Puerto Rico


David Torres

Norway and Puerto Rico are two completely different countries, in so far as terrain, climate and native culture. Local phenomenon such as natural environment and climatic atmosphere has produced two very distinctive cultures. This is reflected in everything from regional cuisine and clothing styles to social events and the dictates of cultural norms. Moreover, the location of each country plays a very important role in its’ national cuisine and typical fashions.
In terms of terrain and climate, Norway is a small country, 300,000+ sq. km or about the same size as New Mexico, with over 50,000 small islands running along it’s coastline (CIA Factbook 1999). Located on the North Sea, it is just as close to the north pole as Greenland, Russia and the northern most islands of Canada. Norway is made up of glacier icecaps, rugged mountain terrain and many high rocky plateaus. Small fertile valleys are scattered far and few between the mostly arctic tundra. Needless to say, farming is especially rare in this part of the world. However, due to its location on the North and Norwegian seas, fishing is copious and one of Norway’s largest exports.
Puerto Rico on the other hand, is an even smaller island of 9,000+ sq. km or about one-thirtieth the size of Norway. Located on the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, Puerto Rico has a tropical marine climate, little seasonal temperature variation and always lots of sunshine. Because of its location, nearer to the equator than Norway, the island reaps the benefits of an annual average temperature of a whopping 80 degrees ( With a huge coastal plain on the north side of the island, and moderate temperature changes year round, agricultural cultivation is bountiful. Sugarcane, bananas, pineapples, coffee and many other types of fruit are all major exports.
In terms of cuisine the abundance of fish in Norway’s cultural dishes is easily visible in any Norwegian home around the holidays. Norwegian’s have found numerous dishes to make from the effortless surplus of saltwater fish like Halibut, Mackerel, Coley and Cod. The cuisine also features many potato and stewed dishes like goulash and stroganoff. Thus, it is common to see at the table, food of mushy runny consistency, always lacking in color, usually a hue between dark gray and white and the overwhelmingly pungent odor of fish.
The abundance of vegetation on the island of Puerto Rico is obvious in the national cuisine. Fruits and vegetables are the basic ingredients in all the islanders’ diets. Many dishes are derived from one of the most prevalent plants on the island, the plantain or better know on the island as “platano.” Ask any Puerto Rican what they use the plantain for and you will be hit with a litany of answers, everything from “pastelles” and “acapudias” to “tostones” and “bachaleito”. The cuisine of the island is very diverse and laden with color. Much different from the gray monotones of the Norwegian diet, their fare is full red mangos, yellow and green plantains, white rice’s, brown soups and a color cornucopia of salads.
In term of clothing, Norway’s extreme northern latitude dictates the style of dress to be winterized. With snow and icy rain falling most days out of the year, body warmth is of vital importance. Winter is a year round season and never fully leaves, with an average summer temperature of only 52 degrees (CIA Factbook 1999), snow has even been seen on their hottest summer day in years past. So consequently fur coats and skiing gear seem to be the most popular form of dress. Heavy clothing like sweaters, snow boots, hats and gloves, galoshes, long underwear, face masks and scarves are seen on a daily basis.
You will never need hats and gloves or coats and long underwear any time of the year if you travel to the island of Puerto Rico. Being a small tropical island with hot days and cool, breezy nights the attire of the island fits accordingly. White seems to be the most popular color, probably due to it ability to reflect most light rays, as opposed to black, which absorbs light and therefor would make a person hotter. Light cotton dresses, airy pastel colored blouses are the most commonly worn women’s garments. “Chancletas” or flip-flops are