The island was called “Borinquen” before the arrival of the Spanish, who changed the name to Puerto Rico. (The burial ground of Spanish conquistador and first governor Juan Ponce de León is said to be in San Juan.) You might hear native-born Puerto Ricans refer to themselves as “Boricua,” which is derived from the original island name. The indigenous Taíno Indians were present upon the arrival of the Spanish, and there are Puerto Ricans alive today who are distant relatives of the original islanders. You can still find well-preserved pictographs of Taíno artwork in caves and rocks.
Local festivals are worth attending to give you a true experience of Puerto Rican customs and lifestyle. If you’re interested in food, visit the National Plantain Festival in Corozal (October), Saborea Puerto Rico at Escambron Beach (April), and the Coffee and Chocolate Festival in San Juan (September). For culture, try the Hatillo Masks Festival in Hatillo (December), or the Puerto Rico International Film Festival in Rincon (April). And for the largest street party of the year, come experience San Juan’s Mardi Gras, "SanSe," celebrating Saint Sebastian, in January. To find more festivals, just ask the locals. Puerto Ricans always know where to find the party.
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