The Dream of Borikén


In the spirit of Eliot Weinberger's "The Dream of India"

          For Borikén was named by Agüeybaná, and its chief is called the Prince of Castilla.

          For Paradise is in Borikén, and in Paradise is where the blood of three different races flows.

          In Borikén a year has four summers.

          In Borikén the land is always green.

          Shadow there fall west in summer.

          In Borikén there are one hundred forty three islands, some made entirely of quartz, and some of calcite. There is an island where the water is bioluminescent and the people don't use lanterns, but use glasses full of that water.

In Borikén rum is made from the sweat of the sugar cane. There is a tree whose fruit is a star.

In Borikén there is a chicken that lays golden eggs.

Coquis jump about in the forest there.

          In Borikén they sleep on hammocks made of flowers, hung above a bioluminescent bay. They eat at wooden tables with carved details, and everyone, no matter of what rank, wears a red flower behind their ear.

          There is a race of people there that live in the cold mountains and speak in a different language. Their skin is bronze until they are fifty, and then it begins to turn golden.

They have no social classes there, and they are all treated equally.

In Borikén dogs turn to stone on the bay while waiting for their owners to return from the sea.

          There is a race of people there who live because of the Spanish lime. And when they travel they must take a Spanish lime tree with them, for without being able to share them with others they will die.

It was so windy the people had to tie down their houses.

Horses there are many and energetic, for they are fed with black coffee and rice and beans.

          In Borikén they have a class of Indians devoted to meteorology and the prediction of future storms. And I saw one among them who's hair was twelve feet long, a length so rare that wherever he went people would offer him gifts.

There are no thieves there.

          In Borikén it is a custom for foreign people to be treated as deities. There the casabe is cooked for the guests by women, who also lure them into the river for proof of their divinity.

There is a race of people who have patterned scars in their backs.

          In Borikén there is a fountain guarded by bats in a dark cave. It is said to be the fountain of youth and if anyone wishes to drink, he must cups his hands at the bottom of the rocks, for it is where light meets the water and the bats won't fly there.

There is a race of people there whose hair is so curled they bounce back when they fall to the ground.

          And I saw a jibaro walking with two others beside him carrying machetes; the three of them wearing work clothes with holes in their pants caused by their labor; and on each of their heads, a straw hat to protect them from the sun.

In Borikén there is a fruit, pink as a flamingo, which is small as a raspberry, and everything you eat after it will taste as sweet as sugar.

In Borikén they worship Yocahu and Obatala and Christ.

In Borikén they tell the time by looking at the position of the sun.

          In Borikén if a man wants to run around barefoot, it is not frowned upon his family. His family will also walk barefoot then proceed to throw away any shoes if owned. There he walks all day barefoot, through mountains and plains until his soles bleed. On the same day he will come to his house, and his family will heal him.

          In Borikén there are many animals because every visitor brings their own. The number of different and rare species exceed imagination. I saw more than seven hundred and twenty three.

It was so windy women's breast flew up to their faces, and the women had to tie them down and wear special garnments.

          In Borikén there is a bird called a cardenal that is bright red. It has that color because when Jesus was crucified it stood on the cross while the blood dripped.

          In Borikén the dead are mourned for by men and women, who stand around the body, wearing their best black cothes, and they pray quietly, saying "Que brille para el la luz perpetua y que descanze en paz, amen".

There is a race of loud talking people with antennas for heads.

          In Borikén the canoes are carved like figurines, no metal or oars on them, for there the spirits of the ancestors are in the land as in the water, and they will direct you to your path safely.

There is a race of people who are treated as animals.

In Borikén there are baths of thermal water that are said to cure all illnesses.

They clean their teeth with cane picks.

          In Borikén the people are tan. The tanner they are, the more beautiful they are though to be. So every week they lay outside until they turn brown, right before they turn red.

In Borikén there are trees with leaves so big one or two children can sit on them and slide down mountains as if they were sleds.

They wash their hands first and then their heads. They wash before sleeping in their beds.

          In Borikén they worship saints, and if one neglects the saint he is immediately cursed. Some, particularly on holidays, even take the fragrances and the offerings of the saints and display them in a corner of their house.

There are no adulterers there.

          And I saw a chapel high on a hill, and in it there was a single golden box the size of a new born baby, two candles lighted next to it, flashing from afar as night hit the day and the stars lit the sky.

          In Borikén there is a rainforest called El Yunque which is full of endemic flora and fauna, but it swarms with legends of the unknown; men are scared of it. Within it, however, is a high waterfall, people go to it to bathe in its healing cold water forgetting the possibility of getting lost inside. By means of suppressed workers, they drain the water of the waterfall until there is no more gold to be found, and sell the pieces to the highest bidder. Gold is taken by the Europeans. Then the Europeans pass and the gold falls into the ground from their skin that is being eaten by worms. There the workers go and recollect the gold.

In Borikén the women wear their hair down, free of brushing. Some bring it back with worn out fabric, but none of them need to tame their hair .

There is a race of white men there who can cross the oceans.

In Borikén there is a tree so big that a family lives inside of it.

There is not a single tailor in Borikén for everyone makes their own clothe.

In Borikén it is very diverse, for the people have come from around the world to form their own country.

          In Borikén there is an animal called a coqui because at night it sings "coqui, coqui", it is a small frog. And when it is day time it gets enraged because it cannot sing, so he eats until it is night. His skin is slimy, and some people use it's slime as glue, and they glue things with it.

          In Borikén there are flowers everywhere – growing on tall trees, growing on small ones, on the land, for sale in the market, behind women's ears and in men's pockets. It seems they could hardly live without flowers.

          In Borikén women sleep with their husbands at night, but in the day they take care of their children as well as of the neighbor's. And when a women conceives a child and cannot take care of it, the husband will pay a neighbor to do so.

There is a race of people with inward feet.

          In Borikén there is a bug called mosquito which feeds from the fruit by day and of blood at night. In midday they do not eat, but fly around the land. They get men ill and they will slowly die.

          In Borikén there is a river known as Rio Grande, where the current is so strong and the river is so long it is compared to a man. Sometimes it is peaceful but sometimes aggressive.

They use skirts for bottoms.

They scrape the guiro with a comb.

          In Borikén there is a fort, some hundred feet long, which keeps everyone safe, and which is called, El Morro. For if an enemy approaches it, it embraces the island, protecting it even if its gets harmed in the process.

Birds fly in the forest there.

They sit cross-legged on the ground.

          In Borikén if someone walks out of his house and hears a person sneeze he immediately says "salud!" And keeps walking towards where he was going – for he doesn't say "salud!", the person may fall ill.

In Borikén the birds and animals are completely different from ours, except for two: monkey and iguana.




Most of the imagery and language are derived from information found about Puerto Rico before 1898. Of course, this is the time before the United States appropriated Puerto Rico from Spain.