The Michigan Teach-Out team was fortunate to be in Puerto Rico for the annual ritual known as La Noche de San Juan. This celebration takes place on June 24th, and although there are many nuances to the festival of St. John the Baptist, it culminates with a midnight baptism in the ocean, or any body of water such as a river or stream. To many, this baptism represents a washing away of the previous year, and thus it is a ritual of renewal. Given the significance of the previous year, and the aftermath of Maria, we were particularly interested in hearing festival-goers’ perspectives on what this year’s midnight baptism meant to them.
Nelson Urbina is a resident of San Juan and works as an HVAC installer in the city. Nelson has been coming to La Noche de San Juan for 9 years in a row. In this conversation, he mentioned that this year was different, it was much smaller. He also reflected on how the hurricane impacted his business working as an HVAC installer.