Last month I continued my search for the land where my great-grandfather was born.
This time I brought along part of my family; one of my mother’s cousins, who was visiting from the states and has been doing extensive research on my grandmother’s family tree, my mom, father and the same friend that drove me last time (the one who had the idea of trying to get to this place) took us all this time too because I know NOTHING about driving on that side of the island. And because he is awesome.
We were planning on going directly to Oliver’s State and circling around the area a bit. When we got there though, the State was empty. I had a phone number I had never used that the State’s keeper gave me the first time we went there, of the person who coordinates activities and the renting of the place. I called while I crossed all my limbs, hoping someone would pick up, but no one did.
We got out of the car and looked around. I felt awful that we had gone so far just to find the place closed, but my family was pretty cheery about everything because the views there are so beautiful, and everything was new for them.
About ten minutes after we arrived I received a phone call from the person I tried to contact on our arrival. He said he was very close by and he would be happy to come show us around. He asked me how we found the State and I said we stumbled upon it while were looking for my great-grandfather’s State. I gave him my great-grandfather’s last name. He asked me to repeat everything, about three times.
“Well, I am the current owner of the land that belong to that family.”
I had to hold my hand over my heart because I thought it was going to jump out of my chest. We had tried so hard to find a connection and here was this guy that we’ve never seen telling me that he is the person we’ve been looking for.
As soon as he arrived a several-ways question drill began. I have never heard so many questions in so little time in my life. He wanted to know everything about us and we wanted to know everything about the land. About forty five minutes later everyone was decently satisfied with the new information and it was time to see the house. I had my Rebel this time (I only had my cell phone camera last time) but surprisingly, I got busy listening to everything and trying to connect with this amazing moment of discovery and I took very few photos. I particularly enjoyed my family’s reaction to the place. One of the best moments was when my mom called her cousin to see the lamp in the kitchen because it was the same one her mother had in the kitchen of her home when she was growing up.
The guy that showed us around cultivates coffee, like my great-grandfather, he is a real connoisseur of the art and he shared a lot of great insight into the coffee that’s grown in that part of the island. He wanted to offer us coffee, but the State’s keeper didn’t had any. It was no problem at all because we were traveling with our own LITER of hot, ready to serve, coffee. Cups, extra sugar and stirrers included. Our Puerto Rican, we showed you it. I set everything up in the balcony, overlooking the great mountains which by that time were being swallowed by the fog of the afternoon.
It felt right to share a bit of the one thing that brought my great-grandfather to this island in the first place, sitting so close to where he was born.
The man that claims to have the land we’ve been looking for couldn’t take us there that day. He encouraged us to contact him later. I was not happy about this, but, everything happens when it has to.
Too soon it was time to say good bye to that beautiful place. But we’ll be going back and I’m sure I’m closer to standing on the earth that saw my great-grandfather come into this world.
We are definitely a bit closer.