Miguel Torres and Yeilyn Sanchez ate at a round table outside Orlando Latin Market on Thursday afternoon. The pair, who work together at a cleaning company, had an hour for their lunch break. They ate rice and meat from Styrofoam containers — talked amongst themselves during one of the busiest hours of the day.
Life here is new for Torres, who left Puerto Rico for Florida just three weeks ago. It’s been a good experience so far, the 44-year-old said.
“I began to work as soon as I came here. I like what I do so far,” Torres said. “I have a good schedule — Saturdays and Sundays off, which is great. I haven’t had that in a long time.”
Asked if he misses Puerto Rico yet, Torres said the island and Florida are almost the same.
“Puerto Rico is an American territory — it’s almost the same,” he said. “What changes a bit is the weather and its conditions. The roadways are a bit wider here.”
The traffic jams, though, are the same in both, he said with a slight smile.
Sanchez, 21, has been in Florida for a decade. The mother of two said she’s been working at the same cleaning company for a year. She first worked the night shift.
“But it became difficult to care for the nenes (children). Who would take care of them?” she asked.
It’s very hard being a working mother, Sanchez said. She sighed. Very hard.
“It’s hard spending time with them when you work so much,” she said. “I only have Saturdays and Sundays off but Saturdays and Sundays are for cleaning and, sometimes, I take them out but it’s very tiring.”
Sanchez said she hasn’t returned to Puerto Rico in nine years.
“Work doesn’t give me time — plus the nenes. I don’t have time to go there,” she said. “I was planning to go on vacation there… but it’s difficult.”