We drove to Caguas, a city south of San Juan, four weeks after Hurricane Maria hit. Our guide was Luis Cotto — a former Hartford city councilman now living in Cambridge, Massachusetts. We traveled to Puerto Rico to tell stories; he traveled to deliver thousands of dollars in inflatable solar lights and water filters to people who need them, including members of his family.
We stopped to ask for directions in a place call Villa del Rey.
“We don’t have help from nobody, man,” said Jose Ayala, 59, who grew up in Holyoke, Mass.
What began as a search for directions became a microrelief effort.
“The mayor from here, our mayor — we haven’t seen him,” he said. “Just you three guys. You’re the first guys that came in here. Not even the police come in here. This is a project and they’re scared of people in here, I think.”