio que la mía me visita nuevamente a través de mis hijos. Aunque no vives como yo, o quizás sí, con Iron Man en tu hogar; ¿cuál súper héroe dormita en tu alma?