The founder of one of the oldest musical acts here, Rodríguez croons boleros and lyrical anthems that at times quicken the heart and at others create a daydreamy lull. Many of them are homages to his motherland, love songs to this Caribbean island. It was a place he never wanted to leave.
But leave, he did.
Rodríguez reluctantly abandoned Puerto Rico after several feet of floodwater spilled into his home during Hurricane Maria in September, destroying his instruments, albums and handwritten compositions. The 78-year-old joined hundreds of thousands of other islanders who boarded flights in the past five months, creating a growing diaspora that, as time passes, is increasingly unlikely to return. Rodríguez and his wife, like so many others, picked Florida, and their stateside sojourn was supposed to be temporary.
They didn't expect stability back home to be so elusive for so long.