Puerto Rico: “Wepa, Wepa, Wepa”!

old san juanWhat do you know about Puerto Rico?

For instance, if you have Puerto Rican friends, you probably already know that “Wepa”  is a word of jubilation, normally yelled out to mean “All right! Good job!, Contratulations! Whoo Hoo!

But, did you also know that the Spanish  originally named the island San Juan and the city was called Puerto Rico?

OSJ street scene

Today, Old San Juan retains the original Spanish Architecture but reflects its Puerto Rican and American cultures through an eclectic mixture of sights, sounds, and tastes.

The naming of Puerto Rico is a layered history. First, the Taíno Indians who inhabited the territory, called the island Boriken or Borinquen which means: “the great land of the valiant and noble Lord” or “land of the great lords”.  By the time Columbus arrived during his second voyage, he found the island populated by as many as 50,000 Taíno or Arawak Indians. Unfortunately, the Tainos greeted the Spanish enthusiastically, and made a big mistake when they showed them gold nuggets in the river and told Columbus to take all he wanted. Columbus took them at their word and today the island has neither Tainos nor gold.

The second layer of naming originates when the newcomers called the island San Juan Bautista, for St. John the Baptist and the town Puerto Rico because of its obvious excellent potentialities. It was not until later that the two names were switched and the original walled city became San Juan, and the island Puerto Rico.

Thanks in part to the enthusiasm of ambitious Juan Ponce de León, a lieutenant to Columbus, the city of Puerto Rico (“rich portPuerto Rico Map“) quickly became Spain’s most important military outpost in the Caribbean. During the 16th century, the Spanish built forts near Puerto Rico’s coast to ward off attackers from the sea. Pirates in search of gold and treasures plagued the island for centuries.  Over a span of years –and at the cost of many lives -El Morro Fortress, which sits atop a bluff overlooking the Bay of San Juan, was built to defend San Juan from attack. The fort is now owned by the US Park Service and is operated as a popular tourist site in the original city – Old San Juan.

In 1898, during the Spanish-American War (see Cuba post), Puerto Rico was ceded to the United States and currently is considered a commonwealth territory. Throughout recent  political history, many Puerto Ricans have campaigned for a change in status to either independence or statehood but none of the options has achieved a clear majority vote. For more on Puerto Rico today, visit “Welcome To Puerto Rico”

For years farmers lived in terror of the "goat sucker".

For years farmers lived in terror of the “goat sucker”.


No discussion of Puerto Rico would be complete without mention of “Chupacabra” – a mythical creature that is said to be rampaging through the island, relieving farm animals of their blood. As of yet, the Chupacabra, which translates into “goat-sucker”, has not attacked humans, although no one can say for certain that this will not happen in the future.

The origin of  “goat sucker” comes from its earliest attacks, where goats were found with their blood drained and with two peculiar puncture marks on their necks. There have been reports alleging that particular organs were missing from some of the victim’s bodies, without any visible way for those organs to have been removed.  For more on the Chupacabra phenomenon visit: “Chupacabra Mystery Solved”


3 responses to “Puerto Rico: “Wepa, Wepa, Wepa”!

  1. thank you for this story, ill give you credit for knowing your PR history. Have you visited Puerto Rico? if so i hope you have liked your stay. One of the interesting facts of our history is that back in the what is now considerd finger food in Puerto Rico was once a main course meal back 1950’s when meat was expensive, and many of the bacalaitos, rellenos de papa, and alcapurrias was to strech the money people spent on meat. now since meats more affordable now all of this dishes are easier and cheaper to make.
    follow my blog culinaryroadtrips.wordpress.com to find out more about PR food!

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