What’s a Coquí?

 

Coquí are considered the mascot of Puerto Rico. They’re tiny tree frogs (males are half an inch, and females can grow up to an inch or longer) and live all over the island. There are about 16 varieties of the coquí living in various parts of the island. El Yunque rainforest boasts 13 of them.  They come in many colors, but the most common are brown. Purple just gives the loveable frog a different outfit to wear. Named by the Taino because of the sound they make, coquí is pronounced co-kee, and they love the rain.

Coquís emerge immediately before it starts raining as a sort of warning the weather is about to change. At first listen, it sounds as if they’re saying the same thing all the time. In fact, coquíes have quite a repertoire of vocal ranges. Although they always say, “co-kee,” with emphasis on one syllable over another or changing the intonation, they can say things like, “hey, you’re cute! Want to ride on this coquí train?” or “you’re a yummy looking mosquito.”

The coquí represents something very personal to the founder. Sarah has loved the coquí since the first time she and her husband visited the island in 2007. Initially it represented tranquility and happiness because the sound they make is to attract a mate and tell the world they’re grateful for the rain (which brings out insects to eat). After they moved to Puerto Rico the following year, it was a constant reminder of the choice they’d made to move and reinvent themselves, following 20+ years in the corporate world.

After Hurricane Maria, when Sarah and her husband’s farm was devastated and other people’s homes and businesses were lost, one of the first creatures to return was the coquí. It’s as if the little frog was saying, “you can’t mess with me! I’m as strong as the enduring Puerto Rican pride.” Whether born and raised on the island or diaspora living in the U.S., coquíes represent the Boricua people (another Taino word,  Puerto Rican people adopted it and refer to themselves as such. It can also be spelled Borikua.) as much as the flag does. There’s an expression Boricua people sometimes say, which is, “Soy de aqui, como el coquí,” which means “I’m from here, like the coquí.”