Hi, my name is Regina Velez; I am from Vieques, Puerto Rico. I have been living in Watertown, New York for the past 16 years. I have raised my children in this community, I have worked here and been given great opportunities to succeed. During the time I have been living in Watertown I have heard people complain and even curse the place because of the weather and what people called no entertainment. But on my end I always give the opinion that comes from the experience in my life. Watertown offered me the opportunity to grow as a woman and raise my family as a single mother of three.
During these sixteen years I have learn to love greatly and learned to understand the North Country, not that greatly but certainly more than what I expected when I moved here. I have seen Watertown transformed from a place with lots of open land fields to a lot of stores. When I got here and saw the Wal-Mart it took me by surprise, it was like coming to a town like in the movies.
The choice of Restaurants very limited when compare to what I was used to in Puerto Rico. One of the things that shocked me, no Walgreens, (you have to understand coming from P.R.; Walgreens is part of the Island). Everything was white around me, I came in December, and snow everywhere, Puerto Rico is always green even in “winter”. It was so different, so much change, so much wondering and learning to do. To understand the shock you must have to experience going from a very hot and humid oven to the freezer in a matter of minutes. But Watertown has a quality that helped all this transition and adapting to be easier, Watertown is a place where you feel at ease. It is not a place to live in a rush, what people consider rush here is the slow pace of big cities. There is no need to be running unless you are working on your weight because you were hibernating during our long winter. Everything you need is within 15 to 20 minutes driving unless you are like a guy named Tommy that rides his bike everywhere even during winter. This place received me with open arms, helped me get on my two feet without shouting at me for been down. Watertown has arms that help you get up and will offer a chair to rest when needed.
The history of this town is all over without suffocating you with the past. It is almost like a still quiet voice that just wants you to know that there was a past that will be part of the future but that will allow the present to be. When I drive around town I look and I see the changes that bring modern commodities to attract more people but somehow it still the same quiet place that if you give it time it will embrace you. One of the things that I love about this place is the people, I been privileged to meet amazing people in this town. I have seen how the old standards of a small community is still in effect. But also, how the people are adapting to the changes of time and still holding on to what makes them a community. Because of the size of this town, when I got here it was very easy to be known even without you knowing that people know you. Let’s face it, I am a Puertorrican and in Watertown at the time blending in was impossible. When I gave birth to my twins, people that I didn’t even know, knew me and asked me how I was doing, etc. That surprised me because people pay attention to people, that to some, might not be ideal but it is relieving to know that you are not just walking around without no one caring. Watertown is a giving place, people get together every time there is a cause, they forget about the minor things in life to support one another. There is so much more I can say about Watertown, believe me I can go on for a long time. Not everything here has been peaches and cream but everything has always been better because I learned to love and embrace this beautiful place in the great United States. To finalize this article, I declare myself a waterrican (my son came up with this term), a person that loves Puerto Rico and Watertown, New York.