Does cold weather have you dreaming of sandy beaches, emerald-colored oceans, and relaxing in the sun? Grab a copy of The Happy Hollisters at Lizard Cove and head south with the Happy Hollisters to solve a warm-weather mystery. The story begins when a small stowaway lizard mysteriously arrives at the Hollister home in a crate of pineapples from Puerto Rico, and you will feel like you’re right there in the Caribbean with Pete, Pam, Ricky, Holly, and Sue when they arrive on the island to look for clues! Thanks to author Andrew Svenson’s on-location research, you’ll also learn some fun facts about the sights and traditions of Puerto Rico.
Puerto Rico is a small island country located in the Caribbean Sea, near Cuba and the Dominican Republic. It has a vibrant history and was a Spanish colony until 1898, when Spain ceded it to the United States after the Spanish-American War. Since 1952, it has been a commonwealth of the United States. Spanish is the primary language spoken in Puerto Rico, and its population of over two million people reflects a mix of Spanish, African, and indigenous Taino ancestry.
The capital of Puerto Rico is San Juan, where the Hollisters visit their old family friends in The Happy Hollisters at Lizard Cove. One place the children visit during their vacation is Fort Brooke, one of Puerto Rico’s many former military forts. When the island was a colony of Spain, other countries frequently tried to invade and take Puerto Rico for their own, which is why the Spanish built many large, sturdy forts to defend their territory. Among the most famous of Puerto Rico’s forts is Castillo San Felipe del Morro. Constructed in 1521, the seaside fort is a national park and a powerful reminder of Puerto Rico’s rich history. Ricky Hollister was particularly fascinated by the imposing parapets of El Morro and gave his family quite a scare when he ventured a bit too close to the edge!
Hitting the beach is another activity for visitors to Puerto Rico. Whether you enjoying surfing, snorkeling, or simply relaxing, Puerto Rico’s scenic beaches offer something for everyone—and there are hundreds of beaches to choose from! Some of the most popular beachy destinations include Flamenco Beach in Culebra, La Playuela in Cabo Rojo, and Crash Boat in Aguadilla, which is particularly popular among snorkelers. Colorful reefs and diverse marine life make snorkeling spots, like El Naturel near Crash Boat, enticing destinations for tourists and locals alike.
With such a diverse population and tropical farming conditions, it’s no wonder that Puerto Rico offers a vast array of unique culinary treats! Many traditional dishes are made with fruits like pineapples (which should always be checked carefully for stowaway lizards!), papaya, and plantains, a type of banana. One common dish is called tostones, or thinly sliced fried plantains. Another traditional dish is arroz con gandules, which consists of white rice, olives, capers, tomato sauce and sofrito, a cooking base made with cilantro, onions, peppers, and tomatoes. For drinks, Puerto Ricans enjoy sipping on Coco Rico, a carbonated, coconut-flavored drink and of course, café con leche. During the holiday season, people celebrate with an eggnog-like drink called coquito, which is made with sweet coconut milk.
In The Happy Hollisters at Lizard Cove, the Hollister children have a swell time learning more about Puerto Rico—or “Rico-Rico,” as little Sue calls it! Now that you know these fun facts about Puerto Rico, make yourself a tropical drink and start dreaming of sunnier days with the Happy Hollisters.
by Libby Svenson Kennedy
Research notes, Andrew Svenson Archives of The Hollister Family Properties Trust