Saying good bye is never easy…

There is no way I can summarize how incredibly crazy this year has been.I’m still going to try though. Like I said in a post before, It’s been a year of first times and amazing adventures.

I was 19 for most of the year. I turned 20. I traveled to California and had to make stops in Texas and New York. I traveled to Mexico, Spain, Germany and Puerto Rico. I visited Puerto Vallarta, Las Caletas, Alcalá de Henares, Madrid, Málaga, Barcelona, Tarragona, Pamplona, San Sebastián, Bilbao, Segovia, Toledo, Oviedo, Wiehl, Cologne and San Juan. I studied abroad. I backpacked. I traveled solo. I found myself completely alone at times. I had wonderful relationships. I made new friends. I met people from all over the world. I spoke to people in English, Spanish, German and Portuguese. I learned to read and understand Portuguese. One of my closest friends moved to Japan. Most of my classmates graduated. I won a poetry contest. A dear friend passed away. I took 18 planes, 17 buses, 16 taxis and more than 30 trains/subways/metro. I was diagnosed with a disorder.

A poem was a finalist in another contest. Another one got selected to be in a book. I figured out my college life. I cried like I’ve never cried before. I was featured in my school’s arts and humanities website and in the modern languages’. I pushed the limits of my body and my mind. I laughed like I’ve never laughed before. I met romance. I met love. I met passion. I met intense pain. I met myself. I discovered the things I like and the ones I dislike. I became stronger and compassionate.

I was bit by a stray cat. I met disappointment. I was scared for my life. I got rabies shots. I met someone with my name. I realized what best friends are. I learned about literature and linguistics. About Latin American countries and about Spain. I learned to be an individual. To figure things out on my own. I met authors. I read around 40 books. I went to a Brazilian film festival, to the San Fermín festival, to a Hindu festival, to a Manu Chao concert at the beach. I traveled with strangers. I started a novel. I got injured and sick many times. I ran 5 miles without stopping.

Dedé Mirabal passed away. Luis Raúl passed away. My roommate turned 21. Presented a story at the Spanish Colloquial. I got new best friends. I did Relay for Life. I went to an ASL comedy show. I learned some ASL. I decided to go volunteer in South Africa. I applied for Peace Corps. I started my Capstone Project. I took a 7 hr a day intense class for 7 days. Made a stop in North Carolina on my way to Spain. Was incredibly jet-lagged.

Went to the Guggenheim Museum, to El Prado Museum, to The Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, to the House Museum of Lope de Vega, to the Reina Sofia Museum. I hiked the Gibralfaro castle and the Alcazaba fortification in Málaga. I hiked the Monte Urgull in San Sebastián and The Park Güell in Barcelona. I hiked all the way to Roca El Yunque in Puerto Rico and to Cima del Malvecino in Alcalá de Henares. I stayed in hostels.

I watched soccer matches in Europe during the World Cup. I saw a wedding in Spain. I went to one in Mexico. Went to La Noche en Blanco in Alcalá. Went to las fiestas de pueblo in Valverde. Went to Kapi (7 store club). Went to the Festival del Mondongo, to the Calle Orange Festival.  I’ve felt unstoppable and heart broken.  I got the most amazing books. I tasted the best ice cream and the best empanadas I have ever tasted in my life. I got lost.

I found my favorite movie. I saw a gator up close. I read a book in Portuguese. I served as a translator. I went to a college football game. I read poems in Galician. I got insmonia. I went to Disney. I had poetry nights. I had partying nights. I got to be part of Sigma Delta Pi.  I made some delicious coquito. I finally created a decent blog. Reached 74 followers…

And out of all that the most rewarding experiences are the wonderful and frustrating times I’ve spent with family and friends during this year and understanding that I am stronger, wiser and more capable than I ever thought I was.

I’ll miss 2014, but It’s my mission to make 2015 even better!

Good luck to you all in making this upcoming year the best one!

Happy New Year!


Hindu Festival in the Caribbean (JAGANNATHA RATHA YATRA)

I like to think my life is full of pretty random moments. Today, I had one of those…

Monica Hindu

My sister, my sister-in-law and I were strolling down the cobblestone streets of Old San Juan when we walked into a Hindu Festival.

us hindu

Now, Hinduism isn’t a big religion in this island conquered by Spaniards for over 400 years. Needless to say the majority of the population, 85% to be exact, is Roman Catholic. So, to be able to find an exotic gem in this tiny place was beyond amazing.

Apparently, “Ratha Yatra is a hallmark of the Bhakti tradition, and dates back over 2,000 years. It symbolizes one’s spiritual self pulling the Supreme into his or her heart. In essence, reconnecting with the Supreme. The original Ratha Yatra, still celebrated in Puri, India, attracts millions and can be seen from space” (Wikipedia).

The first thing that caught my eye was the traditional Indian clothing. It was incredibly beautiful and full of colorful patterns.

After that, we noticed a line of people waiting by a table to our left to get their faces and hands painted.

Then, we walked two steps forward, and when we looked to our right we found a man greeting us with foreign words and offering each of us a disposable plate. He wanted us to taste Indian cuisine! And so we did 🙂

I think I had chick peas, yellow rice, potato and broccoli curry and Indian pudding, but I’m really not sure. The food was cooked without any salt making it hard for the Puerto Rican palate to adjust, but I really enjoyed it. The blending of the sweetness of the dessert with the rest of the food made the meal more like what my palate is used to… sugary things 😉 Then we enjoyed the music, the singing, the dancing, the performances, the beauty, the sunset…


Hindu Festival Music





“Sunset del Mar”. Puerto Rico. 2014. Photography by: Mónica Zoé Cruz Ríos

All photography by me 🙂

❤ (Mónica Zoé Cruz Ríos) ❤