Last weekend, a few friends and I went to Puerto Rico. While we had a great time, we neglected to do our research and were surprised to realize May is the rainy month on the island. Each morning we would go to the beach for the few hours of sun and then migrate to the pool bar for the inevitable afternoon thunderstorms. As evening came, rain or shine we were met with a chorus sung by hundreds of frogs. And not just any frogs - these were the tiny, magical Coquís, who thanks to their distinct, persistent calls are the pride of Puerto Rico. From songs to folklore, the Coquí is an indelible part of la cultura del Boriqua.
Legend has it that the indigenous Tainos knew the more powerful Spaniards were about to take over their island. The Taino leader, named Coquí, was well aware of his inability to defeat the Spanish by force, so he instead had his people transformed into frogs. In doing so he both saved their lives and guaranteed they would always remain in their native land. The nightly symphony of frogs is therefore considered a tribute to their dear leader.
While the Coquí is a treasure in Puerto Rico, you would be hard pressed to find any nostalgic Coquí tales in Hawaii. Apparently some frogs made it to the Hawaiian islands via transplanted plants, and their population grew rapidly. While the Coquí! call is celebrated as a beautiful song in San Juan, it is loathed as a cacophonous nuisance in Waikiki. The battle against the Coquí has raged for years, from town hall meetings to mass eradications. It's obvious that the poor little frogs have few friends outside of Puerto Rico.
Where do I stand on the issue? I love the Coquí, its distinguished chirp, and the history surrounding it. It just might be my favorite frog.