Cover Photo: A photo of a woman with black hair moving between rows and rows of tourists in beach chairs. We can only see her back.
Photograph by Mor Shani/Unsplash

Hotel La Plantación

They like flirting with local women. When they’re satisfied with the season, they catch a plane and go back to gringolandia.

I had been mostly working the graveyard shift at the front desk of the hotel in San Juan for about three months, more or less. It was 2004, summer, and I was twenty-one. I needed the money to finish my hospitality degree and the experience to find a better job later. With nothing to do during one parching overnight shift but check-in a few odd folks who arrived late, I wandered about the hotel, over to the parking lot, the restaurant, the bar, looking for Cristina, the clean freak—a buddy of mine. She was eight years older than me and worked as a housekeeper. Some people called Cristina a yal, de la calle, del caserío—from the ghetto. She cursed too much, listened to Daddy Yankee too loud and dropped out of school too young. I had gone to private schools and college, and lived in a gated community. Our paths would never have crossed outside of the hotel, but there we were, both inside La Plantación.

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Melissa Alvarado Sierra is a writer from Puerto Rico. Her work has been published or is forthcoming in The New York Times, Catapult, The Caribbean Writer, The Puerto Rico Review, ZORA and Lonely Planet. Her chapter on environmental justice and food sovereignty efforts in Vieques, PR will be published in a book by The New Press. Her book, La narrativa activista de Rosario Ferré, about literature as activism is forthcoming in 2020  from McGraw-Hill Spain. She teaches writing at Lighthouse Writer's Workshop. Melissa holds a master’s degree in Latin American literature and an MFA in writing. Currently, she's floating on a sailboat somewhere in the Caribbean. @melissawriting