Delegating Denver #43 of 56: Puerto Rico

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Puerto Rico

Total Number of Delegates: 63 Pledged: 55 Unpledged: 8

How to Recognize a Puerto Rico Delegate: Puerto Rico probably should have dumped America a long time ago, but like all sexy long-distance relationships, there have been "benefits" for both parties. Not that it has been easy. Puerto Rico has suffered greatly ever since Christopher Columbus arrived in 1493 and immediately turned the natives into slaves for Spain. Until then, the island of Boriken, as it was called, was a bountiful paradise where the Tainos enjoyed a life of playing soccer, smoking cigars, practicing some polygamy and getting high on cojiba. When they started to die off from forced work and smallpox, they were replaced with imported slaves from Africa. Of course, life was not all work and whippings. Presumably there was some spare time for co-mingling and forced marriages, because recent DNA studies reveal that the average Puerto Rican is 52% Taino, 24% African, 16% Spanish, 4% French, 3% Lebanese and 1% Chinese. And they are everywhere! Today there are more Puerto Ricans in the United States than on the island. Fully 10% of all New York City residents identify as Nuyoricans. In Denver, Puerto Rican delegates will stand out like sunshine on a rainy day. Females will have dark tans and blond hair; each is a current or former beauty-queen contestant and will wear her crown and sash over a bra-cup-halter v-neck knit dress from the Rainbow Shop. Male delegates are equally gorgeous, and each will wear his sash over a pastel-colored Guayabera shirt and linen trousers.

Famous Puerto Ricans: Academy Award-winning actors José Ferrer, Rita Moreno, Benicio del Toro; Academy Award-worthy actors Joaquin Phoenix and Raul Julia; creator of the The Flying Nun Marie Teresa Rios; musicians José Feliciano, Ricky Martin, Tito Gomez and Ivy Queen; Mars Volta producer and guitarist Omar Rodriguez-Lopez; Mars Exploration Rover parachute inventor Juan R. Cruz; global-warming expert Rafeal L. Bras; Wonkette political blogger Ana Marie Cox; ’60s transvestite superstar Holly Woodlawn; Wonky transvestite astrology superstar Walter Mercado.

Famous Honorary Puerto Ricans (Americans who have attended protests demanding that the United States military stop using the island of Vieques for bombing target practice): Edward James Olmos, Robert Kennedy Jr., Representative Luis Gutierrez (D-Illinois), Al Sharpton, Mrs. Jesse Jackson, Chi Chi Rodriguez, Martin Sheen, the Dalai Lama, Charles Rangel, Chuck Schumer, Nancy Pelosi and Hillary Clinton.

Famous Puerto Ricans With Denver Connections: Nuyorican MTV celebrity LaLa Vazquez; 2004 Top Latina Elizabeth Suarez; art-museum consultant Tariana Navas-Nieves.

Territory Nickname: The Island of Enchantment (official); The Constitutionally Unrecognized Commonwealth, Better Than Cuba (unofficial) Population: 3,944,259 Racial Distribution: 80% white, 12% black, 100% Puerto Rican Per Capita Personal Income: $11,123 Unemployment: 18%


Most Puerto Rican Denver Neighborhood: Cole

Most Puerto Rican Bar: Zengo 1610 Litle Raven Street The perfect alcoholic blending of Lajas, Puerto Rico and La Junta, Colorado, would taste just like Zengo's Mojito Cuzco. And Zengo is close to the Pepsi Center, for all of the "¡Estás brutal!" moments between floor counts.

Most Puerto Rican Restaurant: Cebiche 2257 West 32nd Avenue The delicious cebiche and fried-pumpkin doughnuts of this Peruvian cuisine will taste downright Caribbean in Colorado.

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Best Day Trip: Snow on Loveland Pass The average daily temperature of Puerto Rico is 82.4º F. This means it can get as cold as 81º F in the dead of winter and as hot as 83º F in the dog days of summer. Such conditions make it impossible for a Puerto Rican to experience the joys of snow, which can be had in Colorado throughout the year. To find the closest snowfields to Denver, leave the delegate hotel and get onto I-25 going north. Take exit 214 onto I-70 westbound and head for the hills. The Rocky Mountains west of the city are Denver's playground, and traffic can get heavy. But it won't be anything like the traffic jams of Puerto Rico. Here the drivers are completely different. For example, Coloradans believe that horn honking will make traffic speeds increase, while Puerto Ricans believe that honking will turn red lights to green. The highway is steep, curvy and very scenic, so please drive carefully. Leave the honking behind at exit 216, 58 miles west of Denver. U.S. Highway 6 loops its way up through timberline and then breaches the massive salmon-colored wall of the Continental Divide at Loveland Pass. Named for railroad builder William Loveland, the pass was not used as an auto road until 1931. It remains open in winter through the use of explosives to clear the snow. Fields of snow can be accessed from the parking area at the summit, and August is the best time of the year — while the sun is high and the air is warm — for visitors from the tropics to enjoy winter's leftovers. This is not the champagne powder of Colorado ski-resort fame. The hardpack can still be formed into snowballs, but be careful when sliding: The icy granules can take skin off exposed limbs quicker than a belt sander! Over the pass, Highway 6 meets back up with I-70 at Dillon. Just take the eastbound exit and follow the honking horns back to Denver. -- Kenny Be

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